Another weekend, another round (we’re loving this fortnightly racing!); this time at the cracking Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in picturesque Victoria. The cold weather in the “gateway to hypothermia” didn’t stop some hot on-track action with another young face returning to the front while some stars battled at the back. And after three rounds, no one has broken away in the standings yet as the racing seems closer than ever.
- Scott McLaughlin couldn’t be happier to again climb the top step of the podium after clean-sweeping the 500th Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercars event. The Kiwi hotshot claimed pole for both of the weekend’s races, dominating the on-track action in the process. After a drought in 2015, this is exactly how he and the Wilson Security Racing GRM team need to start this year: with strong and consistent results, coupled with good reliability. This year among all others is the time for Scott to prove his worth against an increasingly competitive field, now moving up to second in the points.
- Mark Winterbottom was the silent assassin over the weekend, quietly building up a swag of points and making a minimal amount of mistakes. The reigning champion climbed up the championship ladder, putting himself in third place and only 24 points behind leader Jamie Whincup. As opposed to last year where his season start was nothing to write home about, his current form and the strength of the FGX Falcon shows he could well remain a force to be reckoned with this year.
- DJR Team Penske may have had some gremlins for its new signing on Sunday but a podium finish in each race would have left the team more than pleased. Fabian Coulthard and Scott Pye both had dramas in the 200km race, thanks to an ignition issue and no pit communication respectively. On Saturday, Coulthard notched up an impressive third place, while Pye repeated the result on Sunday thanks in part to a mistake from Whincup. The team is rebuilding after going back to a two-car operation and every part of its garages, work ethic and finish of the cars is second-to-none.
- Chaz Mostert didn’t have a weekend of horrors but will be walking away from the Island thinking what might have been after circumstances out of his control left him further down the order than what his paced showed. On track for a strong Saturday finish, a tyre failure on the final lap relegated him far down the order as he was forced to limp the Falcon home to 23rd A first lap incident on Sunday put him to the back of their field, giving him a chance to show how good he is at getting past others on track. He ended up coming home in 8th, an impressive result although without the issues faced it could have been much better. One of the favourites coming in to this season, Mostert now sits 16th in the points standings.
- Erebus Motorsport is having a seemingly difficult time adjusting in to its new cars at a new workshop with new drivers. Failure to finish in the top ten would not have been what the team was after at the start of the season. While not expecting the strongest beginning to the year, David Reynolds’ inability to put the car into a strong position must be a worry for the team who are scrambling to salvage results. Aaren Russell is having a rookie season unlike any other, the same as any other pay driver who stays out of trouble but out of the headlines. Here’s hoping the team can improve over the next few rounds and even be on par with its HRT suppliers.
- The Holden Racing Team needs to work on its overall speed and consistency if it is to return as a formidable force in the near future. It has seemingly become specialist at being hit-and-miss with its form, sometimes being near the pointy end and at other, being at the punchy end. Garth Tander managed a ninth and 16th place over the two races while James Courtney, enthralled in battles, scored a 21st and seventh place respectively. While it seems like only one can perform strongly at a time, the team must make the most of its now abundant resources to take the fight to the top.
Next up the circus travels to the West, hitting Barbagallo Raceway for the Perth Super Sprint, a round which last year threw up a few good yarns. The track action begins on the sixth of May.