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HomeNewsTickford rookie's 'invaluable' Albert Park trial

Tickford rookie’s ‘invaluable’ Albert Park trial

TICKFORD Racing will trial some Albert Park philosophies today as Declan Fraser uses the first of his three allocated rookie test days.

Fraser, Matt Payne (Grove Racing) and Cameron Hill (Matt Stone Racing) are all completing a rookie test at The Bend Motorsport Park, nine days out from the opening race of Round 2 at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

In stark contrast to the Newcastle street circuit, Albert Park will provide more of an aero-demanding venue for teams and drivers, making The Bend a useful sighter.

“We’ll certainly apply some AGP set-up that the engineers have been working on in the last couple of weeks,” Tickford team manager Matty Roberts told V8 Sleuth.

“We learnt a lot at Newcastle and we’ll bring what we learnt there and apply that here (at The Bend).”

Having been ruled out of the Sydney Motorsport Park pre-season test through illness, Fraser has only ever driven Gen3 machinery at Winton and Newcastle.

“I’m pretty excited, looking at the back section of Tailem in the Gen2 cars, it looked pretty sketchy and hairy so it is going to be interesting to see how these cars react with the less aero,” he told V8 Sleuth.

“We have got everyone out here to make sure we’re going through every single testing program that we can and just trying to learn.

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“We’ve had our first run at a street circuit which was a very brutal initiation and now AGP I guess is still a street circuit but it’s a lot more open and flowing and there’s a lot more forces on the car throughout the entire race which is a bit different to Newcastle.

“So coming to Tailem Bend and having these opportunities to test out the cars prior to getting there, it’s invaluable.”

Talking of brutal initiations, Fraser battled glandular fever and tonsillitis during pre-season testing and arrived at Newcastle 7kg under his racing weight.

Declan Fraser. Pic: Joel Strickland

He raced forward from 24th to 13th in Race 1 – his first solo Repco Supercars Championship encounter – before enduring a frustrating Sunday where a costly last-sector mistake in qualifying put him back in the pack once more.

Fraser was subsequently caught up in a startline collision with Macauley Jones, retiring from the race on the spot.

“That (qualifying error) was the difference between being inside the top 10 on my first ever event to being down the back,” he said.

“You’ve got 25 of the best people in Australia driving out there and the margins are so close, so you literally can’t make any mistakes or you end up like I was on Sunday.”

Nevertheless, it was a positive first experience for the Castlemaine resident.

“Looking back at it, I’m still pretty stoked with how the weekend went,” Fraser reflected.

“Unfortunately in the last race we didn’t really get to show our pace but the first race was cool; it’s just a whole different style of racing.

“From sprint races to those long races was a massive change for me and working with (engineer Chris) Stuckey while driving to do strategy and stuff like that was a massive eye-opener but we managed it pretty well.

“The first race was probably the biggest mental challenge I have had in a very long time.

“I came into the weekend and jumped on the scales and I was 7kg down from where I normally am and feeling pretty weak.

“We came in pretty underprepped with everything that went on in pre-season and now I’m finally starting to get back to where I normally am. I’m not fully there yet but we’re getting back to fighting fit.”

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