NUNAWADING, Victoria, 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 the newly-re-expanded two-car team of Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport
#23 – Nick Percat, Repair Management Australia Holden Commodore VF
#3 – Tim Blanchard, Australia Holden Commodore VF
2014 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 14th
2014 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: Russell Ingall’s fourth-place finish at Symmons Plains
The previous season for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport was all about Russell Ingall’s swan song as a full-time driver in the V8 Supercars Championship. This time around, the focus is in the complete opposite direction, as LDM has hired a pair of young and talented drivers to replace Ingall in Nick Percat and Tim Blanchard.
Percat was one of the best surprises in 2014, running extremely well for James Rosenberg Racing in what turned out to be the team’s final season. Though he started out slow, Percat came on strong in the second half of 2014, racking up 11 top 10 finishes from Townsville onward and claiming a second place finish in the finale at Sydney Motorsport Park and a coveted third place finish in what was an epic Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. However, Rosenberg decided to retire from V8 Supercars ownership at the end of the 2014 season, and as of the finale at Homebush, the young and talented Percat was in search mode for a full-time ride.
As James Rosenberg Racing was shutting down operations, Lucas Dumbrell was looking for a driver to fill the Russell Ingall-sized hole in his lineup. While there were many options to fill Ingall’s old seat, Dumbrell picked Percat for his ability and proven performance on the track. There should be no doubt that Nick Percat earned his place in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship off of his ability — he, quite literally, drove his way into this seat.
It also turns out that Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport found the financial resources to expand their operations back to two cars for 2015. Paired with the 2011 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 Champion at LDM will be former Dunlop Development Series runner-up Tim Blanchard. Blanchard returns to a full-time ride in 2015 after being let go from Dick Johnson Racing at the end of the 2013 season.
With their hires, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport has positioned themselves well in the driving personnel department. The question marks will lie (as they have tended to over the past few seasons) with LDM’s equipment. Ingall brought the level of LDM’s equipment up somewhat from 2013 — he improved on their numbers, from two top 10 finishes in 2013 with two cars to eight top 10 finishes with one car. It was okay for a final season by his standards, though it was a slight drop-off from his 2013 season with Walkinshaw Racing.
The single greatest challenge for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2015 will be whether or not they can handle the expansion back to two teams, and whether or not they can be competitive with two cars. The last time LDM ran two cars, in 2013, they finished in the top 10 twice all season long. It was an abysmal season by any standard.
This time around, the driving corps is certainly stronger — but will running two cars stretch LDM one car too thin?
If they can handle the expansion better this time around, Percat and Blanchard are talented enough to take their cars towards the front of the field. If the expansion is bungled, however, disappointment looms in the distance for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2015.
For more information on Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, visit http://www.ldmotorsport.com.au/.