THERE is genuine reason to believe the Shell V-Power Racing Team will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2022 Repco Bathurst 1000, says its veteran co-driver Tony D’Alberto.
No driver currently in the Dick Johnson Racing ranks has made more Great Race starts for the Ford powerhouse than the 36-year-old, who is this year making his seventh successive Bathurst 1000 attempt with the team.
That puts him ahead of Will Davison (sixth), Alex Davison (fifth) and D’Alberto’s primary driver Anton De Pasquale (second).
DJR in 2019 conquered The Mountain for the first time in 25 years courtesy of Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat, but has been arguably the fourth or fifth strongest team on race day in the past two editions.
Triple Eight Race Engineering, Walkinshaw Andretti United and Tickford Racing have been the standouts, and Erebus Motorsport impressed last year.
That DJR has improved this year at its traditionally weaker tracks such as Townsville and Sandown has D’Alberto optimistic of the trend carrying across to Bathurst.
“The cars were really quick at Sandown and Puke – probably some tracks where we haven’t been as quick in recent years,” D’Alberto told V8 Sleuth.
“I think potentially the set-up direction might have changed and hopefully it will help at Bathurst, because we know we weren’t as strong as what we could have been there, especially in the race.
“Anton did a great job in quali last year to put it on the front row, I don’t know how he did that to be honest, but the race car wasn’t as strong as the Walkinshaw car that weekend or Triple Eight.
“Hopefully we have closed the gap.”
D’Alberto enjoyed his first test day laps of the year last week at Queensland Raceway, having previously only been aboard the Shell V-Power Supercar at ride days since last year’s Bathurst 1000.
“I think the team has got a lot of confidence,” the TCR Australia points leader continued.
“Last year with two new drivers to the team, obviously leading into Bathurst they were on a high with Anton winning so many races at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“This year I feel like both sides of the garage have been doing a great job so as a group we’re working well together and the vibes are good. We’re definitely going in with some confidence.”
The De Pasquale/D’Alberto Mustang will carry #100 this weekend in celebration of Repco’s 100th anniversary, in addition to a retro 1998 livery to mark DJR’s 1000th Supercars Championship race.