An incapability to search out the brand new ZB Commodore’s set-up candy spot at Phillip Island is being blamed for Triple Eight’s drop in efficiency relative to the pace-setting DJR Group Penske outfit.
The model new ZB Commodore got here into the Phillip Island weekend because the automotive to beat, having received seven of the primary eight races of the season, 5 of which went to Triple Eight drivers.
That run was tipped to proceed over the weekend too; having raised eyebrows with its aero effectivity thus far this season, the aero-heavy Phillip Island format was anticipated to be well-suited to the brand new Holden.
Nevertheless for the primary time this yr the ZB genuinely wasn’t a match on automotive pace for Penske’s FG-X Falcon, and even struggled to match Rick Kelly’s Nissan, with David Reynolds the one Holden driver to complete within the Prime 5 on Sunday.
In keeping with Triple Eight group supervisor Mark Dutton, the shortage of general pace got here all the way down to the T8-designed ZB not responding to adjustments on the flowing Island circuit, one thing he says was sudden given how user-friendly the automotive was on the first three rounds of the season.
“It’s responded rather well to the tuning up till now,” stated Dutton.
“We, and I’m guessing different [Holden teams] as properly, simply couldn’t hit the candy spot – aside from Erebus with Reynolds. They have been legitimately there on tempo. It’s reassuring, as a result of it lets you already know that it’s not a basic [issue] with the automotive, the automotive can carry out right here.
“It simply wasn’t as simple to tune. That’s been its large power, for me anyway, this yr thus far. The nice begin, it took place as a result of it was actually conscious of adjustments.
“So the engineers and the drivers may work with it and tune it for every observe situation and this weekend it wasn’t simple.
“We have been doing logical steps, good steps, working late, working onerous, and it wasn’t working to the identical have an effect on.”
Whereas lower than ideally suited, Dutton stated a little bit of head-scratching isn’t unusual with a model new automotive.
“It’s a brand new automotive, that’s to be anticipated,” he stated. “Particularly one that’s so totally different, it’s such a special structure, you do count on it to be dramatically totally different. We’ve simply been actually lucky that, the sooner rounds, it proved to work properly with us. [At Phillip Island] it was a bit tougher.”
Velocity deficit pricey for Whincup
Worst hit by the automotive’s lack of pace was Jamie Whincup, who was nowhere pace-wise on Sunday after dropping his first rate haul of Saturday factors to a penalty.
All Whincup may handle on Sunday was fifth in qualifying and ninth within the race, Dutton confirming it was a case of lacking the set-up window as they tried to tune the automotive.
“We simply did not hit the candy spot [with car #1],” added Dutton. “We missed it by a bit of bit.
“In qualifying on Sunday, [race engineer David] Cauchi tried one thing, and all of it made sense – after all it did, in any other case you would not do it. Nevertheless it did not make the automotive sooner and it did not make a tangible change to the attribute of the automotive both.”
Dutton added that Sunday was successfully all injury limitation for Whincup, a conservative strategy vital to ensure the reigning champion may a minimum of hold his factors tally ticking over.
“It is simply a type of cases the place you form of should mitigate the injury, simply drive, preserve… he wasn’t going to make up loads of spots, so that you try to minimise the quantity you lose,” he stated.
“He was positively conserving, the automotive had extra tempo in it than he was exhibiting. However not sufficient to do something thrilling.
“It’s important to drive good, and that is what he did. When you will have your unhealthy days, you have to minimise the injury that you just do. Clearly we did a bit extra unlucky injury [on Saturday] than we should always have, so it was worse weekend by an extended shot in comparison with what the ending locations on the observe have been.”
Whincup has slumped to fifth within the factors, 142 behind new chief Scott McLaughlin.