"The dark horse"

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 07/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

After the two earned a Bathurst podium last year, Oliver Gavin is hungry for more V8 Supercars success with Nick Percat.

The 2015 and five-time Le Mans 24-hour winner returns for the Pirtek Enduro Cup, and while he's in a different team and car this time around, Gavin believes the pair could be this year's dark horse.

Gavin, 42, will have his first taste of the Triple Eight-built Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Commodore today at Winton, when the team utilises its single independent test day for the year.

"Should be really good, I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car and being with Nick again for the enduros is great," Gavin told v8supercars.com.au

"It's been a little while since I've been in a V8 but there's bits of vision I've been going over, some data and trying to get my head back into the V8 style of doing things."

Gavin believes last year's experience through the long-distances races means he can bring even more to the table and is hopeful of challenging for the top five.

"Nick's been running well a number of times this year, in the top 10, and if we could be in that same position for any one of those three enduro weekends I'm sure we'll be able to get ourselves into a spot where we can be challenging for the top five," Gavin said.

"And then in the top five, you're not far away from being on the podium.

"We know we've got some ground to cover ... but I feel Nick has got the experience now and he's certainly plenty fast enough - he proved that last year at Bathurst that he can deliver when he needed to under huge pressure.

"So with the experience gained from another year being in and around V8s and understanding what I need to do as a co-driver, I feel we should be maybe a bit of a dark horse. Not saying we're going to be anywhere near one of the favourites, but I'm sure if we're smart, do a good job, we can be there snapping away at the heels of some of those guys and be a thorn in their side."

Gavin has spent some time with the LDM squad, and while it is a smaller group than the Walkinshaw Racing team he got to know last year (a two-car versus four-car team) he believes they have the drive to challenge for strong finishes.

"LDM is a smaller team than Walkinshaws and yes, they don't necessarily have the same resource here ... but they've got a very committed and dedicated group of people that are pulling in the same direction," Gavin said.

"There are very good, smart people here and they pull together as a good group and good crew, so I have every confidence we'll be able to come out and fight for those positions like we did last year."

Many have called last year's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 history's best, with so many twists and turns it couldn't have been scripted. Gavin was still amazed at how it played out and said he had watched vision of the incredible race that ultimately saw he and Percat finish third.

"Last year the highlight [in V8 Supercars] was obviously that podium finish at Bathurst, which is one of those races I don't think I'll ever forget really," he said.

"The way it all unfolded ... it was just absolutely amazing.

"We were unsure whether we were able to make it to the finish or not with the fuel we had on-board, it was just a remarkable way to finish such an epic race.

"It was the first time I'd ever done that race and it really lived up to every single thing I thought it would be, so it was an amazing day."

This time around, another podium would be nice, Gavin says. It would be LDM's first, with the team's best ever race finish fourth, at the hands of Russell Ingall in Tasmania last year. Strangely enough, Ingall has unexpectedly popped up in the Walkinshaw garage, with the Sandown driver line-up shuffling to replace an injured James Courtney.

"I hope we can deliver something similar this year - to come away from at least one of the enduros with another podium would be very, very special.

"But the competition is fierce as always in this category and Championship. So you can never, ever think it's nailed on or it's a given, you've got to fight for every single position on track and every single good result. We're going in with that mindset."

Stay tuned to v8supercars.com.au for news from the LDM test day - the final test day - before the enduros begin.

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