• PAYCE Head Office, Sydney NSW.

Weather challenges drivers in Melbourne in 2018

PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd said Melbourne certainly lived up to its reputation for changing weather conditions over the extended weekend of racing, with a mix of heat, rain and mist and to cap it off, failing light for the Supercars on Saturday.

"For the Supercar teams that made the right decisions regarding pit stops and tyre choices, the outcomes were rewarding, but there is a long way to go in the season and no one team has emerged as dominant," Brian said.

"With six races down, there have been five different winners from four different teams.

"Who would have thought there would be five different winners in Supercars by the end of Sunday, albeit with Lady Luck playing a role," Mr. Boyd continued.

"As usual, the Australian support categories put on a great show for the local and international audiences and good to see the efforts of the Supercars teams were rewarded with championship points for the first time at the AGP event."

AGP Points Creates Intense Racing – Brian Boyd

Brian said he thought the racing was more intense and that nobody was treating the round as a test event as had been the case in the past.

"After recording a podium finish in the opening round of Supercars in Adelaide, the Wilson Security Racing GRM team was keen to see how their new Commodore ZBs performed on the fast-flowing Albert Park circuit," Mr. Boyd said.

"Practice 1 was encouraging with Garth clocking 9th fastest in the #33 car, although James in the #34 car was down the order in 20th.

"Nothing much changed in the four short qualifying sessions, with Garth around mid-field and James towards the back of the pack."

Qualifying a One-Shot Opportunity – Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd said the big challenge for teams in the short qualifying sessions was that there was limited time to put down a good time, as teams had to do a tyre change and then re-enter the circuit all within 10 minutes.

"Basically, a driver got one shot at a fast lap and if that did not work in their favour then they found themselves down the back," Brian offered.

"With two 25 lap races and two 13 lap races making up the round, it was always going to be difficult to finish well if you were not in the top five qualifiers on the grid for each race."

Brian Boyd knows the high-speed Albert Park circuit has limited places to make a safe pass and with the weather conditions changing over the course of the weekend the engineers were kept busy with setting changes.

"Qualifying for race1 produced the best result for the GRM team, with Garth posting a respectable 1 minute 55 second lap to put him 10th on the grid," Boyd reflected.

"James could do no better than 19th place on the grid for race 2, even though his times were only tenths of a second off the leaders.

"The Wilson Security Racing GRM have worked incredibly hard to get the new Commodores ready and it was disappointing for them that the hard yards were not translating into good results," Brian Boyd noted.

Garth Fights Hard for 8th Place in Race 1 – Brian Boyd

"Race 1 of the meet required a minimum of one pit stop where all four tyres were changed and fuel topped up.

"Garth did well to make up two positions to come home in 8th place, while James fought hard with his fellow rookies to make up one position.

"Congratulations to Scott McLaughlin for a brilliant pass that had him back in front and eventual winner after Whincup had capitalised on the pit stop and took over the front running," Brian Boyd stated.

Race 2 Points Finish – Patience Prevails – Brian Boyd

"Race 2 was a short 13 lapper with no pit stops. The best chance of improving was in the last few laps when some tyres would be going off.

"Patience paid off and Garth moved up from 24th to 18th to gain some valuable points. James also improved on his starting position to finish 17th, up two positions," Brian Boyd reported.

"Jamie Whincup led from start to finish in a largely uneventful race."

Wet Weather and Fading Light Bring Dramatic Racing – Brian Boyd

Brian said Race 3 over 25 laps on Saturday turned to be the most dramatic of the season.

"The race started in the dry, then on lap 17 sprinkles of rain brought the majority of the field in for wets while nine gambled on conditions easing and getting home on dry tyres," Mr. Boyd said.

"The GRM team elected to bring both cars in and Garth's pit stop was nearly a disaster as a combination of wet surfaces and an impeded entry caused him to slide deep into the pit bay and hit two crew members.

"Fortunately, a quick check by medical staff determined that there were no broken bones, only bruising."

Brian Boyd noted the incident caused a deflating tyre on Garth's car and he had to return to the pit after one lap, which, with the time lost, relegated him to last place.

"James did not fare much better, coming home in 24th place.

Scott Pye Scores his First Supercars Win in Fading Conditions – Brian Boyd

"Congratulations though go to Scott Pye and his team, who elected to stay out and stave off a strong challenge from Whincup, before Scott scored his first Supercars win in near darkness.

"Some people commented they thought the night race was scheduled for Sydney Motorsport Park in August, not this weekend!"

Race 3 on Sunday Brings Top 10 Finish for Garth – Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd said Sunday's short race was the final chance for a good result for GRM, with Garth's 11th grid spot a possibility.

"However, the racing was tight and the best he could do was to improve two positions and make it a top ten finish in 9th," Boyd said.

"However, the racing was tight and the best he could do was to improve two positions and make it a top ten finish in 9th," Boyd said.

"Fortunately, the fire was extinguished before any real damage, but for James it was a DNF. The win by David Reynolds and the Erebus team was well deserved.

Brian said Garry Rogers and his team would no doubt have wanted a better result for the round.

"But they know their cars are not far off the pace and just some small tweaks could well move them up to the pointy end of the field in qualifying and have them better placed on the grid," he said.

The next round of the Supercars Championship is the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint on 6-8 April.

Current Standings

Garth Tander 12th
James Golding 25th
Go Team PAYCE!