TWO 'FIRSTS' FOR DANIEL ERICKSON AT BATHURST 12-HOUR Daniel Erickson will put two more 'firsts' on his CV when he competes in the Bathurst 12-Hour race next Sunday. For starters, the annual production car enduro will be Erickson's ...
TWO 'FIRSTS' FOR DANIEL ERICKSON AT BATHURST 12-HOUR
Daniel Erickson will put two more 'firsts' on his CV when he competes in the Bathurst 12-Hour race next Sunday.
For starters, the annual production car enduro will be Erickson's first competitive outing in a car with enclosed wheels (previously he has raced exclusively in open-wheeled karts and Formula Fords).
It will also be the 22 year-old Sydney driver's first race on the legendary 6.3km Mount Panorama circuit.
Erickson will drive a BMW 335i for the highly rated Morcom Motorsport team in the 12-Hour.
His co-drivers are team owner Barry Morcom, his rookie racer son Nathan, and experienced Historic racer Paul Stubber.
The team finished fourth outright in the 2007 and 2008 events and fifth overall last year, narrowly missing a podium result each time due to minor problems [details in Background, below].
The 12-Hour marks Erickson's racing return following his encouraging 2009 season in British Formula Ford.
"I'm delighted that Barry Morcom has asked me to join his team for this year's Bathurst 12-Hour," he said.
"It will be my first race since the British Formula Ford Festival last October, and my first drive on a racetrack since I tested a Formula Star Mazda in America in December, so I'm raring to go!"
Erickson added that he doesn't expect any problems driving the near standard two-door BMW or concentrating for long stints behind the wheel at Mount Panorama.
"There are bound to be differences compared to what I've been used to, but as a racing driver you have to adapt to whatever you're driving and obey the instructions that the team gives you," he said.
"Most of the top Australian touring car drivers began their careers in openwheelers, which gives me confidence that I can drive the BMW quickly and consistently."
Erickson is confident of the car's capabilities in the marathon, but isn't expecting to be a pole position contender or to race with the leaders until late in the day.
"The Mitsubishi Evos, Subaru WRCs, HSV Commodores, FPV Falcons and the Shelby Mustang might be quicker than our car in qualifying and the early stages of the race, but the 12-Hour is a test of endurance, not a sprint," he said.
"It could be as late as the last half-hour before the real contenders emerge.
"Morcom Motorsport has an excellent track record in this race [details in Background, below], so if we stay out of trouble I'm confident that we'll be at or near the front at 6.30pm on Sunday."
Barry Morcom said that he invited Erickson join the team's Bathurst 12-Hour line-up because of his reputation as a fast but safe driver.
"I considered quite a few names, including some with V8 Supercar experience, for the seat, but I was really impressed by Daniel's efforts during 2009.
"He did extremely well in British Formula Ford considering he was the only frontrunner who hadn't raced on those circuits before, and his Formula Star Mazda test last December was nothing short of amazing.
"I'm confident that Daniel will acquit himself very well at Bathurst, and in the process advance our team as well as his own career," Morcom said.
The unassuming racing driver from Orangeville in Sydney's greater west has all the hallmarks of a future motor racing champion.
He achieved extraordinary results as a teenage in karting from 2002-06 before beginning his car racing career in Formula Ford, the world's premier entry level 'openwheeler' category for the past four decades.
Erickson's potential was immediately recognised by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), which added him to its NSW and then national 'Rising Star' squads in 2007-08.
His 'Rookie of the Year' performances in the 2007 NSW Formula Ford Championship and the 2008 Australian Formula Ford Championship prompted CAMS' junior driver development arm, the Australian Motor Sport Foundation (AMSF), to elevate him to 'International Rising Star' status for 2009.
He justified the AMSF's faith by placing fifth overall -- and highest-placed driver in his debut season -- in the British Formula Ford Championship, the category's toughest national series.
Before returning to Australia in December, Erickson had a sensational try-out with US Formula Star Mazda team Mundill.
In his first drive of a 'slicks and wings' openwheeler, he lapped the unfamiliar MSR Houston raceway less than two tenths of a second off Mundill's fastest recorded time for a current-spec Formula Star Mazda car.
Following the Bathurst 12-Hour, Erickson plans to contest the 2010 Formula Star Mazda Championship, which begins on March 19 at Sebring in Florida.
Daniel Erickson's Bathurst 12-Hour mount might be small, but even in showroom trim it packs a decent punch -- 225kW (306bhp) from its dual-turbo direct-injection 3.0 litre engine.
Although engine modifications are extremely limited under production car racing rules, the Morcom Motorsport entry is likely to produce slightly more power in race trim.
Excellent handling characteristics will make the little Bimmer hard to catch, let alone overtake, on Mount Panorama's serpentine section from The Cutting to Forrest's Elbow.
Most important, though, the 335i shares BMW's endurance racing pedigree that includes numerous class and outright victories in long-distance classics at circuits such as Le Mans, Daytona, Spa-Francorchamps and the Nurburgring.
The Morcom Motorsport 335i is one of two of the potent coupes entered in this year's Bathurst 12-Hour race.
The other one is owned by Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway managing director Garry Holt, who oversees the preparation of both cars in the raceway's workshop.
The two German thoroughbreds have performed exceptionally well in the three Bathurst 12-hour races they've contested.
Holt's car won the event in 2007, finished third in 2008 and placed eighth last year, while Morcom's version placed fourth, fourth and fifth respectively.
"We've been contenders for victory every year, and it's only been small things that have kept us off the podium," Morcom said.
"In 2008 we were leading until an electrical fault and then fading brakes cost us time, while last year our tyres weren't up quite to scratch.
"But after three years with the car we reckon we're on top of those problems, whereas the teams with new cars are only at the start of the learning curve, so 2010 could be our year!"
The Morcom Motorsport entry carries sponsorship from steel construction products manufacturer Rondo, AMF Performance Ceilings and The King's Castle Elvis Presley museum in Parkes, all depicted on the car in removable stick-on signs by branding specialist Get Wrapped.
-source: daniele rickson