FABIAN COULTHARD is optimistic about his prospects in this year's V8 Supercars.
One championship and one non-championship race meeting into the season, the Lockwood Racing driver sits second on 230 points, 52 behind Craig Lowndes. That's thanks to consistent results in the three races in Adelaide.
At the non-championship weekend at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne he placed fifth, third, second and fifth.
While he's still waiting to see the chequered flag at a race this year, Coulthard says he's pleased with his Commodore.
"We're heading in the right track," Coulthard said.
"The car is very good in race trim - we learnt a lot at the Grand Prix, where we've improved the car to another level.
"Our qualifying speed has improved a lot since Adelaide, which was a massive area of weakness for us, but we had very good race speed.
"The championship is obviously long, and it's all about gaining points at every round, and the best way to be in the championship hunt at the end is by finishing all of the races.
"We're in good stead, we've got a few updates for the cars in coming races, which I'm excited about."
Next weekend's race in Tasmania, at the Symmons Plains Raceway, 30 minutes outside Launceston, is the second championship event of the season.
Coulthard emerged victorious there last year, and if he can replicate that level of success next weekend, he'll stay in the hunt for the title, along with the all- powerful Red Bull Racing team of Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.
"It looks pretty simple on paper, it's five or six corners," Coulthard said of the Tasmanian track.
"But, because of that, you generally find that the whole field is close, and first to 25th is only covered by a second, so you don't have to do too much to find yourself outside the top 10.
"It's a track I've enjoyed - I got my first podium there in 2009, won two races last year and won the round, so it's always nice to go back to a track that you've had good success at."
There's a short turnaround between Tasmania and the race in Winton, Victoria, the following weekend. Then there's a two-week gap before the event Coulthard and the other New Zealand drivers all look forward to, Pukekohe.
"I don't race in New Zealand enough any more, so it's nice to be able to come home," Coulthard said.
"The Kiwis fans are so supportive, not only when there are Kiwis coming along here in Australia, but when we get home to New Zealand, also.
"For once, we come to a race where it's pretty much all Kiwis in the crowd going for three people, and it's awesome to have that support.
"We can't wait to get back there, the facilities have been improved as the years have gone on and Pukekohe is an iconic track in New Zealand.
"Murph (Greg Murphy) is the king of Pukekohe, but I wouldn't mind being the prince."
- Sunday Star Times
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