Brian Boyd Previews the 2018 Watpac Townsville 400
- PAYCE Head Office, Sydney NSW.
PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd is looking forward to Virgin Australia Supercars and Dunlop Super2 return to Townsville this weekend, along with the debut appearance of Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters, for what promises to be great rounds of racing for the respective championships.
"Flying the flag for PAYCE in Supercars will be GRM's Garth Tander in the #33 Commodore and James Golding in the #34 Commodore," Brian said.
"Chris Pither (#44 Commodore) and Mason Barbera(#99 Commodore) from the GRM garage and Macauley (#14 Commodore) will contest round four of the Dunlop Super2 series and John Bowe will be behind the wheel of the #18 Torana in the Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters for round five."
Brian Boyd said temperatures are forecast to be in the high 20s with no rain predicted, so teams and the many thousands of fans can look forward to enjoying the warm conditions and the range of outdoor activities planned around the much-awaited annual event, including the transporter parade and meet the drivers.
"Townsville is famous for its hospitality and for welcoming everyone associated with the Townsville 400 meeting. Reid Park is a great circuit and the kerbs and heavy braking corners provide plenty of exciting passing opportunities around the 2.9 kilometre track," he said.
Virgin Australia Supercars – 10th Anniversary of Townsville – Brian Boyd
Brian said this year will be the 10th running of the Supercars event in Townsville.
"The race format remains unchanged from last year, with two 70 lap, 200 kilometre sprint races and the Top Ten Shootout on Sunday - which is expected to be close," Boyd said.
"The Wilson Security Racing GRM team love coming to Townsville, away from the cold of Melbourne, and it is a circuit where they have had some good results in the past.
"Last year was the first time they had the Commodores at the circuit so they were a little behind the eight ball with no relevant data from previous visits. Even so, the team recovered well after a disappointing start.
"In the first race, Garth and James Moffat started 13th and 17th respectively, but with some spirited driving and good pit strategies, Garth came home in 8th place while James was looking good for a top 10 finish before a penalty pushed him down to place 13th.
"Garth performed well in Sunday's qualifier to earn a spot in the Top Ten Shootout with 9th fastest, which is where he started on the grid. He went on to finish 6th, while James improved massively on his 16th grid spot to come home 7th."
Brian Boyd said the team just needs to find those elusive couple of tenths of a second in qualifying on a regular basis to go with their good race pace and there's every chance we will see more podiums soon.
The program kicks off on Friday with two 40 minute practice sessions, then a 20 minute qualifying session on Saturday around noon, before the field grids up for the first 70 lap race of the round late in the afternoon.
Sunday sees the all-important 20 minute qualifier to see who competes for the coveted Top Ten Shootout title and a position on the first five rows of the grid, while the grid will be set for 11th spot back to 28th with the two wildcards added.
The feature race of the day gets underway late in the day to wrap up what everyone hopes will be another great Townsville round.
Dunlop Super2 Return to the Track – Brian Boyd
Brian said it's been quite a break from racing for the development series with their last start being eight weeks ago in Perth.
"The series returns to Townsville at the midpoint of the season with Wilson Security Racing GRM's Chris Pither sitting second in the championship after a very impressive return to the series this year," he said.
"He has been fast in recent practices and qualifying and with a convincing win in Tasmania and a second and third he is now an established frontrunner.
"Macauley Jones is also performing strongly and his last race in Perth resulted in a 5th place and he is yet to finish outside the top 10 in all three rounds run to date.
"Mason Barbera in the #99 Commodore continues to display the benefit of more track time in the car this year and his last round was definitely his best with a top ten finish in all three races, his best being a fifth. It will be no surprise to see him up amongst the leaders this weekend."
Brian said the series has been super-competitive this year and in the last round at Perth there were three different winners.
"While none of the PAYCE supported drivers took a win they were top ten finishers in all three races for the first time this season and are well positioned to finish well in the championship," he added.
The fourth round at Townsville gets underway on Friday with two 40 minute practice sessions, then on Saturday there is a 20 minute qualifying session to set the grid for race one later in the day over 21 laps or 60 kilometres. Sunday is a repeat of Saturday format with race two the curtain-raiser to the Supercars event.
Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters Arrive in Townsville – Brian Boyd
Brian said this will be the first time the TCM series has raced in Townsville and local fans can take some credit for their appearance, having been quite vocal about missing out on one of the most exciting, colourful and loud categories in Australian motorsport.
"Steve Johnson in his Mustang is certainly the form driver at present, but you can never dismiss John Bowe, who has overcome a number of problems this year with the #18 Torana, to be second on the leaderboard and very capable of upsetting Johnson's dominant run," he said.
"The TCM field kept the passionate Darwin fans entertained at the last round when JB had to relinquish his lead in the previous three rounds, but he was far from disgraced with a 1st and a 2nd on a track that favoured the bigger engined cars.
"This round will see the re-appearance of a crowd favourite in the Pontiac Firebird to be driven by Rod Hackwood this time around. The car hasn't been seen for a while, but its return is welcomed by all who appreciate the history of this iconic US muscle car brand.
"The field is a little down on numbers for this round with 19 starters, but certainly not lacking in quality. It is a long way to travel for many competitors and understandably those with limited budgets have to consider the costs involved.
"The fact that these cars are so competitive and spectacular to watch means that fans will still be treated to a great spectacle, especially in the first race of three over the weekend when the faster cars start towards the rear of the field in the Waeco Trophy event," Brian said.
Their track activity starts with two 20 minute practice sessions on Friday, qualifying and one 12 lap race on Saturday and two 12 lap races on Sunday.