Power Rankings Team TRT February 12, 2024 (Comments off) (341)

Caltex Power Rankings: Sandown SpeedSeries

Well then, we’re off and running with the first instalment of the Caltex Power Rankings for 2024 from the SpeedSeries opener at Sandown.

Fortunately for us, there were a lot of talking points… so here goes…


ABOUT THE RANKINGS: The TRT Power Rankings are compiled by your nominations from social media and edited by the TRT editorial team. They’re designed to give a balanced, as fair as possible critical overview of those things that excelled and those things that struggled, at each event. It’s (mostly) a democracy, and what you nominate generates the order, so have your say next event via our social media channels, @theracetorque on Facebook, Twitter and Insta. Look for the call out each evening and get commenting!


HOT

1. James Moffat

Even with increased competition, Moff went and did Moff things in walking away from Sandown with three commanding race wins.


2. Ben Bargwanna

We knew he was good after his SMP TCR World Tour pole last year, but he showed that the experience from last year’s international experience wasn’t wasted in demolishing the field in races one and three. That infectious Bargwanna celebratory spirit is there, too, which is just great for the sport.


3. Channel 7

The SpeedSeries returning to comprehensive coverage on the screens of Seven would have to be chalked up as a success. Quality production values, familiar talking heads in the commentary box, and free access for all. Of course, the age-old “I prefer no ads on Stan” filled the internet, plus the odd punter who didn’t know that 7+ is a free streaming service – motorsport will never make everyone happy, but we can dream. Without genuine science being applied, online chat regarding the event appeared to be seriously increased over the Stan period, which can only be a good thing – more eyeballs will hopefully translate to more sponsors, entrants and interest down the road.

Also, see: Not, for a really unfortunate one…


4. Jordan Cox

TCR is just better when Jordan Cox is trucking along quickly. Nowhere in qualifying after a mechanical drama, winner in race two, overall podium for the weekend. Nice. Also, hat tip to Clay Richards for pushing him all the way in race two, hopefully that performance leads to more race starts down the line, kid can steer.


5. Trans Am

Some genuinely spicy racing over the weekend.


6. Weather

Who knew that you could have fine and warm weather at a Shannons SpeedSeries event at Sandown? Apparently, that’s a thing in February, and it drew a competent, if not massive, crowd out of the woodwork.


7. Stars in Trans Am

There was a time when Supercars stars were poopooed from running in ARG classes, but the year is 2024, and we are thankful that drivers of the stature of Jimmy Golding, Tim Slade, Todd Hazelwood, and enduro races such as James Moffat and Jordan Boys are allowed out to play. Good stuff, and it certainly sets a benchmark for the competition.


8. Formula BMW

Despite being down on numbers, the race at the front of the Production Cars between the top Beemers was entertaining. Dean Campbell/Cameron Crick ultimately came out on top in their brand spanking new BMW M2, with the Simon Hodges/Jayden Ojeda M4 second from the Sherrins, with all four mixing it up at the front of the field.


9. Formula Open

Miles Bromley dominated, but a whoopsie in the big points race three saw Kyle Evans scoop up weekend honours.


10. Ryan Casha

Fifth for the weekend overall, a big debut in the TCR category.


FURTHER HOTS

Series Sponsors on Board

It’s good to see the different classes bring up some solid sponsorship from year-long backers. Supercheap Auto for TCR, Trico Windscreen Wipers for Trans AM, Meguiar’s Car Care at the Australian Production Cars, and Giti Tyres with Formula Open.

Stubbsy to the Rescue

When Ben Bargwanna’s winning Peugeot threatened to roll itself out of victory lane on Saturday, TV’s Chris Stubbs came to the rescue with a TV-grade shot bag for use as a chock. What a top bloke!

Greg Rust’s DJ Skills


WHAT

Teammates Divided

There were some curious pitlane combinations, with cars that, outwardly at least, you would consider teammates, separated by some quite solid brick walls. Awks.


Safety First


NOT

1. The 800-pound Elephant in the Room

Four classes and 53 starters for the first round of racing on Saturday doesn’t quite make a sparkling start to the season. It was a high ranking not throughout the 2023 season, and it’s sad to see this lobbing at number one NOT again. TCR, Trans Am and Formula Open were ok, but the program sorely missed the much-hyped debut of GT4, which pulled the pin when it was claimed that too many of their new cars were still on board boats. Production Cars were well down, too, with competitors no doubt saving their kit for the upcoming Bathurst 6 Hour, which has registered 60 plus entrants. Subsequent to the lack of categories, Sunday’s action kicked off at 12:35pm and ran for less than four hours. Even with the late start times, on all three days, a smattering of punters sat in the grandstand for multiple hours prior to kickoff.

Launching recent seasons in Tasmania at this time of year saw numbers battle, but typically, downtown Melbourne has drawn good fields.

What’s the answer? You always want to put your best foot forward at the start of the season, and hopefully engage competitors for the journey. Is there value in pushing the start of the season back away from the summer months to give teams more time to get their act together? It’s a tough one, but meets of this size are not sustainable. Hopefully, with the Channel 7 influence, more teams and sponsors will find value in competing on this program, because the overall vibe right now is positive – it has the makings of a very good thing.


2. We interrupt this program for a very important surf life saving broadcast…

Nothing grabbed the goat of the home viewer collective more than when a glitch saw the 7+ coverage of the second Trans Am race on Saturday afternoon revert to some surf life saving action. The broadcast returned by the chequered flag, and the race was swiftly replayed in full, but it was a very unfortunate thing for the SpeedSeries as it settled in at its new home. It’s the sort of occurrence that is sadly on brand for motorsport in 2024…


3. The PA

On Saturday, it was bad, unlistenable bad, cutting in and out. Frankly, it would have been better to pull the pin on it rather than subject the paying punters to very intermittent and annoying commentary. Usually, here, we would be asking for a big screen in front of the grandstand (there was one parked down by the horse racing finishing post not being used), but this time, we’d settle for a working PA…


4. Mini has a biggie

Big bad Sandown bit hard on Friday, when Matt Thewlis sadly junked his Mini after barrel rolling four times into Dandenong Road Corner, forcing the Production cars to lose a car they couldn’t afford to go without.


5. Sunday, Lap 1, Turn 4

Absolute stacks on the mill twice in two races. Suboptimal.


6. Various Bingles

Costly for a perennial front-runner

Good day to go to the beach…

Whoah

Stacks on the mill

Slam cam just paid for itself…

Loose

Punted

Beached As

Unlucky


7. A Tale of Sandown Security…

It comes up every single bloody time we Power Rank Sandown, but the Sandown security force is the most difficult on the entire Australian motorsport tour, time, and time, and time again. Out exhibit A came on Saturday morning, when punters seemingly were allowed to roam freely down the grandstand, plus behind the grandstand down towards the turn one outfield, instead of the corralled area at the pitlane end of the grandstand. Once the strays were moved along, the junior security strike team on the ground were instructed to remove all photographers from the vicinity of turn one. We’re sure that went over like a lead balloon… We look forward to the Sandown 500, where we can continue this never-ending saga – pencil it in.


8. Sandown’s lack of grass-cutting for motorsport

We were lucky that the officials and photographers trackside in multiple spots weren’t consumed by whatever lurked in the thigh-high grass. Sadly, this is now how motorsport gets treated at Sandown.


SOCIALS

Big Kev would get behind this


Convenient


Next time, tell us what you really think


Just great


MEME

Welcome to season six of the Power Rankings!*

* It might be season six, but we genuinely haven’t been keeping count…

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