Holden drivers are confident aerodynamic changes to their Commodores have closed the gap on Ford’s runaway Mustangs ahead of this weekend’s Supercars showpiece, the Bathurst 1000.
But Holden star Shane van Gisbergen is not so sure.
Van Gisbergen looked to have been one of the great beneficiaries of the Commodores’ updated aero packages when they were introduced at the last round in New Zealand, the Auckland SuperSprint.
The Kiwi jumped from fourth to second on the championship, winning one race and finishing second in the other at Pukekohe in what appeared to be a changing in the guard.
Supercars experts believed the aero changes had significantly improved Holden’s speed, predicting record lap times at Bathurst and Ford’s dominant series leader Scott McLaughlin to be looking nervously in his rear-view mirror.
But instead of being quietly confident of winning a maiden Bathurst title, van Gisbergen surprisingly claimed his Red Bull Racing team still had plenty of work to do to get up to speed before the Great Race.
“It’s an unknown,” he told AAP.
“Obviously the new aero changes got us closer at Pukekohe but the car was out of balance there (after aero changes).
“It put a lot of downforce to the rear, which is not what we wanted.
“We spent our test day trying to figure that out, trying to balance the car but it’s still an unknown.”
But fellow Red Bull Racing driver and seven-time series champion Jamie Whincup believes the aero changes have turned the Bathurst form guide on its head.
Defending series champion McLaughlin was the hot tip to claim a maiden Bathurst after a record 17 race wins this season and grabbing a remarkable 598-point championship lead over nearest rival van Gisbergen.
However, Whincup reckoned nothing could be taken for granted thanks to Holden’s rejigged Commodores.
All Commodores on the grid received a revised package for Pukekohe after official approval, featuring an extended front undertray and new Gurney flap, a device on the rear wing that increases speed and faster cornering.
“We were going to be a long shot before the aero changes at New Zealand, now I feel the cars are as even as they can be – we are certainly in with a shot,” Whincup said of the changes.
Whincup’s co-driver and seven-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes not only predicted Holden to be in the mix but expected lap records to fall.
“The aero update on the Commodore is a good thing. It looks like it has closed the gap (on Ford),” he said.
“We won’t know until we get to Bathurst but I think the pace of the race and qualifying is going to be quicker. I expect lap records.”