Nick Percat says that he has well and truly stepped out of the shadow of mentor Garth Tander after a strong run in the past three events culminated in a maiden solo V8 Supercars Championship podium finish at the weekend.
Percat, whose only previous podium was a nail-biting Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 win as co-driver to Tander in 2011, fell less than three tenths short of victory at Sydney Motorsport Park as he hunted fellow young gun Scott McLaughlin in the closing stages.
The result comes in Percat's first full-time season in the main series, which has come courtesy of a fourth entry being added to the Walkinshaw Racing squad.
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Team-mate Tander has played a key role in Percat's career since the latter was introduced into the Walkinshaw fold as a Formula Ford driver seven years ago.
“I think it's definitely in the past,” the 25-year-old Percat of his role as Tander's understudy.
“He taught me a massive amount but I've had to change that a lot with the Car of the Future and the way we setup my car to work for me.
“Definitely I think when I went off and did the Porsche thing (Carrera Cup, last year) that was probably the start of me being my own driver, my own person.
“I'm sure the guys in the team see a quite different Nick to what they did a few years ago.”
“It's a massive credit really to Alex (Somerset) and Ty (Anderson),” he explained.
“They've probably shown me a new way to drive a V8 Supercar, and it's taken a few rounds to get the hang of it.
“Darwin was just absolutely woeful, so we've had a big rebuild.
“It's a new financial year championship for us the way we're approaching and it's working out alright.”
Percat is now looking ahead to the team's second test day of the season next week, where he'll be joined by endurance co-driver Oliver Gavin.
“He hasn't got a massive amount of experience in these cars, so for me driving my car relatively well, I'll be able to pass on some actual decent information to him,” said Percat of Gavin, who is a mainstay of Corvette Racing's GT efforts.
“The test day won't be about me driving at all because obviously the base setup's quite good so I'll be kicking back and hopefully we get to Sandown and he'll go well.
“He drives a car every weekend, I'm sick of seeing him on Twitter somewhere else around the world driving an amazing Corvette!”