WELL, Supercars is indeed back in action and the COVID-19 situation has prompted some changes that perhaps may have not been implemented prior to the global pandemic – but some of them look to have plenty of positives within them.
Cutting data, cutting back personnel levels, tweaking the race format and the quantity of tyres v track degradation ratio all helped deliver a great racing product that saw plenty of positive social media comment over the course of the weekend.
Some other thoughts on today’s Races 8 and 9 of the championship …
The weekend’s format made it a very busy weekend of couch viewing as well as workload for teams and drivers – and was a clear hit all round.
In recent times there have been pushes for reverse grid racing to be introduced in a bid to spice things up.
As Mark Skaife mentioned in the telecast, there’s no need for gimmicks to improve the racing, and the simple fact that every team and driver was forced to be compromised on tyres at some point over the three races, delivered the variation we’re all looking for.
Make everyone have to wear a really dirty shirt for half a race and let them pick which race they have it wear it in and you’ll get the mix-up of the pack more often than not.
A streak of 30 straight race wins by DJR Team Penske and Triple Eight came to an end via Nick Percat’s win in the first Sunday race.
The two ‘superpowers’ of Supercars certainly have dominated the championship and remain the big squads to beat, but the smaller teams getting some sugar here and there is indeed good news for the game.
Percat’s win ended a 118-race win drought for him since he splashed his way to victory in the 2016 Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, giving him his third championship race win.
A great result too for BJR who hadn’t won a race since Tim Slade went back-to-back at Winton in 2016.
It was no shock that Scott McLaughlin claimed two wins over the weekend and topped the round pointscore for SMP, but the tyre scenario meant it wasn’t a clear cut ‘take pole, drive away and win race’ script.
Jamie Whincup was second on points for the weekend and his usual SMP consistent self – many people may not have twigged, but his record at the track is amazing.
While many get lost in just looking at the list of race winners to look for patterns of performance, success for JW at SMP comes from sheer consistency in trophy collecting – he’s finished on the podium in 11 of the last 13 SMP races dating back to 2014, an impressive run of success in anyone’s language.
In the same vein as Percat’s win, Lee Holdsworth’s runner-up result in Race 9 was another great result that came via tyres and the format being well played. Seeing some more faces up on the podium is great for the sport all round.
But not seeing a Triple Eight or DJRTP driver on the podium at all is indeed a rare thing, so rare it’s been a while since it’s happened.
We had to dig back through the stats archive to find the last time a podium hasn’t included at least one Triple Eight or DJR Team Penske driver/s – it was on the Gold Coast way back in October 2017.
Next up on the calendar is Winton where tyre drop off tends not to be very high.
So how does Supercars tweak things to try and deliver the same sort of racing and mixture of action as this weekend in Sydney? We shall see.
All in all this weekend’s return to racing has been a winner.
We really enjoyed sitting back and taking it all in on the couch – but we’d love to see the fans back at the track as soon as possible too.