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Dutton explains double Triple Eight trouble

TRIPLE Eight is firmly on the back foot ahead of a critical Adelaide 500 qualifying session after gremlins affected both cars in Friday practice.

Trailing Erebus Motorsport in both the drivers’ and teams’ championship by sizeable but not insurmountable deficits, Triple Eight had sought to put Barry Ryan’s squad under pressure.

Instead, all the pressure is on the Red Bull Ampol outfit after engine woes sidelined Broc Feeney while Shane van Gisbergen jumped out of his #97 Camaro early complaining of steering dramas.

It’s the continuation of an issue that has blighted the Kiwi’s season, and not the first time he’s opted against finishing a session because of it.

Team manager Mark Dutton leapt to van Gisbergen’s defence, declaring it unreasonable to ask the NASCAR-bound star to execute a 100 percent push lap in the circumstances.

“To put it really simply, it feels sometimes like it has got a mind of its own,” Dutton explained via the broadcast.

“So it will move under braking… the point is, Shane and all drivers need to be under control.

“When you see them going flat out and they’re loose and they’re doing all this crazy stuff to the road car lay person, you sometimes could be excused for thinking that they’re out of control, but they are never out of control, they’re in control.

“The rack gives him the feeling of being out of control, not controlling the car totally, hence why he’s like ‘I can’t do 10-tenths because I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s not doing everything I want, it’s doing a few things on its own’.”

Mark Dutton. Pic: Ross Gibb

It’s been said before that van Gisbergen’s ultra-sensitive feel can be a blessing and a curse, something which Dutton elaborated on.

“When you’re feeling everything at ultra-high sensitivity, if it’s not quite right, it’s not fun to drive,” he said.

“It’s not safe to drive in his opinion.

“The car is not about to steer into a wall and crash, it’s not to that extent, but it gives that feeling and that’s a very unnerving feeling.”

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As for the #88 entry, which is undergoing an engine change?

“So, we got a little bit hot at the ride day, didn’t see any issues after, we did some inspections and that,” said Dutton.

“Then this morning a little bit too close to the session we saw that it might not last, but it was too close to the session to change it, so we could have done a better job of that.

“It didn’t last as long as we wanted. We had already pre-empted and the guys had everything ready to change after the session because thankfully we have got a big gap to qualifying.”

Qualifying starts at 5:35pm local time (6:05pm AEDT) and will set the bulk of the grid for Saturday’s race. The top 10 from qualifying will proceed to a pre-race Shootout tomorrow.

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