Shepparton News

Supercars are Back at the Nation’s Action Track!

-

It has been three long years, but the Repco Supercars Championsh­ip finally returns to Winton Motor Raceway, in 2022.

Over the years, the nation’s action track has establishe­d a history of throwing up surprise results. Who could forget Cameron McConville overtaking Rick Kelly for a dramatic, last lap win just two corners from home in the 2004 event? Or Lee Holdsworth breaking through for a memorable and emotional race win for the Erebus Motorsport squad 10 years later?

In fact, Winton has produced its fair share of first-time winners, with James Moffat and Tim Slade also achieving their maiden victories at the venue in 2013 and 2016 respective­ly.

If Winton could deliver another unexpected winner on 21-22 May – ironically the same weekend as the Federal Election – it would certainly be refreshing because the form guide in season 2022 has been far from surprising.

After the first 12 races, reigning Champion Shane Van Gisbergen has amassed eight race victories in his Red Bull Ampol Racing Commodore and opened up a commanding 164-point lead over his nearest rival, Shell V-Power Racing Mustang driver Anton De Pasquale. To put things into perspectiv­e, even if Van Gisbergen crashed out of Winton’s Saturday race and De Pasquale won, SVG would retain the championsh­ip lead.

It hasn’t just been Van Gisbergen’s success rate that has been impressive, it has been the manner in which he has achieved his victories. The cunning Kiwi has often been surpassed in qualifying by his opposition, but has used a combinatio­n of skilful tyre management, supreme race pace, ruthless race craft and superb strategy from his Triple 8 team to carve his way to the front of the field.

If there’s a glimmer of hope for Van Gisbergen’s opposition, it’s the fact that Winton hasn’t been a particular­ly happy hunting ground for him in the past – he has just one race win to his credit, in 2017.

De Pasquale and his Dick Johnson Racing teammate Will Davison occupy second and third position on the points table after a consistent start to the season, each amassing six podium finishes so far this year. De Pasquale has continued his rapid qualifying form from 2021, and in the previous round at Perth, Davison broke through for a richly-deserved race win – his first since Bathurst 2016.

Cameron Waters is the leading driver in the Tickford stable, sitting fourth in the points after a controvers­ial penalty for exceeding track limits denied him of a race win at Barbagallo. That was the third successive round where Waters had felt the wrath of the stewards – he also copped drive-through penalties at the Grand Prix (for an altercatio­n with Davison) and Symmons Plains (for a run-in with Tim Slade). If Waters can stay on the right side of the judiciary at Winton, there is no doubt he has the speed to be a contender.

Rounding out the top five in points is Chaz Mostert, last year’s Bathurst winner enduring a frustratin­gly inconsiste­nt start to the year. A fine wet-weather win in the season opener at Sydney Motorsport Park and two more race victories at the Grand Prix have been tempered by other rounds where Mostert and his Walkinshaw Andretti United squad have looked all at sea, including Barbagallo where he failed to qualify inside the top 20 all weekend and never threatened the top 10 in the races.

Who else might challenge at Winton?

The Erebus Motorsport squad has shown glimpses of speed this year, with Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown both putting their Commodores in front-running positions on several occasions, while David Reynolds is enjoying a muchimprov­ed season with the Grove Racing squad.

Based just up the road in Albury, the Brad Jones Racing team always attracts plenty of local support at Winton and while it has been a patchy season for BJR so far, Andre Heimgartne­r had his best run of the year last time out in Perth, scoring a podium in one of the races.

Another who will bring admiration from local fans will be Shepparton’s Garry Jacobson, who is having a solid season with the newly-formed PremiAir Racing squad, scoring a string of top10 finishes at the Grand Prix.

But whoever stands on the podium on race weekend, fans can be assured the Supercars will ensure the nation’s action track lives up to its reputation and will put on a show that has been well worth the three-year wait.

Repco Supercars Championsh­ip Points:

1. Shane Van Gisbergen------------------------------1087

2. Anton De Pasquale------------------------------------ 923

3. Will Davison ------------------------------------------------ 876

4. Cameron Waters--------------------------------------- 751

5. Chaz Mostert --------------------------------------------- 745

6. Broc Feeney ---------------------------------------------- 725

7. David Reynolds ------------------------------------------- 709

8. Brodie Kostecki ------------------------------------------ 709

9. Tim Slade----------------------------------------------------- 659

10. James Courtney-------------------------------------- 639

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia