Saturday’s two Supercars races at the Melbourne 400 proved a challenging affair for Tickford Racing, with a podium for James Courtney (No. 500 FLEX Ford Mustang) and a top five finish for Cam Waters (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Mustang) evaporating following incidents in the second half of Race 7, the first of two races on Saturday at the Australian Grand Prix.
After a clever drive through Race 7, Courtney was in third place when he was spun out by Car 25 in the final corner of the 20-lap race, collecting the wall at Turn 14 and taking the chequered flag tenth. Courtney was elevated to ninth following a post-race penalty assigned to Car 25, and replicated that result on Saturday afternoon in Race 8, despite struggling with clutch issues during that 20-lap contest.
Waters was also in the thick of the action in Race 7, and found himself on the receiving end of a penalty following a Lap 10 incident with Car 17 at Turn 3. Having been running nose-to-tail with Car 17, Waters was unable to react in time when the former braked earlier than Waters was expecting, and the 27-year old’s drive through penalty relegated him to 21st in Race 7. Waters was the lead Tickford car in Race 8, finishing eighth, and will start Race 9 on Sunday from fifth position, giving him perhaps his best chance at standing on the podium once more at Albert Park
Thomas Randle (No. 55 Castrol Racing Ford Mustang) was one of only a handful of cars to start Race 7 on the Hard compound tyre, and was forced onto the Soft tyre earlier than desired thanks to an untimely early Safety Car, ultimately making three pit stops en route to an 18th place finish. The 26-year old rebounded to a degree, however, in Race 8, recording a season-best finish of 11th in the Saturday afternoon bout.
As a result of his crash in qualifying on Thursday, Jake Kostecki (No. 56 Tradie Ford Mustang) started Race 7 from the rear of the field, but climbed to 13th in a sound performance in Saturday morning’s race. A more settled Race 8 saw Kostecki finish 20th, having found himself stuck behind slower cars in the race’s closing stages.
Team Principal Tim Edwards perhaps summed up the day the best.
“I have to say, after this morning’s race it seemed like we should be looking to the sky for falling pianos. Cam was in a tough spot in his incident, being that close to the car in front he had no time to react when Will got on the brakes, and with more cars right behind him he couldn’t back out early because he’d have gotten hit, it was a bit of a rock and hard place.”
“JC getting dumped out of third just poured salt in the wound, he did a great job and certainly deserved a podium so that was particularly frustrating.”
“The afternoon race was okay, but eighth and ninth aren’t the results we’ve come to expect from ourselves, so there’s still work to do. That said, our young guys had a pretty solid day, Jake had a very good first race to climb through the field, and Thomas going P11 in the second race was good, but we certainly feel we have better results in the cars.”
“Fortunately we have some good grid positions for tomorrow, and we’ve steadily improved the cars each day, so we’re in a good position to finish the weekend strong, we just have to go out and do it.”