The future of two of the V8 Supercars Championship’s most high-profile drivers remain up in the air, with Will Davison and Tim Slade both seeking to lock down contract extensions with Ford Performance Racing and Erebus Motorsport as soon as possible.
Davison is particularly a key player in the 2013-14 ‘silly season’ rumours. The 30-year-old has shown a remarkable improvement in form since he switched camps from the Holden Racing Team three seasons ago, and this year he’s a major contender for Drivers’ Championship honours.
But despite his successes, his future with FPR beyond his three-year contract remains clouded.
His current employer, FPR, is locked in lengthy negotiations with Ford over how both operations will participate in the series following the latter’s announcement that it will cease production of its Falcon roadgoing sedan, meaning that Ford will have to introduce a replacement model in 2014 under the series’ technical regulations.
It is understood that FPR’s exclusive option on Davison’s services expire in a little over a week, which would leave him open to considering serious offers from rival teams. That’s far from an ideal situation for FPR, who may be forced to jump the gun and re-sign him ahead of getting a secure commitment from Ford.
With Davison’s teammate Mark Winterbottom being the only driver locked in beyond 2013, the situation is compounded further as FPR also seeks to assess new deals with Will’s brother Alex, as well as David Reynolds, who drive the outfit’s sister cars, as well as rising star Chaz Mostert, currently on loan to Dick Johnson Racing.
“Some things have to happen pretty soon,” Davison conceded, when asked about his contract situation by the Speed Café website.
“It’s not an ideal situation and I certainly didn’t envisage we’d still be talking about it at this point, but we’ll have to see what happens.
That being said, were he to become available on the driver market, there are too few teams who could provide him with the same – or better – salary and access to competitive equipment, and that could force him overseas to look for competitive drives.
“Having another crack overseas is certainly something I’ve thought about happening at some stage in my career. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be doing it at this point, but you never know. It’s going to be a pretty telling few weeks or months,” he continued, adding that stints in European sports cars or the American NASCAR scene would both be attractive drawcards.
“[But] my first preference is V8 Supercars and FPR. I love the racing here, I enjoy the events we go to, the fans we have and working with all the guys in the team. I feel that we’re just hitting our straps and have the potential to do great things.”
Meanwhile, the situation is perhaps a bit more certain for Erebus Motorsport driver Tim Slade, who is confident that his future with the team will be locked down in the coming weeks.
The 28-year-old has also been at the centre of driver market rumours, following the former Stone Brothers Racing team’s difficult transition to its new Erebus Motorsport guise.
While the outfit has not initially enjoyed the hoped-for success in its first year of running customer AMG E63 cars, the South Australian driver is now considered highly likely to remain with the team on the back of its recently improved form.
Following a spate of recent upgrades, the team’s three cars are legitimate midfield contenders. Slade has managed to qualify inside the top-ten in six of the last seven races, peaking with a second-row start in the last race at Ipswich.
While the team is keen to downplay suggestions that it will be a frontrunner by season’s end, Slade has suggested that the team’s performance upswing will be a factor in his decision to remain with the team – with whom he has been racing since its Stone Brother Racing guise since 2010 – next year and beyond.
“If we were still running around where we were at the start of the year then my thoughts (on the future) would be fairly obvious,” he is quoted as saying.
“But now we’re back in the race; everything going on certainly is a factor and plays a part [in a decision to remain with Erebus].
“I’d like to have something sorted by Winton, if not then definitely before Sandown,” he added.
The championship round at Winton Raceway takes place this weekend.