• Sandown Raceway, Victoria.

Four Seasons' Sandown 500 Meeting Challenged Teams

PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd said the Sandown 500 meeting is the eagerly-awaited retro round and fans had their first close up look at the retro liveries announced in the media over the previous fortnight.

Brian said the Wilson Security Racing GRM liveries were among the most popular, with the #33 ZB Commodore sporting the livery of Garry's first Bathurst car, the A9X Holden Torana and the #34 ZB Commodore, the livery of the Soundwave Disco VH Commodore.

"The GRM team looked resplendent decked out in white shorts, retro t-shirts and terry towelling hats and their menu of Chiko rolls for lunch was spot on with the retro theme.

Virgin Australia Supercars - Weather Conditions Test the Teams – Brian Boyd

"The weather played a key role in some of the races, with a mix of cold, wind, rain and hail making things interesting for the drivers and engineers."

Brian said Friday was a busy day for GRM co-drivers, Chris Pither and Richard Muscat and BJR's Macauley Jones, with two dedicated practice sessions giving them valuable track time on super soft tyres in ZB Commodores.

"The conditions were windy and most drivers, including the PAYCE and Paynter Dixon supported ones, were content to test settings and keep the cars on the bitumen as much as possible," he said.

"Macauley did the best of the trio with two 11th fastest times, while Chris and Richard were further down the order but still within a second of the fastest times.

"The primary drivers were restricted to just one practice session on Friday and Garth was impressive with 4th fastest time in the dying stages of the session. James was only three tenths of a second slower but that pushed him back 16 spots to 20th," Brian Boyd continued.

Sandown 500 Qualifying Format Pushes Driver Performance – Brian Boyd

"The qualifying format on Saturday required strong performances by both the primary drivers and the co-drivers in order to secure a good grid position for the main race."

As Brian Boyd explained, the finishing order of the primary drivers in the first qualifying session determined the grid for co-drivers in a 20 lap race. The finishing order of that race determined the grid for a 20 lap race for primary drivers. Their final placings in that race then set the grid for the 161 lap Sandown 500. Sounds complicated, but in fairness took into account all drivers' performances.

"In the primary drivers' race, James put in one of his best performances of the season to place the #34 car in 9th and Garth was two-tenths slower, but back in 19th spot with the #33 car," Brian said.

"Unfortunately James' efforts were lost when Richard bogged down at the start of the co-drivers' race and went from 9th to 18th as most of the field roared by.

"Chris made up two spots off the line and both drivers held position till lap 6 when the safety car was deployed after Bright stopped on the main straight.

"Inclement weather was predicted for some time over the weekend and the forecasters got it right with heavy falls of rain and hail falling as racing resumed on lap 10."

Brian Boyd said many cars made a dash for the pits to fit 'wets', including GRM's, but those who gambled to stay out benefited from their decision, whether it was deliberate or simply that they were past the pit entry before the call came to pit.

"Fortunately, the rain and hail stopped as quickly as it had started and those that stayed out filled the first 12 positions. Chris finished 19th and Richard 23rd.

"Garth and James then took to the track for their 20 lapper, with Garth gaining four spots while James slipped back one spot. Pole went to Erebus' Dave Reynolds," reported Brian Boyd.

From Mixed Events on Track to a Top 10 Finish for Garth – Sandown 2018 – Brian Boyd

"Sunday returned to fine weather, and the GRM team was optimistic in that they had glimpses of good race speed the day before."

Brian Boyd said all teams bar one elected to put their co-drivers in the cars for the start of the Sandown 500 and all cars got through turn one without drama, but the at turn three Chris was hit from behind and sent into the tyre barrier with most speed washed off.

"He returned to the race behind the field. Meanwhile, Richard made up several positions as the first round of stops loomed.

"In the GRM camp, Chris was first to pit on lap 17 and Richard followed a few laps later on lap 22. Returning to the track, Chris was up to 17th and Richard was inside the top 20," Brian continued.

"Following the second round of stops, Garth began to carve his way through the field as he had done on several recent occasions and was into the top 10 by race end with a very respectable 9th finish.

"Unfortunately, in moving rapidly through the field he tangled with his team-mate and the #34 car came off worst with damage to the front aero that restricted James' efforts for the remainder of the race," Brian said.

"James did well to hold onto 18th spot as the chequered flag came out. For Garth it was his ninth top 10 finish this season from 24 races. The Whincup/ Dumbrell duo led home the other two triple eight cars for a dominant result.

"Macauley's #8 Commodore, which he shared with Nick Percat, did not feature over the weekend, first beset with fuel problems then a broken gearstick that took them out of the race after completing 142 laps of the161 lap race."

Mixed Results and Mixed Emotions for the Team – Brian Boyd

Brian said for the Wilson Security Racing GRM team it was a mix of emotions as far as the weekend went.

"Garry said he was buoyed by what the team was able to achieve amid disappointments and a strong recovery from what seemed like an irretrievable position.

"Bathurst is next and no doubt the GRM team will analyse all the data from the weekend and give the cars a full going over and arrive at the mountain with their usual positive attitude that could turn their luck around," Brian Boyd finished.

Current Standings

Garth Tander 13th (up one spot)
James Golding 21st (up two spots)

Team Championship

Wilson Security Racing GRM 8th (up one spot)
Go Team PAYCE!