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The big improvers in Gen3 debut

A HOT topic heading into Newcastle was who would really grab hold of the levelled playing field provided by Gen3 and make a sizeable step forward.

The answer was clear by the end of Round 1: PremiAir Racing.

The Gold Coast outfit, created last year when Peter Xiberras bought the remnants of Team Sydney, effectively finished last of all multi-car squads in the 2022 Supercars teams’ championship.

What they showed on the weekend in Newcastle was a far cry from that.

Having sent their mechanics daily to Triple Eight’s Brisbane headquarters for the build of two new Nulon Camaros, PremiAir was a genuine top 10 runner across all three days at the season-opener.

James Golding and recruited teammate Tim Slade qualified for both Top 10 Shootouts and while Saturday’s race went awry in pitlane – a wheel nut issue ruining Slade’s 400th race and a refuelling drama curtailing Golding – Sunday proved rewarding.

“We came out in practice on the Friday and right from the get-go the cars seemed fast,” Xiberras reflected to V8 Sleuth.

PremiAir Racing starred in Newcastle. Pic: Supplied

“We didn’t truly know whether it was sandbagging, who was holding back, but we knew by the third practice session that we would have a pretty good idea and both cars were quick in that third session.

“We were pretty confident into qualifying on Saturday; to get both cars into the top 10, it’s what we have set out to do.

“This year our goal is qualify and finish in the top 10.

“We made some rookie mistakes in that first race on the Saturday. You can use all of the excuses in the world but it was just silly mistakes which cost us big time.

“We learnt from that, we bounced back, we qualified again in a good strong position and we raced the race accordingly and it has paid dividends.

“Hopefully this is a good start and we can continue this trend for the year.”

While Slade led the charge on Saturday, Golding was even more impressive the following day as the top Chevrolet in qualifying and holding third place in the final stint of the 250km race before David Reynolds on fresher tyres relegated him to fourth.

James Golding. Pic: Supplied

PremiAir had never before recorded a top five finish, and now a maiden podium seems only a matter of time.

“Of course we would love a podium but it will come,” said Xiberras.

“Sometimes you have got to wait your turn and our go will come.”

Next up is Albert Park, the site of Garry Jacobson’s triple top 10 performance for PremAir last year.

“Albert Park was a very good hunting ground,” said Xiberras.

“On the back of this weekend we’re full of confidence and we hope we can just keep going better and better.”

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