Richie Stanaway is using a revised seat in his Tickford Falcon at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 as part of efforts to make the Supercars rookie more comfortable behind the wheel.
Highly rated after an impressive international open-wheel and GT career and a series of strong PIRTEK Enduro Cup drives, the Kiwi has endured a horror start to his debut season.
Stanaway sits last in the points after three events – his campaign hindered by three DNFs in the first eight races.
Having qualified as the top rookie for both races in Adelaide, with a 16th and an 18th, he’s also found qualifying tough going since, starting off the last two rows on four occasions.
Still settling into the championship, Stanaway says discomfort in the car has been one of his issues.
“I’ve got a new seat this weekend, which we’ve been working on for a while,” he said.
“Comfort in the car has been one of our bigger issues this year, and we should have that right [today] and I won’t have to worry about it anymore.
“It’s actually really important to not be thinking about how you feel in the car so to have that sorted will be nice.”
Stanaway ended Friday’s practice sessions 20th and 18th on an encouraging day for Tickford after its team-wide struggle at Symmons Plains a fortnight ago.
“I felt pretty good about the balance, felt like I put down a good lap, but we still weren’t where we want to be, so we’ll look over the data and our new tyre runs and see what we need to change,” he said.
“Fortunately my team-mates were quick so we might be able to pull some things from them, but we’ll see. Hopefully we can improve the car and qualify further up the field.
“I’d be happy with a high-teens qualifying, just to show ourselves and everyone that we’re making progress, then wherever we start we’ll try to race well and move forward.”
Winterbottom surprised by speed
Mark Winterbottom led the Tickford charge in practice, ending the day fourth behind Jamie Whincup’s Red Bull Holden and the Shell Fords of Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard.
“To be fourth, I'm kind of surprised given the way the car felt,” said Winterbottom.
“I can feel where we're weak, but it gives us something to work with to make it better.
“Credit to everybody at the team. We had a really bad last round, but we're not a team that gives up. We get back up and have a crack.
“Two weeks is a short time, but they've done a lot of work.
“I'm happy with the result, I can feel where the car is weak, but we need to make sure we don't chase too much, but all in all a good day."
Chaz Mostert was seventh and promising to have “a bigger swing” at set-up before ARMOR ALL Qualifying, while Cameron Waters was 23rd after failing to get a flying lap on new tyres.