V8 Supercars – Bathurst 1000 Rookie Percat Happy To Absorb The Pressure

October 7, 2011

V8 Supercars

Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 rookie Nick  Percat is absorbing the enormous pressure of being a pole sitter on  Bathurst debut for Australia’s  premier motorsport event after his Toll HRT team-mate Garth Tander set the  benchmark.

 

Percat is yet to race at the treacherous  Mount  Panorama and today found  himself on provisional Armor All Pole position when Tander warmed up for  tomorrow’s Top Ten Shootout with the lap of the day ahead of Jamie Whincup and  Mark Winterbottom.

 

For the  impressive Percat he appears unfazed by the massive amount of pressure  there must be on his shoulders. He will get his last drive in preparation in  tomorrow’s last practice session before Tander attempts to take the cherished  Armor All Pole.

 

He will need to feats the same as a rookie  in their first State of Origin game or an AFL Grand Final, with the  hopes of his team and the hundreds of thousands of HRT fans resting on his  shoulders.

 

“It’s pretty good to be around at the  moment,” Percat said.

 

“Of course it’s hard, but who knows. Around  here mentally you have to concentrate a lot more. It’s a lot more demanding and  you have to be absolutely committed to every corner. I’m pretty comfortable over  the top of the Mountain and just rolling on from Phillip Island.

 

“A few people have asked how you just show  up at HRT and drive the car but I’ve been around Garth since 2007 and worked for  the team for a year and a half. It’s not like I got the call randomly, I’ve  worked very hard over the years to be here.”

 

Percat, not through his own doing, had the  nightmare of stalling on the front row of the grid at the L&H500 at his very  first start in the Championship a few weeks ago. As a result he had to start  from pit lane and proceeded to complete on of the drives of the  race.

 

“He proved at Phillip Island by starting from pit lane and  getting to fourth,” Tander said.

 

“With everything that happened at the start  it (at Phillip  Island) would have been  easy to lose you head and let it overwhelm him. As he proved he kept a straight  head, drove the car really well and got us back in the  race.

 

“I’ve been growing him for a few years now  so he’s finally the right height.”

 

Tander has also had the experience of  stalling on the grid but at the start of the race. He assures no problems come  Sunday but the shootout needs to come first.

 

“The car is very, very comfortable across  the top easily the best I have had here. It’s only Friday with the Shootout to  go but it really is insignificant come midday Sunday when we are in the middle  of a battle.

 

“We haven’t turned it into a wet weather  car. It’s a dry car that we can tune backwards if we need to. We are in the  hands of the Gods but comfortable both ways.”

 

Whincup somehow finished second in  qualifying after sustaining serious damage in the final practice session when he  slammed into a wall on the Mountain.

 

“Going hard, that’s all it was,” Whincup  said “I should have got out of it. It was a big shunt. There has been plenty of  times I’ve done some major damage and they’ve fixed it. All of our spare parts  are set up perfectly to go straight in. It’s part of being in one of the best  teams.”

 

Winterbottom was the best Ford in second,  with Kelly Racing pair David Reynolds and Greg Murphy fourth and  fifth.

 

The rest of the Shootout field tomorrow  will be made up by Craig Lowndes, James Courtney, Lee Holdsworth, Shane van  Gisbergen and Steve Owen.

 

Kelly Racing was the late surprise of the  session, with Reynolds and Murphy jumping into the top five after the chequered  flag fell.

 

Reynolds was the only driver able to join  Tander, Winterbottom and Whincup in the 2:07s bracket – a remarkable effort  after the Stratco Commodore required an engine change following issues in  Practice 4 and 5.

 

Van Gisbergen’s threat for pole evaporated  with a mistake on the entry to The Dipper on his final lap, moments before Jason  Bargwanna crashed heavily at the same point of the  circuit.

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