Tickford Racing (Formerly Prodrive Racing Australia) name change hasn't done them too good in 2018. The four-car team, once a driving force in the category, has had a bit of a horror season so far with their drivers languishing a fair bit behind the series' leaders.
Chaz Mostert is the best of them sitting eight on the points table. Next up is the once dominant and former champion Mark Winterbottom in 12th, followed by Cameron Waters in 17th and newbie in the championship Richie Stanaway back in 24th. At the opening round of the Pirtek Enduro Cup at Sandown things were definitely not taking a turn for the best with Mostert finishing 10th, Waters 13th, Winterbottom 17th and Stanaway, last year's winner, finishing 20th.
Sure, the main game drivers had to share racing duties with co-drivers in the enduros, but the pairings are pretty solid so all is not well at Campbellfield, Victoria based team. The Herald caught up with Winterbottom's race engineer, Brendan Hogan, to try and get to bottom of things in the run up to the Bathurst 1000.
Most Ford fans were hoping that Bathurst might prove to be a turning point, however, Friday's qualifying for The Great Race didn't provide too much hope for the followers of the blue oval. Only Waters made it into today's Top 10 shootout qualifying seventh with Mostert just missing out in 11th followed by Stanaway back in 17th and former Bathurst winner Winterbottom 19th.
"What we saw at Sandown was we weren't fast enough down the straights," said Hogan.
"Obviously Triple Eight had turned up with a pretty good package and we tried to trim our car out a bit, but that changed the front braking stability and tyre wear; all our cars struggled that weekend.
"It was pretty hard to watch the Triple Eight cars on the straight [Sandown] just go past us.
"I hope we don't fall into that trap this weekend at Bathurst of chasing the Triple Eight cars."
The Bathurst 1000 is race all of its own with huge elevation, incredible speed, concrete walls and a heap of history and mystique. A little bit like the Indianapolis 500, there are some drivers who would rather win that one race that a championship.
Visually there is nothing like the Mount Panorama circuit anywhere else on the Supercars race calendar, so it just might be the most difficult track to set a car up for.
"All circuits have their unique challenges. Sometimes you think a car looks pretty good [on track] and then you look at the time sheets and you're nowhere. At Bathurst obviously you have to have everything going for you.
"The biggest thing for Bathurst is to have the drivers confident in the car and that it's predictable for them. A lot of the lap time comes from them being confident that the front and rear are going to stick when they tip it in — especially across the top of the hill.
"You have to make sure the car is quick as possible as most of time the drivers are full throttle. You can be a bit slower across the top as it's hard to pass up there, but once you get to Forrest's Elbow the car has to be fast or you'll passed down Conrod Straight.
"We can't take too much aero of or the car becomes too pointy. We're going to change a few parameters too, so if we do trim the wing out the car will still be stable. If we do it right at the start of the weekend the drivers can used to it so they don't get a surprise with the change of grip."
As mentioned earlier, qualifying didn't go so well, but tomorrow is another day as they say. Some teams may be short odds with book makers, however, for those who have watched this race over the years it would be churlish to pick a winner solely on the season's form so far. Winterbottom and co-driver Dean Canto have both got good pedigree so could just be the outsiders to sneak a win while nobody is looking.