D’Alberto ready for best Bathurst opportunity with Penske

Tony D’Alberto says being paired with Fabian Coulthard at DJR Team Penske for this year’s Supercars endurance races gives him his best ever shot at winning the Bathurst 1000.

D’Alberto ready for best Bathurst opportunity with Penske
Tony D’alberto, DJR Team Penske
Scott Pye, Tony D’'alberto, DJR Team Penske
Fabian Coulthard, Luke Youlden, Team Penske Ford
#3 Wilson Security Racing: Tony D'Alberto
Scott Pye, Tony D’'alberto, DJR Team Penske
Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
Fabian Coulthard, Luke Youlden, Team Penske Ford
Fabian Coulthard, Luke Youlden, Team Penske Ford
Fabian Coulthard, Luke Youlden, Team Penske Ford
Fabian Coulthard, Luke Youlden, Team Penske Ford

D’Alberto has been retained by the emerging Supercars force for a second consecutive year, having survived the consolidation of the team’s co-drivers after Alex Premat was drafted in to join new signing Scott McLaughlin. Having raced with Scott Pye last year – the pair finishing fifth at Bathurst – D’Alberto has been shifted over to the #12 Ford alongside Coulthard at the expense of Luke Youlden.

With DJR Team Penske making a number of big off-season moves as it looks to become a major player, including signing gun driver McLaughlin from Garry Rogers Motorsport and engineering guru Ludo Lacroix from Triple Eight, D’Alberto says 2017 is shaping up as his best chance of Bathurst 1000 success.

“I’d like to think so. I probably say that every year, but it’s definitely realistic,” D’Alberto told Motorsport.com.

“After last year’s performance at Bathurst, we should have confidence that we can get a result.

“Fabian has proven himself plenty of times, and he’s won races in the championship. That’s not to say that the other drivers I have raced with were no good, but I do see it as a big opportunity for myself.

“I’m ready for the challenge. There is a lot of expectation around the team, but I don’t mind that; I’m pushing for the same thing.”

D’Alberto added that he was excited to be re-signed by the squad after Pye left the team, admitting that he wasn’t sure how things would pan out when it became clear that Premat would partner McLaughlin.

“To be honest, at the end of the last year I felt like I’d done a pretty good job – but with Scott Pye leaving the team I didn’t know how I was going to fit in,” he said.

“So it’s nice to still be here, and it’s nice that the team has the confidence in me. It’s exciting this year. There is so much going on, and there is such a big push to try and get to the front. It’s one of the teams to be with.

“If you keep performing, you’ll be rewarded for it. Last year the cars were really good at Bathurst, and it’s only going to get better. We’ve got some great guys in the team that are going to help that process.

“There are a handful of teams you want to be involved in, and DJR Team Penske is definitely one of them. They have big plans going forwards, whereas a lot of teams work in a very year-to-year way. These guys have a plan, and they’re going to keep getting stronger and stronger.”

Bitter-sweet for Coulthard

Coulthard and D’Alberto have actually raced together before, having teamed up in a Tasman Motorsport Commodore at Sandown and Bathurst back in 2005.

But being reunited with D’Alberto spells the end of Coulthard and Youlden’s working relationship, which extends back to the 2013 endurance season while Coulthard was still at Brad Jones Racing, making it a bitter-sweet situation for the New Zealander.

“It’s never easy. It’s such a statistics-based team, and you’ve got the stack up,” he said. “Luke has done a fantastic job, he did a great job last year. It’s not through his performance, and he won’t struggle finding a gig anywhere else.

“It’s unfortunate; we had a good relationship, we’re good mates, we’ve done a lot of driver training and things like that together, so it’s a tough decision.

“I drove with ‘TD’ back in 2005, so we’ve rekindled the love. We made it work back then, so hopefully we can make it work again this year.

“The beauty of having Tony on board is that he has driven the car, and his understanding of what we have and how he adapted to it was very good.

“Moving forward, having him signed so early means he can come to the test days, drive the car, get lots of miles before the enduros, and hopefully come the enduros we’re in a strong position.”

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