The worst kept secret in V8 Supercars is finally out in the open – Will Davison will be driving a Mercedes next year.
Not since the days of people trying to claim that Area 51 didn’t exist has there been a more well-known ‘secret’ in the garage. Okay, so the ink has only just dried on the deal, but Davison’s name was first mentioned around the Erebus Mercedes squad way back in October, when it was confirmed he’d be departing the factory Ford Performance Racing squad to make way for promising young gun Chaz Mostert.
“It’s a major coup for us. Will is among the top three drivers in Australia, with a tremendous record of success over the past five seasons,” said Ryan Maddison, Erebus Motorsport CEO. Team owner Betty Klimenko added “Will is joining Erebus and I couldn’t be happier, he understands that he is coming into a team that is still finding its roots. He also understands that we are not just one category, we are a motorsport company, we embrace the whole of the sport, and we want drivers and crew to be able to do the same. Will, like all our drivers have been, will be part of the evolution of our cars. He understands this and this is what drew me towards him as a driver in the first place.”
It is undoubtedly a significant acquisition for the squad, who are the de facto AMG-Mercedes customer racing operation in Australia having run SLS GT3 cars in the Australian GT championship for many years before taking over the Stone Brothers Racing operation to enter into V8 Supercars. Davison has been around the V8 paddock full-time since 2006, and has won races with every outfit he’s raced for. He also comes into 2014 in a good run of form, having finished 3rd in the 2013 championship; just outside the Red Bull duopoly. Parterning with Lee Holdsworth means Erebus now has on paper one of the strongest driver rosters in the garage, and let’s be honest; anyone would’ve been a step up from Maro Engel’s nightmare of a season last year.
But the problem with Erebus Racing last year wasn’t the drivers (except for Engel) – it was the car. Holdsworth and Tim Slade, now a Walkinshaw Racing subsidiary, are proven excellent drivers, but they badly struggled to extract performances from the wheezing asthmatic C63. Developing a new car for the V8s is a difficult process, but at least Kelly Racing had the full backing of Nissan’s R&D muscle and money to improve the car over the course of the season and beyond. Klimenko’s squad had nothing like that kind of assistance, and it’s unclear if they’ll have any additional support for 2014; which could be a major problem when another new manufacturer, Volvo, is throwing it’s full weight behind their respective V8 operation.
2014 may well be another tricky year for Erebus and AMG, but at least with Davison and Holdsworth behind the wheel, they won’t be lacking for talent or commitment.