HOW PERCAT NEARLY BECAME A DJR DRIVER

Nick Percat being followed by Scott Pye, 2014 Clipsal 500 Adelaide. Percat came close to driving the DJR car that year. Pic: Dirk Klynsmith

NICK Percat will celebrate his 200th championship race start when the 2020 Supercars season comes out of its enforced pause for COVID-19.

All 198 races of his career so far have come in Holdens since making his debut at the 2010 L&H 500 at Phillip Island, where he co-drive Andrew Thompson’s Walkinshaw Racing-run Bundaberg Red Racing Team Commodore.

He’d do 12 races as either an endurance co-driver or replacing an injured regular – all in Walkinshaw entries – before his first full-time campaign in 2014.

However, as Percat told the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Timken, his first full-time drive could have been aboard a Dick Johnson Racing Falcon!

Percat had been part of the Walkinshaw family since the end of 2006, capped by winning the Bathurst 1000 as a rookie co-driving with Garth Tander in 2011.

But come 2013 he found himself on the outer: Percat had been placed with Tony D’Alberto for the inaugural Enduro Cup, and was otherwise rebuilding his career with a Carrera Cup Australia campaign.

His immediate speed in the Porsche put him back in favour with the Holden Racing Team, who brought him back into the fold for that year’s Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast enduros, and led to his maiden full-time Supercars drive in an expanded four-car Walkinshaw Racing squad for 2014.

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However, at one stage Percat was set to make that full-time debut in 2014 with Dick Johnson Racing.

“I’ll always thank them for wanting to give me my first main game start,” Percat told the V8 Sleuth Podcast.

“I’d had offers from other teams and never took them up, then Ryan Story and Dick were quite forward in wanting me to drive for then, which was seriously cool.

“The opportunity to drive for Dick Johnson just blew my mind. To go from driving at Walkinshaw, one of the most iconic (Holden) teams, to then driving for one of the most iconic teams on the Ford side…

“We got a long way down the track, I spent a bit of time up there. I think it was at the Gold Coast 600 I was fairly confident (a deal would come together); I literally had a Terms of Agreement with DJR.”

In the podcast, Percat explains how he instead remained in a Walkinshaw Holden come 2014 – and the key detail that DJR couldn’t reveal at the time that might have swayed his mind – amid a wide-ranging chat on his career to date.

Will Dale began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport for the next six years, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.