After a strong showing at Hidden Valley, Will Davison was confident heading into the Townsville 400 where he made his V8 Supercar series debut back in 2009. The Darrell Lea STIX crew kicked off Friday on the streets of Townsville with a strong showing with driver, Will Davison third fastest in both Practice 1 and 2 sessions.
“[The] car is alright, we’re in the top group, there or there abouts, we just put a better set of tyres on and a slight change, see what happens this time.” team boss Jonathon Webb said during Practice 1.
“Great job by the team, we certainly seem to be in the mix so pretty good signs to be feeling this good so early. We’ve got a lot of data to look at tonight which is good. Looking forward tomorrow.”
The #19 Commodore showed good pace across the one lap to qualify 6th fastest for Saturday afternoon’s 70 lap race.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully an awesome race. It’s always a good battle around here.
“Sixth you know, any time you’re top 3 in this category you have a sense of relief. Obviously we were hoping for a little bit more this morning. These stints could be really long potential and being sixth isn’t going to mean much at the end of one of these long stints if you’ve got the car nailed. We’re going to have to go hard, we’re going to have to be smart. It’s going to be an interesting race.” Davison said pre-race 14.
The #19 Commodore was quick off the mark after starting out of P6, making 2 places on lap 1 but later fell back to P5 on lap 4.
As the leaders headed for the pit lane for their first stop, Davison moved up to P2 until he made the detour down pit lane for his first stop on lap 17 where he would then re-join in P15.
Davison pitted for further fuel and tyres on lap 42 and maintained P6 until a thrilling finish to Race 14 saw Davison just edging the #22 of James Courtney at the line to steal P5.
“P5 was a good result today, we’re working hard tonight to make it better for tomorrow. The crew did a ripper job today.” exclaimed Davison.
Davison was the fourth fastest car in Sunday morning’s qualifying session, buying himself a ticket into the top-ten shootout. In the shootout, the Darrell Lea STIX Commodore stopped the clocks at 1:12.90 which was good enough for P8.
“I was pretty confident starting the lap but the rear brakes just were chirping on me as I started the lap. Just didn’t quite have the confidence in the braking and the rear of the car just didn’t quite come up. A bit disappointed but all good.” said Davison.
Starting off the fourth row the first segment of the race was fairly uneventful as the drivers settled in for the 200km finale. The #19 pitted on lap 18 for tyres and fuel to re-join back in the mid-pack but as the rest of the pit lane took care of their mandated fuel drop Davison was up as high as P7 on lap 30.
An ill-timed safety car was deployed on lap 32 which heavily impacted Davison’s track position as he was left to double stack behind Craig Lowndes. Having to be held stationary for 18 second in the pit lane without service, a frustrated Davison re-joined the queue behind the safety car in P18 after his second stop for fuel and tyres.
The STIX Commodore struggled for pace in the mid-part of the track, lacking rear grip as tyre degradation became the focus of the race with many laps still to be completed.
“[We] didn’t quite get the quali we wanted and it put us behind Lowndes and then obviously double stack. So it was always going to be a hard day.” said team boss Jonathon Webb
The race was nearing the end but with nine laps to go a second safety car was called when a car was stopped on the track. Davison was called in as the crew opted to bolt on fresher tyres.
The restart was intense and with Davison now on fresher tyres, had the timing screens lit up in the final 8 laps with a late charge to salvage an 11th place finish.
“Was having a great race & looking really good for a strong result. Unfortunately the safety car killed our race. There was a small issue after this that we were able to fix in the last pit stop where we were able to storm back to 11th from the back.” said Davison.
Will Davison remains 6th on the Championship Leaderboard on 1335 points after 15 races.
The #19 Darrell Lea STIX Commodore hits the track for the next round of the Supercars Championship at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint on 22-24 July.