While disappointed to have missed out on the Supercheap Auto drive, Nick Percat has vowed to push harder than ever for a seat in the V8 Supercars Championship.
The lanky 25-year old South Australian, who won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander for the Holden Racing Team in 2011, says he has been sounded out by a number of teams for 2014 and is working to get a deal done.
Percat, who is in the last year of a long term deal at Walkinshaw Racing, had hoped that he would be able to extend his association into the main game by taking over from Russell Ingall in the Supercheap Holden Commodore VF, which WR runs alongside the two HRT entries.
Instead, fellow South Aussie Tim Slade swaps from Erebus Motorsport to drive the car in 2014 and reunite with Supercheap, which was also his sponsor in his debut V8 Supercars season back in 2009.
“That drive was definitely on the list, but to be honest I am open to talk to anyone I can to try and get into the main series,” Percat told v8supercars.com.au
“Being the Walkinshaw seat and being my family since 2007 that was at the top of my list because they put a lot into me and have given me the leg-up to be in this position. I would have liked to have got into the main series with them and repaid their faith in me and done a good job for them.
“But that wasn’t to be, so now I look to find a place where I can get into the main series.”
While unsurprisingly unwilling to divulge which teams he is talking with, Percat could be on the possible and probables list for a whole bunch of seats as the driver silly season rolls on. One potential option could be Erebus Motorsport V8, which is weighing up its 2014 lineup in the wake of Slade’s move.
“I’d like to think there are two or three opportunities,” he said. “I realistically think I am a good chance. I am pretty honest with myself in what I do, I would not be putting the effort in that I am if I didn’t think I was a chance.
“I have had a couple of people asking my situation. I don’t have anything in writing or locked away, but there is definitely interest there so that’s quite positive.”
Percat learned he had missed out on the Supercheap drive in the days leading up to the Wilson Security Sandown 500, in which he and Tander endured a tough day that included damaged bodywork, a drive through penalty for pitlane speeding when he was in the car and battery issues. They eventually finished 22nd.
Percat said the news of missing out on the drive did not affect his Sandown performance.
“I thought I did pretty well in the co-driver race … and then at the start of the 500 I got tagged and that took the rear bar off. I then had to commit to the pitlane pretty hard because I knew I had a good 15 cars right behind me because it was pretty heated there in the mid-pack.
“I didn’t want to end up in the fence there like the Patrizi car did last year, so I probably committed too hard to the lane to make sure we still had a car to race with. As soon as I exited pitlane I told Scotty (Sinclair – car manager) that I expected to see him again in a minute.
“I would like to think moving forward we could do something better with pitlane at Sandown because we had a big crash there with the Patrizi car at the enduro last year and I can’t see it being too long before we have another big one.”
Despite the Sandown dramas, Percat says he and Tander will still go to Mount Panorama next month with significant confidence. HRT’s form has definitely been on the upswing this year with both Tander and teammate James Courtney breaking through for wins.
“We learned quite a bit over the weekend about the car and I was happy doing long stints. I made a mistake in pitlane to protect the car but none actually driving the car. So we move on to Bathurst pretty happy with where we are at and how much we have learned over the weekend. We go to Bathurst with the aim of a podium.”
In his two years driving in the 1000 Percat has experienced the highs and lows, following up his 2011 win with a crash in 2012 that put the car out of contention. He was only brought back into #2 late in the piece, originally assigned to Tony D’Alberto Racing, the Walkinshaw customer team, for the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
After several years in the development series, Percat and sponsor Coates Hire swapped to the Porsche Carrera Cup with Team BRM for 2013 and he runs second in the series behind 911 master Craig Baird.