Doric Power Rankings: Adelaide 500
This. Was. Huge.
THE VALO Adelaide 500 was back in a big way at the weekend.
We’ll spare you the preamble, dive straight into the Hot, Not and What from a remarkable few days in Adelaide.
1. The Adelaide 500 is Back
IN JUST about every measurable area and in the areas where impressions are based on ‘vibe’ alone, this event was an utter triumph. From big crowds, to the racy circuit, to the concerts, to everything else around it: it was a near total success.
Perhaps the most key elements were the bits that perhaps you didn’t see on TV. Access around the venue was dramatically improved from where we left it in 2020. The tightness of the previous management – cramming everything into a much smaller area – was replaced with an expansive setup that left room to breathe and ensured that it never, ever felt like there was a crush of spectators. It was easier to get around, better laid out and just a whole lot nicer than the last few years were.
The off-track attractions were incredible – from a mix of Nerf gun shooting ranges to the usual freestyle BMX shows, sideshow alleys, merchandise stores and the widest array of sponsor-led activations we’ve seen at an event outside of the Grand Prix.
Even just simple things like paving the main walkways behind the grandstand and into the paddock shifted things up a gear, as did the new corporate structures like the massive pit exit suite which looked and was, we’re told, immense.
On track the program was decent – it will surely improve again moving forward – with plenty going on. The circuit itself has never looked better with the green grass and new bitumen just making things look fresh.
And then there were the ticket prices that harked back to a decade ago and a general feeling of ‘how good is this thing being back!’ from most people there.
Of course there are things to improve, but it’s going to be interesting to come back in 51 weeks and see what the event looks like when the management have more than 7 months to put it together, don’t have to scramble to find grandstands and pit buildings and don’t have to convince a sceptical public that the event won’t be half-arsed, like it was before.
Despite all the hype and talk around the lead up to this year’s race, the best marketing tool the Motorsport Board has to promote 2023 was always going to be 2022 – and in that instance, they succeeded.
Every single thing that occurred over the last week proved how fundamentally, tragically and utterly bad the previous Government’s management and subsequent axing of the race was.
2.Walkinshaw Andretti United 1-2
THE term ‘fairy-tale’ gets thrown around a lot in professional sport but it was hard to argue that this wasn’t just that. Every storyline aligned for this moment that was incredibly special to witness.
Chaz was sublime, sure, but perhaps the bigger story of the pair was Nick Percat (and his side of the garage) charging through on good strategy and good race pace to second. Nick was the most vocal of all when the ‘500 was killed off so to see his support for the event’s return rewarded with a podium was a special moment – as evidenced by the smile below his cheezy moustache.
A great result for a team and family that have done more for Holden’s motorsport image than most in the long history of the brand.
3. Broc Feeney
THE WHOLE ‘You couldn’t script that!’ line is bogus – because Sunday was proof that you can! A young bloke goes and wins his first race, for Triple Eight, against a champion, all-time great teammate, in Adelaide, in Car 88. It’s a story we’ve heard before. We don’t know anyone in the paddock that would begrudge this personable, friendly young bloke what he achieved on Sunday – it was absolutely the most welcome win of the season. His raw emotions and the sheer delight that his parents displayed – add to that an emotional RD – made it even better. That he did it fending off Chaz Mostert makes this one of the great first-time Supercars wins.
4. SVG’s celebrations
THERE have been some great celebratory skids in Supercars history. This is the best of them and we will not hear any argument. Move on.
5. Peter Malinauskas
HAS a state or national leader ever been cheered or feted as much as the South Aussie Premier was at the weekend?
The reaction to him being announced on the podium on Sunday was better than Bob Hawke downing a Schooner of Beer at the SCG. Mr. Mali is clearly a very good politician, but at no point does he come across as being a total wanker, either, which clearly endears him to the fanbase likely to turn up to a Supercars round because, lets be honest, they tend to be more likely of the ‘take no bullshit’ variety.
Editor Craill witnessed The Premier spend nearly 20 minutes taking photos, signing autographs and chatting to punters on Saturday evening as he walked down the back of the pits on his way out of the venue – at one point wandering away from a chat with Supercars owner Barclay to do so.
There were no minders, no people hurrying him up – every person that came up to him, he greeted, asked their name, took a photo. Most of them simply wanted to say thank you. People saying thank you to a politician! We’ve never seen the like.
Five hours earlier he was up at the Murray River with the PM, showcasing the preparations for the incoming floods hitting the region.
And then on Monday morning he was on brekky TV talking up Nuclear Submarines.
Good politician? Sure. But a genuinely good bloke? Sure seems to be the case. And probably the most popular figure in Australian Motorsport right now.
6. The madness of the Supercars racing
2022 would have been a whole lot more memorable had they raced like this at every round. Both Adelaide races were Supercars racing at their absolute peak. This is what it needs to be every round in Gen 3 – and if it is, it will be blockbusters at every turn. Hugely competitive, combative, paint-trading racing is what people want to see, not the processions we got on the Gold Coast. Don’t know if it was the end-of-school feeling, the circuit, the surface, the desire to win Adelaide more than other races or a combination of all the above, but either way, both races were box office stuff.
