He impressed at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide last weekend with a fourth place finish in torrential conditions on Sunday, but rising star Cameron Waters isn’t moving the goal posts just yet.
The 21-year old kept it clean in his Monster Energy Falcon in what he described as the worst conditions he’d ever driven in and surprised even himself with the near-podium finish. It was his first wet race in the main game and since 2013 in the Dunlop Series, and Waters described it as a “steep learning experience”.
He was happy enough just to bring the car home in the conditions, let alone in fourth position. After the season opener, Waters sits seventh in the Championship standings, but is still happy aiming for top 10 finishes in his first full-time season.
“Coming into the year I just wanted to try and break the top 10, keep it clean – if you can qualify up the front you can run there,” Waters told v8supercars.com.au.
“Obviously if you start getting a few results your goals move accordingly. For me, that hasn’t changed yet.
“If I start going a bit better I’ll start moving my goals, but for now I want to keep finishing races, and finish in the top 10 while learning as much as I can.”
He credits his mature drive in the wet to his experience in the V8 Supercars Dunlop Series, which he contested for four years and won the title last season.
“A lot of the really good guys were [crashing] so I think anyone could’ve. We were all probably having moments every lap so I was just trying to manage the risk a little bit,” Waters said of Sunday’s race.
“I learnt a little bit of that with Dunlop Series and used that last year so every time I get in the car I’m trying to improve and that’s part of it, I guess.”
Waters caught Prodrive principal Tim Edwards’ eye years ago and has been contracted to the team since 2014.
He stood in for Chaz Mostert after his accident last year, stepping up from co-driver to main driver at the Gold Coast, and racing in New Zealand and Phillip Island. Both were big learning experiences for the young driver – particularly in Auckland where he copped a penalty for contact with Holden heavyweight James Courtney and was investigated for his role in another multi-car incident.
Waters made no secret of how difficult the step up to main game was, but at the Clipsal 500, he’s proved he is deserving of the opportunity.
Now it’s on to the non-championship Formula One Rolex Grand Prix later this week, which Waters sees as another big chance to make progress with the Ford Falcon FG X. Mark Winterbottom was dominant in the car at the event last year.
“I’ll go there and try and improve and learn a little bit more,” Waters said.
“I haven’t driven there since 2010 in Formula Ford, so I’ll have to learn the track a little bit again and learn what the car likes.
“For me, I just need to keep learning as much as I can at the moment. I think going to Grand Prix and racing for no points will help me do that.”
Days later, he’s still thrilled about Sunday’s finish.
Not only did he perform well in the race, he qualified for his first ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout, finishing ninth after each car’s solo lap around the Adelaide street circuit.
“It was really cool – I went into the weekend just wanting to get in the top 10, get some points and come away with a straight car. We managed to do all that and above,” he said.
“In the race on Sunday I didn’t really know where I was, I came in and then the two DJR cars got their penalties and I got fourth, so I was rapt with that.”