POWER RANKINGS: Hidden Valley
WELCOME to the TRT Power Rankings documenting the Darwin Triple Crown and lets be honest.. this was large.
We had more than enough content to fill this column twice over.. on Friday. But we also had a lot of FOMO because a vast majority of the TRT Rankings contributors were watching from the couch and not luxuriating in the Darwin sunshine, so we were angry and as such culling was easy.
Still, this was a huge weekend, with so much going on and sorting the many things that could have made the list from the stuff that should have made the list was a lengthy process.
Also, loading this page may take some time. There’s a lot of embedded tweets and images and they take time to load, so have patience, and thanks as always to those who contribute to this little thing of ours each round.
Anyway, with that out of the way, lets launch into the latest edition of the TRT Hot, Not and What list called the Power Rankings. Read ’til the end!
- SVG’s Race Starts
You can qualify on the pole as much as you like, but with race starts proving crucial, Shane Van Gisbergen had a perfect score heading into turn two for all three heats. He probably should have won the first race, and be the first driver to ever take a three-race win Triple Crown at Hidden Valley. Despite that, SVG dominated the weekend and it will be difficult for him to lose the title from here, as we are essentially at the halfway mark.
- The Event
It’s awesome to see a promoter have a swing at providing a product that is noticeably different from the standard copy/paste affair that is seen at the bulk of the events on the calendar. Sure, the standard serving is very good, and it is typically played out to different spectators at each event around the country, but for Darwin to look outside the box is refreshing. The Friday night drags were a figurative and literal hit, and Bernard Fanning is a good music act for the Supercars demographic. Superbikes and Jumpy Trucks made sure that there was something for everyone, although being overly critical, the setup time for both of these classes eats into the time that could be allocated to another on-track support. Obviously, the inclusion of the bikes offers value for the NT Government, as by combining two events, they pool together the different audience segments.
- Will Davison’s Qualifying Bounce Back
From an all-round Barry of a day on Saturday, Will Davison bounced back brilliantly with a couple of ace displays from the dual Sunday qualifying sessions. Granted, he did have some spare boots up his sleeve, he used them to the max. A pair of seconds in the races sees him hold down fourth in the standings, now clear of Cameron Waters, who outside of his race one podium was irrelevant.
- Q1 Saturday + Qualifying Sunday
The first segment of Saturday qualifying on the new super softs turned in some topsy-turvey results, with Jake Kostecki on top, with the top-ten featuring Macauley Jones, Bryce Fullwood, Thomas Randle and Zane Goddard. Those to miss out on advancing to Q2 included James Courtney, Will Brown, Jack Le Brocq, Will Davison, David Reynolds and Andre Heimgartner. Wow. Sunday’s 10-minute sessions were action-packed and spot-on. We can go without the Saturday top-ten shootout, though, especially now the ‘Triple Crown’ element of the Darwin event can be based on races alone.
- Mostert Vs Whincup
All of the chat coming into the weekend was on the endless possibilities presented by the new super soft Dunlops, but the reality proved that they were simply slightly faster versions of the old softs. This was probably the pick of the on-track battles.
- Chaz Mostert & his side of the WAU garage
Two wins in three rounds, the Walkinshaw Andretti United equipe are the real deal in 2021. With Grant McPherson now on board after a spell spent at home, the team have some more big-time firepower, both regarding race car engineering and gardening.
- Channel 7
The first combined free-to-air and subscription TV simulcast (Bathurst carried slightly differing feeds) has to go down in the books as a success, with viewing numbers very significant. A welcome addition for the viewers on the screens of 7 were the side-by-side ads (see Tweet below), so that viewers didn’t miss anything during the races. It’s a regular occurrence in the USA, and a welcome addition here.
As a bonus here, a special mention to friend of TRT Chad Neylon, who stepped up bigtime this weekend to not only lead the Bikes and the Drag Racing, but also the Supercars as well and absolutely nailed it.
- Friday Night Drags
Broadcast through Fox/Kayo and 7plus, there were plenty of thrills and spills, including some Supercars involved in the action. It was refreshing to see the genre of the sport receiving the full Supercars TV treatment. There’s no reason why this sort of thing couldn’t happen at places like Sydney Motorsport Park and Queensland Raceway. Hell, let’s have some speedway, rallycross – anything that keeps the fans engaged after hours.
- Thomas Randle
A big weekend with the official revelation that he will be driving full-time next year with Tickford’s freshly acquired fourth REC. Ninth in the first race was backed up with 11th in the finale, including the overtaking move of the weekend, below. Honourable mention to fellow wildcardist Kurt Kostecki, who earned sixth in a wild opener. Who doesn’t like an underdog overperforming?
