Saturday was a busy day at Phillip Island with a practice session, two qualifying sessions & two sprint races.
During the practice session, Dean finally got some decent time on slicks after only managing a few laps on the Friday due to intermittent rain.
Dean: “It was great to finally get a decent run on slicks. I’m definitely playing catch up after not getting a lot of valuable track time on Friday. I finished the session in 22nd. I would prefer to be higher than that but I was only a few positions behind Will so that gives me a bit of confidence.”
The middle of the day saw two Qualifying sessions which were Dean’s first qualifiers since 2007.
Dean: “I struggled a bit with the first Qualifying session and my time reflected that. I’ve been a co-driver so long that it’s been a very long time since I’ve had a set of green tyres & I’m not used to being able to push hard & have the grip you need. With only 10 minutes per session, it doesn’t give you a lot of time to break that routine.”
While Dean was disappointed with his times in the first Qualifying session, he was a lot more positive after the second one.
Dean: “The first session was really a bit more of a practice for me. I had to break that co-driver mentality & we made some gains between the sessions. I’m really happy with 19th. Most of the other co-driver’s have been racing DVS or other categories full time but I haven’t driven anything full-time in 8 years so to be only 2 spots behind Will, I’m really happy with that.”
Starting from the back of the grid for Race 31 was never going to be an easy task & with only 14 laps it was going to be difficult for Dean to make up any real ground. He finished the race in 22nd.
Dean: “I got a pretty good start but I probably didn’t stick my elbows out as much as I could have. I had a few opportunities were I could have made a pass down the inside but I wasn’t being given much room out there & I didn’t want to risk damaging the car. I’m not out here to win races this weekend, I’m here to give feedback to the team & taking the risk to make up one spot isn’t worth it.”
With a better starting position for Race 32, Dean was hoping to make more gains & finish in the top 15 but contact with Todd Kelly on the first lap put an end to that, eventually finishing in 25th.
Dean: “We were heading into Turn 11 and I was on the outside. I left him plenty of room but he still made contact with me & it cost me 4 spots. I had to play catch up but with only 14 laps, it’s a little difficult.”
“I probably didn’t push as hard as I could have today. I didn’t go out there with my elbows out but everyone else did. I’m a bit too used to conserving tyres & keeping the car straight plus I want to give the team as much feedback as I can & I can’t do that if I’m in the fence. We got a lot of good data today & we will make some changes for tomorrow & keep improving.”
“I copped some criticism today after the results but I’m not a magician. Anyone who thinks that a driver can walk into a new team, jump in a new car & fix it overnight is kidding themselves. I’m here to give feedback & make improvements & that’s exactly what I did today.”
Sunday sees one practice session, a qualifying session & then Race 33.