Rookie Nick Percat aims to build on the momentum created by his season-best performance at the Castrol Townsville 500 - Driven By TAFE Queensland, as the V8 Supercars Championship heads into its second half.
The Walkinshaw Racing HHA Holden Commodore VF driver posted 4-9-5 results in the three races at Reid Park, but also impressed with second fastest qualifying in Race 21 and a place in the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout for Race 22.
In all three races the 25-year old was a strong chance for the podium, missing out by a second in Race 20, foiled by a slow pit stop in Race 21 and then chose not to make a risky move on Walkinshaw teammate James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) for third in Race 22. He was passed late in that race by Tekno Autosports Shane van Gisbergen's VIP Pet Foods Commodore on much fresher tyres.
His strong performances resulted in a rise from 21st to 20th in the drivers' championship points.
"Townsville was the best I have driven; from the whole thing with car setup, the way my whole crew worked, the way the car rolled out of the truck was a big step up," he told v8supercars.com.au. "I had to lift my game and we all did and that's the result we got."
Percat and his engineers Alex Somerset and Ty Anderson bounced back strongly in Townsville from a poor weekend at the previous round in Darwin where they struggled to get the car into the top 20.
Townsville was a good place for Percat to seek redemption as he enjoys street circuits and has a fine record at Reid Park, winning a Dunlop development series race there in dominant fashion in 2012 and being a front-runner in Porsche Carrera Cup in 2013.
"We did debriefs after Darwin and there was a lot of things at Darwin that weren't right and I approached the (Townsville) weekend a little bit differently," Percat revealed.
"I always go well at Townsville, love the street tracks, so there were positives heading in and the car rolled out really well. I think myself and Alex and Ty are starting to understand what I want from the car. Darwin we just never got it in that window.
"In Townsville they knew what I wanted from the car. On the track walk I explained what I wanted and that's exactly what they gave me, and it felt like the car I got in 2012 when I won the Dunlop Series here. So Sunday afternoon was easy, because the car was exactly how I asked for it."
He is hopeful the Adrian Burgess-led Walkinshaw squad can deliver front-running performance again at the next round of the Championship, the Coates Hire Ipswich 400 at Queensland Raceway on August 1-3.
"I think that is going to be a tough one for us, but we have made big improvements with the car ... They are by far the best they have ever been," he said.
"I think the package we have now should actually suit Queensland Raceway a little bit better because it seems quite good over bumps and areas where we have struggled in the past have been improved."
Percat is not the traditional V8 Supercars rookie. He has had a long term Walkinshaw Racing contract and won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander in a HRT Commodore in 2011.
He raced wheel-to-wheel with Chaz Mostert, Scott McLaughlin and Scott Pye in a classic 2012 Dunlop Series, but while they made it into the main game in 2013 he had to wait until this year and the re-expansion of Walkinshaw Racing to four cars.
While his wait has been longer, Percat has no doubts he is in the right environment to claim his first solo win.
"All the (Walkinshaw) cars are the same," he said. "No-one is getting special treatment, we are all here to try and win it, which is exactly what Adrian wants. He has always said 'I don't care which one of you win it, as long as it's one of you'."