THE Shell V-Power Racing Team’s stunning Saturday at Sandown shows why it was an attractive proposition to its incoming majority owner.
That’s the view of team principal Ben Croke, who oversaw an ambush on what is ordinarily a Triple Eight Race Engineering fortress.
The performance came in the first race since it was announced Monday that a significant stake in Dick Johnson Racing had been sold to the Melbourne Aces, whose leader Brett Ralph was on the ground yesterday.
Starting from pole, newly re-signed Will Davison crossed the finish line 8.4920s clear of championship leader Shane van Gisbergen – representing the biggest winning margin for a DJR driver since the Scott McLaughlin era (2020 Darwin SuperSprint).
“It’s been a really big week for the team,” Croke told V8 Sleuth last night.
“We announced the change in the ownership structure, we announced that Will and Anton (De Pasquale) had re-signed with the team to continue with that stability, so to come here and execute and do a really good job today is proof in the pudding.
“And I guess it shows why the Ralph family wanted to be involved in DJR.”
DJR aced its race strategy, De Pasquale undercutting Will Brown to steal third, while Davison outwaited van Gisbergen at the front.
“A fast car always helps the strategy,” said Croke.
“They (Triple Eight) have had that at other places where it has just been car speed and they have been able to do what they want.
“I guess for us, we had both cars up there and we were able to attack with Anton and play the waiting game with Will and it worked out perfectly.”
As for turning it around at Sandown, where Triple Eight had clinched the past seven races and DJR had not tasted victory since James Courtney’s 2010 win?
“Yeah, and we were strong at Townsville as well,” Croke replied.
“It’s been something that we have worked on. It’s no secret: they’ve got their tracks and we’ve had ours.
“So it was a bit of a focus for this year, we really wanted to work on the tracks we weren’t as strong as them.
“I think Townsville we showed a little bit of that, we competed really well with them there, obviously didn’t get the result in the end, but really worked hard on here as well.
“We were fast in practice, pole, both cars competitive… it’s reward for the effort from the whole team right from the bottom floor to the top floor has put in on these circuits and everywhere.”
DJR has now closed the teams’ championship deficit to Triple Eight down to 74 points.