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Walkinshaw never lost faith in Percat

RYAN Walkinshaw says he and his team must take responsibility for some of Nick Percat’s struggles this year, but is confident an Adelaide podium is a sign of better things to come.

Percat finished his reunion season with Walkinshaw Andretti United on a high, placing second in an emotional Saturday one-two behind teammate Chaz Mostert.

That result was strategy-inspired, a double fuel stop under Safety Car helping the #2 Commodore towards the front, from where Percat would make no mistake.

But Adelaide on the whole was symbolic of the 34-year-old’s season of qualifying struggles preluding fightbacks in race trim.

All up, he started 20th or worse on 14 occasions and lost the intra-team qualifying battle 33-1 – figures that don’t tally with how highly many in pitlane rate the 2011 Bathurst winner.

Percat himself has been brutally honest about his season, telling V8 Sleuth pre-Adelaide “it’s been frustrating to not be able to help Chaz more often, or at all, at times” and that “when it’s raining, it’s pouring”.

There have been better signs through the final third of the season though and despite sporadic rumours about Percat’s future with the team, Walkinshaw is adamant their faith never wavered.

Ryan Walkinshaw. Pic: Walkinshaw Andretti United

“We haven’t done a good enough job at the beginning of the season to give him the right car and the right engineer and Nick has had his own struggles as well,” the WAU director told V8 Sleuth.

“So for both parties we have been disappointed but we’re a team and we work together and we focus and move on together, it’s how we roll.

“As far as we’re concerned, we support Nick, we have faith in Nick. He shows what he can do when he is near the front.

“We need to get his qualifying up there because we know he’s a good racer and when he’s in a position, we saw Saturday what he can do.

“So we need to work with him and get consistency in his qualifying, and then once he gets in the top 10 regularly he’ll be fighting for podiums and race wins again.”

Donning tribute colours for Holden’s final Repco Supercars Championship event, Walkinshaw described the Adelaide one-two as “one of the more special days I’ve had as a team owner.”

The #2 ZB Commodore. Pic: Walkinshaw Andretti United

Nevertheless, he’s not letting that high distract him from the bigger picture.

“We’ve had quite a lot of wins this season, lots of podiums but our objective is to win Bathurst and win the championship,” he said.

“We only came second at Bathurst this year, so we didn’t achieve that goal and we haven’t won the championship this year, so we didn’t achieve that goal either.

“So once again next season those will be our focus.”

Mostert and Percat finished third and 15th respectively in the drivers’ championship while WAU was fourth in the teams’ title.

The Clayton squad will switch to Ford next year, although it may yet field a ZB Commodore in Super2.

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