TICKFORD RACING – MELBOURNE 400 FRIDAY REPORT

23 March, 2018
Chaz Mostert’s fifth place finish led the way for Tickford Racing on Friday at the Melbourne 400, but a number of misfortunes left the team with a middling overall result from Race 3 of the 2018 season.

Mostert (No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X) dropped a spot on the opening lap but kept within arms reach of the leaders throughout the 25-lap race that went without a safety car. Mark Winterbottom (No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X) quickly moved up in the early going, and ran as high as ninth after pitting early, but tyre degradation at the end of his second stint saw the 2015 Supercars champion lose places in in the final ten laps, ultimately settling for 14th place.

Cameron Waters’ (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X) strategy saw him pit later in the race than most, running as high as second, but got bottled up with competitors in critical moments, leading to a finish of 11th place.

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The arduous initiation into Supercars for Richie Stanaway (No. 56 MEGA Fuels/Tickford Ford Falcon FG X) continued on Friday, as qualifying struggles saw him start deep in the field, and a pit lane drama cost him 30 championship points and a monetary fine to the team for a loose wheel in the fast lane en route to a 24th place finish.

With three races remaining on the weekend, the team will pick up an turn towards Saturday, where its two races (Race 3 at 12:40 p.m. AEDT, Race 4 at 6:20 p.m.) could be affected by forecasted rain.

DRIVERS’ VIEW
No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X
Mark Winterbottom
Race 5 Quali: 12th, 1m56.01s
Race 6 Quali: 14th, 1m56.21s
Race 3 Start: 15th
Race 3 Finish: 14th

“I thought we made the car better in the race. I had a good first lap and made it up as far as 11th before I pitted. We caught a big group of cars ahead and were passing people fairly comfortably. I felt like we had good tyre life, and we pitted, which would have worked out if everyone came in with us, but only Will (Davison) and (Craig) Lowndes pitted with us. We had very good tyre life compared to them, but the rest of the field didn’t follow. I think if we were on with everyone else’s strategy we would have finished seventh or eighth, but we took a gamble and it didn’t pay off. You just can’t defend well on old tyres, but it was a better day for us. The result doesn’t match the car, but you take risks in this game; sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.”

No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X
Cameron Waters
Race 5 Quali: 22nd, 1m56.86s
Race 6 Quali: 15th, 1m56.24s
Race 3 Start: 9th
Race 3 Finish: 11th

“Today was okay. Qualifying wasn’t great, we got a kerb strike in the first session which obviously hurt, and the second session the car just didn’t hook up. That sets the scene for the end of the weekend, but as for today, the race was okay. We just struggled with the balance a bit. Overall I think our tyre degradation was good, just need to make the car a bit more comfortable. Tomorrow’s a new day, we’ll try and fix the car up, and it’s supposed to rain, so that should spice things up a bit.”

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No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X
Chaz Mostert
Race 5 Quali: 6th, 1m55.65s
Race 6 Quali: 4th, 1m55.58s
Race 3 Start: 4th
Race 3 Finish: 5th

“We really had nothing for the front guys today, they were in a bit of a league of their own. But I think if we can fix our car balance there’s no reason why we can’t run with them. We’ve been trying a lot of things, and I think we’re coming to the end of the path we’ve taken in what we’re trying to achieve, so we’ll have a little bit of a rethink and see if we can unlock more of the speed we had last year. We’ll keep the things that worked well for us, but also try and use some stuff that has worked for us before and see if that gets us closer. It looks like it might rain tomorrow, and we have two races, so I think if we go back to the car that did so well in the wet last year, we’ll be in for a really good tussle out there.”

No. 56 Tickford Ford Falcon FG X
Richie Stanaway
Race 5 Quali: 25th, 1m57.16s
Race 6 Quali: 20th, 1m57.02s
Race 3 Start: 23rd
Race 3 Finish: 24th

“We had an issue in qualifying where we were just going way too fast on our out laps. With the high tyre pressures and high load corners we’d cook the tyres before we even started a lap, and didn’t realise it until after, so we’re starting down the order in every race. But we threw much different setup on for the race and we were happy with our race pace. My fastest lap was in the top half of the field, so with track position and without dramas in the pits we’d have been on for a quality run. Even though we had the drama, I treated it like a regular stint just to try and put one together, and it went pretty well. The ingredients are there, we have two races tomorrow and it might be raining. Our cars were good in the wet last year, and it’s always a bit more interesting in the wet, so hopefully we can move up in the races.”

Tim Edwards, Team Principal
“It wasn’t the day we were hoping for. Everyone improved their cars throughout the day but we just had things go against us. Whether it was strategy, pit miscues, or starting on the dirty side of the track, everyone suffered some kind of drama. Fortunately we’re moving forward on car pace, and tomorrow’s a new day, so we’ll learn from today and hopefully we’ll have a better go.”

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DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1) Shane van Gisbergen – 380 points
2) David Reynolds – 322
3) Scott McLaughlin – 307
4) Chaz Mostert – 271 
5) James Courtney – 286
8) Mark Winterbottom – 219
8) Cameron Waters – 219
25) Richie Stanaway – 67

TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1) Triple Eight Engineering – 574 points
2) Walkinshaw-Andretti-United – 522
3) Tickford Racing (5/55)- 509
9) Tickford Racing (6/56) – 256