Signing world motor racing star Sebastien Bourdais for the Pirtek Enduro Cup has given Charlie Schwerkolt another boost of confidence as he hunts for success in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship.
Schwerkolt has gone to great lengths to resurrect his V8 Supercars entry, desperate for improvement and results this year, after being unable to crack the top 10 over the past two seasons.
He first shocked the V8 Supercars community late last year by clinching race-winning driver Lee Holdsworth, who was believed to have been signed to Erebus Motorsport for '15, and was his third driver in as many seasons.
Schwerkolt then electedto change teams and manufacturers, aligning with Holden's Walkinshaw Racing, which was announced just a fortnight before the season start.
Schwerkolt was positive heading into season, and while results at the two point-scoring events the Clipsal 500 and Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint see Holdsworth 18th in the Championship, the team owner says he feels a win coming and is confident they'll be happily in the top 10 soon enough.
"We have a very real chance of winning and being on the podium," Schwerkolt told v8supercars.com.au.
"The ingredients are all there - I'm very happy with the car, very happy with the team and with Lee, and I can feel some good results very close.
"Hopefully we'll have a ripper run in Perth [next round]. Lee had a bit of unlucky stuff, with a drive-through in Tassie - but I can feel we're getting better with the car and the engineer relationship [with Alex Somerset] is fantastic.
"So I don't think it's too far away, getting good results. I'm pretty happy at the moment, for sure."
Settling with Walkinshaw Racing this season has reunited Schwerkolt with current team boss Adrian Burgess, who he had previously been involved with at Dick Johnson Racing in 2010,when DJR won the Championship.
That year, funnily enough, was when Schwerkolt met Bourdais, whose first ever drive of a V8 Supercar came in Jonathon Webb's Mother DJR entry. The two earned a top 10 result on the Gold Coast in the first race with international co-drivers, and 16th in the second. Bourdais was then swept up by Triple Eight for the following years that required international co-drivers, and finished first and second with Jamie Whincup over the four races in '11 and '12.
Having the Frenchman back on the grid for these high profile races is a coup for both the team and the sport, Schwerkolt says.
"I think it's great for Lee and for all my partners on the car - there will be plenty of exposure on this car to see how Sebastien goes. It's a win for the sport," Schwerkolt said.
"Adrian and I bandied around quite a few names, and one stood out as an amazing guy and an amazing driver so I thought, let's try and get him.
"It took a little while to put the deal together ... but it was worth the effort, we got him."
While he admits there is some risk, as Bourdais has not raced at Sandown or Bathurst before, Schwerkolt was confident the four-time Champ Car World Series Championwould adapt quickly, as he had with Triple Eight at the Gold Coast in 2011-12, and was a more comfortable option that taking a rookie driver to the events that can turn a season.
"He was just amazing in the Triple Eight car and fast as the main driver there," Schwerkolt said.
"It opens up the strategy now to have a really fast co-driver, the world changes for us."
Holdsworth is pleased to have the big name co-driver on the team for the three endurance races, and mirrors Schwerkolt's confidence for the year.
He claimed the Walkinshaw Racing seat is the best he has had in V8 Supercars, and after a heart-breaking endurance campaign last year, with two enormous accidents, he's looking to turn things around in a big way.
"A good endurance series can make or break your Championship so it's important to give yourself the best opportunity; having Sebastien puts us in a really strong position," Holdsworth said.