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Townsville Turnaround – Townsville Crash Course

TICKFORD RACING – TOWNSVILLE GALLERY

It was the tale of two weeks for Tickford Racing in Townsville, with a double dip of Supercars action at the Reid Park street circuit in North Queensland. While the NTI Townsville 500 was noted as underwhelming by our own standards, our whole team bounced back in the second weekend at the Townsville SuperSprint, highlighted by two race wins from Cam Waters and a first pole and race win for Super2 driver Zak Best. Read on to catch up on some of the key stories from our camp in Townsville, and scroll on below to view some of our favourite photos from our trip up north.

Waters doubles up
Taking two from three at the Townsville SuperSprint, Cam Waters has fired up to third in the Supercars drivers’ championship on the back of two of the best drives of his career to date. Pitting from second a lap earlier than leader Anton de Pasquale in Race 17 on Saturday, Waters was able to use his fast out lap and hotter tyres to pull off a picture perfect criss-cross on de Pasquale after the latter’s pit stop, and cruised to victory in the weekend opener. Just 24 hours later, Waters took a major gamble when the Safety Car was deployed on Lap 18: staying out while leader Shane van Gisbergen pitted, narrowly passing the Safety Car before it entered the track, and putting in an almighty in-lap to jump van Gisbergen and take the lead of the race. Waters then resisted the pressure applied by van Gisbergen over the final 16 laps, in an awesome display of race craft and respect between two rivals, as the 26-year old blitzed home to his second win of the weekend and fifth of his career. Cam’s Townsville triumphs also upped Tickford Racing’s total victory tally to 77 in its 19 seasons of Supercars competition.

Best shines in Super2
Benalla boy Zak Best arrived at Townsville as the leader of the Super2 Championship, but had never seen the 2.86-kilometre street circuit before track walk on the Thursday of the NTI Townsville 500. Despite the challenge of learning a new circuit on the fly, the 19-year old showed impressive maturity and finesse at the first Townsville event with a pair of fourth place finishes, good for fourth place honours for the round. One week later, Best was again on his game, taking runner-up honours for the Townsville SuperSprint round. Saturday’s race was marred by Best being spun by another car, triggering a pile up at Turn 3 that red flagged and ultimately ended the race, but was classified as the third place finisher after official scoring reverted to the previous race lap. On Sunday, Best kick started the day with his first career pole position in Super2, snagging the top spot by just over 0.01s, and like Waters later in the day, drove a brilliantly composed race under immense pressure to score his first Super2 race victory.

Best has been a model of consistency in the still young Super2 campaign, having finished all six races in the top four, placing him second in the championship after three events. Due to changes associated with COVID-19 outbreaks across Australia the Super2 Series’ next event is to be confirmed, but is hoped to take place on the August 21-22 weekend.

Courtney steady, Le Brocq looking to shore up qualifying
James Courtney’s trip to Townsville could be described as “good, but not great” after recording three top eight finishes from five races in NQ. The two outlier results – 11th in Race 16 and 16th in Race 18 – were largely down to qualifying. Courtney started Race 16 from P17 and was spun on the opening lap, triggering a seriously impressive comeback drive to 11th in the Sunday race at the NTI Townsville 500. At the Townsville SuperSprint a week later Courtney fell victim to slick track conditions in Sunday qualifying after a car in a support category left a large amount of oil on the racing surface, affecting Courtney’s qualifying lap and relegating him to 21st starting position, where he finished Race 18 in 16th, his first finish outside the top 12 since the Tasmania SuperSprint in April. Despite the up and down results, Courtney remains ninth in the drivers’ championship after seven rounds, and continues to gain ground on his rivals higher up the ladder.

Qualifying was also a thorn in the side of Jack Le Brocq, who qualified seventh for the NTI Townsville 500 opener – in his first Top Ten Shootout of 2021 – but finished 15th after losing early track position. Le Brocq didn’t crack the top 10 on single lap pace in the subsequent four qualifying sessions, but made gains in his race pace that saw him make up ground in every other race across the two weekends. While disappointed with his Townsville points haul, Le Brocq is confident that an improvement in qualifying form will soon bring rewarding race results with it at future rounds.

What’s Next – TBC
The Supercars Championship will take a brief break for the Tokyo Olympics, and will use the down time to plan for its upcoming race events. With the postponement of the Sydney SuperNight due to its local COVID-19 outbreak, the championship intends to race at Queensland Raceway on August 21-22, the first event at “the paperclip” since 2019. While that event is yet to be formally confirmed, Tickford Racing will take the coming weeks to rest up and reset for a surely exciting second half of the 2021 Supercars season.