DORIC POWER RANKINGS: Winton
WE could roll out all of the well-used cliche’s about the weather, winter, ‘wild’ or Ned Kelly, but this week it was just nice to be back at good, old-fashioned Winton Motor Raceway.
There was lots to like and plenty worth questioning from another Supercars serve, so with thanks to our mates at Doric, here’s another helping of the only bit of quasi-informed commentary you’re likely to get on the goings-on last weekend: The Doric Power Rankings.
1. Cam Waters
HOLY MOLY: Two rounds in a row where the Monster car made the podium, and while Cam was good in Perth he was at his very best at Winton as he defeated SVG in hand-to-hand combat on two occasions to win the weekend. Could it be that Tickford have found some cons.. consiste…. consistenc.. err.. an ability to be good for more than just one weekend in a row?
If they have it’s good news for everyone because the team and their Monster-backed driver showed how good things are when they are in peak form. Mighty performance from Waters at Winton and if he can repeat that kind of thing in Darwin then the second half of 2022 will be a big step up from the first.
2. Shane van Gisbergen
ALL BUT a round clear in the championship now and pinched a huge wad of points from the Melbourne teams on their home circuit. It’s weekends like this – where he’s not quite the fastest guy but is almost there – that will define Shane’s year. Could have been much worse, but instead he grabbed another win and pair of narrow seconds to extend his title lead over a team that most thought were going to be his biggest rival this year (see NOT, below). Could leave Darwin a full round in front and we’re not even half-way home yet.
Or are we? Calendar fluidity is a NOT for another week..
3. Grove Racing
THIS team have in the space of a few months gone from being labelled as having ‘lots of potential’ and ‘could be good’ to legitimately being the second best Ford team on the grid and, by that measure, the third or fourth best team on the grid in total. Davey Reynolds is driving like he used to, just with an older and smarter (roll with it) head on his shoulders. His qualifying is excellent and his consistency is beaten only by SVG this year and he’s now climbed past Mostert in the championship to sit fifth.. And could it be that the other side of the garage have worked out how to give Holdsy a decent qualifying car? Leethal was very strong at the weekend and if the Penrite boys and girls can deliver that kind of weekend more regularly for both cars, seeing them run line astern well up in the top-10 could be something of a common site in the second half of the season.
It’s a superb, refreshing story this one. Well done to the Grove’s and everyone around them.
4. Races 1 & 3 race to the finish
BOTH of these races took a while to burn but ultimately most people only tend to remember the big moment at the end (this is not a commentary on the editors love live..) and both Races 1 and 3 on the weekend delivered those in spades, as SVG went-a-hunting Monster Falcons. Genuinely very good finishes that entertained and showed how good the product can be.
5. Closeness of qualifying Sunday
Anyone who brings up parity after this is a bum.
6. Larko’s opener
<EDITORS NOTE: Insert an updated version of the ‘Why Mark Larkham is god’s gift to Supercars TV’ caption here>
Special tip of the hat to Producer Briony Ingerson who put this together.
7. Supporting cast
A PACKED support program for once! Kicking off early, finishing late, lots of variety and a somewhat old-school field with the more profile regulars like Carrera Cup, Aussie Cars and the Utes (see more on them in NOT) bolstered by the return of both Sports Sedans and Formula Ford to the biggest show.
Both were fantastic additions, with great racing, a variety of sights and sounds and across the spectrum Winton’s undercard gave a broad mixture of sounds, shapes, sizes and quality of racing that we’re sure kept the punters entertained or at least engaged.
8. Winton vibe
SPEAKING OF punters, it wasn’t Winton’s biggest ever crowd by a long way but it was a very happy and engaged one. The weather was great, the campground full and once you got beyond the frigidity of the mornings it was just a really nice place to be. The circuit looked the best it ever has and continual improvements to the amenities, even if it’s just a new splash of colour here or there, are always welcome.
We always bang on about country race meetings being the ‘heart and soul’ of the sport.
But that’s because they are.
9. Andre Heimgartner
WAVING his own flag in the BJR stable at the moment but this was a sensational weekend for the Kiwi and his still-new team environment, capped off by a second podium in five races in the last heat of the weekend. Andre has gone 10th, 3rd, 9th, 9th, 7th and 3rd across the last six races and, coupled with very strong one-lap pace, is building real momentum aboard his BJR entry.
10. Tim Blanchard
COOLDRIVE Racing might not have had a banner weekend, but the boss sure did. After telling the ‘On the Grid’ Podcast last week that he needed to knock off the young guns in Formula Ford or else his phone would be ringing hot for an enduro co-drive, we suspect Tim’s phone is quiet post-Winton after thoroughly dominating what is a talented little grid. Nice to see him back at his best and reminding people how good his junior career really was.
Mayor of Albury
THE MAYOR of Albury (no, not Bradley) was in the media centre on Sunday, lending a friendly hand to long-time Winton Media Centre manager of all things, Maggi Kirk, who’s been a bit under the weather lately.
And though she was not in an official role representing the home of BJR, it felt like we were being warmly welcomed by an official member of local government each time we walked in the room.
For those unaware, the current Mayor of Albury is Motorsport’s own Kylie King – not only one of the nicest human beings ever created, but a ridiculously talented TV presenter, broadcaster, brekkie Radio host and journo, among other things.
(As an aside, it turns out KK’s brekkie radio co-host is the Mayor of Woodonga, the neighbouring Victorian town that sits on the other side of the Murray. Though made in a definitely unofficial, off the cuff style – and absolutely no formal Mayoral consent was given – we’re confident our pitch for a the ‘Bridging the Borders’ street race to be held in the two cities will be given a good chance to be heard when we get to the point of pitching to council..)
