Two events in the books. The Australian Grand Prix had plenty to offer with four races – all counting for championship points for the first time – in which our four cars scored a combined eight top tens, but saw several instances of misfortune prevent the team from achieving higher results on the weekend. Check out the crash course notes on our weekend, as well as our AGP Gallery below:
Bad weekend for gambling
Judging by our on-track dice rolling, this was a good weekend to keep away from the casino. Friday saw Mark Winterbottom’s undercut lead to Frosty losing spots at the end of Race 3 as he struggled on dying tyres. In Saturday’s Race 5, Chaz Mostert elected to pit for wet tyres in a driving rain storm, but lost out when the track dried, and cars that stayed on slicks reaped the benefits. Mostert was on for a podium if he had stayed out, and had the rain persisted, was the leading car on wets.
Sunday had its dose of frustration as well, when Winterbottom and Cameron Waters pitted for fresh tyres during a late Race 6 safety car, expecting three green flag laps to make up positions. The SC period was extended for cleanup of a car off-track, and the race made time certain trimmed it to a one-lap dash, leaving the pair to 17th and 22nd place finishes, respectively.
Despite Saturday’s gamble gone awry, Mostert rallied back to tenth place in Race 5, and followed it up with another fourth from P4 in Race 6. Coming out of the Melbourne 400, the 2014 Bathurst winner sits – you guessed it, fourth – in the season championship. He’s also the only driver in the field who has finished all six of the season’s races in the top ten.
Qualifying woes hamper Stanaway
As the weekend’s qualifying sessions were condensed into two separate stanzas involving back to back ten-minute sessions, the little time between sessions to dissect rights and wrongs hurt rookie Richie Stanaway. After the four sessions had finished, the Car 56 team concluded that Stanaway had pushed too hard on his out laps in quali, and used up too much of his Dunlop rubber prior to starting his flying laps. The already worn SuperSoft tyres then could not provide the Kiwi the grip he needed on his qualifying runs, which relegated him to starting positions in the rear of the field of all four races.
What’s Next: Tassie
We next head to the Tasmania SuperSprint, for a pair of races on one of the calendar’s shortest circuits. The Tassie round also includes the debut for a new qualifying format on short courses. The bottom 16 cars from practice will compete in “Q1,” where the top six advance to Q2, joining the fastest ten drivers from practice. Those 16 will compete for the right to contest Q3, made up of Q2’s ten fastest cars, which will then determine the pole sitter for each of the weekend’s two races.