Winners and Losers: Castrol Edge Townsville 400

Shane Van Gisbergen at the Townsville 400 - Photo: Rhys Vandersyde
Shane Van Gisbergen at the Townsville 400 – Photo: Rhys Vandersyde

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship remained on the run from a cold winter by keeping the action hot in Townsville. The tropical town has been a popular event on the calendar, providing spectacular racing on-track over the weekend. Only soft tyres meant record breaking lap times and closer racing than before, keeping things tight at the top.

Winners:

  1. Shane Van Gisbergen again showed why he deserved a seat in the Triple Eight Commodore this year after being consistent and fast over the two races. A front row start in race one was converted to a second place finish, just behind his team-mate and category legend Jamie Whincup. Despite a lower start for race two, he was able to take advantage of good strategy and a fast car to not only take the lead but hold onto it in the dying stages. The Kiwi is putting on a good charge for his maiden title this season.
  2. Jamie Whincup is closing in on notching up his 100th win in the Supercars championship after taking a controlling victory in race one. After taking his first pole position of the season, the six-time champion dominated the weekend opener. A decent start in race two was seemingly for nothing after a curveball strategy left him in the mid-pack. A well-timed safety car put him back in contention, eventually coming home in fourth. Taking the fight to his new team-mate, this could turn out to be the year Whincup proves he can beat anyone in an equal machine.
  3. Mark Winterbottom put a hit and miss Darwin behind him, again running near the front in the two races in Townsville. The reigning champion was able to finish in third in both races, only just being edged out by a hard-charging James Courtney in race two. The highlight of his weekend came on Sunday when he took out the top ten shootout, a session that has usually been a weak point. Despite losing points to the championship leaders, his consistency and level head will again mean that the Ford poster boy will be up front at the end of the season.

Losers:

  1. Kurt Kostecki had a difficult initiation into the Supercars championship after struggling in both of the races. The 18 year old had a hard time in qualifying, starting last both times. Discomfort in the car led to a hard brush with the wall in race one while a mechanical failure put him in the wall on Sunday. While it has been clear in previous years that Supercars has a steep learning curve, Kostecki will need more time in the driver’s seat if he is to become truly comfortable in the races.
  2. Aaren Russell yet again struggled to put in a top 20 finish after a dismal weekend in Townsville. Not only did his sponsor, Plus Fitness, effectively bail out on him for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport before the racing began but the young Novocastrian struggled for pace, especially in comparison to his more experienced team-mate. Now nearly halfway through the season, young Aaren only has a few more rounds to show that he deserves a seat in the sport, not just that he can buy one.
  3. Nick Percat struggled to take a trick over the weekend with “mechanical issues” being blamed as the reasons for retirement in both 200km races. Poor qualifying was again the flavour of the round, a steering failure as the reason why he lazily went into the barriers late in race one. Race two saw him fighting in the back-of-the-pack grand prix, battling the usual faces for insignificant points. After nearly drilling Will Davison at the end of the main straight, he was fighting a severely flat-spotted tyre when another massive lockup sent him into the wall near the end of the lap. Perhaps it wasn’t as much of a problem with the steering arms rather the nut that was holding on to the wheel. Problems persist at LDM is Percat letting the pressure shake him?< ./li>

Townsville yet again put on a good show for fans as the racing around the hybrid circuit proved to provide some close finishes. A short turn around means the series stays in sunny Queensland for the next round, being held at “The Paperclip”, Ipswich Raceway.

Leave a Comment