- ASBK Winners
Back in the day, 2+4 meetings were the norm, but then again, the top flight bikes and tourers were both sponsored by Shell. For the first time since 2013, the Superbikes were back on the undercard – it wasn’t perfect (see below), but there were a couple of fantastic highlights. For starters, Troy Herfoss’s move on Wayne Maxwell to win the opener on the final circuit was huge, while second-generation ace Oli Bayliss broke through for his maiden success in the third encounter.
In addition to the below, he also said the word “dick” when describing the phallic part at the inside of a rattle gun…
It’s beaten into our heads all weekend long that it’s bloody hot, then this appears on our Facebook feed…
- Race 1 Turn 1
An absolute dog’s breakfast. Ultimately it made for an interesting race, but correspondingly, some very late nights.
- On Screen Graphics. Again.
Six months into 2021 and five rounds down in the season, and there continues to be varying dramas with the graphics package on all three days of the event. It’s not any one thing – it’s a bit all over the place. Probably the thing that grates the most is that the new package was launched with much fanfare at the start of the season, but it still hasn’t delivered despite the same issues cropping up time and time again. Also, there were some annoying little audio faux pas over the event, which is only noteworthy because they never normally happen.
- Team 18
This only makes the list this high up because it is so damn frustrating. Team 18 are on an absolute tear at the moment, showing what customer Triple Eight kit is capable of. Mark Winterbottom started race one from second, but electrical dramas off the start and a tour through the first turn paddock saw him finish 22nd. Fourth and seventh places starts on Sunday were converted to fifth and seventh place finishes, which were competent. Scott Pye meanwhile started the opener from fourth, ignited the turn one melee, and was eventually classified 21st. Ninth and sixth qualifying efforts on Sunday wound up in 13th and 16th place finishes, after a tyre refused to part ways in the final race pit stop. So close, yet so far.
- Anton de Pasquale
The only driver in the field with four DNFs to his credit after five events, albeit his Saturday non-finish was not exactly of his making. Sixth from race two after a tardy stop was backed up with 12th in the third heat, this time a pit stop stall and a trek through the opening turn outfield. So much pace, but eighth in the standings.
- Superbike Accidents
Supercars fans just aren’t used to seeing competitors wheeled off to hospital in an ambulance. The first to go was Mike Jones, although his effort was rather innocuous compared to race one winner Troy Herfoss, who low-sided into the turn two air fence on the opening lap of race two. A broken humerus and femur were the resulting damage, although it could have been so much worse, with the specialist motorcycle press quick to shine a light at the air fence installation method at 2+4 events, plus the suitability of Hidden Valley. Matt Walter’s issue in the final race was terrifying. Be thankful these guys are built tough…
- Kelly Grove Racing
Remember when this team won at the most recent event? Last and second last qualifying efforts for race one set the scene. David Reynolds, normally a Darwin special came home 19th, 18th and 19th, while Andre Heimgartner claimed 15th, 17th and a retirement. Ctrl + Alt + Delete, Men In Black memory erase, see you in Townsville.
- SVG Race 1 Pit Stop
Probably cost him a clean sweep of the weekend, we simply hold these guys and girls in such high regard that stuff like this is a massive surprise when it (rarely) happens.
- Percat Tyre Pressures R1
Genuinely ice cream headache-inducing. And while it was frustrating that the decision-makers had to sleep on it, if you read the below summary, you can understand how it may not have been entirely cut/shut, black/white. Clearly, the Brad Jones Racing legal department is top-notch for Nick Percat to keep his well-earned third-place trophy, but the message is: don’t fly so close to the wind. On the flipside, good that it didn’t change the podium a day later because that’d have definitely ranked higher up the ‘not’ order.
- Virtual Things
Was it the heat, or were the Darwin CGI signage Graphics a bit wonkier than usual at the weekend. Also, and we’ve said it before, the fake post-race clapping and cheering. Urgghh.
- Missing Neil
While Chad Neylon, Garth Tander and Marcos Ambrose were first class, the whole show simply misses Neil Crompton. A calming influence who sets the tone for the whole broadcast. Rest up, we hope to see and hear the voice of Supercars again very soon.
- Boost on Boost
A bonus not because it’s pretty ironic, funny and everything else all at the same time.
<word redacted> them over
Pizza Not on Saturday
A winning Combination
A dumpster fire of a weekend…
No pressure Chaz, but get it done for the cat…