The consistent performance of the Darrell Lea STIX squad to date has continued on at Hidden Valley Raceway as driver Will Davison recorded two 4th place finishes. Davison survived an action-packed Sunday race to accumulate 240 valuable championship points across the weekend which was good enough for second overall for the round.
The 2.87km Hidden Valley Circuit is notorious for its extreme temperatures and a place where you can easily overheat your tyres. Following on from our recent test day at Queensland Raceway, Friday’s practice session at Darwin saw the #19 Darrell Lea STIX Commodore running on used tyres for the majority of the day and fine tuning its race trim.
“It’s unusual the way we have to tune the car for this track. It’s got quite a lot of grip but as we knew from last year the car always turns well and creates quite a bit of oversteer.
“We’re tuning it quite different to normal but its quite easy to drive at the moment, I’m enjoying it out there at the moment.
“At the moment we’re going for rear grip, so we’ve got really good traction in the car, it’s just in that mid phase of the corner when we’re trying to attack, the rears a little sketchy,” said Will during Practice 1.
Qualifying for Race 12 kicked off Saturday as Will Davison qualified 3rd, just 0.07 off the front row.
“It was good. An unusual session, obviously the cloud cover early, I think I saw Shane [van Gisbergen] go straight out and I had a feeling he was going for the cloud cover. I was pretty confident after yesterday [Practice 2], we were well down the order but I didn’t get a lap on the new tyre. So I knew we were there or there abouts but that’s a nice pleasant surprise.
“All night I was just wondering what I would have done on a new tyre and I didn’t quite have that answer. Good solid run and I knew in race conditions yesterday it felt great, I was just a bit unsure about the quali.” exclaimed Will Davison.
After starting off the second row Will Davison pitted from the lead on lap 15 to re-join in P3 but unfortunately slipped back a position to take the chequered flag in P4 in Race 12.
A slight hiccup in qualifying for Race 13 proved to be costly for Will Davison as he could only manage to be 12th fastest in the session and falling short of the cut off for the Top 10 Shootout.
“Bummed to miss the Top 10 Shootout, we ended up 12th. Saved a set of tyres for the shootout but unfortunately didn’t nail the last run. Long race ahead, looking to move forward.” said Will Davison.
After starting out of P12 Davison stormed off the line in Race 13 to pass 6 cars in the opening lap, however a safety car was deployed after carnage erupted on lap 1. Along with the entire field, Davison headed for the pit lane on lap 1 and was forced to double stack behind Craig Lowndes. The #19 Commodore slotted back in an angry mid-pack in P15.
The Darrell Lea STIX Commodore later returned to the pit lane on lap 10 for a long fuel stop and re-joining in P18.
The #19 continued to follow the #88 of Whincup for another 18 laps until engineer Geoff Slater made the call to bring Davison in on lap 28. The #19 eventually re-joined in P21 but was able to undercut the #88. As the rest of the field dived into the pit lane to take care of their required fuel drop, Davison moved up to P4.
In the mid-part of the race, Davison held off the hard charging Volvo of Scott McLaughlin, pulling away from the #33 until a safety car came late in the race to bunch the field together.
“He’s been trying to save the tyres as much as he can. We were a bit aggressive with the strategy but we’ll see how it plays out.” said engineer Geoff Slater during the final safety car caution.
Davison attempted to close the gap to the #888 of Lowndes after the restart but was unable to make the pass, crossing the line in P4 for the second day in a row.
“Finally just two strong days back to back. Obviously we’d like to be on the podium, but listen I’m wrapped with that. Crazy race, I got such a good start, I got 12th to 6th on the start, obviously safety car queue which I was just shattered about.
“Pit lane stuff was a bit of a shambles so we kept the car clean and pitted with 39 to go. I thought wow this is brave but I was just buried in the pack, everything’s getting hot, pushing quick laps out and obviously under the pump with McLaughlin and Courtney. I just had to weather the storm and burn them out. My thing like yesterday, gets better as the fuel comes off. It was a good finish, a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.
“Another 4th today & 2nd overall for the round, quite a rewarding race. It threw it all at us but we fought to the finish. Great job by Tekno Autosports, good points, and the championship is wide open. All my thoughts are with Lee Holdsworth after his nasty hit. Not nice at all to see him in a bad way. Such a ripper guy, wishing you the quickest possible recovery mate.” said Will.
Will Davison currently sits in P6 with 1152 points after 13 races of the Championship.
The #19 Darrell Lea STIX Commodore hits the track for the next round of the Supercars Championship at the Castrol EDGE Townsville 400 on 8-10 July.