On the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that will see the Ford Mustang entering Supercars competition in 2019, Tickford Racing quickly pivots to its fourth event of 2018, the Phillip Island 500. One of the country’s most scenic circuits, Australia’s home for MotoGP racing is also home to Tickford Racing’s first ever win, by Craig Lowndes in 2003. Chaz Mostert became the fourth Tickford Racing winner at the 4.445-kilometre circuit in 2017 when he led Mark Winterbottom home in a 1-2 finish in the Sunday race. The feat gave the team its first 1-2 since 2015, and ended a 35-race winless drought for the Queenslander, who with Steve Owen led another 1-2 in October at the Gold Coast, with teammates Cameron Waters and Richie Stanaway in tow.After a frustrating round in Tasmania two weeks ago, Mostert leads the team in the championship in ninth, with Winterbottom – a two-time winner on the island – 13th in the tally but less than 20 points from the top ten, as all four team drivers look to ascend the championship leaderboard in this weekend’s pair of 250-kilometre races.
The weekend is also special for Winterbottom, who will contest his 200th Supercars round, becoming just the 15th driver to accomplish the feat. Now in his 15th full-time Supercars season, “Frosty” is seventh on the all-time win list with 38, most notably of course the 2013 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. Staggeringly, Winterbottom heads into the weekend having started 408 consecutive races – including all 391 races to date with Tickford Racing – dating back to 2005. In commemoration of Frosty’s milestone, the 2015 Supercars champion will pilot the No. 200 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X this weekend.
No. 200 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X
“I’m excited to get back into the car after a tough last round in Tassie. We had all been working hard to make sure we get back up to the front. It’s been a productive couple weeks figuring out what we need to do to improve. The team have put in long days to get us where we think we need to be, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and see how our preparation pays off.”On 200th career Supercars round: “It’s good to celebrate 200 rounds in this game. I’ve spent most of my career here and am proud of what the team and I have achieved in that time, but I think there’s plenty more to come. I feel like I’m as fit as ever and driving as well as ever, so there’s no reason we can’t have more success. It’d be great to come out of this weekend with something to smile about, so we’ll go out and give it a crack.”
No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X
“It’s always good to get back in the car, and we’ve done a lot since Tassie to try and find the speed we were lacking there. Phillip Island’s a pretty fast track, and a pretty cool one too. I think we’ve made some progress on the car so we’ll throw it out there and see what we’ve got. The big news from the team and Ford this week has sort of energised the crew, so hopefully we can turn that into momentum and have a good weekend.”
No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X
“Phillip Island is a great track, so I’m excited to head back down there. It was great to get a win and do some burnouts there last year, but we know the road to the podium’s much tougher this time around. We need a turnaround after Tassie and I like what we’re doing with the car. I think we’ve made some progress with our setups so we’ll get out to the island and see where we stack up.”
No. 56 MEGA Fuels/Tickford Ford Falcon FG X
“I can’t think of a tougher way to start your rookie year, but we’re keeping our heads up and just trying to control what we can control. It’d be great to know that we won’t have an odd mechanical issue or get hit by someone on track, but that’s not how racing works, so we’ll hope that we’ve finally gotten through our share of misfortune. I like the direction we’ve taken with the car, I think we’ve made some improvement, and the team have been working super hard to get us back where we belong. We’ve done our homework, so hopefully we get the results we’re looking for and have a pair of clean, solid races.”
Tim Edwards, Team Principal
“Obviously we’re all excited about the news from the other day, but we can’t look at the calendar and wait for 2019 to come around. The team have been hard at work to find a direction for our cars, and we’re confident the changes we’ve made will benefit everyone and move us closer to the pointy end. Everyone’s going to want to talk about next year this weekend, but the Falcon’s brought us some incredible memories, so we’ll work to start off its farewell tour with some more memories.”
EVENT NAME: Phillip Island 500
DATE: April 20-22
LOCATION: Phillip Island, Victoria
EVENT NUMBER: 4 of 16
FORMAT: Friday – 2 x 40-min practice; Saturday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 57-lap race (253 km); Sunday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 57-lap race (253 km)
CIRCUIT: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
DESCRIPTION: Albeit the shortest circuit on the Supercars calendar, Symmons Plains is notorious for high speed, action-packed races that push both car and driver to its limits. Its signature 180-degree, banked hairpin at Turn 4 serves as one of three heavy braking areas on the track, which offers multiple overtaking opportunities, but can magnify even the smallest mistakes on a lap that requires precise driving to perfect.
TRACK RECORD: 1m29.0621s (Scott McLaughlin, 2017)
TICKFORD RACING BEST RESULT: 1st – Craig Lowndes (2003), Mark Winterbottom (2006 Race 3, 2012 Race 1), Will Davison (2012, Race 2), Chaz Mostert (2017 Race 2)