• PAYCE Head Office, Sydney NSW.

Newcastle Turns on a Thriller Finale to the 2017 Season

An Excitement Filled and Controversial Meeting to Close the 2017 Season – Brian Boyd.

PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd noted the final round of the 2017 season for Supercars and several support categories was expected to be exciting, with all categories racing at a brand new, untried venue in Newcastle.

"But no one would have guessed just how thrilling and controversial it was to turn out, especially Sunday's 250 kilometre Supercars race," Boyd said.

Newcastle 500 Championship Decider Across Several Race Categories – Brian Boyd

"The meeting was also the championship decider in a number of categories, including Supercars, Super2 and Touring Car Masters, so the pressure was on from Friday as soon as the cars hit the track for the very first time.

"Even for those teams and drivers not in contention to win a championship, there were bragging rights on offer to be a winner at the inaugural Newcastle meeting," Brian Boyd continued.

Brian said the three days of weather were perfect and the organisers and the City of Newcastle were to be congratulated on the outstanding job they did in presenting the 2017 season finale.

"The setting was spectacular, with the ocean beaches on one side and the harbour on the other. One would be hard pressed to find a more picturesque setting in Australia, if not in the world, for a race venue," Brian Boyd commented.

Supercars Wrap Up with Brian Boyd - PAYCE Motorsport

Brian said that for the first time this year, the GRM team was on a level playing field as far as lack of track data was concerned.

"No one had an advantage in this area, the two practice sessions on Friday were more intense than usual and the Team PAYCE drivers and engineers were kept busier than ever.

"GRM Team Manager, Stephan Millard made sure the pit crew were ready for quick changes as the drivers and their engineers requested setup changes," Brian Boyd continued.

GRM Team Still Looking for Improvement in Practice Sessions - Brian Boyd

"By the end of the second practice on Friday, the team appeared to be making headway, with Garth 8th fastest and Moffat18th, but considerably off the time of Scott McLaughlin, who topped the timesheets."

Brian noted that like the majority of the field, they were still looking for improvement in what was proving to be quite a challenging track.

GRM Qualifying was Encouraging - Brian Boyd

"Qualifying on Saturday for the afternoon race was encouraging as the GRM team's times came down, but so did those of many others.

"James was 13th and Garth 16th fastest, which to put into context were among the 22 cars that were within seven-tenths of a second of each other.

"Again, Scotty was the quickest and looked set to take the first race from pole," Brian Boyd said.

Safety Car was Deployed Early in Race 1 - Brian Boyd

"The race had only just started when the safety car was deployed to clear the track of several cars that were buried in the turn 8 tyre barrier.

"Whincup was one of the drivers caught up and with steering damage, his race was all but run," continued Brian Boyd.

"Most of the field pitted for a quick stop, including the GRM cars, but they had to double stack, which pushed Garth down the order. James, however, was looking good in 11th."

Brian said a second safety car period saw James into the top 10 with one stop to go.

"Lap 53 was when it all came unstuck for James, when he collected the wall on the twisting downhill stretch and had to limp back to the pits with damaged steering," Boyd said.

"After a mighty effort by his team to get him mobile it came to nothing a couple of laps later when Winterbottom took him out. Garth fared better and was able to get up to 12th by race end."

Defining Sunday Race - Excitement all Around the track and in the pits - Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd said Sunday dawned sunny and bright and one could sense the excitement all around the track and in the pits for the big finale.

"Qualifying was disappointing for the Team PAYCE drivers and they had to settle for midfield spots in the pack. The Top Ten shootout was a thriller and once again Scott McLaughlin pulled of yet another pole after improving a couple of spots," Boyd said.

"GRM played a strategy card with Garth in the season final race by pitting him after the first lap and hoping safety car periods would benefit him over the course of the race.

"Given the number of safety car periods in Saturday's race it was a likely scenario. By the end of the first stops that were spread over the first third of the race, James had made it into the top 10 followed close on his heels by Garth in the #33 car," Brian Boyd offered.

Drama Unfolds for the Top Teams - Brian Boyd

Brian noted lots of drama was unfolding with the championship as first Scotty was penalised for speeding in the pit approach and then not long after he incurred a 15 second penalty for turning Simona around as he fought for 11th position which would be good enough to give him the championship, even though Whincup was now leading the race itself.

"Meanwhile, James and Garth were having their own battle, sitting in 10th and 11th spots and Lowndes was on a charge with fresh tyres," Boyd commented.

"As race end approached, it was Whincup well in the lead, but all attention was on Scotty as he passed Garth then James to put himself in 11th position with Lowndes on his tail."

Final Lap to Decide the Champion - Brian Boyd

Brian said that with just one lap to go, who could have predicted what happened next.

"Scotty ran wide on turn 1 and Lowndes grabbed the opportunity to run up inside him, just as Scotty came across to cover.

"They collided and Lowndes hit the wall hard and spun into the tyre barrier at turn 2. Scotty continued on to cross the finish line but was judged to be at fault and was relegated to 18th position, thus handing the championship to Whincup," Brian Boyd noted.

Brian said no one would have guessed that the championship would be decided on the last lap of the last round.

"It was one of those races that will be remembered and debated for years to come. Scotty put up a great show to claw back positions, but Whincup and Red Bull played a strategy game that paid off on the day.

A Well-Deserved Win For Jamie to Seal the Championship - Brian Boyd

"Congratulations to Jamie on his seventh championship and also to the entire Supercars field for one of the best seasons ever, where the closeness of the competition was such that on the final weekend five drivers found themselves in contention for the main prize," Brian Boyd enthused.

GRM Deserve Congratulations for a Great 2017 - Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd said Garry and Barry Rogers and all the Wilson Security Racing GRM team deserved congratulations and a pat on the back for a remarkable effort with new cars and some memorable bouncebacks after big crashes.

"We wait the 2018 season, which should be just as exciting as this year, starting with the traditional opener in Adelaide," Brian concluded.

Go Team PAYCE!