POWER RANKINGS: Bathurst 500 edition
A NEW SUPERCARS season means a new year of The Race Torque Power Rankings.
This column, otherwise known as Hot / Not or What, delves into the plusses and minuses from each round of the championship. The good bits get praised, the stuff that needs work gets the feedback it deserves. Sure, it’s a lot of fun and definitely light hearted – but those that make the ‘Not’ column tend to be there because the fans have nominated it, which makes it serious.
This week there was plenty to take in and so much good stuff on the Mountain to love – but then the new Graphics system had some glitches and you better believe our internet blew up..
So, without further preamble, here’s the first edition of the Power Rankings for this bold, new season.
We hope you enjoy and, next time, use the @theracetorque social handle to join in.
If anyone thought that replacing Supercheap Auto’s impressive activation of their Supercars and Bathurst sponsorship would be difficult or underwhelming, Repco quickly quashed anything of the kind from the moment you drove into town.
From every flagpole on William and George Streets in the Bathurst CBD being adorned by Repco banners, to the massive shipping container entrance to the circuit (complete with piped-in Supercars sounds), getting Sam Brabham to drive one of his grandfather’s Repco-Brabham F1 cars and all the associated track signage, Repco belted it out of the park at the Bathurst 500.
Oh yes – this is a sponsor that will activate on their investment.
Three straight race wins at Bathurst, and while his rivals faltered at various times, he was peerless. Clearly, the relationship with his new engineer didn’t take long to bed in. It’s early days, but SVG has to be the clear championship favourite, so long as the team can be consistent.
Fastest all day Friday, second and third on race day with speed to burn, Mostert looks the goods. We’ve seen Walkinshaw Andretti United be strong in season openers previously, and they are seemingly always on the Bathurst podium – Sandown will be the weekend of truth for the squad, and their title aspirations.
3. CoolDrive Racing Debut
For a single-car operation that started from scratch in November, there were many positives to take away from the event for the new CoolDrive equipe. Seventh and fourth in practice, fifth in qualifying, second in the shootout, and gunning for a podium in the opening race. The team is filled with some good operators and kit, and Slade has a point to prove after a season on the bench. Sadly, their weekend concluded further down this page, fingers crossed they can show similar speed at Sandown and elsewhere moving forward.
4. Scotty’s Live-Tweeting Service
MIA from the driver’s seat, but now doing the heavy lifting for Supercars’ PR department, we are comfortable with Scotty’s new role in the sport. Long may it continue.
Now Chaz literally needs to drop the hammer pic.twitter.com/2KVi4VuNuj— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) February 27, 2021
5. Sunday Qualifying
Absolutely tight as a tiger, different teams showing that there is very little in it at the pointy end of the field.
Less that 1/10th across the top 3 !… the margins in this sport are almost incomprehensibly small .. #RepcoSC— mark mark mk 2 (@theLOGICALman) February 27, 2021
These qualifying sessions are quite nerve wracking to watch, always thought my family were a little dramatic now I get it.. my hands are dripping 😂 #repcosc— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) February 27, 2021
That was an awesome end to qualifying. Jamie Whincup out of the top 10 for less than a second before jumping back in at the end! Also, Andre Heimgartner getting himself in the top 10 in the dying stages was cool to see. #RepcoSC— Alexander Grant (@AlexGrantOz) February 27, 2021
6. Supporting Cast
Between Super2, Touring Car Masters, Toyota 86s and Aussie Racing Cars, the quality of racing on the undercard was absolutely first rate. Close finishes, while a general lack of major stacks earns the collective a big attaboy/girl.
Saturday pole, and was looking good in the opening leg until a mechanical moment muted the Monster Mustang (more below), but bounced back with a somewhat distant second on Sunday. The form from the end of 2020 was no fluke.