Seriously, it’s superb to see Motorsport’s best people doing great things in the broader community, and KK is absolutely that. And also, what kind of power must Maggi have to summon a Mayor to assist in running the media centre? Her influence knows no bounds.
First time Carrera Cup winners
WE LOVE a first-time winner here at TRT and especially when it’s so well deserved like it was in the Porsche’s at the weekend. Harri Jones is a super talented young bloke and broke through for his first Round win at the weekend, while Pro-Am runner Matt Belford won his class in just his second ever event; and only five or six years after starting his journey with the odd track day here or there.
Carrera Cup put on great racing at the weekend (when it could have been extremely processional..) and the added entertainment of two new winners was an added bonus to a good weekend.
HOT & COLD (LITERALLY)
The Winton weather across the event featured ridiculously crisp mornings around the zero degrees mark, which burnt off into spectacularly sunny days, complete with genuine t-shirt and shorts conditions. How on earth do you dress for that without a mid-stream pants change? Spare a thought for the hardy officials who had to take it all in – with one noting to the TRT that they hadn’t had a chance to chance to swap out of their thermals once things had warmed up.
Frog or toad?
Face the press
Quality wall tethers
TRT’s internal communications
Winton represented the first time that TRT’s original ‘Fab Four’ – Craill, Walker, Schibeci and Rodgers – plus our superb and more recent addition to the family in #DoricGuy (aka Tom Arciuli) were all at the same race track together at the same time since before Covid was a thing.
Do you think at any point we all got together as a group? Not even slightly. We don’t even know if each person saw all of the other people at any point over the weekend.
We might make good Doric Power Rankings, but we sure as hell can’t coordinate a gathering of our own people..
1. Shell V-Power Racing
You could roll out every excuse in the book here but there’s no way around the fact that this was a dirty weekend for DJR and was hugely costly: the team ceding the lead to their arch-rivals in the teams title race, and both drivers dropping massive margin they could not afford to lose to van Gisbergen as well.
Saturday was a shocker for the team, probably their worst since the Captain left and took McLaughlin with him, but all around it was just plain mid-pack sailing. Anton finished 8th, 10th and 8th and Will didn’t even make the 10 in two of the three races.
Okay, so you can say that it’s the Victorian team’s test track and that is part of the reason they battled so badly. You could even cite Broc Feeney’s rookie test aiding Triple Eight’s performance with SVG (and we’re sure it did), but unfortunately they’re both just excuses because, after all, DJR had won four of the last six races at the venue coming into the weekend.
Let’s be positive though: They’re still second and fourth in the championship and not far behind the Bull’s in the team’s race either and their last five or six races have put them as among the quickest of anyone in the championship.
But here’s the kicker vital that tells more of the DJR circa 2022 story, and it’s not a particularly good one: David Reynolds’ Penrite Ford has outscored both Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison since the field arrived in Tassie for event two.
Darwin will be very telling to see which DJR we get in the second half of 2022 and if they have any hope of being the team that most expected pre-season to be the biggest threat to the current Kiwi king.
2. Superute biffo
THE V8 SUPER UTES did not get a lot of love when we surveyed the TRT faithful about their HOT and NOT nominations from the weekend, these guys did not get a lot of love. Biffo is good, but some of this was just ridiculous.
3. Nick Percat
NICK is having a bit of a shocker and that was exemplified on Saturday when he was knocked out of Qualifying one and beaten by Jayden Ojeda in the WAU Wildcard entry in the process.
One lap pace was not good and only improved slightly – to 14th, 16th and 15th across the three races, respectively – in a very challenging weekend.
4. Todd Hazelwood/Tim Slade
WE ONLY highlight these two here because so far this year they’ve both been regular candidates for positioning in the top half of the rankings.
The Truck Assist duo didn’t have a good weekend and Hazelwood copped the worst of it with 23rd, 17th and 18th across the three races. And poor qualifying and Winton’s tricky nature ensured Cooldrive couldn’t work their race pace or strategic wonders at the weekend to elevate Sladey higher than 15th, in race two. Lucky the boss won in Formula Ford..
5. Will Brown’s race one pit stop
EREBUS must be getting to the point – or could be way beyond it, lets be honest – where they start losing sleep over botched pit stops costing them a strong result. Saturday was another example and derailed what was otherwise another strong Will Brown weekend.
6. Courtney’s tangoes
WINTON is full of natural beauty and wildlife, but one thing that we couldn’t comprehend (nor grab a clear picture of, as it turned out) were the spiders.. and miles and miles and miles of accompanying web strewn all over the place. Quite remarkable, really, because that stuff was absolutely everywhere: It was in the cars, it was in the buildings. It was in the grass. It was on occasion in your mouth when you’d open it to talk. If you had similar spiderweb issues as we did, let us know, and we certainly hope you didn’t arrive with any preconceived spider phobia or similar..
8. Merchandise alley
Or lackthereoff. Is supply an issue? Or is it demand? The offerings at the weekend were thin on the ground and the usually busy skidpan, used for Merch alley at Winton, was notably vacant this time around.
9. Race two
Was just a pretty average car race, right? Some cars went out, they went racing, and they came back in again. Trophies were awarded (in pit lane, you only get the proper celebration if you win the final race of any given day) and we all moved on with life.
10. Other nots
- Team 18’s Power Steering – as noted on the TRT Facebook page, it wouldn’t be a round without them having some form of Power steer issue.
- Is the Super Duper Soft not Super Duper Soft enough? The racing was good for the most part, but the tyre deg element of the racing has eased over the last year as teams learn and understand the tyres better.
- Bryce Fullwood is having a shocker at the moment, isn’t he. We’d love to see the Territorian bounce back on home turf next time out.
The nearest Pizza Hut was actually a long way away from Winton…
The race one finish was a mild shambles
First EV Supercars podium finish
The tree in the cleavage