The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship returned to track Saturday with a packed day at the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint. With two practice sessions, qualifying, a Top 15 Shootout, and 32-lap race over the course of six hours, all four Tickford Racing cars returned at day’s end in one piece and with respectable results on the first race day in over four months.
Sitting 14th after the second segment of qualifying, Cameron Waters (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Mustang) posted the third fastest lap in the Top 15 Shootout to start on the second row of the grid. After a clutch issue at the start of Race 7 saw him drop spots, Waters ended up the lead car to take just two tyres on his compulsory pit stop, ultimately finishing in sixth place. The result puts Waters alone in fourth in the drivers’ championship.
Just behind Waters was Lee Holdsworth (No. 5 Truck Assist Ford Mustang), who qualified and finished seventh, having also taken two tyres on his stop. Holdsworth’s finish moves him to sixth in the championship, and like Waters, as a result of only changing two tyres on Saturday, has an extra pair of Dunlops to put to use tomorrow.
James Courtney’s (No. 44 Boost Mobile Ford Mustang) Tickford Racing debut got off to a challenging start, as he qualified 21st after a timing malfunction led to him not completing a final qualifying run in Q1. However, Courtney responded by advancing a race-high nine spots in Race 7, coming home 12th on debut for the team, especially impressive given that he drove the car for the first time just after 11:00 this morning.
Race 7 was a recovery effort from lights out for Jack Le Brocq (No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Mustang), who after stalling on the grid played catch up for the entirety of the 32-lap race. Running 10 seconds behind the pack on the first lap, Le Brocq charged to as high as 16th on merit before finishing 19th at the chequered flag.
Sunday is a double dip of Supercars action, with two more 32-lap races scheduled to complete the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint. Back to back qualifying sessions begin at 10:35 a.m. AEST, followed by Race 8 at 12:15 p.m., and Race 9 at 2:35.
No. 5 Truck Assist Ford Mustang
Practice 1: 1m29.67s, 10th
Practice 2: 1m29.48s, 4th
Race 7 Quali: 1m28.39s (Shootout), 7th
Race 7 Finish: 7th
“Overall a positive day, I think we did nearly the best we could with the strategy we chose, Cam and I were 1-2 of the cars that took two tyres in our stop. Our pace was okay today, but looking forward to tomorrow and trying to find a bit more, the car’s pretty speedy so just looking to find a little bit more out of it. It’s awesome to be back racing, though, so a really happy day for everyone here.”
No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Mustang
Practice 1: 1m29.48s, 5th
Practice 2: 1m29.45s, 12th
Race 7 Quali: 1m28.26s (Shootout), 3rd
Race 7 Finish: 6th
“We had a good day, obviously it’s awesome to be back in a car driving. Practice went super fast with such a small gap between sessions, but we tuned it up for quali and the Shootout, and the car was really good in the Shootout to get us to third. I had a clutch issue so that affected my start, and then we rolled the dice with strategy a little bit, and ended up sixth which was about where we were after the start. All in all a pretty good day, and I think we’re in a solid position for tomorrow as well, most of the cars around us took four tyres today, so hopefully that gives us a leg up tomorrow.”
No. 44 Boost Mobile Ford Mustang
Practice 1: 1m30.29s, 17th
Practice 2: 1m29.65s, 17th
Race 7 Quali: 1m29.57s (Q1), 21st
Race 7 Finish: 12th
“Great to get my first race in the Boost Mobile Mustang under my belt. I had a ball and it was nice driving through the field to 12th, but the idea is to start at the front and that obviously would have helped us today. I’m learning a lot and enjoying doing so, let’s see if I can take what I’ve learned today and put it into action tomorrow. ”
No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Mustang
Jack Le Brocq
Practice 1: 1m29.72s, 12th
Practice 2: 1m29.63s, 15th
Race 7 Quali: 1m29.08s (Q2), 17th
Race 7 Finish: 19th
“Tough day today, we missed the mark with set up for qualifying and then decided not to make a second run in Q2 to save a set of tyres and we got bumped out of the Shootout. Then before the race we had a clutch issue so the car was stalled before the lights even went out, finally got it going again by jamming it in first gear without the clutch, that was rad. Once I got going the car was solid but we were playing catch up and could only get 19th out of it. A frustrating way to get back to it but we’ve got two more cracks tomorrow to try and end the weekend happy.”
Tim Edwards, Team Principal
“It’s slightly disappointing to be outside the top five, but there’s plenty of positives to take away from it as well. Our car pace was decent, we brought back four straight cars, and we saved some tyres for tomorrow to give us a better shot. JC drove very well to get into the top 12, and after the start Cam and Lee drove well to hold position over the course of the race. Jack had a tough start, but scraped some points back, so all in all not a bad day given the condensed schedule. Most importantly it’s just great to be back racing again.”
On clutch issues:
“Cam and Jack had some issues with the clutch at the start today which we’re looking at. Lee had a similar problem in practice but the team sorted it out, so we’ll have everything taken care of for tomorrow.”