Overall, there was an awful lot to like about the coverage. Garth Tander was everywhere, and did a great job in the various roles he filled – the post-race bants with SVG were top notch. Larko was Larko, and everyone was stoked that he was back on board. Craig Lowndes also slotted in well to his new role, while some nerves elsewhere will no doubt be ironed out. It wasn’t perfect, see below for more…
R1 was the most watched season opener of at least the last four years, with a metro audience of 430,000 on 7 + Fox. That’s up from 401k for R1 last year and 397k for R1 in 2019.— The Race Torque (@theracetorque) February 28, 2021
234k watched on 7 regionally, taking the total to 664k. Streaming not included.#RepcoSC #TVRatings pic.twitter.com/hT3jBPz5bN
Cool that Foxsports is now seemingly able to show clips from the Channel 7 archive. #RepcoSC— Mark Walker (@markwa1ker) February 27, 2021
LARKO. I MISSED YOU ❤️ #RepcoSC— Hayley (@Hayleyyemma) February 26, 2021
9. Fans Back Trackside
How good. Also Hot, this photo by the guru Mark Horsburgh.
10. National Anthem
Friend of The Race Torque Courtney Keil belted out a great anthem to kick off the season, a performance that was unveiled via the On The Grid Podcast. It pays to tune in!
Several odd references to spectators on the broadcast raised eyebrows within the TRT community – turns out, they didn’t much like being called ‘Customers’..
Suspect the core TV watching fanbase won’t react too well to being described as customers! May need a re-think?— Margaret Hardy (@darm93) March 1, 2021
HOT @GarthTander as a Pit Lane reporter, pundit and commentator.— Lizzie Maher (@maher_liz) February 28, 2021
NOT Charli Hi5 talking like we are all 5 year olds, seriously 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️.
Stop calling fans customers, that is overpaid marketing department nonsense.
HOT: The drive from Canberra to Bathurst via Crookwell. A gem of a drive with sweepers, blind corners and flat out sections.— Glenn Beaumaris (@gogg13) February 28, 2021
NOT: Paddock passes selling out and yet there were was no social distancing in merch alley. Stop referring to us fans as customers.#repcosc
I mean, should be in ‘HOT’ but so much of what he does makes you go ‘What just happened?’ while holding back the tears, so it could go nowhere else..
Global Warming has taken a new, dangerous turn on the borders..
Dunlop Absolutely Smashing It
Dunlop tire having a couple of shunts in the #Dunlop Super 2 practice at #bathurst— Ash (@LetUsRolll) February 26, 2021
😂#RepcoSC #FoxSports #kayo #Motorsports
(Original footage rights belong to respective owners. No copyright intended. Footage used for entertainment only.) pic.twitter.com/yjfLPMJNyE
Engineer-Driver Communication is Key
We’re not much chop at spelling, but we’re confident this isn’t how you spell February.
1. Not being in Adelaide
Bathurst is wonderful and if you had to go anywhere to start this particular season that wasn’t the Adelaide 500, it would be there. But a ‘sprint’ round on the Mountain with a half of the amenities, a quarter of the punters and a tenth of the camping and festival atmosphere took away from the big-event feel that Supercars would always launch with in South Australia. Good for TV, but it didn’t feel like a major event, the Bathurst 500 – and the season should start with one. Newcastle 2022 will go a long way to correcting that.
I know things have changed and probably will never go back, but I have this nagging feeling that I am supposed to be in Adelaide today #RepcoSC— Here Be Branners (@philbranagan) February 25, 2021
2. Slade’s Shunt
This hurt. It was a shunt that could have happened to anyone, with the transmission playing silly buggers at exactly the wrong moment. Everyone felt the pain inflicted on Slade and squad, deserved better.
3. New Graphics
Nothing ground at the gears of those in social media land than the various dramas that inflicted the graphics package over the weekend. As a graphic (pun intended) example of how many people found angst in it, this is the single most requested item by TRT social media contributors in the history of the Power Rankings.
By about 50%..
After a big unveil in the lead-up, their actual function fell short at the first test. No doubt the feedback will be taken on board, and things will improve in the future, but you could see the smoke pouring out of the graphics truck from Melbourne.
TL:DR? Looked pretty. Didn’t work.
