Will Davison cut his first laps in his new Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 at Saturday’s sydney.com Test Day. And while he ended both three-and-a-half hour sessions at the bottom of the table in 25th, the results were by no means an indication of pace, according to the former FPR pilot and 2009 Bathurst winner.
“Absolutely no way,” Davison told v8supercars.com.au.
“It’s frustrating – if you’re familiar with the car, you don’t stress when things don’t go to plan. Obviously it was an important day for me, because I had no idea about this car…
“Definitely some promising things were tried, but didn’t really have a chance to show our potential.”
Rainy conditions meant it wasn’t an ideal day for testing, and Davison and his crew hit a bump in the road when clutch issues kept the car garage-bound during the first opportunity for dry running.
“The problem was, when the track was at it’s best we were in the garage doing these major changes to the car and we missed the best of the running,” the #9 driver said.
“(We used) Literally one set of old tyres – didn’t didn’t do a decent lap, didn’t get a decent tyre on the car and unfortunately it wasn’t the day we needed, but absolutely no way is that our real pace.
“No doubt if we got some runs on some other tyres – or soft tyres like everyone else was running – you’d see me much further up the grid, so that’s just the nature of our day.”
With the Clipsal 500 beginning February 27, all attention is focused on the great season opener, which now boasts three races over the Saturday and Sunday.
Davison won at the grueling street event in 2012 after clinching Sunday’s 250km race, and scored ARMOR ALL Pole Position in 2011. But despite having fond memories of previous runs at the circuit, this time the season opener is more of an unknown.
“It’s a slightly different approach going in because I’m not sure,” Davison said.
“In the past I’ve been very confident going there with a very proven product.
“This is very early days and the thing is now I didn’t get any running to know where I’m at. I know we’re not where we were there. We didn’t get any decent runs to at least go, ok we’re around 12th. I have no idea. We didn’t get any productive running for me.
“I’m not too stressed – I’m not saying we’ll come out and jam it on pole for Clipsal, but I know some of the things we’re trying, and some of the positive feedback we got from Lee (Holdsworth, teammate). I really reckon we’ll be relatively competitive thee and do not read one not bit into where my car was.
“I’m looking forward to seeing where we at.”
Wet or not, the sydney.com V8 Supercars Test Day was still somewhat productive for Davison, who became more comfortable in his car, which is the same chassis raced by Maro Engel last year.
“For me it was just good to go and do some laps, get a bit of a feel if you can for the car’s characteristics… the gearshift, the steering rack’s different, the steering weight’s different, the brake pedals, master cylinder, engine drivability, the seat ergonomics; everything’s different.”
Despite the extent of the test program Erebus had – which Davison believes to be bigger than that of any other team – the 2009 Championship runner-up found that aspect exciting.
“Ticking through these items takes time and understanding so it’s exciting we’ve got so many things to try – but often when you’ve got so much to try the changes take 45 minutes to an hour to make these fundamental changes to the car,” he explained.
Jumping back behind the wheel was a welcome change, and tricky conditions challenged the drivers after what was close to a two-month Christmas break.
“We’re just doing laps because we hadn’t been in a racecar for a few months. It’s still pretty on edge out there in the wet and gets your eye back in so to speak.”