Davidson Out to Seize Chance

Anthony Davidson was packed and ready to leave Sepang to fly home to England when he received the early-morning call that plunged him into action with the BAR-Honda team at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday

Davidson Out to Seize Chance

By the end of the day, he wound up 15th on the provisional grid and seemed assured of making his third race start and with it seizing a possible opportunity that could change his career. An undiagnosed virus and fever had stricken the luckless Japanese Takuma Sato overnight and he was ruled out of action.

"I woke up at 6.30am and packed all my bags ready to come home tonight when I got a call from the team manager," said Davidson, 26 next month. "He said 'where are you?' He sounded a bit concerned, then he said 'don't get excited yet, but there's a chance you might be racing.'

"I took my bags with me anyway and I think I got the final call at 8am and I was in the car at 9am. I was prepared for it and that's why I'm here, you have to be prepared for every angle."

Davidson's adventure was the most stirring human story on another day of torrid heat at the Sepang circuit where the track temperature reached 54 degrees Celsius.

"I'm a little bit tired still, from the jet lag, because we arrived here on Thursday night," said Davidson, who is the team's official reserve driver and who was very recently linked with a possible switch to Sauber to replace 1997 World Champion Canadian Jacques Villeneuve.

"I was pretty chilled out in the car on the way here," he said. "It was all so rushed there was not time to get nervous or excited. It was like getting to a test late. I think I can cope with it. I'm pretty confident. I've been working pretty hard on my fitness and have done a lot of miles in the car. For me, the biggest concern is making sure I can get the best out of myself for the team tomorrow."

He went on: "The only thing that was different was being the only car out on the circuit and being the first out. Here it was very difficult being the first one out. I'm fairly happy with my performance because the track was pretty dusty when I went.

"I didn't make a big mistake, just in turn four I slid a little bit wide which probably cost a 10th. I'm mega-keen to get back into a race. I feel as a racer that one of my strongest points is actually racing and hopefully we'll be right in the middle of the pack going into turn one. I'm really, really looking forward to that."

Davidson said he would be happy with a top ten finish and that points would be a bonus.

Team chief Nick Fry said, however, that no matter how well Davidson does tomorrow, Sato will be back when he feels fine again.

"Takuma is contracted to race this year," said Fry. I'm sorry to say to Anthony that tomorrow's performance won't have any bearing. I think it will just confirm how good Anthony is, but all being well Takuma will be fit and back."

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