Eggleston Motorsport’s Cooper Murray is confident that learnings from a Tuesday test day will prove fruitful as the Dunlop Super2 Series rookie prepares for next weekend’s NTI Townsville 500.
Murray and Eggleston were among a number of Dunlop Series teams testing at Winton Motor Raceway on Tuesday, as the development series readies for its third event of the 2023 season.
A damp morning allowed the Victorian to experience his first wet laps in a Supercar, before conditions became more suitable for dry running in the afternoon.
“Going into (Tuesday) we had a program that we knew we wanted to do coming out of Perth,” Murray said.
“We struggled a little bit with race pace on full tanks, so we just wanted to make some changes and understand what they did on a full fuel load, so that going into next weekend we have confidence.
"If the car does want to do what it did at Perth – which it shouldn’t after the changes we made (yesterday) – we have confidence that it’ll work out for us.”
After three seasons competing in Porsche Carrera Cup, Murray joined this year’s star-studded Super2 Series grid, and stunned the field by taking pole and the win in his first-ever race, on the streets of Newcastle back in March.
Tuesday’s test was Murray’s first non-race outing in his No. 88 ZB Commodore since pre-season. With two race events under his belt since then, Murray says the contrast between his February testing and yesterday’s laps was massive.
“Oh, it's hugely different,” he said.
“The two days I had before season started was purely learning how to drive a Supercar and get the maximum amount of it. So (yesterday) we really focused on just working on the car and doing heaps of laps, making heaps of changes to see what it would do, so it was a productive day.”
Leaving Newcastle second in the standings, Murray’s opening race in Perth was derailed when he spun after coming together with teammate Kai Allen, but a third place finish in Perth’s Sunday race allowed Murray to retain second in the standings through two events.
Sitting 48 points back of championship leader Zak Best, Murray has his eyes forward, but is well aware of the level of competition around him, with just a further 59 points separating him from seventh-placed Allen in the standings.
“It's very, very intense, and that's what the category needs,” he said.
“You need five, six guys that are all capable of winning the championship, it only makes you better as a driver to get the maximum amount of yourself.”
“If you’re in the hunt for the championship, you've done a pretty good job, and that's obviously our goal; keep it clean and see where we are coming to the final round.”
“Obviously to be in the hunt coming to the final round, you've got to have good performances throughout the year. Second in the championship at the moment's pretty good, but we've got to keep doing our thing.”
Murray has a shining track record at the Reid Park circuit in Townsville, sweeping the Porsche Carrera Cup weekend in his first appearance in 2019, and winning the round again in 2021.
“I'm keen as for Townsville,” Murray exclaimed.
“I love street circuits and in previous years there in Porsche Carrera Cup I’ve taken two round wins out of the two times I've been there, so I have good record there and I love the track, so I'm keen to get after it.”
“The mid-sector of the track, the infield where you got all the chicanes and the fast left-rights, it requires a fair bit of commitment there,” he added.
“It’ll be good in the Supercar, tackling those kerbs. We weren’t able to hit them in the Porsche, so it’ll be different, but it should be good.”
The NTI Townsville 500 is the third event on the 2023 Dunlop Super2 and Super3 Series calendar, and sixth event of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship.
On-track action begins Friday, July 7, with racing continuing on Saturday and Sunday on the streets around Reid Park.
Tickets can be purchased via Supercars.com and Ticketek, and live coverage can be found on Seven and Foxtel, with streaming available via 7plus and Kayo.