Team PAYCE out in force at Winton
Supercars return to the popular Victorian country town of Winton this weekend for their next round at Winton Motor Raceway and joining them will be the PAYNTER DIXON Touring Car Masters field for round three of their championship.
Most drivers and teams are familiar with the track and for many southern-based teams it is their home testing track. The three kilometre tight and twisty track with its 12 corners offers a number of passing opportunities and technically is a challenge for drivers and engineers.
Weatherwise, some rain is forecast for Friday’s practice, as was the case last year, but the weekend weather should be cool with maximum temperatures in the mid-teens.
PAYCE and PAYNTER DIXON will be well represented by the usual drivers and teams in Supercars and Touring Car Masters, along with the endurance co-drivers, who will have their first of several additional drivers’ sessions on Friday morning.
Each of the rounds to date has thrown up surprises so it’s likely that this weekend will not be an exception as all teams work through their ever-evolving development programs and strategies.
After a strong start to the 2018 season by the ZB Commodores, they have been overshadowed by the recent performances of Scott McLaughlin in taking out the last four races for Ford.
The Wilson Security Racing GRM team continue to work hard on the development of their new Commodores and while they are not yet where they want to be there have been instances where they have not been far off the mark.
The times of both Garth and James are quite respectable, but each tenth of a second in lap times makes all the difference with grid position and is critical, as is consistency, in this highly competitive series.
Garth’s strength at present is in the races with a third place in Adelaide, but not being up the front for the starts means hard work and added risk working through the field.
Garth currently sits 14th in the championship and James is 25th.
In last year’s round at the Winton track, Garth had good pace in practice and qualifying and converted that into two top 10 finishes with a 7th and 10th.
James also competed as a wildcard entry in his solo Supercars debut and despite a long layoff from competitive racing acquitted himself well to finish the best of the wildcard entries in 18th spot in race one. He was on-track for a good result in race two before being pushed off the circuit through no fault of his own.
The Additional Drivers session will see the PAYCE supported drivers, Chris Pither and Richard Muscat take to the track for GRM and Macauley Jones from BJR as a lead-up to their co-driving duties in the enduros later in the year. This will be their first official opportunity to get behind the wheel of the new ZB Commodores and before wildcard entries join later rounds.
The race format remains unchanged from last year, with a 40 lap, 120 kilometre race on Saturday and a longer 67 lap, 200 kilometre race on Sunday. Practice and qualifying sessions revert to the usual format of two 45 minute practice sessions on Friday, a third 45 minute practice session on Saturday morning followed by a 15 minute qualifying for race one (race 13) and the 120 kilometre race to close off the day’s program. Sunday’s qualifier is a little longer at 20 minutes with the feature race (race 14) over 200 kilometres in the afternoon.
PAYNTER DIXON Touring Car Masters
The field for Winton is expected to be back to full strength and swell to around 30, much to the delight of fans who were disappointed by the low numbers in Tasmania, mainly due to budget issues.
Last year’s round at the Winton Motor Raceway was one many would like to forget, especially PAYCE’s John Bowe.
After wheeling out the ‘new look’ #18 Torana and notching up a win in the reverse grid Waeco/Dometic Trophy race, everything went belly-up for JB with a multi-car crash involving several front runners, including JB, bringing a halt to race two. John sustained some broken ribs and was sidelined for the next month as he slowly recovered.
As reigning runner-up champion, John goes to Winton currently holding down first place against his main rival, Steve Johnson. To date, JB has finished all six championship races on the podium, including two wins in Adelaide.
This year, the competition is again fierce and new cars and drivers continue to join the field as the series goes from strength to strength.
Most interest this weekend as an addition to the PAYNTER DIXON Touring Car Masters is the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS entered by Fataz Racing and to be driven by Ian Woodward.
In all, there could be six new car and driver combinations debuting this weekend to boost the numbers returning after brief absences. Some will be freshly constructed while others have been rebuilt or received upgrades.
The race format has now settled into a four race pattern, over 12 laps for Winton, with the first race being a partial reverse grid for the Dometic Trophy and the following three counting for the championship.
The action on track starts with a 20 minute practice and a 20 minute qualifying session on Friday. The Trophy race gets underway late Saturday morning with race two following mid-afternoon. Sunday is a double-header with race three mid-morning then race four as the curtain-raiser for the feature Supercars race.
Bill Smith 0412 446 058