Tim Slade started from last position on the grid yesterday, after bringing out a red flag during qualifying.
Today there are back-to-back qualifying sessions ahead of Races 26 and 27 at the Winton 360 – and, as always, they will be crucial for a strong result.
Positive this morning, Heavy Haulage Racing Australia’s Slade is determined not to make the same mistake today – especially given he was on a flying lap when he left the track – and watered down any Nissan/Erebus Motorsport V8 rivalry after James Moffat’s breakthrough victory yesterday.
“For everyone, qualifying is key around this place – my number one goal is not to spear it into the mud!” Slade told v8supercars.com.au ahead of this morning’s sessions. “Hopefully we can be somewhere in the top half of the field. Somewhere in the top 10 would be really, really good. Once you’re there, I think it makes it a hell of a lot easier to maintain that position in the races.
“Everywhere we go to, qualifying is key, but here more so than other places because it’s just so difficult to pass.”
Slade recalled his excursion through the mud on what was a promising start to yesterday’s practice.
“We have fairly reasonable speed and you can have ‘coulda, woulda, shouldas; ifs, buts and maybes’ – I was relatively happy with the car and the split was really good.
“I just went too deep into the sweeper and basically understeered off the track.
“I tried to keep it straight and get through the mud, but it just catches you. It’s weird – I was going straight and the mud turned me and spun me around, so it was out of my control really.”
He described the race as frustrating, stuck behind cars and “knowing” he have better pace, but not the speed in the right areas to pass.
Slade has been the standout performer of the three Erebus Motorsport V8 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs. Though sitting 21st in the Championship points he has recorded three top 10 race results, his best sixth at the SKYCITY Triple Crown in Darwin.
While he isn’t in Championship contention, Slade isn’t keen to drop further down in the points race.
“I’m more worried about race results – but that means you’re getting good Championship points as well,” he said.
Given the Mercedes-Benzes are new to 2013 – as are the Nissan Altimas – there has been implications of rivalry between the teams. But Slade poured cold water on those claims and said Nissan’s breakthrough win yesterday didn’t make him any more hungry for a result.
“It doesn’t really matter to me who’s up there, whether it’s a Ford, Holden or Nissan. A few people have a bit of that Nissan-Mercedes newcomers rivalry, but even though both projects are new, they are both at completely different levels. I’m sure they’ve got more to come – we’ve got more to come.”
Qualifying for both races kicks off at 11.15am AEST, with two 15-minute sessions, divided by a 10-minute break.