Last year’s Barbagallo Raceway victory is nothing but a distant memory for Will Davison, who lines up with a new team and incredibly different V8 Supercar for this year’s Perth SuperSprint.
The now TEKNO driver took a shock win for Erebus Motorsport in Perth in 2015 – his only P1 finish with the squad after driving the Mercedes Benz AMG E63 for two seasons.
But his solid record at the abrasive circuit is a good sign at a tricky circuit that can only be conquered with the right mix of speed and strategy.
“Last year doesn’t mean anything for this year, but it’s a place I’ve won three races in my career, so I’ve generally had good success there,” Davison said of Perth.
“I like the nature of a little bit more of a strategic element in Perth – if you’re just an all out aggressive racer with no strategy but going fast, you’re definitely not going to go well in Perth.
“The way you drive the car, you’ve got to be a bit sensible and I enjoy it.
“But as I said … last year absolutely doesn’t play on my mind whatsoever, it’s just another venue to continue getting up to speed in the car.”
Before his Erebus move, Davison was a regular front-runner in the Championship, having finished in the top five four times, including 2009 when he was runner-up to good friend Jamie Whincup.
Shifting into a car that was capable of challenging for more wins was a big motivator for Davison this year, and he has already been on the podium twice, taking a win and third place finish in Tasmania. He sits fifth in the championship standings, 93 points away from leader Whincup.
Consistency is an important challenge for both Davison and TEKNO now.
“Hopefully we can be like Tassie majority of weekends, not just flash in the pan – which we won’t be,” he said.
“[Tasmania] shows that we can do it – but I just need to understand the car.
“So [I’ve been] counting down the days to get back in after Phillip Island to keep the learning process going, try and develop some stuff in the car and just more mileage on the track to get on top of it.”
Davison was tight-lipped on changes to his Commodore for Perth, but did confirm there would be upgrades going into the car.
He is focussed on understanding the nuances of the Triple Eight Holden and said the team was mindful of not overloading him with new things to learn.
“Every now and again we’ll have some upgrades and then you’ve got to understand those upgrades,” Davison said.
“For me the focus is trying not to over complicate everything – but I want to understand everything I’ve got before we throw upgrades at it.
“For sure the car is different from what they had last year. As a group I’ve never driven the car before this year, and we’ve got new stuff on the car, so we’re just collectively trying to find our window and our sweet spot and we’ll get there.”
Though TEKNO is his fifth different team in his full-time V8 Supercars career, it’s a place Davison sees himself long term.
Learning the ins and outs of the car, and somewhat reinventing himself with the one-car customer team seems to have somewhat reinvigorated Davison’s drive in V8 Supercars.
“I’m enjoying the process, it’s great knowing there’s a science behind everything that goes on,” he said.
“The sport we’re in as a whole – nothing is a magic bullet. There are certain teams out there that prove there’s no such thing as there’s an update and there’s a guaranteed two tenths of a second, it just doesn’t happen.
“For everything you gain with the car, you lose. It’s about finding that sweet spot – you chase a bit of rear grip, lose a bit of front. Chase a bit of front, lose rear … it’s being fully able to understand your car and getting the best compromise at every circuit. That’s what it comes down to.
“It is cool though to know we’ve got a quick car and there’s always development on the horizon.”
Davison lines up for his 150th round start this weekend at the Perth SuperSprint.