Faulkner makes stunning debut in Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6: John Faulkner has made a stunning debut in the Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore he will share with Queensland's Paul Morris in the upcoming V8 Supercar ...
Faulkner makes stunning debut in Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6: John Faulkner has made a stunning debut in the Sirromet Wines Holden Commodore he will share with Queensland's Paul Morris in the upcoming V8 Supercar Championship endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst.
Faulkner had his first drive in the VY Commodore, which is powered by a Holden Motorsport engine, in a test session at Queensland Raceway near Ipswich yesterday and clocked a quickest lap time of 1-min 11.4-secs.
The time was just 0.4-secs slower than the lap Morris recorded to qualify third for the Bigpond 300 championship round on the 3.1km circuit in July.
Faulkner drove a total of 43 laps in yesterday's test, and his performance left Morris brimming with confidence for the Sandown 500 in Melbourne tomorrow week (September 14), and the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama in NSW on October 12.
"As we expected, John got in the car and did a very professional and tidy job without putting a foot out of place," said Morris. "There has never been any question over his speed, and his (lap) times are right on the pace."
"The test was a good chance for him (Faulkner) to get acclimatised to the car and our team, and his performance has left us all feeling positive for Sandown next weekend, and Bathurst."
Faulkner, who has raced at Bathurst 17 times with a best result of fifth in 1997, said he had been impressed with the capabilities of the Sirromet Wines Commodore at the test.
"The balance is good under brakes, the weight distribution is spot-on, and the handling doesn't go away," said Faulkner. "It's got enough horsepower to do the job and it's comfortable to drive."
"You can tell this car is on the money and I can understand why his team is upbeat. I was testing in the middle of the day on 'old' tyres, but I've never been that quick in the five or so years I've been coming to Queensland Raceway."
Morris has contested the past two championship rounds in the car, which was designed and built by his Gold Coast-based team. He qualified third for both rounds, and finished fourth in the Queensland 300 and set the second fastest lap time in the following race at Oran Park in Sydney on August 17.
"When you get in the car the first thing you notice is the seat is further back, compared to the other V8 Supercars I've driven," said Faulkner. "You feel like you're sitting in the back seat to start with, but once you get used to it then it's a pleasure to drive."
"After running my own show for years, I noticed a big difference just being a driver in someone else's team, and to have other people asking me what changes I'd like, or whether I wanted to try anything different. The feedback and data was great."
Morris, who clocked a best time of 1-min 10.8-secs in a 43-lap stint at yesterday's test, said he and Faulkner shared similar seating positions and few adjustments would be required during driver changes in pit-stops in the endurance races.
"The steering wheel position is the same for both of us, and we will have two-part foam seat inserts to get as comfortable as possible," said Morris. "The whole package has come together really well."
Other teams testing at Queensland Raceway yesterday included Stone Brothers Racing, with championship leader Marcos Ambrose in the Pirtek Ford Falcon.
"My quickest lap was as good as anyone else out there, but in testing you never know if it's an indication of race pace because some people may be on 'older' or 'newer' tyres," said Morris. "I think we've improved our car since Oran Park so Sandown should be good."