After a break that felt like it wouldn’t end, the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship landed at Sydney Motorsport Park for a weekend of close racing. Previous years had seen the heavens open on at least one of the days but this year, the sky was as clear as ever. While some threatened to make an upset at the sharp end, it was the usual suspects in the form of Triple Eight Race Engineering who dominated this year’s Sydney SuperSprint.
- Jamie Whincup can’t be stopped this year after hauling in close to the maximum 300 points available in Sydney. The six-time champion is showing that he’s hungrier than ever to get the #1 back on his door after finishing a close second to team-mate Shane van Gisbergen in race one, even going partly off the track to try and make a move. He denied long-time team-mate Craig Lowndes of getting a win in his 600th race start but he was driving like the car was on rails, making the best of his pit stop to take the flag for his 100th race victory. He’ll be looking to dominate the rest of the season.
- Craig Lowndes still has fight for an old bloke, performing well in both races and narrowly missing out on a fairytale win in his 600th race. While his Saturday performance was good for hauling points but didn’t yield a podium, he shot to the lead in race two after making a brilliant start, edging out polesitter Chaz Mostert. While Whincup’s slightly faster pitstop and rejoin meant that he and Lowndes couldn’t fight it out on the track, the veteran is showing that he still belongs at the pointy end of the pack. The next three rounds are endurance races, a format that Lowndes excels at.
- Shane van Gisbergen continues to prove his worth at Red Bull this year after again beating team-mate Whincup in a one-on-one duel in the first race of the weekend. The talented Kiwi did a great job to hold off his stablemate who was in a faster car, defending and using every inch of the Commodore to block the car behind. van Gisbergen now has the most victories of anyone else this season and despite losing a few points to Whincup in the championship, he looks like he will finish his first season with his new team with a great result.
- Scott Pye must again be ruing his back luck or the lack of his team’s handiwork after a mechanical fault put him out of a possible podium finish on Saturday. He was running safely in the top five when a power steering problem forced him out of the race. For a team with the budget of DJR Team Penske, mistakes and faults like this shouldn’t happen as often as they do. A finish outside of the top ten in Sunday’s race added to his woes, adding salt to the wounds of his so far unsuccessful 2016 campaign.
- Tekno Autosports made the blunder of the year so far when they let Will Davison run out of fuel in the opening stint of Sunday’s race. Wanting to start light and top up the car in the stop, the team horribly miscalculated the amount of starting fuel and made Davison take the last sector with no power. This put him in stone dead last for the rest of the race. Struggling with pace this weekend, they must be scratching their heads and asking what has happened since they were leading the championship in Tasmania.
- Supercars Officials should have a good, hard look at the way they handle penalties after robbing James Moffat of his best finish yet for Volvo. The #34 driver was having a strong race when he accidentally bumped in to van Gisbergen at the end of the second sector, putting them off the track but Moffat redressed and they only lost one spot to Fabian Coulthard. With under three laps to go, officials chose to issue a drive-through penalty on the spot, dropping him to 18th and leaving him fuming. Surely a decision could have been made after the race or at least a five-second penalty added to his race time. The punishment did not fit the crime.
We now take another break before the season endurance kicks off with the Pirtek Enduro Cup beginning with the famous Sandown 500. This year, the race will be retro themed, a chance for teams to hark back to their respective pasts.