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HomeNewsEmotional podium 'unbelievable' for hometown hero

Emotional podium ‘unbelievable’ for hometown hero

NICK Percat has described a memorable Adelaide one-two for the former factory Holden team as “the coolest thing I have ever been involved in”.

The result seemed unlikely when Walkinshaw Andretti United lined up seventh and 20th on the grid in their retro-liveried Commodores.

But supreme strategy, faultless driving and general chaos culminated in Chaz Mostert leading home Percat at the front of the field.

Famously from a diehard Holden family, the dream afternoon took Percat back to childhood memories.

“From me, watching this race as a young kid and being a tragic HRT fan, those last four or five laps I was like, ‘this is actually unbelievable, I’ve watched this as a fan climbing a tree to see these kind of moments’,” said the South Australian.

“So pretty surreal, amazing story for our team with those liveries, with what the Holden brand means to Ryan, Martine (Walkinshaw) and everyone at WAU, it’s very, very cool, and I guess what it means personally with my family.

“Hopefully now my granddad gets a bit starstruck from me because he met Chaz the other day and he fully got starstruck so hopefully now I have won him over because obviously the Holden brand is extremely important to my family.”

Critical to Percat’s success was the strategy implemented by race engineer Adam Austin.

Nick Percat, Chaz Mostert and James Courtney on the podium. Pic: Nathan Wong

Car #2 was the first to complete a compulsory pitstop, on Lap 5, and then twice pitted during the opening Safety Car period – a tactic mirrored by fellow podium finisher James Courtney.

Percat admitted he’d struggled through Friday qualifying but even after being afforded more rear grip today, still could not have foreseen silverware.

“I thought with the strategy we were running we might have snuck into the back of the 10 if it was just a green race because once we pitted on Lap 5 and came back out, the pace was pretty good,” he said.

“As it all unfolded I kind of figured out what was happening pretty quickly when I had to come back in straightaway for fuel to make sure I got all of the fuel in.

“I thought to myself, ‘there’s not a chance half these cars are going to have the correct fuel in them’ so it was about keeping it clean, keeping it online because it was crazy, as soon as you went offline you were a passenger.

“I just wanted to keep the car clean and tidy and look after the tyre knowing that I would be in a good position.

“Then there was a few little battles on restarts and people wobbling around with JC and Andre (Heimgartner) and stuff, so it was just a credit to the team to read the play about getting me back in to get that fuel under Safety Car. Amazing strategy.”

It’s a welcome result after a tough season for the 2011 Bathurst 1000 winner.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Percat.

“There’s still a bit of learning. I’ve got a new engineer with Adam, he’s amazing and he’s been in the team for a long time now and just learning the magnitudes of when I say it’s understeering, what kind of scale that is.

“So it’s just all about preparing for next year.

“For me, this year was amazing to come to the team, but it was always about the following year, being a factory team, Gen3 and being alongside Chaz.”

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