Kicking off the 2018 endurance championship season, the RABBLE.club Sandown 500 takes place this weekend, where Tickford Racing looks to defend two of its biggest accomplishments from 2017. The Melbourne-based team enters the weekend as defending Sandown winners on the back of Cameron Waters (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X) and Richie Stanaway (No. 56 RABBLE.club Ford Falcon FG X), and Enduro Cup winners thanks to the efforts of Chaz Mostert (No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X) and Steve Owen in 2017.

This year, Stanaway, now a main game driver, is joined by Owen in Car 56, while newcomers James Moffat (Car 55) and David Russell (Car 6) make their first race starts as co-drivers with the team at Round 12 of the 2018 Supercars season.

Mostert leads the team into the weekend eighth in series points, and is carrying a retro livery replicating Steven Ellery’s 2004 Supercheap Auto Ford BA Falcon. He and Owen finished third at Sandown last year, when the pair honoured Supercheap Auto’s 20th year in motorsport with a livery emulating that of John Briggs’ 1999 Ford.

Mark Winterbottom and Dean Canto (No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X) return for their third year paired together in Car 5 for the Enduros, the only Tickford Racing entry to retain both drivers from 2017. Despite Canto being spun on Lap 1 at Sandown last year, the duo recovered to finish ninth in the 2017 edition at Sandown.

At just 24 years old, Waters makes his 50th round start this weekend, looking to back up his 2017 win from pole, while his former co-driver, Stanaway, hopes to rid this season’s gremlins with a stirring performance at the event bearing his naming rights partner in RABBLE.club.

Cars hit the track Friday morning for first practice, restricted to co-drivers only in Practices 1 and 3. Saturday qualifying for Sandown consists of two qualifying races, co-drivers only and main game drivers only, to set the grid for Sunday’s 161-lap event around Sandown Raceway’s 3.1-km circuit.

No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X
Mark Winterbottom
“I’m excited to start the Enduro campaign, it’s a good chance to try and turn this season around. I love working with Dean, so I’m very happy to be back with him again. We’ve both been around a while, and experience can win these races, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s our third year together and we’re comfortable with all the little things, seat fit, driver changes and all, so hopefully we’ll have a smooth weekend and be fighting up the front.”

Dean Canto
“I’m looking forward to getting back into race mode this weekend, and ideally to get past Turn 4 on the first lap on Sunday. In all seriousness, though, last year I was comfortable in the car, and we had good pace, we just had misfortune with getting turned and playing catch up the whole day. I’m feeling positive after the test day last week, just looking forward to getting into the first Enduro race and having some fun. I haven’t had too many laps in the co-driver sessions and tests this year, so it will be good to have a reasonable crack on fresher tyres this weekend and go for it.”

No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X
Cameron Waters
“I’m pumped to get into the Enduros. It’s a little different style of race meeting, with longer races and having D-Russ in the Monster Energy car and stuff. Last year across the Enduros we were really strong, I’m hoping to do a similar thing this year, and obviously going into Sandown we had good memories there last year. I feel like it’ll be a stronger round for us, especially compared to where we’ve been at times this year. I’m pumped to get there and get Car 6 back up the front.”

David Russell
“I’m really excited to join the team for the endurance races. It’s been a really good lead up, I think. To be honest I hadn’t previously even been to a preseason test, so when you think about it, back in February I got some miles in the car, got some more laps with every test day and every opportunity, so for that side of things it’s been really really good. We had a really good test last week, I’m working really well with Cam, our driver changes have been really good, so all it is now is just getting ready. I’m excited to start turning laps, and it’s great to join Cam, obviously him being the defending Sandown 500 champ, we’d love to go back to back, so bring on the weekend, let’s see what we can do.”

No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X
Chaz Mostert
“I’m pretty excited for the weekend, it’s Enduro time again, retro round, it’s all happening and it’s a fun time of year for us. The retro livery on the Supercheap Auto Ford looks awesome, and I’m excited to have Moff in the car this weekend, he’s obviously got plenty of experience and is quick so we’ll look to get amongst it this weekend.”