7. Holden bowing out on top & Holden celebrations
AFTER two long, drawn-out years of saying seeya to the General, this was the perfect way to end it. Best results on track – the two best-ever Holden teams sharing the wins – great liveries, an incredible, 1350-strong heritage cruise to the circuit and a whole heap more. It was nicely done, was not overblown and was – finally – a nice full stop on the iconic brand.
8. The supports
WELL wasn’t there a lot to take in here.
GT World Challenge was great, especially when Kelvin van der Linde and Chris Mies boxed on in front, that was superb stuff.
Decca Fraiser’s genuine, raw emotion at winning the DS2 title was so nice to see for a future superstar of our game, while the Super3 upset was a remarkably dramatic way to end that season in favour of young Brad Vaughan.
S5000 was mighty – finally a true showcase of how good the category could be. Hard racing, utterly spectacular to watch and a title decider that had echoes of a famous F1 bout also on the streets of Adelaide. If S5000 succeeds it will be this weekend that helps it go a long way to doing so.
Finally, Aussie cars were good – but their last race was utterly insane.
9. 2023 VALO Adelaide 500
ASIDE from already announcing they’re going to fix the shade (or lack thereof) issue this year, organisers have already confirmed that full-time AFL fan / part-time musician Robbie Williams will headline the 2023 event. You might have heard of him.
There are 90,000 tickets sold for next year already..
With pre-planning like this, can we get the SA Motorsport Board and SA Government to be in charge of future Supercars calendar releases, too? That way we might actually get them before the end of the season.
10. Scott McLaughin (and other TV things)
IT’S BEEN a while since Scotty has made the rankings, but he makes a welcome return here thanks to his performance on the broadcast at the weekend. Insightful, articulate and relevant, he was also a good laugh as well. Good call to have him part of it and we know he enjoyed himself, too. His sit down with SVG was very good, too – turns out the trick to get him talking is to sit him down with a mate.
Helmet cam was a nice look forward as to what to expect next year.
GT’s brilliant feature with SA icon Glen Dix was magic TV.
Larko breaking down the SVG penalty on Sunday left no argument.
- Retro merch sales: WAU sold A LOT of their retro HRT gear at the weekend. Like, lots.
- James Courtney – third Saturday, pushing Nick Percat all the way
- Anton De Pasquale – third Sunday from pole, which denied his teammate Will Davison the pole award
- Cam Waters – won the pole position award after pole on Saturday
- Todd Hazelwood – made both of the shootouts
- James Golding into the Top 10 on Sunday – he’s been great for that team
- Thomas Randle – fastest Thursday in the shortened session, 2nd in practice two, made Saturday’s top-ten shootout
- SVG feeling the pressure – on a couple of occasions he was put under the pump, although most of the time this was not the case. Also, see: NOT.
- Lee Holdsworth – finishing his full-time career with a strong drive, earning Penrite Racing bragging rights in the team’s title chase over Boost Mobile Racing
- Canon Professional Services loaning our man Dale Rodgers some ace new camera gear for the weekend – cheers guys!
- Tom Arciuli’s 40th!
- The use of ‘Matthew’ by Scott McLaughlin in Saturday’s Aussie Racing Cars race. If you know, you know.
- Doric and their support of the Power Rankings this year.
The Race Torque
Aussie Racing Shunt
After bringing out a red flag in qualifying at the final corner on Friday, Ian Chivas had this mega shunt cruising back to the pits at turn nine…
1. Going full Super2
Super 2 went Full Super2 again on the weekend, making it six rounds from six that they have done so this year. Of 177 racing laps this year, 65 of them have been run behind the Safety Car which is not a good statistic, is it? Tuning into a Super2 race comes with an almost morbid curiosity for when the inevitable stupidity will unfold, which makes it genuinely entertaining to watch every time they race – but is probably not an ideal look for what is supposed to be the premier development category for the main game.
2. S5000 start fiasco
THIS was not good enough in professional motorsport.
The second S5000 race was blighted by an amateur-hour error when the field was shown the starting light sequence, rather than the appropriate green flag, for the formation lap. Drivers’ are told to follow the direction of race officials so as a result, they started racing – with the predictable result that someone had a shunt.
Mark Rosser ended up in the fence at Turn 7 for a race that ultimately didn’t even occur.
The subsequent red flag and lengthy delay while the damaged car was recovered not only cost the S5000 field track time, the heat soak also hurt the gearbox on Nathan Herne’s car which could have cost him the Tasman title.
So, bad officiating led to a $10K shunt, reduced laps for competitors paying a premium to be there and almost cost a driver a race finish when he was fighting for a championship. Imagine if there was a really bad crash?
