YATALA, Queensland, Australia — Team Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike — Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s Preview of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship! We continue our run through the field with another team that is hunting for a leap in performance after two subpar seasons, Erebus Motorsport.
No. 4 – Ash Walsh, Erebus Motorsport Erebus E63 AMG
No. 9 – Will Davison, Solar Australia Erebus E63 AMG
2013 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 7th
2013 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: Lee Holdsworth’s victory in the second race at Winton
Erebus Motorsport were marginally better in 2014 than they were the season prior, but there still is plenty of room for improvement from the V8 Supercars’ lone Mercedes outfit.
There was one very bright spot from their 2014 season, when Lee Holdsworth claimed the team’s first victory in the series as Erebus Motorsport in the second race at Winton last April. Also of note was Will Davison’s third-place finish at Townsville.
However, there was only five more top five finishes between both drivers in 2014. That might be an improvement from the two top 5 finishes from an abysmal 2013, but it certainly is not where this team was in 2012. In that season, their final year competing as Stone Brothers Racing, they posted not just seven top five finishes, but seven podiums en route to third place in the team points standings.
Add to that the fact that the most memorable moment for any Erebus car in 2014 was Lee Holdsworth’s frightening crash at Sandown, in which he hit the wall at 165 miles an hour and withstood an impact recorded at over 40G (it was one of the hardest impacts recorded in the history of V8 Supercars), and there is an unfortunate conclusion to be made: Erebus Motorsport have fallen from where they had been in their former incarnation, and two years on, they still have yet to truly get back up.
Besides the change in major sponsors (all of last year’s have left the team, and Solar Australia has come in to be the title sponsor for Will Davison’s No. 9), there is a driver change as well: Lee Holdsworth has departed to join Charlie Schwerkolt Racing, and replacing him in the No. 4 is Ash Walsh. Walsh will be best known for his exploits codriving for Dick Johnson Racing in the PIRTEK Enduro Cup for the past two seasons, but comes to Erebus with a wealth of experience running in the Dunlop Development Series, including a third-place finish in the 2014 driver’s championship.
Walsh won three races and finished on the podium in almost half of the 13 races run in the support category for the V8 Supercars Championship last season. He will be the latest driver to make the jump from the Dunlop Series to the V8 Supercars Championship; given that the list of drivers to tread that path before him includes Nick Percat, Chaz Mostert, and Scott McLaughlin, that experience should bode well for Walsh’s fortunes in 2015.
Yet there still is a major issue in the background for Erebus: this team still does not receive factory support from Mercedes-Benz. It is not entirely impossible to run up at the front of the field without factory support (see Tekno Autosport’s 2014 season with Shane van Gisbergen for proof of that), but it is a task that becomes much more difficult when you’re the only team on the grid running with cars from a particular manufacturer. Such is still the case for Erebus.
Their greatest hurdle in 2015 may not have anything to do with improving on-track performance, but instead finding a way to convince the executives in Stuttgart to bring that factory support to the Erebus program. It is what separates the top teams from the rest of the field in this series.
Though there definitely should be some improved consistency, and may be more glimmers of speed from Erebus in 2015, consistent runs at the front of the field will likely still be difficult to come by until Erebus gets that factory support.
For more information on Erebus Motorsport, visit www.erebusmotorsportv8.com.
For more information on the International V8 Supercars Championship, visit www.v8supercars.com.au.