While the rest of the motorsport community is in near-total shutdown over the Christmas holidays, the same cannot be said of the V8 Supercars Championship, such is its ultra-short off-season.
If they’ve not sorted out their seats for the 2015 championship season already, those few drivers left off-contract have mere weeks to line up a drive for next year, or find themselves consigned to the role of a co-driver.
One man getting an early Christmas present is Nick Percat, who has today been announced as the new driver at the Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport team. The 26-year-old will replace veteran driver Russell Ingall, who has officially – for the second time – announced his retirement from full-time racing.
Percat’s future was in doubt after news that James Rosenberg, the owner of the #222 Racing Entitlements Contract under which Percat raced this year, had decided to sell his REC back to the V8 Supercars Championship. That surprise news left Percat without a drive at the four-car Walkinshaw Performance Racing stable, for whom he’d been racing a Holden Commodore VF in his debut full-time season in the top-tier touring car championship.
Percat – who shot to fame by winning the Bathurst 1000 at his first attempt in 2013 as co-driver to Garth Tander – had impressed in his rookie year in the top flight, finishing twelfth in the Drivers’ Championship standings with two podium finishes, including a third place at Mt Panorama.
“Christmas has come a day early for me, I’m so thankful to Lucas Dumbrell for this opportunity,” a relieved Percat said.
“It was disappointing to lose my [Walkinshaw Racing] drive; I thought I held my own during the year against some serious team-mates and only just finished outside the top 10 in points, but professional sport is a tough business. Thankfully, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport had an opening, and we went hard at securing it. To have it confirmed on Christmas Eve is quite special.”
“Nick thought, through no fault of his own, it was going to be a pretty average Christmas for him so I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to bring him some joy for the festive season. I believe Nick’s signing with LDM is the next step in our development as a team. It’s an understatement to say I’m excited. The whole team is, and we all go away for the Christmas holidays knowing we’re going to hit the track running in 2015,” LDM team owner Lucas Dumbrell added.
The privateer team – which will expand to a two-car outfit next year after successfully regaining control of its second REC – will continue to have the support of Repair Management Australia as its title sponsor for Percat’s car.
While Percat’s former seat at Walkinshaw Racing had evaporated, that doesn’t actually mean that the four-car outfit will reduce to three cars. REC holder Charlie Schwerkolt has opted to move his license into the Holden stable – which is headlined by the two factory Holden Racing Team cars of James Courtney and Garth Tander, along with Tim Slade’s SuperCheap Auto Racing entry – after a frustrating year spent running a satellite car with Ford Performance Racing.
Schwerkolt has signed a deal with former Erebus Motorsport driver Lee Holdsworth to be his headline driver for the 2015 season.
Meanwhile, two of this year’s Enduro Cup co-drivers, Tony D’Alberto and Paul Dumbrell, will remain in their current roles with SuperCheap Auto Racing and Red Bull Racing, respectively.
2015 V8 Supercars Championship Driver Line-up (so far):
|#||Team / Entry (technical partner)||Primary Driver|
|1.||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8 Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup|
|2.||Holden Racing Team / Walkinshaw Racing||Garth Tander|
|4.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Ashley Walsh|
|5.||Ford Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||Mark Winterbottom|
|6.||Ford Pepsi Max Crew / Ford Performance Racing||Chaz Mostert|
|7.||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly|
|8.||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||Jason Bright|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison|
|14.||Freightliner Racing / Brad Jones Racing||Fabian Coulthard|
|15.||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Marcos Ambrose|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing (Walkinshaw)||Lee Holdsworth|
|21.||Britek Motorsport (Brad Jones Racing)||Dale Wood|
|22.||Holden Racing Team / Walkinshaw Racing||James Courtney|
|23.||Repair Management / Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Nick Percat|
|33.||Volvo Polestar Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||Scott McLaughlin|
|34.||Volvo Polestar Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||David Wall|
|47.||SuperCheap Auto / James Rosenberg Racing (Walkinshaw)||Tim Slade|
|55.||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash Racing (FPR)||David Reynolds|
|97.||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / TEKNO Autosports||Shane van Gisbergen|
|99.||Nissan Motorsport||James Moffat|
|111.||Super Black Racing (Ford Performance Racing)||Andre Heimgartner|
|888.||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8 Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes|
|TBA.||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso|
|TBA.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||TBA|
- Teams competing with the Ford Falcon will update to the new FG X model, though a parts shortage is expected to result in some cars starting the season in the previous FG configuration.
- Charlie Schwerkolt Racing will switch from racing a customer Ford Performance Racing Falcon to a customer Holden Racing Team Commodore.
- Dick Johnson Racing will be rebranded as DJR Team Penske, after Team Penske purchased a 51% stake in the team. The team will scale back to run a single car.
- James Rosenberg Racing returned its Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) to the series’ management.
- Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport will expand to two cars after regaining control of its second REC, which had been returned to the series’ management at the start of 2014. The team had previously run two cars in 2013 before scaling back to run a single car in 2014.
- Super Black Racing will enter the series full-time as a customer and technical partner of Ford Performance Racing with a REC leased from DJR Team Penske.
- 2003 and 2004 V8 Supercar champion Marcos Ambrose will return to the series after racing in NASCAR from 2006 until 2014. He will drive for DJR Team Penske. With the team scaling back to run a single car for Ambrose, Scott Pye was left without a drive.
- Lee Holdsworth will move from Erebus Motorsport to Charlie Schwerkolt Racing, replacing Jack Perkins. Holdsworth’s place at Erebus Motorsport will be taken by Ashley Walsh.
- Nick Percat will move from James Rosenberg Racing to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport following Russell Ingall’s retirement from full-time driving.
- David Wall will move from Dick Johnson Racing to Garry Rogers Motorsport to replace Robert Dahlgren.
Image via V8 Supercars
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