Team 18 completes "faultless" pre-season test at Winton
Mark Winterbottom, David Reynolds swapped cars
Winterbottom hails new crew members for "good gains"
Mark Winterbottom and recruit David Reynolds swapped cars on what proved a "faultless" pre-season test day for Team 18, which is hunting better results in 2024.
Winterbottom and Reynolds rolled out their Chevrolet Camaros at Winton Motor Raceway alongside southern rivals on Wednesday, and pieced together a strong day of running and fact-finding.
For Reynolds, it was track day No. 1 with his new team and engineer Richard Hollway, while incumbent Winterbottom was tasked with building a relationship with new engineer Som Sharma.
The Charlie Schwerkolt-owned worked through a detailed program, which included a car swap as the Melbourne squad aimed to get a better understanding of its cars.
While car swaps aren't a new move in Supercars testing, it may benefit Team 18, which battled for consistency in 2023 outside its historic Darwin breakthrough.
Per Supercars rules, drivers are permitted to swap cars during testing, but only one chassis per Teams Racing Charter (TRC) is allowed on track.
After a day of running, Bathurst winners Winterbottom and Reynolds like what they see, Winterbottom particularly impressed ahead of his sixth season with the team.
“The test day felt like it was taking forever to come, but it finally arrived, which was great. 2024 feels really good,” Winterbottom said.
"We launched our car this morning, which I think looks fantastic. I love the matte black, it was a nice hot day here but the black car didn't overheat so that's a good thing.
"We got through a really good program. Obviously with new people comes new ideas, so for the first time in many, we ran out of time, not out of ideas. I think we made good gains in areas and we made losses and you put that all together and go over all the data.
“We've got a lot to look at, but all in all a great day, It was good to see Dave back and he had a great day too. Together, we’ve got good data, we’ve got a great group of guys, our cars were faultless, so now we’ve just got to make them fast for Bathurst.”
Reynolds, who arrives from Penrite Racing, was buoyed by the attitude of the team, which ended 2023 with a spate of poor results and poor luck, headline by Winterbottom’s horror Bathurst DNF.
The team’s year ended with key personnel moving on, with Adrian Burgess arriving to head up the Camaro outfit. The team has since announced Sharma and Dr Geoffrey Slater, who is the team's Technical Director, to bolster its off-track efforts.
“I just had my very first day with the crew, and a lot of firsts for me,” Reynolds said.
"It was my first time dealing with everyone at Team 18 at a racetrack, first time driving a Camaro, and I had an absolute ball. I love working with everyone, everyone was just really, really positive.
“We had a few challenges during the day that we had to overcome but the problem was the track got really, got really hot. It was just, really hard to drive. The car was moving around all over the place.
"There was dirt and crap all over the road but overall, I think we learned a lot, especially about each other, which is most important in a team environment.
“I can't wait to go to Bathurst and see how we go, but it was a massive tick today.”
Winterbottom and Reynolds will hit the track at Mount Panorama for the season-opening Thrifty Bathurst 500 on February 23-25. Tickets are on sale now.