TICKFORD RACING – TOWNSVILLE 400 SATURDAY REPORT

7 July, 2018
It was a day of ups and downs for Tickford Racing, as the team brought home a pair of top tens in Race 17 of the 2018 Supercars season, but also dealt with a pair of detrimental issues to its other two cars, which dampened the team’s overall result at the chequered flag on the streets of Townsville.

Mark Winterbottom (No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X) and Cameron Waters (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X) led Tickford Racing home on a much improved Saturday at the Townsville 400, with both drivers finishing inside the top ten. In his 400th race with Tickford Racing, Winterbottom finished sixth to score his sixth top ten of 2018, while Waters came home eighth in a positive result following a difficult stretch over the previous four races.

Chaz Mostert (No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X) was on for a potential top ten as well, but his race was impaired on Lap 42, when Winterbottom suffered a broken tyre chord late in the lap, forcing an unscheduled entry to pit lane. With Mostert scheduled to pit that lap and the team unaware of the late entry from Winterbottom, the 26-year old was forced to double stack in pit lane, costing a valuable ten seconds. Ultimately, the Queenslander fought back to 13th at the chequered flag, while also owning the fastest lap of the race.

Kiwi Richie Stanaway’s (No. 56 RABBLE.club Ford Falcon FG X) fate was no friendlier, as the rookie finished 23rd after running as high as 11th in the early stages of the race. Pitting under a late Safety Car, Stanaway’s crew fitted disproportionately aged tyres on the No. 56 Ford, causing the car to behave against the rookie’s needs in the final sprint to the finish.

Sunday presents a new day for the team, and another 200 kilometres to cap off the Townsville 400. Qualifying for Race 18 begins at 11:30 a.m. AEST, followed by a Top Ten Shootout to determine the starting order of the front of the grid. The lights on Race 18 are scheduled to go out at 4:05 p.m., releasing the 26-car field to an additional 70 laps of racing on the 2.86-km street circuit.

DRIVERS’ VIEW
No. 5 The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X
Mark Winterbottom
Race 17 Quali: 1m12.40s, 6th
Race 17 Finish: 6th

“It was good to have a bit of car pace in quali, unfortunately it’s not quite hanging in there in the race. It’s using its tyres quite heavily, but when the tyres are cool it feels reasonable. It’s a ‘first make it fast, then make it last’ type of thing, I guess, so we’ll keep working at it. It was a pretty clean race, obviously the second pit stop was not ideal, it wasn’t intentional, I just had a drama with my left front and peeled into the pits, so I’m sorry to Chaz and his guys, there’s not much you can do. P6 is a solid result, and we’ll build on that for tomorrow.”

No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Falcon FG X
Cameron Waters
Race 17 Quali: 1m12.71s, 13th
Race 17 Finish: 8th

“Finally, we finished a race, which is probably the happiest part of my day, to be honest. We qualified 13th, and we probably should have been inside the top ten, a few things didn’t happen that we needed to. But the race went pretty well, we got a good start, moved forward, and the car was okay. It was nice to get a top ten finish and reward the boys for all the hard work they’ve been putting in, because it’s incredible what they’ve done. It’s nice to make a bit of progress, and hopefully this is the start of the climb.”

No. 55 Supercheap Auto Ford Falcon FG X
Chaz Mostert
Race 17 Quali: 1m12.78s, 17th
Race 17 Finish: 13th

“It was just a tough day for the team. We couldn’t get the lap we needed in quali, and you don’t do yourself any favours starting 17th, but we had a pretty decent car in the race and picked off a heap of cars, so it was nice to feel racy. Then making our second stop I had no idea Frosty was in until it was too late and we were stuck. I don’t think we could have avoided it, but it’s still tough to deal with. I think we could have gotten into the ten, so it’s frustrating, but I’m confident we’ll have a better car tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll start further up the grid and make up for today with a strong race to finish the weekend.”

No. 56 RABBLE.club Ford Falcon FG X
Richie Stanaway
Race 17 Quali: 1m12.78s, 16th
Race 17 Finish: 23rd

“We were going all right for most of the race. We had a good first stint and the car was reasonable, so we were on for a fairly smooth day. With the late Safety Car, the plan was always to take tyres, so I came in for tyres, but unfortunately there was a misunderstanding for what tyres went on the car, so we put fresh fronts on but not the rears. I was expecting understeer when I came out, which would have been good for the end of the race so we could gamble on charging through those last 15 laps. Obviously because we had the wrong tyres on, the car was pretty undriveable. I was having enough trouble keeping the car out of the wall, let alone try to pass anyone, I couldn’t even get to full throttle down the straight between Turns 2 and 3. It’s a disappointing end but we’ll get it sorted and do better tomorrow.”

DUNLOP SUPER2 SERIES
Continuing his impressive rookie campaign at the Super2 level, Thomas Randle (No. 5 Skye Sands Ford Falcon FG X) brought home a quality fourth place finish earlier in the day. Randle qualified second for Race 10 of the season, his third consecutive front row start, and despite trouble getting off the line, fought well to maintain position for the remainder of the 21-lap race.

Randle and the rest of the Super2 field will take to the circuit again Sunday, with Race 11 qualifying at 11:00 a.m. AEST, and another 21-lap battle beginning at 2:45 p.m.

No. 5 Skye Sands Ford Falcon FG X
Thomas Randle
Race 10 Quali: 1m14.10s, 2nd
Race 10 Finish: 4th

“It was a 100% positive turnaround from yesterday, Pato (David Patterson, engineer) and I spent all night, until 10:30, going over the data, and it paid off. We were on the front row today in quali, and I just didn’t quite get the front tyres to work in the race. We’ll have a look at all that stuff tonight and see how we can improve the car for tomorrow. It’s a full reset now, we’ve got another qualifying tomorrow and another race, so it’s game on again.”

Tim Edwards, Team Principal
“We made a good step forward today as a team which is certainly encouraging, but at the same time it’s a bitter result for two of our cars which is not what we want to see. Mark and Cam drove really well and gave us some good momentum for tomorrow, and Chaz did well to recover from something no one could have predicted. He was the fastest car for good part of the race, so 13th doesn’t sound great but to get back to that is a testament to just how quick he was. Richie’s situation was due to human error, which we train hard to avoid but unfortunately it came into play today. He was understandably frustrated, and his on-track theatrics became a way of blowing off steam in a frustrating situation. We’ve handled it internally, and we’ll turn it around and go for a strong Sunday all around tomorrow.”

Regarding Thomas Randle’s performance in Super2: “Tom was very impressive today. They had their struggles on Friday but turned it around today and brought home a very positive result. It’s one thing to qualify up front, but he’s learning quickly and holding his own against guys with far more experience in these cars, and it’s really exciting to see.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1) Scott McLaughlin – 1904 points
2) Shane van Gisbergen – 1752
3) David Reynolds – 1544
9) Chaz Mostert – 1175
14) Mark Winterbottom – 1103
17) Cameron Waters – 889
25) Richie Stanaway – 548

TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1) Triple Eight Engineering – 3244 points
2) DJR-Team Penske – 3244
3) Walkinshaw-Andretti-United – 2497
6) Tickford Racing (5/55) – 2278
11) Tickford Racing (6/56) – 1407