David Reynolds says Erebus Motorsport's rookie sensation Anton De Pasquale will play a key role in his 2018 Supercars title bid.
De Pasquale has excelled in an impressive field of Supercars rookies this year, capped off by a breakthrough performance at Phillip Island last weekend.
It started with an impressive seventh place on Saturday, De Pasquale finishing just a few tenths behind highly-rated teammate Reynolds.
On Sunday De Pasquale was back in the Top 10 mix after qualifying eighth, but was ultimately shuffled back into the pack after being forced to double-stack behind Reynolds during an early stop behind the Safety Car.
And his influence in the team went beyond where he finished on-track; Reynolds admitted that he took De Pasquale's set-up for Sunday's race, and that he would never have finished second on Sunday had be continued down his own engineering path.
With Reynolds is shaping up as a genuine title contender, sitting second in the standings 10 races into the new season, he reckons being able to lean on his teammate like that will be a crucial part of his campaign.
"It makes a big difference to us," he said.
"I’m happy that he’s part of the team, happy that he’s got a really good working relationship with his engineer and they can do different things during Friday practice.
"We tried [Anton's set-up], thought it was dog shit, took it out. They persisted with it and tuned around it.
"We probably didn’t give it enough time in our car and we suffered [on Saturday] because of it. All I could manage was sixth or seventh.
"[On Sunday] we plugged his set-up in, front-row start, P2, nearly a chance to win. Big difference, big difference in performance.
"Teammates like that can make a big difference to the whole team’s overall performance."
Not only is De Pasquale becoming a handy resource when it comes to set-up, his rookie status also means additional testing for the Erebus outfit this year, one day of which was used between the Symmons Plains and Phillip Island rounds.
His improving form also means he could potentially take points off Reynolds' title rivals as the season progresses.
"That’s always a big factor," said Reynolds.
"He can run up the front. If I’m leading and he’s second, that’s the perfect scenario. That’s why we got him. We believe in his talent. He’s a good young kid, inexperienced but fast, and we’re giving him good tools, providing good equipment and it’s up to him to learn off me or go down a different path like he has this weekend.
"Kudos to him. That’s why I’m sitting here [on the podium], because of him, 100 per cent why."
Reynolds is yet to be beaten on pure pace by an Erebus teammate, having comfortably had the measure of the likes of Aaren Russell, Shae Davies, and Dale Wood over the last two seasons.
However he's not worried about the prospect of being out-qualified for the first time by an Erebus teammate, or even beaten in a straight fight, as almost happened at Phillip Island on Saturday.
"It’s going to happen," he said. "Fine. I do not care one bit.
"I’m a team player, it’d be awesome for the car #99 side if he could beat me."