This weekend’s Winton SuperSprint is going to be guaranteed fireworks; how could it not be at what is known as Australia’s action track?
It is also a chance for regionally-based Brad Jones Racing — and gun driver Nick Percat — to put on a show, and demonstrate an ability to contend for this seasons’s V8 Supercars championship.
The 29-year-old, best known for his breathtaking 2011 Bathurst 1000 win on debut, is showing bucket-loads of potential in a promising start to the season.
‘‘It’s been solid, it hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but it’s been a good start,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m sitting 11th in the championships, which is the best start in my V8 career; it’s been a positive start and the Grand Prix weekend was very good.
‘‘I think it’s about just keeping on ticking off little goals and come the end of the year we might surprise a few people.’’
Percat indeed shone at Albert Park finishing third and second in races two and three respectively.
Getting out to the blisteringly-quick Benalla track excited the Adelaide product ahead of a huge round.
‘‘I like that it’s a real regional circuit; it’s the little things like the campsites, and in the morning you can smell the firewood,’’ Percat said.
‘‘It’s a fun track to drive and really generates some good racing.
‘‘All the Victorian teams test there and I haven’t tested there this year, so there’s no home track advantage as such. So we treat it the same as any other round.’’
The rising star recently extended his contract with Albury-based Brad Jones Racing until the end of 2020, finishing 19th in the championship last year in his first campaign with the team.
But given his hot form, it seems things — particularly a brand new Holden Commodore ZB — are tracking in the right direction, with Percat keen to show he is plenty more than just a Bathurst specialist.
‘‘We wouldn’t be sitting where we are without the car; it’s a whole new car, which is the first time I’ve had that, with a new engine and you can really feel the difference,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve had some good results there over the years, and in Adelaide as well. But my goal this year is top 10 in the championship and we’re tracking along well.
‘‘At Winton, I’d like to think we could be in top-five contention, and for the championships sixth or seventh overall would be really good.
‘‘That would be something to build on come next season, I’ve re-signed with BJR for a few years, so I’m after that good foundation.’’