Cameron Waters might be one of the younger drivers in the Supercars field, but that’s not going to stop him from having a breakout 2017 and putting his name in lights.
It’s been a tough start to the Supercars career of Cameron Waters, but he is here to stay and has been backed by the former Ford factory team to drive their No.2 car and bring home big results.
It’s only his second season as a full-time, main game driver and the pressure is on to deliver results after a sub-standard 2016.
While a first season in the category can be excused, Waters has shown his undeniable talent both in Supercars and at the Dunlop – or reserve, if you like – series and will not accept low results for another 12 months.
Racing alongside Mark Winterbottom is undoubtedly giving Waters a wealth of experience he is going to be able to draw on for the rest of his career, with the former championship winner one of the most prominent veterans in the field.
More than that though, Waters has experience of being a winner and he knows what it takes to get to the top – albeit in the development series.
His first breakthrough in motor racing came in 2015 as he took out the Dunlop Series ahead of veteran Paul Dumbrell, who was the defending champion and driving strongly after performances in the Supercars endurance championship.
That came after two top ten finishes in the series and with strong form being displayed led to his first drive in the Supercars during the endurance championship.
After an incredibly strong run at the 2015 Sandown 500, where he and Chaz Mostert surprised many to finish second, Mostert had an enormous crash at Bathurst – still one of the scariest we have ever witnessed – which ruled their car out of the race and Mostert out of the season with injury.
The crash might have been horrific, but it paved the way for Waters to finish the season in Mostert’s car and then lock up a full-time drive in the same vehicle during 2016.
He only had one top-ten finish during those final races of 2015, but he showed promise and that may have even been above the expectations of his team.
2016 was a bit of an ordinary campaign for Waters though as he struggled to mount a charge at the championship, eventually falling away to finish 19th.
It’s fair to note the Prodrive cars didn’t have the same pace they had the year beforehand when Mark Winterbottom took out the Championship, but Waters didn’t get the true potential out of his car – understandable, being his first year in Supercars.
He did have some reasonable races, with fourth-placed finishes in the final race at the Clipsal 500 and another at Sandown while he got himself into the top ten a further three times across the season, which is respectable enough.
While last season those results cut it, the situation this time around is completely different. Prodrive are a team that demand results to match their history and Waters is under the pump from Day 1.
However, he rose to the challenge in Adelaide to not only record strong results, but get his tactics right, drive the car well and maybe, more importantly, finish ahead of Winterbottom in both races.
Two qualifications in the top ten were positive enough for Waters, but then to finish eighth and fourth, he showed he is on another level compared to where he was last year.
His driving looks to have come on in leaps and bounds and the off-season testing done him the world of good. Finishing ahead of Winterbottom sends a statement that ‘I’m here and I’m here to stay’, rather than the questioning both internally and externally starting up.
A top five finish in a tough Sunday race was a major positive for Mostert, and while he finished in fourth at the final race in Adelaide last year as well, there is a different feel to it this year.
The experience under his belt is only going to say good things for Waters, and if he can really get cracking over the next few rounds – possibly even picking up his first championship race victory then it will be another statement about belonging in the category.
When assessing where Waters could finish this season, it’s important to be realistic. A breakout season doesn’t necessarily mean a championship, but a race win, strong performance in the endurance season and top ten championship finish would be a fantastic effort from the 22-year-old.