A better than expected start to the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship has Will Davison believing he could be a player in the title chase come the end of the season.
But don’t tell anyone, he’s keeping it under the radar.
“I think we have shown this year that a small little team can be a championship challenger,” the new Tekno Autosports driver told supercars.com during the countdown to this weekend’s Castrol EDGE Townsville 400.
“The first six events were always going to be settling in … it’s been pretty good and I think as a team we are growing together.
“I can improve a bit in the car and our pitstops and strategies will get better as well, so as a team we have a bit of room to move which is exciting.
“So right now we are just cruising under the radar but hopefully we will shock a few people in the back half of the year and still be in the hunt.
“I like flying under the radar to be honest, I prefer not really being talked about. Next thing come December and you’re in the fight. That’s what I’d love, to still be there in the hunt come the end of the year.”
Davison moved to the Webb-family owned Tekno Autosports for 2016 to drive the Triple Eight-built Team Darrell Lea Stix Holden Commodore VF after two hard and ultimately unsuccessful years developing the Mercedes-AMG E63 with Erebus Motorsport.
At the start of the season Davison was playing down the prospects of championship success, but almost immediately bobbed up with a shock win in the 200km Sunday race at Symmons Plains, taking the lead when his Tekno predecessor Shane van Gisbergen and defending series champion Mark Winterbottom slipped and slid out of his way on oil.
Davison even exited the Apple Isle with the championship lead. Since then he has slipped back to sixth in the driver’s title, but he is still just 123 points off the pace being set by his good mate and Red Bull Commodore driver Jamie Whincup.
Davison has been very consistent since Tasmania, in the next eight races missing the top 10 only twice.
“I am loving my racing, just going to every circuit knowing that I have a good shot,” he said. “Even our weaker events haven’t been that bad considering how hard it is to join a new team and be right up the front in the first six months of the year without the testing and everything.
“This year is all about settling in, trying to be consistent and trying to grab the results when they are there in front of us.”
Encouragingly, his form at Townsville is good, leading home Winterbottom in a Ford Performance Racing (now Prodrive Racing Australia) 1-2 in 2013, as well as claiming a second in the very first race at the Reid Park hybrid circuit back in 2009 for the Holden Racing Team and three thirds (2014 for Erebus and 2012 and 2011 for FPR).
“It is a circuit I have had good success at in the past,” said Davison. “I have good memories there and bad memories and that’s pretty much the story on every circuit we go to now.
“I have had podiums there and the win in 2013, so I have always had reasonable speed there.”
By contrast, Tekno have a lacklustre record at Reid Park, with only two thirds for Shane van Gisbergen in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 the team had a horror run at the track, losing most of Friday to a vibration and then making a tyre muck-up in Saturday qualifying that sent the New Zealander to the back of the grid.
But Davison hopes his and the team’s 2016 consistency translates to Reid Park.
“I go there certainly keen to keep that consistency going, that’s all I keep saying; I want to be a top five challenger every weekend.
“I have been nibbling on the back of the podium the last three events straight, so I am pretty keen to get back up there, but I know if you keep knocking out top fives you are going to get back on that podium.”
Davison has had to make a number of adjustments for 2016. A customer of Triple Eight, Tekno is a tiny team compared to some of the giants of the category he has raced with previously and this year has been the first time he has competed in a T8 Commodore.
“I am getting more and more confident in the car and we are just doing our own thing,” Davison said.
“The big teams are developing and they are changing stuff. We just have to do our own thing that we are doing.
“We know what we have got and that is a good and a bad thing.
“Others teams are developing and chopping and changing, but we are just doing our own thing and trying to maximise what we have got, work together close as a team and that’s our whole focus at the moment.”