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Tuesday, May 28, 2024


TICKFORD Racing young gun Zak Best is not one for studying squiggly lines, his engineer Dilan Talabani has revealed.

Best stormed into the spotlight last month when he put his wildcard #78 Mustang on pole position for Race 21 of the Repco Supercars Championship at Tailem Bend.

Although a tyre batch controversy took some shine off the record-breaking feat, Best backed it up the very next day to qualify a superb seventh – now without any question marks surrounding rubber quality.

With that, the 20-year-old from Benalla, who is also running second in the Dunlop Super2 Series, has strengthened his bid for a main game promotion.

Talabani likes what he sees.

The Iraq-born race-winning engineer is best known for guiding Andre Heimgartner through five Supercars seasons. He rejoined Tickford this year to engineer Best in both his wildcard and Super2 programs.

“It kind of showed both me and him that if you don’t put too much pressure on yourself and you just go out there and focus on doing your job, you can do some pretty amazing things,” Talabani told V8 Sleuth.

“He showed a performance way, way ahead of his experience.

“So we have got to learn from that and just understand we can’t put too much pressure on ourselves and just focus on doing the job.

Zak Best. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

“Especially for him, he just needs to focus on what’s going on in the car and really, really knuckle down and apply himself in the car because he’s done it, he’s proven to everyone and he’s beaten everyone, so I think that’s the carrot dangling in front of him, that he wants to do it again.”

Interestingly, he’s observed a driver with very different methods to Heimgartner, with a watch-and-learn approach revolving around footage more to Best’s liking.

“Naturally he is not an academic driver,” said Talabani.

“He’s not one that studies a lot of data, he’s just naturally gifted.

“So I’ve got to adjust my methods and my workings to suit what works for him, and he’s kind of got to come a bit back to my way of working as well which is, ‘alright, let’s study what are the important elements for this track and what are the key factors to getting lap time at a particular track’.

Best on the Super2 podium at Sandown. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

“It gets him thinking a bit more rather than just relying on his raw talent.

“It’s starting to work out and it’s starting to be a pretty good compromise. It’s already a really good working relationship, I get on really well with him.

“It’s easy when the car is fast and you’re just finetuning it. The sign of a great driver is one where they’re in a car that isn’t fast and they can still recover it and improve it over the course of a weekend.

“He has already proven he’s fast, he has already proven he is fast in a fast car; now he has got to work on how he can develop a car to what he wants and have confidence in requesting what he needs from me and the car.”

With a view to 2023, Best is part of a five-into-four driver logjam at Tickford.

Cameron Waters will definitely return next year, leaving James Courtney, Thomas Randle, Jake Kostecki and Best to squabble over the remaining three seats.

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