The question on everyone’s lips ahead of the 2017 Tasmania SuperSprint was whether DJR Team Penske is the real deal. That question was met with an emphatic reply at the Symmons Plains circuit. But the emerging threat to super team Triple Eight was not the biggest story of the weekend, as our winners and losers feature shows…
1. DJR Team Penske
It’s been a challenging couple of seasons since the DJR Team Penske alliance began, but following a podium each for Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard in Adelaide, a 1-2 result in the non-championship round at the Australian Grand Prix, and now a breakthrough 1-2 finish in the 2017 Tasmania Super Sprint, the rising Supercars giant looks the genuine article.
We’re only two rounds in, but already it feels like the battle lines have been drawn, as the old foes Ford and Holden battle it out for supremacy.
2. Brad Jones Racing, Garry Rogers Motorsport and Mobil1 HSV
After their entries were caught up in the 12-car smash in Race 3, Brad Jones Racing (BJR), Garry Rogers Motorsport, Mobil1 HSV Racing and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport all faced extensive overnight rebuilds to repair their cars in time for Sunday’s final race. Burning the midnight oil, all seven cars made qualifying for Race 4, a remarkable feat considering the sheer scale of the high-impact damage – all the crews involved thoroughly deserve a mention for their efforts.
Several of the cars will also need to be properly inspected and repaired before the next round at Phillip Island. Spare a thought for BJR though – having just rebuilt Nick Percat’s #8 entry following his high-speed crash at Albert Park, the team also suffered further significant damage to two of its Super2 cars at the Symmons Plains circuit.
3. Simona De Silvestro
14th and 15th placings may not be particularly remarkable results, but it was a weekend of positives for the Swiss driver. Despite being caught up in the multi-car pile up in Race 3, De Silvestro made the restart and survived the challenging conditions to finish her first wet race in Supercars.
Race 4 of the Tasmania SuperSprint weekend is also likely to stick in the Team Harvey Norman driver’s memory for her first lap leading the field, albeit as the first pit stop window opened. But perhaps more significantly, De Silvestro finished as the highest placed Nissan. Small steps for the iron maiden, but nevertheless, steps in the right direction.
Following the monster 12-car pile up on lap two in Saturday’s SuperSprint race, which ended the race for 11 drivers and saw Will Davison stretchered off to hospital, the decision to restart and declare a result for the race sparked an angry backlash from both fans and team owners.
The call was made to restart the race after almost an hour of clearing the track and medically assessing the drivers. Classed as a time certain finish, the race was shortened to just four laps under the Safety Car. However, footage clearly showed stricken cars out on the track, and people and tow trucks in the pit lane. There was also the issue of tricky weather conditions and fading light. Electing to put on a show to produce a result was a seriously ill-considered move by the organisers. This was then followed by the news that full points had been awarded, much to many people’s dismay; a decision that was duly overturned after a review by stewards and CAMS officials deemed it inappropriate to award points given only four laps had been completed, although the race result still stood. A change to the rules needs to be implemented to avoid a repeat of the fiasco (and the subsequent PR disaster) witnessed at Symmons Plains.
2. Chaz Mostert
Having taken the lead with some clever pit-work from the Prodrive Racing team, Mostert blew a golden opportunity to win Sunday’s feature race. Leading for 47 laps, he locked a brake at turn six, running off the road and dropping to an eventual seventh place. The mistake came one day after a similar lock-up at turn two that dropped him from first to fifth, and which leaves Mostert still looking for his first championship win since August 2015.
3. The 4 withdrawn cars .
Following the crash in Race 3, four cars were unable to be repaired on site and in time for Sunday’s Tasmania Super Sprint feature race. James Courtney (Mobil 1 HSV Racing), Will Davison (Tekno Autosports), Rick Kelly (Nissan Motorsport) and Taz Douglas (LDM) were ruled out of the running, all, in the main, innocent victims of the pile-up. Although no points were awarded for the race which featured just one lap of green flag running, at least three of these drivers will be hoping the loss of points will not impact on the closing stages of the season.