At this level, it’s just not good enough. It’s not the first time this has happened in Adelaide, either.
3. Rolling over for SVG
SVG didn’t have a banner weekend – skids aside – but it really does feel like sometimes people make it far too easy for him to sail through the field when he’s behind the eight ball.
4. SVG’s shocker
IT’S a big NOT because it’s just so rare!
Here’s what happened to Shane at the weekend:
Last in qualifying for race 1 after a kerb strike and spraying his second run.
Forced into the wall in race one after battling with Chaz
Fenced himself at turn 11.
Double stacked behind Broc, for the first time ever, raised the ire of the Shell V-Power crew by parking them in.
Penalty for overlapping with David Reynolds on the last restart after possibly bumping him.
Lucky he had the title well and truly won well before Adelaide..
5. Waters scrappy on Saturday, more Tickford repair bills
IT LOOKED like Cam Waters was every chance to win the race on Saturday, denying Holden their fairy tale, but in what is something of a trend for the Monster team, it wasn’t to be.
Was in the fence battling with Pye before ultimately wound up in the sin bin for being at fault when Hazelwood wound up comprehensively fenced.
As for Tickford – well, Courtney podium aside, this was another mostly terrible weekend with a lot of damage they clearly didn’t need.
Also, see: Thomas Randle’s Saturday, below.
As for Thomas Randle, this was so close to being a HOT… Randle was on the verge of having an incredible day but it was undone when he ended up in the wall in the final practice, just before the Shootout.
Tickford performed miracles to get the car repaired only to miss the cutoff time by a few seconds, which was gutting. A five second penalty in the race for incorrect protocol at Turn 8 was not the full stop he needed on his day that had begun with so much positivity.
6. GTWC Crashing
GT Cars are great but they’re pretty expensive and man, was there some machinery torn up at the weekend.
Prince Jeffri’s crash was huge, Jamie Whincup’s not much smaller in an expensive one for the Triple Eight squad. Matt Belford’s Bentley copped a huge whack, while Sergio Pires’ crash ultimately broke his collarbone – that was massive. The final KFC Audi hitting the fence on Sunday rounded out an expensive weekend for GT’s street circuit return.
7. The previous government causing fans suburn
HOW wrong can you get it? Even if you’re not from South Australia, it was satisfying to see the outgoing government proven so badly wrong with the success of the event at the weekend.
But this NOT is directed at their desperate sell-off of infrastructure in a bid to kill any chance of it coming back. Part of that included the Shade sails that flew over the main pit straight stands and the Senna Chicane stand in the past.
The new Premier has already confirmed that there will be a shade solution for 2023 coming (which means they have to spend more money, another black mark against the former leaders) and the short lead-time of this year’s event meant there was unable to be a solution in the short-term.
Instead, it was a hangover of a terrible, politically motivated decision that fortunately ended up with Marshall & Co firmly deposited in the Turn 8 fence, and Malinauskas doing skids on pit straight.
8. MSR’s weekend
BIT OF a shocker for MSR. Hazelwood was fenced by Waters (see above) on Saturday, which resulted in a 3am finish for the team. Then they had a truly horrible pit stop – below – which was incredibly dangerous and a close-call for the team. Things were rounded off by Jack Le Brocq’s oil leak on Sunday, having earlier wound up in the wall the day before. Not ideal.
9. Davison’s Sunday
Had an off at turn 11, then this:
10. Lack of Friday Supercars running
THE Adelaide 500 organisers can only do so much to make the event as big as possible – the championship itself needs to come to the party and this year, the schedule just wasn’t good enough. Friday has traditionally been a big day at the event but this year the main-game cars were on track for a total of 45 minutes – it’s a long day sitting around waiting for a 15-minute qualifying session.
Having one short session Thursday and limited running Friday seems like a mistake and doesn’t deliver value-for-money for anyone. Either add Supercars sessions on Friday and forget running Thursday altogether, or move qualifying earlier and let another category step up and headline a marquee race on Friday afternoon or evening, into the twilight. 45-minute S5000 race? Two-hour GT enduro? Something else?
45 minutes of Supercars is not enough for one day of running, no matter how good the supports are.
- 2022 weather. It’s either pouring with rain, or scorching hot. Can’t win, either way!
- Scott Pye’s Saturday – at one stage he was on for a win, wound up in a smoking mess after slight contact rearranged his power steering
- Grove Racing Saturday – Reynolds’ car failed post-shootout inspection and was disqualified
- Bryce in the fence
- Wasting people’s time in the press conferences with irrelevant questions
- Editor Craill’s Saturday evening, when he found out ICEHOUSE were out of the concerts due to Iva Davies being sick. He was a sad boy. Get well soon, Iva!
- The media centre losing most of its windows
- Jess Dane being labelled ‘Tony Quinn’ in a TV graphic on Sunday. I mean, we love TQ, but jeez..
Close calls, also everywhere!
Love a good flyover…
Things that make you go hrmmm…