Swapping seats

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 03/06/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Preston Hire Racing’s Lee Holdsworth will head to Queensland Raceway tomorrow to join Triple Eight Race Engineering’s test day.

Triple Eight had a presence at the new-for-2016 team’s two tests at Winton this year as part of a technical agreement, with Jamie Whincup hopping in Holdsworth’s T8 Commodore last month while engineer David Cauchi was on-hand.

This time Holdsworth has the opportunity to steer one of the current specification Triple Eight cars and see the team work through changes on the ground. He will be accompanied by engineer Jason Bush, with team boss Charlie Schwerkolt also due to pop in.

“It was always the plan to go up to their test day and learn as well, steer one of their cars – I’m not sure which one it is yet,” Schwerkolt told supercars.com.

“We’ll just learn at a different track and gauge their latest spec car as well – their ‘mk 6’ uprights, which we’re not on.

“So it’s just learning and sharing information.”

Both at Walkinshaw Racing last year, neither Holdsworth nor Bush had experience with Triple Eight cars prior to this season, so the opportunities have paid off for the small Preston Hire Racing outfit.

“It’s an invaluable tool we’ve got that we can reciprocate these test days when needed,” Schwerkolt said. 

“So both boys are really excited [to go to QR] and Lee’s obviously pretty excited. If it’s Jamie’s car, really excited, to jump in.

“[At Winton] they did very similar lap times. Jamie found a couple of things we could try, which we tried, which I think Saturday qualifying proved worked really well. So if we can get some more out of it when we go to QR, that would be great.”

It is Triple Eight’s first test day since the pre-season run in February, but Mark Dutton said the three-car outfit would squeeze in some laps for Holdsworth into its jam-packed schedule.

“It’s not cricket not to,” Dutton said.

“We obviously have some laps up here if they want to take that up, so it’s give and take.

“It’s hard to do because we have quite a busy day, but it’s give and take – we have a really good relationship with them and all our customers.”

Triple Eight will focus on its main three drivers and not run co-drivers at the test, Dutton said. That would be a focus closer to enduros, when Shane van Gisbergen’s French co-driver Alex Premat was in the country.

Queensland Raceway will host DJR Team Penske and TEKNO Autosports on Tuesday, though Dutton does not foresee any driver swaps with Will Davison, who steers the customer TEKNO car.

“They’re learning less of the Triple Eight car,” Dutton said.

“With Team 18, they’re really learning the car, how the technical assistance [works] and how we do things.

“We don’t usually do this – drive each others cars – because you’re so busy and you don’t have time for it. The drivers never fit perfectly in someone else’s car because we spend so much effort making them fit a specific driver perfectly. So it's not a regular thing we do, it’s just a thing we’ve done this year with a new customer in Team 18 and it was successful.”

Driver swaps are well within the rules and have been conducted in the past between teams with technical alliances, such as FPR and DJR (now Prodrive Racing Australia and DJR Team Penske). Mark Winterbottom assisted Chaz Mostert when he stepped into the series, and Mostert steered DJR Falcons in 2014 when Scott Pye and David Wall were the primary drivers. DJR Team Penske has elected to end the technical agreement with Prodrive this year. 

Erebus Motorsport and Brad Jones Racing test today at Winton in Victoria. 

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