With a break between Winton and Darwin, supercars.com is analysing the drivers’ results and performances in this first part of the season. The racing is the closest in history, with nine different winners in 11 races.
Will Davison, Team Darrell Lea STIX Engineer: Dr Geoff Slater
Average qualifying position: 10.3 Average finishing position: 9.2 Championship position: 6 Points to leader: 171 Wins: 1 Pole positions: 0 (Was quickest in qualifying in Tasmania, knocked back to third with penalty for blocking James Courtney in session)
Best result: Win, Tasmania Sunday.
Low point: Winton Sunday dropped from ninth to 17th after strategy change.
For: Two years in the wilderness at Erebus Motorsport seems to have sharpened rather than dulled Davison’s edge. He is undoubtedly one of the quickest drivers in the field and is relishing being back in a fast car.
Yes, his win in Tassie was fortuitous, but it followed on from being removed from ARMOR ALL Pole Position just hours earlier for blocking arch-rival James Courtney in qualifying.
Davison himself says it is too soon to talk of a drivers’ championship tilt, but in 2016 he is doing a pretty darn good job of being best of the rest. There has been some inconsistency but he has delighted the team with his attitude and competitiveness, especially when he performed at Barbagallo, a place predecessor Shane van Gisbergen never tamed in his three years at Tekno.
Against: Davison’s record of hopping from team to team is used as evidence that he doesn’t play well with others. On that basis being in a single car team and supported by such solid citizens as Tekno Autosports team owner Jon Webb and engineer Dr Geoff Slater should make him feel more at ease and therefore focused and confident. The results so far seem to indicate just that.
The team: Single car teams aren’t supposed to be competitive, but Tekno is different to the norm. It has a close relationship with car supplier Triple Eight Race Engineering and at the races bunks in with Craig Lowndes and his engineer Ludo Lacroix, who is also T8’s technical director. So the lines of communication when there is an issue are pretty short.
Nevertheless, Tekno does go its own way on set-up and budget restrictions mean it chooses carefully what and when it upgrades. For instance, it has only just moved to the latest Mk 6 front-end.
The departure of Englishman Steve Hallam as team manager early in the season was potentially a hiccup, but the team has covered that well so far.
There have been some strategy hiccups this year, but the biggest single issue is the Tekno/TeamVortex pit stops. The change from ‘lollipop’ to pit board at Winton was evidence of the effort being put into rectifying this issue.
Rating: B Not quite fast enough at times to finish at the front, but doing a great job nonetheless.