2018 Coates Hire Newcastle 500 Preview With Brian Boyd
- PAYCE Head Office, Sydney NSW.
PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd says the Newcastle 500 this weekend will be the most important round of the season for several teams, with drivers championships yet to be decided across a number of categories, including Supercars, Super2 and Touring Car Masters.
"Team PAYCE drivers vying for the championship title are Chris Pither in the Dunlop Super2 series and John Bowe in Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters," Brian said.
"This will be the second time Newcastle has hosted the Supercars round and based on the resounding success last year, this one is shaping up to be a thriller.
"The 2.6 kilometre street circuit surprised many teams last year and its 12 turns, changes in elevation and bumpy street surfaces were a great challenge, particularly without the benefit of previous data.
"Everyone is in agreement that the location is unrivalled for scenic beauty, with the spectacular ocean beaches on one side and the busy harbour on the other, where massive coal ships glide by just metres from the circuit.
"The weather forecast is for winds over most of the three days, but otherwise fine with comfortable temperatures, which should make for some great racing," Brian said.
Virgin Australia Supercars: All Attention is Focussed on the Drivers Championship – Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd said with the Teams Championship decided, all attention is focussed on the battle between Scott McLaughlin and Shane Van Gisbergen for the Drivers Championship, with just 14 points separating them.
"In a repeat of last year, Scott arrives in Newcastle on top of the leaderboard, but this time there is only one other contender.
"With just two races over the weekend remaining, neither driver can afford to make mistakes or get involved in on-track altercations and there will be a lot of pressure on the engineers and pit crews to get the strategies and pit stops right.
"One of the biggest problems facing the two contenders is that 24 other drivers are also focussed on winning and apart from those in the same teams, there will be no quarter given to the two contenders," Brian Boyd continued.
"The racing is likely to be so close and with less than a second a lap separating the field, at least half a dozen drivers could take a win and be on the podium this round."
Brian said Team PAYCE and Paynter Dixon drivers, Garth Tander in the #33 Commodore and James Golding in the #34 Commodore may be out of contention for the title, but that will not dampen their enthusiasm or drive to put in a good result to wrap up the season.
"Garth in particular loves the street circuits and although the GRM team's overall results this year are not what they had hoped for there have been some solid performances from both drivers, including nine top ten finishes from Garth and consistent improvement from James in his first full year in the series.
"Garth is currently 12th on the leaderboard, while James is 21st, but some strong performances on the two races could potentially move both of them up several spots," Brian Boyd said.
Track action gets underway on Friday with two 40 minute practice sessions, and then Saturday is straight into a 20 minute qualifying session around noon to set the grid for the afternoon race over 95 laps or 250 kilometres.
Sunday's action starts with another 20 minute qualifying session, this time to set the grid for positions 11 through to 26 and the Top Ten Shootout field. The pressure will again be on both title contenders to first make the shootout then bank a good time to put them near the front of the field for the final race of the season.
At race end, one will be crowned champion and deservedly wear the orange number one on their car when they next hit the track in Adelaide in March.
Dunlop Super2: Chris Pither is in the Box Seat - Brian Boyd
Brian said Team PAYCE and Paynter Dixon member, Chris Pither is in the box seat to take out the series 2018 Drivers Championship for the GRM team, which would be a great boost for the team who have not enjoy the same success in Supercars this year.
"It does not come as a surprise to those that are aware of Chris' skills that he leads at this point, but the series has been extremely competitive with numerous round winners.
"Chris has the series winner from last year close on his heels in Paul Dumbrell, but Chris is in great form as demonstrated by his third place podium at Bathurst when the Super 2 field were last on track," Brian Boyd added.
"His consistency through the year has rewarded him with being on top of the leaderboard for the ultimate round and if he maintains that consistency over the two races he will take out the title.
"Chris' team-mate, Mason Barbera, will wrap up his rookie year at Newcastle and he has benefited greatly from the experience, which at times has been challenging, being in the middle of the pack in most races. He excelled last time out at Bathurst when he came home in sixth place in the mini-enduro – his best result for the year," said Brian.
"In the Brad Jones Racing camp, Team PAYCE member, Macauley Jones has had a rollercoaster of a year, missing out on two most certain wins in Townsville when a suspension failure put him out while leading both races and after qualified on the front row of the grid each time.
"At Bathurst, he was set for a back-to-back win in the mini-enduro when towards the end of the race he mistimed his braking and left the track.
"Macauley has definitely found form and will likely turn in some strong performances this weekend to improve his current 7th position," Brian Boyd finished.
Super 2 is on track on Friday for two 40 minute practice sessions, then a short 15 minute qualifying session on Saturday morning to set the grid for the afternoon race over 20 laps. Sunday follows the Saturday format, with the 20 lap race wrapping up the season and likely determining the 2018 champion – ideally Chris Pither.
Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters: John Bowe and Stephen Johnson will do Battle in the Season Finale - Brian Boyd
Brian said Team PAYCE member, John Bowe and Stephen Johnson will do battle on the streets of Newcastle this weekend in the season finale, with one emerging the 2018 champion in the Outright and ProMasters class.
"Johnson leads JB by just 59 points, but each driver will drop their three worse race scores and a Trophy race score in determining the season winner, so there may be some last minute adjustment to points after Sunday afternoon's race," Brian said.
"No other driver is in contention and third place is almost sure to go to Adam Bressington.
"This round sees the return of Benn Dunn in his Chevrolet Monza and Layton Marker from Tasmania makes a late debut in a Holden Monaro to make up a field of 19," Brian Boyd continued.
"The Paynter Dixon Touring Car Masters series will contest four races across the weekend to complete what has been another thrilling, close competition in all three classes.
"The Dometic Trophy RACE will kick off the action on Saturday with three point scoring rounds to follow," Brian said.
There is one 20 minute practice session on Friday morning and straight into a 20 minute qualifying session in the afternoon to set the grid for the semi-reverse trophy race on Saturday morning over 12 laps. A second 12 lap race is later in the day and then on Sunday the field gets to thrill the crowd with two 12 lap races.