With a break between Winton and Darwin, supercars.com is analysing the drivers’ results and performances in this first part of the season. The racing is the closest in history, with nine different winners in 11 races.
Fabian Coulthard, DJR Team Penske Engineer: Phil Keed
Average qualifying position: 8.7 Average finishing position: 13.4 Championship position: 14 Points to leader: 389 Wins: 0 Pole positions: 1
Best result: Third Phillip Island, driving from ninth
Low point: Phillip Island Sunday, 26th after qualifying fourth
For: One of the stars of the season even though he has not won a race.
Coulthard was in the right place at the right time to snare the drive at DJR Team Penske and has done much to show he was the right choice ever since.
That ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout pole on Sunday at the Clipsal 500 was a brilliant and unexpected start to the year.
All-up he has managed seven top 10 qualifying positions, two podiums and has claimed two other top 10 finishes.
Maintaining his relationship with BJR engineer Phil Keed has been an important part of Coulthard’s strong form, but the Kiwi is also looking sharper and more committed than he ever has.
It’s exciting to think what the second half of the year potentially holds for Coulthard as he and Keed continue to learn the car and adjust to their new surroundings.
He’s too far back to win the championship himself, but Coulthard could well influence who does win it because we will, increasingly, see him at the front.
Against: Coulthard has had bad luck such as the engine issue that robbed him of his chance at Phillip island after qualifying fourth.
And he has also made mistakes, qualifying poorly at Winton on the Saturday, but bouncing back to claim second position on Sunday.
There have also simply been events where the DJR Team Penske Falcon FG Xs have not been a factor as the new combination learns its way – Tasmania being an obvious example where brakes were an issue.
The team: Expanded to two cars with a bunch of new personnel for 2016, DJR Team Penske is going through a public learning process in terms of pit stop speed, strategy and car set-up.
But the signs are ominous, a giant is emerging.
Rating: B Coulthard is doing better than expected and that bodes well for the future.