Practice pacesetter David Reynolds is confident he can continue among the leading contenders for the Perth SuperSprint at Wanneroo Raceway.
Reynolds was consistently among the quickest in Friday's marathon 90-minute practice session before finishing on top in his Penrite Racing Mustang.
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The eccentric star ascribes his early speed to his team's ability to quickly and easily make set up changes with measurable gains – an attribute he expects to continue in Saturday's three-part qualifying for the opening race.
“It's only practice, but any time you can put the badge on for being fastest, you take it,” Reynolds told Speedcafe. “We made some really good changes and the car responded, and that's why we were fastest, I think.”
Continuing his resurgence in the new Gen3 era, he beat surprise packet and fellow Ford driver Todd Hazelwood by 0.0348 seconds, with local hero Brodie Kostecki close behind in the first of the Chev Camaros.
According to Reynolds, the Grove Racing squad arrived in Perth with a strong handle on how to tune its Mustangs to the 2.42km rollercoaster Wanneroo circuit, then proceeded to implement speed-gaining changes across the lengthy one-off practice session.
Endorsing the team's systematic approach, rookie Matt Payne was ninth quickest – just 0.2476 seconds off his team leader's pace – with Penrite Racing alone in having multiple cars in the top 10.
Asked if his practice pace boded well for the three sprint race weekend, Reynolds posited: “Well, you'd think so. Generally, every set of tyres we had from the start to the finish, we were one of the front runners.
“So, yeah, we made some really good changes then and the car responded, no matter how small the changes were. The changes seem really big in the car, so you can still get lost pretty easily, but you can also tune it for what you want pretty easily, I think.”
Reynolds surprised himself – if only jokingly – that his attention span lasted throughout one of the longest practice sessions in Australian touring car racing history – half an hour longer than even at the Bathurst 1000.
“It was really good!” he exclaimed. “I thought I was going to struggle for concentration, having so much practice, but it went really fast. I was in and out of the car a few times, which kind of breaks it up, so it wasn't too bad.”
He added that his and Payne's performances were reflective of Grove Racing's increasing investment in top talent, led by engineering gurus Alistair McVean, David Cauchi and Grant McPherson.
“I love people putting in effort and every year this team puts in effort,” he gushed. “Since I've been with this team, they've put a lot of effort into building the best cars they can and give us all the tools we need, and that gives me confidence when I drive it.
“I believe we have some of the best cars in the lane. That's why I love driving and that's why I like to perform.”
He is expecting the battle for pole position for Saturday's first 42-lap, 101km sprint race, which will be decided by a three-phase knockout qualifying format, to be intense.
“It's close – very, very close,” Reynolds said. “Not much separates any of us, which has been the story so far this year, hasn't it? Every session has been closely fought, which is good.
“You don't want to see someone drive away by four or five tenths, even though that's what we want to as drivers. But it's just not possible now.”
Qualifying for the Perth SuperSprint is due to start at 1110 local/1310 AEST, with the first race scheduled for 1545 local/1745 AEST.