Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s Preview of the 2014 V8 Supercars Championship! We continue our run through the field with the two Racing Entitlement Contract cars for Ford Performance Racing.
Charlie Schwerkolt Racing (REC with Ford Performance Racing)
DRIVER: #18 – Jack Perkins, JELD-WEN Ford FG Falcon
2013 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 13th
2013 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: Alex Davison’s third-place finish in the first race at Phillip Island
The long road back to the V8 Supercars Championship for Jack Perkins is complete. He will pilot the #18 JELD-WEN Ford Falcon in his first full V8SC campaign since 2009.
Perkins’ racing career with the V8 Supercars can be traced back to 2006, when he ran a car in the Dunlop Development Series for his father Larry (an Australian racing legend and six-time champion of the Bathurst 1000). When the lead drivers for the V8SC cars departed the team shortly before the 2007 season, Jack was a beneficiary and earned a seat in the Championship.
However, Jack struggled to keep pace with the field in a severely under-funded car, and waned in performance towards the end of races. The decline in performance was steep enough that Perkins went to various doctors in an effort to solve his problem. The answer came when Perkins was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes towards the end of the 2007 season. Jack sat out the final two races of 2007 in order to learn how to manage his Diabetes and returned to racing in 2008.
Since then, Perkins has bounced around between various co-driving opportunities in the V8SC endurance races, an unsuccessful stint as a full-time V8SC driver with Kelly Racing in 2009, and runs in the Dunlop Development Series (notching a runner-up finish in the 2011 points DDS standings).
In 2013, it was Alex Davison behind the wheel of this car. Brother Will Davison convinced the FPR brass to put him in the new machine when they expanded to four cars last season. However, Will announced that he would move to Erebus Motorsport for 2014 last October. When Will announced his plans to switch teams, FPR’s main tie to Alex was severed, and they let him go at the end of 2013.
Perkins was announced as the replacement for Alex Davison last December. Long-time fans of the series will be watching to see if Perkins’ driving experiences post-Kelly Racing have made him a better driver since he was last a full-time V8SC driver. If he is to have a more successful run in the V8 Supercars Championship this time around, Perkins will have to lean on that extra experience.
If there is anything going for the V8 Supercars’ resident version of Charlie Kimball or Ryan Reed, it’s that his car for 2014 should be a much better one than he had in 2009- the support and equipment from FPR is far stronger than the support that he had from Kelly Racing. However, this is very much a middle-of-the-field car at the end of the day, and the middle of the field is about where Perkins should end up. It shouldn’t be a season to shock the V8 Supercars world, but it should be a season to build some consistency going forward for Perkins — and that, given all that he has been through, will be something he can take pride in.
For more information on Charlie Schwerkolt Racing, make sure to visit http://www.teamjeldwen.com.au.
Rod Nash Racing (REC with Ford Performance Racing)
DRIVER: #55 – David Reynolds, The Bottle-O Ford FG Falcon
2013 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 12th
2013 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: Career win number one for David on Sunday at the Gold Coast
David Reynolds’ ascension up the V8 Supercars Championship looks set to continue in 2014.
Reynolds returns to the #55 Bottle-O Falcon for the third consecutive season under the Rod Nash Racing/ Ford Performance Racing banner. In 2012, his first season piloting the “third FPR car”, Reynolds was pacy and showed all kinds of promise. He ran right on the rear bumper of Jamie Whincup in the final 15 laps of that year’s Bathurst 1000 en route to a runner-up finish in “The Great Race” and was in contention for a handful of podiums that slipped away towards the end of races.
Last year, Reynolds matched his points finish from the year before (9th), earned a third-place finish in the final race of the Hidden Valley tripleheader, and finally broke through for his first career win in the V8 Supercars Championship in the Sunday race at the Armor All Gold Coast 600.
For 2014, Reynolds’ focus will be entirely on making the jump to the next level. At times, Reynolds has been as quick as the top drivers from his FPR stablemates and the Red Bull cars. However, the pace has not been consistently there to stay with the top cars. Of the REC cars, Reynolds’ car is the strongest of them all. The question for “Daffo” in 2014 is whether or not he can string some more consistent finishes to separate himself from the pack and make himself the challenger apparent to the top teams in the series.
Look for David to score a few more podiums this season than he did in 2013 and notch up 2 wins during the season. In particular, watch for the #55 at Hidden Valley — statistically, it’s Reynolds’ best track, and he was in contention for the win on Saturday in 2012 before pit strategy ultimately shuffled him to the middle of the pack and out of contention. He will be more motivated than most to get a win in the Northern Territory in the dead of winter and set his season ablaze.
For more information on Rod Nash Racing, please visit http://www.thebottleoracing.com.au.