Sherrin Racing will be aiming to fend off the interstate invaders when Round Four of the Dunlop Series takes place at Winton Motor Raceway in rural Victoria this weekend.
Run by Melbourne-based MW Motorsport, the Sherrin Ford has been one of the pace-setters so far this year, winning a total of three races in the hands of opening round pilot Chaz Mostert and his subsequent successor Steve Owen.
The Sherrin Ford will head to Winton armed with lessons learnt at a recent test at the venue that saw MW Motorsport's other two entires, including that of series leader Dale Wood, find further gains.
“It's always good to have a test at your home circuit before racing there,” team principal Matthew White said.
“By running two cars at the test we were able to achieve what we wanted to on track without diluting our preparation efforts for the race weekend.
“There were a few areas that we wanted to get a clearer read on after the most recent round at Queensland Raceway, and what we learnt will be felt across all three cars this weekend.
“We're cautiously optimistic about our chances on our home circuit.
“It's generally the Achilles Heel for teams lately that they get beaten on their test track, and we're certainly not going in over-confident as there is some very strong opposition in this series.
“Our pace has been really encouraging at Winton each time we have tested there this year, but we need to get the cars right for the conditions on the race weekend.
“The place is pretty weather sensitive and you always need to be on top of your game there.”
For Owen, the weekend will be about trying to get back to the level that saw him dominate the Townsville round of the series last month.
The only major scare for the two-time series winner at Townsville had been a near-miss with a slower competitor in qualifying; a situation that should be avoided this time around thanks to a revised qualifying system that will see the top and bottom half of the practice field run in separate sessions at the Winton 360.
“It was a move that had to be made because of the size of the fields and the amount of speed difference there is between the front and the back,” Owen said.
“Seeing such big grids in the Dunlop Series this year is fantastic and shows the strength of the category, but it can make qualifying a little hairy.
“Having nearly had a big crash in Townsville when coming up behind a slow car while on a flying lap, I certainly support the new system.”
Owen's time in the Sherrin Ford this year is a precursor to his V8 Supercars Championship drives at the Wilson Security Sandown 500, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600 with Pepsi Max Ford Performance Racing star Will Davison.
Owen said racing the Sherrin entry – which was built by FPR and raced in Davison's hands last year – had been a vital part of his preparation for the big races.
“It's been much more of a benefit than what I ever imaged it would be, mainly because of the unique nature of the way FPR go about getting their lap speed,” Owen said.
“In Queensland we changed something on the car that I never had the ability to change on any other cars. You learn something from that and take it with you.
“Obviously the car set-up for the endurance races will be largely done around Will, but if the co-driver can test things in his sessions then it doubles the amount you can learn at the actual races.
“Racing the Sherrin Ford in the Dunlop Series has been a huge benefit for me, and I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car this weekend.”
Two 40 minute practice sessions for the Dunlop Series will take place on Friday ahead of the two-part qualifying on Saturday morning.
Each of the three races will take place over 12 laps, with the opener set for Saturday at 2.45pm AEST ahead of Races Two and Three on Sunday at 10.35am and 3.10pm respectively.