(If you’re reading this from Supercars TV, you might want to CLICK HERE, which will allow you to skip this particular item and move on to No. 4. You’ll save lots of scrolling..)
Far out had the gaps on the timing graphic all race and when we need it most it ain’t there 😅😅 wanna know gap from SVG to Chaz— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) February 27, 2021
If you’re gonna promote the hell out of the new graphics package, at least make sure it works #RepcoSC— Hayley (@Hayleyyemma) February 27, 2021
So #RepcoSC’s much vaunted new graphics package shat the bed day 1 session 1— disgraced wellness blogger (@DrYobbo) February 26, 2021
What is this god awful shit show that is the graphics/timing/totem pole update system? Maybe it’s trying to force people to buy live timing in the app? #RepcoSC— Steve Cottrell (@RisingPhoen1x) February 27, 2021
Svgs a big shell fan – always has been pic.twitter.com/AGKOF5Zn85— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) February 27, 2021
Fox is trying to do too much with the graphics. Just leave the pylon up and don’t get cute with it. #RepcoSC— Sean (@SeanMP) February 27, 2021
Honestly, why don’t they have J and B for the Kostecki’s? This whole thing upgrade is to help casual fans but that seems like a basic improvement that should’ve been there anyway. #repcosc— seth ewen (@ewen_seth) February 28, 2021
4. Erebus on Friday
An ugly way to kick things off. The rookie duo of Brodie Kosteki and Will Brown showed strong Friday pace, although Brown demolished his car in the Dipper while clearly having a big go (he was third fastest… in an inconsequential practice).
Brodie rebounded to finish both races just outside the top-ten and very impressively qualify in the Saturday shootout, while Brown finished 14th on Sunday with a patched-up racer.
A solid rebound, but it would have been so much easier to simply not be behind the eight-ball.
5. Brad Jones Racing and Bathurst
Urrgh. What has Brad Jones Racing done to offend Bathurst? Practice two saw Jones bunker at The Chase, while Hazlewood had steering dramas. They didn’t get a car in the top-15 in Q1, while Percat was delayed in race one by engine dramas. A tenth to Hazelwood on Saturday and a tenth to Percat on Sunday was all they had to show for their efforts.
Another year, more woes for BJR. I just wanna give Brad a big hug poor thing 😂 #RepcoSC— Hayley (@Hayleyyemma) February 26, 2021
BJR and Bathurst problems #RepcoSC— Trackside Towtruck ™ (@SCTowtruck) February 26, 2021
6. Waters Saturday Woes
How important will the Saturday 20th place finish for Waters be at the end of the season? With only 11 events left, dropped points at any stage will be hard to claw back, but especially in the very first event. Tickford need to be faultless from here on in.
7. Anton Drops it Cold
Anton was absolutely on like Donkey Kong, until fencing himself at the Cutting on Saturday. Like Waters, how important will this be in the final run down? Fourth on Sunday was a good rebound, but he should have been on Saturday’s podium.
8. Courtney Does Similar
The slowest corner on the track continues to be one of the hardest to master, with former champs not exempt.
9. U-G-L-Y Re-entry
Not pretty, almost a major, major sausage and rightfully penalised.
10. Friday Fog
As if the curtailed 2020 season wasn’t hard enough to swallow, at one stage it looked like the 2021 edition was never going to get started… Editor Craill, who is contractually bound to see the Mount Panorama sign at least once every 365, days was particularly unhappy.
THE BEST OF THE REST OF THE INTERNET
Save Your Legs, Take the Boat Next Time
Bert’s Back, Baby!
You’ve Still Got Time, Chad
So, my favourite moment of the day was when @craiglowndes888, without me even prompting him, just gave himself a casual pat on the back on Live TV for sending it around the outside of John Bowe in 1994. So good. Mega to work with the legend! #RepcoSC— Richard Craill (@Craillsy) February 27, 2021
Saturday is for the Boys
Cracking open a cold one with the Jordan Boys #RepcoSC— Goddamit, Kyle (@PatrickPalony) February 28, 2021
He has a Doctorate in Selfies