While tyre degradation was the hot topic at the previous round of the 2016 Supercars Championship at Barbagallo Raceway, Winton offered lots of grip for Races 10 and 11 following a recent track resurfacing.
Darrell Lea STIX driver Will Davison spent Friday working with the new track surface and understanding the role it played to car balance and setup.
“It’s tough to get a balance, but […] we still need to improve the balance a lot.
“We made a big change to the front [and] it certainly has made a difference.
“It’s got a lot of understeer now so we’re just trying to calm the rear of the car down a bit.
“There’s a lot of grip there, it’s just being able to use all of that grip that’s the tricky bit.
“[I’ve] got a lot of traction but just trying to get into the corner with confidence is the aim,” said Will during Practice 2.
“It’s a new surface, but […] there’s a few patches in it; some bits where there’s a lot of grip and some where there’s not so much,” added Jonathon Webb who got his first taste behind the wheel of the #19 in the co-driver only practice session.
The first 15-minute Qualifying session on Saturday afternoon proved much of Friday’s work to be a success, finishing Qualifying 1 to start Race 10 in P7.
“We made some big changes overnight […] and just went out this morning and it was such a relief to feel that grip and the car under me,” exclaimed Will.
“The thing is with this car, you know when you get it dialled it’s quick so we moved out of the window but we got it back into a pretty good window and the car is normally good in the race so it’s a good spot to start.”
The start of Race 10 showed promise with Will displaying strong pace, staying out longer than the rest of the field.
He pitted from P1 on Lap 15, but lost time during the pit stop to re-join the field in P10.
“We were pushing on well, but we ran a bit longer than the rest [because] we knew we had really good tyre life,” said boss Jonathon Webb.
“We called him in for the stop and he had the [pit] lane to himself, but he caught one of the wheelmen on the way in.”
Will lost approximately 5 seconds according to Webb.
However, he moved up through the field late in the race to eventually finish in P6.
“There was a bit of trouble, we lost a lot of time,” said Will, referring to his pit stop.
“We had very good pace, but anyways that’s the way it goes, we’ll keep working on that aspect of it.”
Sunday was a similar affair for Team TEKNO, pushing back into P9 in Qualifying 2 for Race 11.
“The car felt nice in qualifying, just not sharp enough,” Will explained.
“We made a change overnight and didn’t quite go in the right direction.
“It felt good, but just not quite enough front grip in the car for that one lap and just didn’t get the time we needed, but it wasn’t too bad.”
Race 11 was similarly challenging, with Will pitting on Lap 5 and taking a longer stop for 40-litres of fuel to re-join with clear air in front of Shane van Gisbergen.
It was the first safety car period of the weekend, however, which lost Will any chance of fighting back to the front of the field.
He stayed out to move up to P4 behind the Safety Car on Lap 18, before pitting from P3 on Lap 34 to make the run home to the chequered flag, but re-joined towards the back of the pack finishing P17 after passing some cars.
“We weren’t as strong as yesterday,” remarked Will post-race.
“My strategy was compromised when the safety car came out because we decided not to queue in behind Lowndes and […] that just made it difficult from then on.
“We lost a lot of positions during the strategy sequence […] so then when we came out I was in a bunch of cars and didn’t really have the car to get through.
“It was a real strategy race, so really disappointing.”
Will Davison currently sits in P6 with 912 points after 11 races of the Championship.
The #19 Darrell Lea STIX Commodore hits the track for the next round of the Supercars Championship at the Darwin Triple Crown on 17-19 June.