Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Garth Tander says Tuesday’s test day at Winton was critical for the Holden squad as it bids to continue its upward trajectory.
Tander explained he and team-mate James Moffat made the most of the test outing after the tight build of the team’s Commodores effectively made the pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park a shakedown.
With the 40-year-old sitting sixth in the points after five championship rounds, the Holden star said Tuesday was the first significant opportunity GRM has had to understand its 2017 package.
“It was critical. I kept hearing all these other guys saying they desperately needed a test for cars they’ve been using for the last three or four years,” he told Supercars.com.
“We’ve been using a car that we’ve basically gone straight into racing.
“It wasn’t so much about taking any new gadgets, widgets or silver bullets or any of that stuff with us.
“It was more about going up there and getting a better understanding of the aero influence over the suspension package we have and I think we did that.
“For us, it was more about expanding the toolbox from a limited range of changes we’ve been using for the last couple of races.”
Tander explained the aerodynamic package of the Holden and understanding how it interacts with other elements of the car continues to be a focus of development, even on the slow-speed Winton layout.
“While in motorsport terms, they don’t create a lot of downforce, what they do create you need to maximise to the absolute limit,” he said.
“I never drove the Volvo so I can’t comment what it was like, but from the engineering discussions and talking to Moff, the aero package on the Commodore and the Volvo are 180 degrees different.
“What they were doing last year doesn’t work with what the Commodore is.
“For us it’s starting again, and it’s why we feel we’re improving the car all the time. We get a better understanding of it.
“While the aero is not the same as a GT car or similar, the Supercars aero of now compared to 10 years ago is completely different and much more significant and important.”
Tander highlighted qualifying speed as an area of focus during the day with the team happy with the race performance and characteristics of its VF Commodore.
“I think as the development goes, given up to yesterday we’d done basically no testing, we’ve been heading in the right direction for the majority of the time,” he added.
“Yesterday was another day of that. It won’t happen forever, but as long as we continue to improve the car relative to where the benchmark is – which at the moment is the Penske cars – we feel we’re getting close all the time.
“We need to improve our qualifying performance and understand the tyre in qualifying.
“Our strength is consistency through the stint and tyre life. The car is reasonably easy to drive close to the limit so it’s easier to manage the tyre over the race distance.
“That’s why I think we look stronger than our qualifying performance.”