ALEX DAVISON AND THE IRWIN RACING FORD THIRD IN NZ V8 PRACTICE Alex Davison aboard the IRWIN Industrial Tools sponsored Ford Falcon FG has set the third fastest time in today's practice for the Hamilton 400; the second race weekend of the V8 ...
ALEX DAVISON AND THE IRWIN RACING FORD THIRD IN NZ V8 PRACTICE
Alex Davison aboard the IRWIN Industrial Tools sponsored Ford Falcon FG has set the third fastest time in today's practice for the Hamilton 400; the second race weekend of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Davison blasted the IRWIN Falcon around the Hamilton street course with just five minutes remaining to be the quickest of the 30 cars. He was set to go faster on the following lap, but was held up by traffic. Davison's time of 1:23.8735 was bettered only by his brother Will and New Zealand racer Jason Richards in the final two minutes of the day.
The result was a massive boost for the team ahead of the weekend's races. At the opening round in Adelaide Davison lost all but a handful of laps in practice after an engine failure. Davison then lost valuable track after another engine issue the following week at the Australian Grand Prix support event.
Today, Davison was able to use all three practice sessions to get a feel for the IRWIN Racing Ford and improve it throughout the afternoon. He was third fastest in the opening session which was for cars outside the top-15 in the championship. Davison came into the weekend sitting =17th in the standings.
During the second segment the team tried a number of different suspension changes, but decided to keep the original set of tyres on the car and not use a new set of rubber until later in the final session.
After a number of cars had hit tyre bundles in the middle of the back-straight chicane, officials made the decision to remove them. This opened up the racing line and made for plenty of spectacular action as cars launched over the kerbs.
Working alongside Stone Brothers Racing teammate Shane van Gisbergen, the IRWIN Racing team matched changes to Davison's IRWIN Racing Falcon and with the addition of the new set of race tyres his lap times then dropped.
At the end of practice, the top-20 cars were all under the previous practice record and the top 21 cars were separated by just one second.
"Yes it is only practice, but we are heading in the right direction going into Saturday," said Davison.
"We obviously put a set of tyres on at the end of the session and it brought the desired result. I'm happy at the moment, but we will need to continue to improve the car and for sure I have a little bit more to come.
"I've really enjoyed driving on the track today. This track actually has more grip than what I expected and that has allowed me to attack a little more than other street circuits.
"After losing an engine at the first two races of the year, these were the first real practice sessions in the car for me. We never got the car balance right at Adelaide or Albert Park and today we really worked on improving the car throughout. That's why we were able to set the time at the end.
"There is a lot of talk about the tyre bundles in the chicane. I was pleased to see them removed for the final practice as it really open-up the corner. Tyre bundles are a pet hate of mine and it is far safer not having them. To be quick and not damage your car it means keeping two wheels, and not four, over the kerbs."
IRWIN Racing Engineer Wes McDougall was pleased with the session, especially the opportunity to work through a full schedule of changes and continue to build his working relationship with Davison.
"Getting some back-to-back running in practice and working closely with Alex has clearly paid off today," said McDougall.
"We had a solid plan which we stuck with today. Being in the second half of the championship we got an extra practice session to start with which was an advantage. However, we had to use that session as well as the second practice and part of the third session on the same set of tyres.
"Importantly the car really did respond when we put the new tyres on. That has us really pleased heading into the qualifying sessions and the opening race tomorrow.
"Today does not guarantee that we will be in the top three in qualifying. In saying that, the most important thing is that the team, including Alex, are on a high. Confidence is the ingredient every team is looking for."