Two-time Bathurst 1000 champion Will Davison says his team found out what went wrong in the recent Winton round of the Supercars Championship on a nightmare weekend for Dick Johnson Racing.
Davison, who finished fourth in the championship, finished 11th, 14th and 10th in three races, 2nd, 2nd, 6th, 1st and 3rd in five races before Winton.
His teammate Anton de Pasquale was a little better, coming in 8th, 10th and 8th house.
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“We’ve looked very closely at what went wrong,” Davison told Wide World of Sports.
“We are confident that we know what we need to move forward. There were some small things in the car that went wrong.
“We haven’t spent any time there in the last three years, we were the only team who weren’t able to see the track with the current tires, and with the two-day format it was very difficult.
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“It did warn us, but as much as we were frustrated, it was time to reflect and understand what happened.”
The 39-year-old is confident that the problems uncovered at Winton will not be repeated anywhere else.
“There were some things that went against the design of our car,” he explained.
“It simply came to our notice then.
“It’s the first time since I’ve been on the team that we haven’t had a car in the operating window.
“As disappointing as it was, it also speaks to the quality of the packages we have, because it’s very rare that we’re not in the top two. It’s not easy in this game.
“It was a bit of a shock, but it’s a rare occurrence for us.”
After winning in Perth and scoring five other podiums, Davison came in mid-season and finished fourth in the Supercars Championship.
He is in the spotlight for De Pasqual, who finished second in the championship, but Shane van Gisbergen of the Triple Eight has established a commanding lead in the title race.
Davison teamed up with Van Gisbergen of Tasmania, eventually finishing second behind Holden Driver. Speaking from the United States, three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin commented that Van Gisbergen’s rivals must “stand up for themselves” on the track.
This is a premise that Davison has rejected.
“Scott is obviously a sports champion and he ran hard with Shane,” he said.
“Even if you get the speed of a race car, it comes down to one-on-one combat. Shane is able to catch us right now when we’re five or six seconds ahead. He’s coming up to us with his sleeve up time.
“It’s easier to look more aggressive when you gain momentum than when you’re racing against them.
“Our focus is on making sure we can compete at running speed and when I can catch Shane from five seconds back I’m sure I can be more aggressive.”
McLaughlin, who will drive the Indy 500 this weekend, made waves in an interview with the Associated Press, where he said he came from a series (supercar) that was “full of back stab wounds.”
New Zealand’s last years in supercars were overshadowed by the controversy over equality between Commodore and Ford’s Falcon and Mustang cars.
His Bathurst 1000 victory fell into controversy in 2019, when his teammate Fabian Colthard slowed the field behind a safety car to allow McLaughlin to make a pit stop.
Davison, who stepped into the No. 17 DJR Mustang vacated by McLaughlin, said his predecessor only had enough class.
“I know what he means, I know him very well and I’ve talked to him a lot,” he said.
“There’s a lot of talk going on with Mustang, and a lot of cheap talk, he’s pretty upset. I know exactly what he’s up to.
“IndyCar is very cutthroat but very respectable. I think there is a lot of respect between the community and the fan base that we see here from time to time.
“I understand where he’s coming from and I certainly don’t take it personally.”
Davison will next have the opportunity to fight Van Gisbergen in Darwin, a circuit where DJR enjoyed success in 2021.
Davison started from the pole in two of the three races, with De Pasquale in front of the grid for the other. Davison finished second, a pair behind Van Gisbergen.
“Expectations are high,” he said.
“We feel good going there, knowing we had a strong car there last year, and obviously very keen to get ahead of Winton.
“Winton is hurt, we’re just about to turn the page and come out rocking.”
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