Dunlop Super2 Series front-runner Anton De Pasquale staked his claim for a future PIRTEK Enduro Cup co-drive by impressing Erebus Motorsport today at Winton.
Currently fourth in the Super2 standings after a strong start to the year that included a maiden round win at Phillip Island, De Pasquale is the highest placed second-tier driver set to remain on the sidelines for the three big events.
An evaluation day with Erebus Motorsport at Winton has, however, given the former European open-wheel driver his first taste of main series equipment as he continues to build career momentum.
Sharing the track with Brad Jones Racing, Mobil 1 HSV Racing and Prodrive’s three Super2 entries, De Pasquale enjoyed a full day of running under the guidance of Erebus regular David Reynolds.
Today’s test came a day after De Pasquale drove his Prodrive-built, Paul Morris Motorsport Super2 Ford at Queensland Raceway to prepare for the upcoming round at the Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint.
“It’s pretty cool. I can’t say I have a bad life, flying from one Supercar test to another,” De Pasquale told Supercars.com.
“Today was quite a big learning step with a lot of new things for me being my first time in a main series car.
Erebus' Penrite Holden at Winton today
“But with the team guiding me in the right direction we seemed to make good gains throughout the day and the pace was pretty good.
“We tried some different things, including the twin-spring which required a different driving style.
“The general characteristics of how to make the car fast are pretty similar to the Super2 car, but it felt a bit better with the tyre and that suspension package.”
Erebus general manager Barry Ryan was full of praise for De Pasquale’s efforts and says he expects him to be a sought after co-driver next year.
“We had one particular part we wanted to try today that was reliability rather than performance related, which we ticked off,” he said
“But once we saw how well he drove we thought we’d try some other things that we’d already tested at other rounds.
“He gave us good feedback and data on some of that stuff which helps expand our box of tricks.
“Going by what we saw today I’m surprised he doesn’t have an enduro drive. He’s stepped up this year with a better car in Super2 and he’s definitely impressed us today.
“I think people overlooked him because he hasn’t really done a lot in Super2 yet, he’s still finding his feet, but we’ll definitely try and grab him for next year or something in future.”
De Pasquale sits fourth in the Dunlop Super2 Series
Stepping up to a Next Generation car in Super2 this year after a learning season aboard older equipment, De Pasquale says he’s not discouraged by missing out on the enduros.
“I’m not too disappointed,” he said.
“It’s only my second year in a Supercar and there are a lot of dudes that have been in there four years or so. It comes with time.
“I think I am ready but the door wasn’t open anywhere which I completely understand. I’ve just got to concentrate on getting results and something will eventuate for next year.
“It was good to run in the Super2 car yesterday to get a baseline for what we need to work on for Sydney, which is where my focus is now."
By running only an evaluation day today, Erebus retains two full test days to use later in the season.
Ryan says one will take place prior to Sandown while the other could be slotted in between Sandown and Bathurst.