How an Ipswich cameo changed Davison's career

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/08/2019
  • By Aaron Noonan, V8 Sleuth

Will Davison claimed a drought-breaking Supercars podium last month at Queensland Raceway, the scene of a 'pretty integral weekend' much earlier in his career.

Now a two-time Bathurst winner and driving for Milwaukee Racing, a cameo in what's now the Dunlop Super2 Series with Dick Johnson Racing in 2005 proved 'life changing'

Davison's debut in Super2 (then the HPDC V8 Supercar Series) did not come in the way that you would find customary to general career progression.

After winning the Australian Formula Ford title in 2001 he raced overseas in '02, '03 and '04, seeking a career at the pinnacle of motorsport – Formula 1.

But like many before him, funds ran dry.

By mid-2004 Davison had returned home, inking a deal with Team Dynamik to race as a solo-driver in two rounds of the Supercars Championship, as well as the endurance races.

He was back in Europe at the end of 2004 testing a Minardi F1 car, but that would become his swansong open-wheel outing.

Returning home full-time, Davison sought a career in Australia’s top touring car category for 2005 but, as he told Supercars.com, there was little appetite for his services.

"For months and months, I’d been on the phone, but no one would even have a coffee with me," he said.

"I just wanted to introduce myself for the following year.

"I was trying to get into the circle, but the response I was getting was 'thanks but no thanks'."

In what was ultimately Davison's final outing with Team Dynamik, he ran around in the top 10 in the 2005 Australian Grand Prix support races.

That was enough to spark the interest of Dick Johnson Racing, which signed him to partner Steve Johnson in the endurance races, when Davison's deal with Dynamik and new licence holder Tony Longhurst fell by the wayside.

To give Davison a leg up, DJR dusted off an older AU Falcon to field him in Queensland Raceway's Super2 round as a one-off.

Davison was instantly competitive, qualifying third and finishing second, third and second in the three races.

On reflection, Davison says it was a “life changing” weekend.

"It was a pretty integral weekend for my career. It taught me a lot about what this game is about," he said.

"Rightly or wrongly, people tend to only believe what’s right in front of them.

"They don’t often do their homework or research, but at the end of the day, people wanted to see me drive a V8 fast before they really wanted to talk.

"And literally from that weekend, it changed my career.

"At that QR meeting, I was able to perform really well.

"For me, it wasn’t a great surprise. I was in an older AU Falcon up against the BAs.

"The car I drove was pulled out of the museum – they really stretched themselves to make it happen and went to a huge effort.

"It wasn’t as nice a car as the other BAs that [Dean] Canto and [Grant] Denyer were driving for the team at the time.

"I remember loving it. I really have fond memories of it.

"As a young fan, loving the DJR history, I remember how cool it was driving that car.

"It felt good all weekend and it was the first time that I’d really felt at one with a V8 Supercar.

"It was the first time that I’d done some big overtaking and been able to use my racecraft.

"I found myself leading the final race off the front row.

"I pointed Canto through – he was leading the championship, so I played the team game and did the right thing."

While Canto got the race win and went on to win the title, Davison's efforts had hardly gone unnoticed amid a busy 2006 silly season.

"From that Monday morning on, literally everything changed," he added.

"Besides the enduros, I wasn’t really comfortable with where my career was going – I had nothing locked in.

"But in that week following, I had four full-time contact offers there in front of me. It was amazing.

"I’ve been on the wrong end of that type of perception further down my career, and I’ve learnt a lot of lessons, but without that weekend, I’m not really sure what would have happened."

Davison was signed by DJR as a Supercars full-timer in 2006, winning his first race in '08.

After stints with the Holden Racing Team, Ford Performance Racing, Erebus Motorsport and Tekno Autosports, he joined Phil Munday's 23Red last year.

A second-place finish in the Saturday Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint was Davison's first since winning Bathurst in 2016 with Tekno.

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