Erebus Motorsport co-driver Steven Johnson says the Mercedes squad is on the verge of a top five result heading into the season of endurance.
After celebrating his 39th birthday last week Johnson has renewed vigour going into the Wilson Security Sandown 500 this weekend.
Co-driving with German Maro Engel in the #9 SP Tools E63 AMG Mercedes-Benz, Johnson is talking up the chances of a team which he declares has exceeded the development of the powerhouse Triple Eight squad which entered the V8 Supercars Championship 10 years ago.
“I’d be very disappointed if I didn’t walk away from those ones (Sandown or Bathurst) without a solid top five,” Johnson told Speedcafe.com
“You’ve got to be realistic and I really want to be on the podium but if I walked away with a top five I’d be happy.”
The Sandown 500 is the first leg of the Pirtek Enduro Cup which also comprises of the Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600.
“I think Sandown and Bathurst could suit the Erebus cars,” he said.
Johnson said few teams could have matched what Erebus have been able to achieve in development in six months compared to its shaky category debut in Adelaide earlier this year.
“When you look back at when Triple Eight brought Briggs Motorsport in late 2003 and where they were situated for a long time I think Erebus are in front six months in,” Johnson said.
“However I think that only Triple Eight, maybe the HRT and FPR when it was PRODRIVE could have possibly done what Erebus have achieved development wise in such a short space of time.”
Johnson is approaching the endurance race treble – his first outside the family team – with a new level of enthusiasm.
Bathurst will be his 19th start, on par with Red Bull racer Craig Lowndes but is still searching for his maiden win in at the mountain track.
“I’m really excited to go right through the endurance series with Erebus and it’s going to be a whole new experience for me.
“This opportunity is refreshing and it’s given me more motivation to get out there and do well.
“For Erebus it’s been a massive learning curve for them.
“From what I can see with what Erebus has done in the first half of the year, it’s second to none compared to anything I’ve seen before.
“They have probably crammed six months into what would normally take 18 months to two years.”
For more on the Erebus Motorsport V8 effort heading into the Wilson Security Sandown 500 check out today’s Crimsafe Endurance Countdown.