TICKFORD RACING – THE BEND SUPERSPRINT GALLERY
Australia’s newest permanent racing circuit has started to feel like a regular stop on the Supercars calendar, following its fifth race event in four years. The 2021 Bend SuperSprint will be remembered for a number of reasons, from fireworks on and off the track to “Biff & Barge Soup” (look that one up), and for Tickford Racing, marks the team’s first trip to the top step of the podium in 2021. Read more below in our Crash Course from the weekend, and continue on to check out some of our favourite photos from Round 4 of 2021.
Waters’ Wild Sunday
Cam Waters went from zero to hero on Sunday in Tailem Bend where he followed up a DNF in the day’s opening race with a victory in Race 11 to conclude the weekend. After starting from fifth in Race 10, Waters was an innocent victim of a Lap 1 crash, forcing his retirement from the day’s first race. But after handy repairs to the front and rear of the No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Mustang, Waters led nearly all of Race 11 in the late afternoon in South Australia. Starting from third, Waters launched into second on the first lap, and took the lead on Lap 3 when pole sitter Anton De Pasquale struck mechanical trouble. Following the cycle of mandatory pit stops Waters had narrowly regained the lead of the race over championship leader Shane van Gisbergen, and held off the Kiwi over the final 10 laps to claim his third career Supercars race victory, and the 75th in Tickford Racing’s history.
Courtney Back on Track
The Bend was something of a relief for James Courtney, who had his first truly clean race event of 2021 after each of the first three events of the year were marred by on-track incidents. Highlighted by a fourth place finish in Race 10 after avoiding the melee that collected Waters, Courtney claimed finishes of 12th and eighth in Races 9 and 11, vaulting him from 16th to 12th in the drivers’ championship. Crucially, the Waters/Courtney pairing climbed to third in the teams’ championship, where the top end of town is tightly packed after four rounds.
Randle Impresses in Wild Card Cameo
Making the first of three wild card appearances in 2021, Thomas Randle and the Castrol Racing entry were on song from the get go in Tailem Bend. An equipment malfunction during Randle’s mandatory pit stop in Race 9 dropped him to 17th at the chequered flag, but the 25-year old returned serve with an eighth place finish in Race 10, the best race result a Supercars wild card entry has ever recorded. Randle admitted to a mistake on the opening lap of Race 11 that put him off track and down to 26th, before racing back to P15 to finish an impressive first event in the No. 55 Mustang. Ahead of a co-drive with the team at the Bathurst 1000 in October, Randle will race the Castrol Racing Mustang twice more as a wild card, at Darwin in June and Perth in September.
The fifth round of the Supercars Championship heads to regional Victoria for the Winton SuperSprint on the May 29-30 weekend, consisting of Races 12, 13, and 14 of the 2021 campaign. While the 3.0-kilometre circuit did host the 2021 pre-season test for Victorian teams in February, it will mark the first Supercars race event at the venue since 2019. The Dunlop Super2 Series will also be in action at Winton, returning to the track for the first time since the Mount Panorama 500 in February. After finishing third in the season-opening event, Tickford Racing driver Zak Best was awarded the round win following penalties to the two drivers ahead of him, and leads the championship into the Winton event, just a few minutes from his hometown of Benalla.