TICKFORD RACING – MELBOURNE 400 PREVIEW
20 March, 2018
The Supercars annual visit to the Australian Grand Prix has higher stakes in 2018, as for the first time in its 22-year history the category will race for points across the weekend. With four races on tap across three days, Tickford Racing will look to add on to its respectable start at the Adelaide 500. The Campbellfield-based squad heads into the Grand Prix third in the teams’ championship, and hopes to claim the inaugural Larry Perkins Trophy, awarded to the driver who accumulates the most points over the weekend.
In support of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, the Melbourne 400 will consist of two 25-lap, 132-kilometre races and two 13-lap, 69-kilometre races across the weekend, each valued at 75 points for a race win. Mark Winterbottom (No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford) is tied among active drivers with seven race wins at Albert Park, including a clean sweep of the four races in 2015. Should he win two of this weekend’s races, he will pass Russell Ingall for most wins at the 5.303-kilometre circuit. Chaz Mostert (No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford) had a strong showing in 2017, scoring a podium in Race 1 of the weekend and claiming the top step in Race 4.
No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X
“In the past we’ve used the Grand Prix as sort of a test where we tried out some different or new things, but now that it counts for points we have to take a completely different approach. I expect it will be a challenging weekend, whoever rolls of the truck fast will be in the best position, but having the same car for three years there we should have a good idea where we can find speed and hopefully that will play to our advantage. We swept the weekend three years ago but haven’t won since, so hopefully we can get back to the front this weekend.”
No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X
“It’s always cool to be a part of the Australian Grand Prix, and it’s a bit more exciting to go and race for points this time. It will be good to take it a little more seriously, or at least approach it with a different mindset. It’s a track enjoy driving around it, hopefully the car is strong out of the box. It’s a hard weekend, as we have limited practice and shortened quali sessions, so we don’t have much time to develop the car. It’s really important to roll out fairly strong and have the car in the window to qualify well, especially for the sprint races. Adding pit stops in the long races this year should make things interesting, the tyres degrade pretty quickly, so it will be a little bit of who’s quick and who can manage their tyres. Hopefully we can put it together and score some points.”
No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Grand Prix. It’s awesome that we’ll be racing for points now, gives us four races to make a difference in the championship. The circuit itself is pretty unique; you don’t really get many temporary circuits that are as smooth as this but being an F1 circuit it’s well taken care of. I’ve always had a lot of fun racing there and we’ve gone well there the last few years, so we’ll hope to continue that this weekend.”
No. 56 MEGA Fuels/Tickford Ford Falcon FG X
“It will be good to be back at the Grand Prix. I raced there in 2009 in Formula Ford, so I’ve got a little memory of the track but I don’t think it will be all that relevant once we get out there on Thursday. I’m looking forward to getting on track and putting Adelaide behind us. We don’t have a lot of track time so we’ll have to work hard but we’ll give it our best shot and see how the weekend plays out.”
Tim Edwards, Team Principal
“Obviously having such a big event in our backyard is exciting and I think having this round count towards the championship is great. It will be interesting to see who does what since no one will be holding back or trialing anything, so we could be in for some surprises. There’s not much practice time and the races are pretty short so it’s important that we’re quick off the truck. We’ve gone well at AGP in the past so hopefully we’ll be on the ball from Practice 1 and pick up a good points payout.”
EVENT NAME: Melbourne 400
DATE: March 22-25
LOCATION: Melbourne, VIC
EVENT NUMBER: 2 of 16
FORMAT: Thursday – 2 x 30-min practice, 2 x 10-min qualifying; Friday – 2 x 10-min qualifying, 1 x 25-lap race (133 km); Saturday – 1 x 13-lap race (69 km), 1 x 25-lap race (133 km); Sunday – 1 x 13-lap race (69 km)
CIRCUIT: Albert Park Grand Prix circuit
DESCRIPTION: In its 22nd running, Supercars will race for points at the Australian Grand Prix, in four races on the Albert Park circuit. Several high speed corners and quick straightaways make it a challenging track to pass, meaning qualifying is especially important, particularly for the 13-lap sprint races.
TRACK RECORD: 1m54,3972s (Fabian Coulthard, 2017)
TICKFORD RACING BEST RESULT: 1st – Mark Winterbottom (2009, 2012 x2, 2015 x4), Chaz Mostert (2017)