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Supercars Newcastle

DJR opens up on tough Supercars opener

Dick Johnson Racing David Noble has opened up on the flagship Ford squad's difficult start to the 2023 Supercars season.

Anton De Pasquale, Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustang GT

The Shell-backed team failed to fire with its new Gen3 cars in Newcastle, with Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison not making a single appearance in the top 10 in a competitive session.

De Pasquale's qualified 17th for the first race and finished 16th after an early brush with the wall, before qualifying 21st and finishing 16th again on Sunday.

Davison battled clutch issues on Saturday as he qualified 14th and finished 13th ahead of a 14th grid spot and a 19th place finish the following day.

The poor showing has left the team a lowly 10th in the teams' championship.

According to Noble the weekend was deflating for the team, with a lack of qualifying pace doing the damage.

"I think the first 24 hours at the end of it, we packed the truck up on Monday and the boys were pretty flat," Noble told Motorsport.com. "We all were.

"We went in with higher expectations, but with street circuits if you don't get qualifying right, you're on the back foot. We couldn't seem to get the car set-up for qualifying.

"It was frustrating after the efforts all teams have put in across the last couple of months. To not get a result was frustrating."

The silver lining, according to Noble, is that valuable lessons regarding set-up were learnt by the high-profile DJR engineering group.

"These cars, what we're seeing is that they react quite quickly to sensitive changes," he explained.

"A little bit more one way or a little bit less the other seems to put you in the window. That's great learnings for our guys. Coming away, there's a lot for us to learn and pull apart.

'That's the most laps we've all done with the cars, so we've got a lot to go through now.

"[We have] total confidence [in the engineering group]. Perry [Kapper], our head engineer, has been across the homologation. And then Rich [Harris], Mark [Fenning] and Ludo [Lacroix] – we've got the firepower to pull things apart, re-calibrate and get ourselves set for the AGP in a couple of weeks."

While acknowledging that DJR's role in the development of the Gen3 platform as the Ford homologation team had stretched resources in the off-season, Noble stopped short of using the additional workload as an excuse for the poor start to the season.

"It's a real privilege to be the homologation team, to work closely with Ford and help the paddock, particularly the Ford teams," he said.

"But it does add another layer of delivery times and expectations. During testing you're splitting the team up across the two spaces, as Triple Eight did.

"It adds complexity to it, but we chose to do it. We were happy to do it. And at the end of the day, that's not the excuse as to why we didn't get a result [in Newcastle]."

The difficult start to the new campaign hasn't prompted any re-think on expectations either, Noble still confident the team can retain its powerhouse status in the Gen3 era.

"We're not stepping away from the aspiration to be if not the best, then one of the top couple [of teams]," he said.

"We're a proud organisation, we've got high standards. We're a driven group. We won't step away from the fact that we want to be really good.

"And look, it's about what you learn. It's not walking away with your tail between your legs, it's about what we have learnt, what we can improve, what processes can be improved and understanding the car better."

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