Red Bull Ampol Racing must “dig deep” to catch Shell V-Power Racing Team at Sydney Motorsport Park, says team manager Mark Dutton.
While Shane van Gisbergen unofficially won the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight as a whole event, and Triple Eight Race Engineering extended its lead in the team championship, they were surpassed for pace by the Dick Johnson Racing Mustangs.
There was actually an element of happiness in these two performances, as neither of them would have taken place if Anton De Pasquale had not been disqualified from race 21, where he took the checkered flag in fifth place due to a tire bungle.
De Pasquale would otherwise have been the weekend’s highest points scorer as he won races 20 and 22 and achieved all three pole positions, two with a margin of more than half a second and the other with just under 0.4s.
Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton described the weekend as “solid” given van Gisbergen’s points collection, but was not under any illusions about the squad’s raw pace.
“We’re definitely not going to be over the moon this weekend,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“You’re always happy when you win it – it obviously shows the team’s consistency and depth, which is good – but it’s certainly not something we can sleep peacefully about not having that qualifying pace by that margin. to work hard and dig deep.
“The car drove really well [and] there were no mechanical problems, so all the preparatory work, all leading up to the weekend was good; we just have to work at car pace.
“It has eluded us here a few times in a row now, ultimate car pace.”
Van Gisbergen also passed a significant threshold in the first Sydney Motorsport Park event, ahead of three more on Eastern Creek and then Repco Bathurst 1000 to complete the season.
The 2016 champion is now 338 points ahead of team-mate Jamie Whincup at the top of the drivers’ standings, more than the 315 offered at each of the following two sprint events in Sydney and the 300 at each of the events following them.
Will Davison is the closest rider from any other team with 463 points from the pace, and his DJR outfit is similarly second best in the teams’ championship, with a slightly larger deficit of 872 points compared to the start of the weekend.
Asked if van Gisbergen’s advantage changes anything, Dutton replied: “No, not yet.
“As we just said, the fact that we were really not happy with our qualifying pace and ultimate pace this weekend, you certainly can not button up, you can not rest.
“As soon as you do, that’s when you can start getting mixed up in some of the fights that you shouldn’t be; if you are in the middle of the package or at the back of the package.
“Around here it’s easy to put a little foot wrong, and all of a sudden you qualify outside the 10’s – which we luckily did not do – but no, we certainly do not look at that.”
While van Gisbergen still got away with race results in second, first and fourth place, Whincup finished ninth, sixth and then third in the three, 32-lap.
The seven-time champion admitted that the podium in the latter meeting was “almost relieving” after making it look “ordinary” by his teammate, even though there might be more to it than that.
Dutton had already explained that Triple Eight was in a somewhat experimental state during the course of four straight events at Sydney Motorsport Park, but revealed after the end of Race 22 that the manipulation was more so on Whincup’s car than van Gisbergens.
The progression for car # 88 was therefore a positive sign.
“We intentionally tested a few things, especially at 88,” Dutton said.
“[They were] not massive stuff, so we certainly did not expect the previous races to be as weak as they were.
“So that’s why in this race , we did a few things a little differently just to learn, and there are definitely some improvements in the race for Jamie that you saw on the pace.
“Our strategy for it also helped on the tires, etc., but that’s some good information leading into the week before the next event.”
Armor All Sydney SuperNight, which has a mix of soft and hard composite tires, starts this Saturday.
It is part of the Beaurepairs Sydney Cup, a prize and a cash prize of $ 25,000 that goes to the highest points scorer across the four events in Eastern Creek, the race that van Gisbergen currently leads.
|1||Shane van Gisbergen||272|
|7||Anton de Pasquale||205|
|14||Jack Le Brocq||130|