Most people thought David Reynolds was heading for a year of racing at the back of the field when he announced he was off to Erebus Racing for the 2016 V8 Supercars season.
Erebus underwent massive change during the summer, moving base from the Gold Coast to Melbourne, swapping from Mercedes to Holden and refreshing the majority of their staff. On top of that Reynolds left Pro Drive Racing Australia where his teammate Mark Winterbottom won the championship and Reynolds himself had been in the title hunt for most of the year.
Reynolds turned up at the first round of this year's championship and instantly wondered what he had done.
"I was very concerned," Reynolds tells herald.co.nz. "I had been at the Ford factory team for four years and knew everyone really well and loved everyone - I had to form a new team, have a new boss, work with a bunch of new people, new engineer, new car and everything I touched was completely different from what I was used to."
The results weren't particularly encouraging out of the block either.
"At the start of the year we were a second a lap off the pace in qualifying standard and a second per lap is a lot. Over the past six months we have built new bits, tried new bits, had failures, dramas, struggles but we have closed that gap down to maybe only half a percent off the pace of the leading cars."
That improvement saw Reynolds take a superb fifth place in qualifying and finish 14th in the Sunday race at Townsville two week's ago. The finishing position doesn't tell the whole story - Reynolds was in the top three for the majority of the race and only fell back as a few teams got lucky with a late safety car intervention.
"It was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done," Reynolds says of his last start. "Last year if I finished fifth I would almost see it as a loss because the cars were that good and the team was that good. For our team, when we're used to qualifying 15-20th, it is like a win for us.
"My job is to keep the car there now."
Reynolds, who was in Auckland last week to launch the ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe later in the year, says the Erebus team decided to do things differently back in mid-May.
"We stuck with the HRT ways and at about Winton, which was only three rounds ago, we started our own path," Reynolds explains. "It was fundamentally better straight away and from then we have gone from strength to strength. Every time we hit the track we are learning more and more.
"I have always said it would be way more satisfying winning with this little team than with a bigger team because you are not expected to win."