James Moffat
“It’s good to be back in a Supercars race again. Obviously I’m excited to be paired with Chaz, and even though the team’s had a tough year, Car 55’s turned in some good rounds recently, and we had a good test last week so we’re looking forward to the weekend. It’ll be good to get out there and mix it up again, but it’s a 161-lap race, so we’ll have to be quick but be smart. I was brought here to help Chaz win races, so we’ll give it a crack and see how we go.”

No. 56 RABBLE.club Ford Falcon FG X
Richie Stanaway
“Obviously I’ve got pretty good memories at Sandown, so I’m excited to be back at a track where I’ve had success. It’s been a tough season, but anything can happen in the Enduros so we’ll look to turn it around starting this weekend. Having Steve on board is good for us, his experience will help balance out my relative inexperience and hopefully we’ll put together some good rounds. I’ve turned a good number of laps at Sandown the past couple years, so I’m optimistic about the weekend, and hopefully we’ll do RABBLE.club proud at the RABBLE.club Sandown 500.”

Steve Owen
“We’ve always been strong at Sandown. Last year Chaz and I finished third and we were honestly disappointed with that because we thought we had better pace than that. The cars have always been pretty good here, so we should have a competitive outing for all four cars.”

Tim Edwards, Team Principal
“We’re looking forward to getting into the Enduros. We had a very positive test last week, and we’re confident in the gains we’ve been making the past few rounds. Sandown is a long race, so we’ll do our jobs and see if we can’t put in some good results. The team have worked hard through an obviously difficult season to date, a strong weekend here would do a lot for giving us some momentum.”

Supercars’ development series returns to action at Sandown for the first time since the Townsville event in July. Team driver Thomas Randle (No. 5 Skye Sands Ford Falcon FG X) enters the weekend 12th in points, having scored top tens in five of the last six races and despite having not raced at Sandown since 2015, and is feeling positive ahead of the fifth Super2 round of the season.

No. 5 Skye Sands Ford Falcon FG X
Thomas Randle

“It feels like I haven’t been a part of the championship as long as we’ve been off, but it’ll be nice to get behind the wheel of the Skye Sands Falcon at Sandown. It’s been three years since I’ve run there, in Formula 4, and before that was sport sedans, so I’ve got a relatively good idea of what it’s like to drive a tin top around there. One thing this weekend that will be the biggest change is the fact that we’re on the Super Soft tyre. I’ve never driven on those before, so Friday afternoon will be my first experience with them, and if it rains across the weekend that will be another new experience because I’ve never raced the car in the wet before. There will be a lot of new challenges this weekend, but at the end of the day I’m just going to give it my best and I’m sure all the guys from Tickford Racing and myself can put the best package together, and there’s no reason why we can’t be up at the pointy end again.

EVENT NAME: RABBLE.club Sandown 500
DATE: September 14-16
LOCATION: Springvale, Victoria
EVENT NUMBER: 12 of 16
FORMAT: Friday –  VASC Practice x 3, DS2 Practice x 2; Saturday – VASC Practice x 1, DS2 Quali x 1, VASC Quali x 1, VASC Quali Races x 2, DS2 Race x 1 (22 laps, 68km); Sunday – DS2 Quali x 1, VASC Practice x 1, DS2 Race x 1 (22 laps, 68km), VASC Race x 1 (161 laps, 500km)
CIRCUIT: Sandown Raceway
LENGTH: 3.10-kilometres
DESCRIPTION: Hosting its 49th Supercars round, Sandown Raceway has hosted more Supercars events than any other circuit. The RABBLE.club Sandown 500 historically serves as the Enduro Cup opening round, the pre-cursor to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. With speeds reaching 270 km/h and hard braking zones, this 161-lap event has evolved into a 500km sprint race in recent years.
TRACK RECORD: 1m08.57s – Jamie Whincup (2014)
TICKFORD RACING BEST RESULT: 1st – Mark Winterbottom/Jason Bright (2006), Paul Dumbrell (2010, Race 1) Mark Winterbottom/Steve Owen (2015), Cameron Waters/Richie Stanaway (2017)