The Supercars field will be fighting it out this weekend in the tropical paradise of Townsville, reaching the half-way point of the season.
|Townsville Street Circuit|
|Location||Townsville, Queensland||Circuit Length||2.860 km / 1.777 mi|
|Opened||2009||First Supercars Event||2009|
|Direction||Clockwise||Race Lap Record||1:12.9311 – Nick Percat (2017)|
This year hosting the Supercars Championship for the tenth time, Townsville has become a favourite of the drivers and fans alike, being a half-half track which mixes a dedicated race track with the bumpy and loose surfaces of city streets.
Located just south of Townsville’s city centre, the temporary street circuit navigates its way through the picturesque Reid Park. In many ways, the track is quite reminiscent of Melbourne’s Albert Park Grand Prix circuit, with Turns 2 and 11 representing the best overtaking opportunities on the 2.86-kilometre layout.
|2018 Australian Supercars Championship – Watpac Townsville 400|
|Event Dates||06-08 July 2018||Format||SuperStreet|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 11:25-12:05||Free Practice Session 2||Fri 15:00-15:40|
|Race 17 Qualifying||Sat 11:55-12:15||Race 17 (70 laps)||Sat 16:05-17:45|
|Race 18 Qualifying||Sun 11:30-11:50||Race 18 Top-10 Shootout||Sun 13:55-14:20|
|Race 18 (70 laps)||Sun 16:05-17:45|
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 10:00)
Rewind to 2017
Last year’s installation of the Townsville 400 round became a turning point in the championship as Fabian Coulthard’s form started to drop while Jamie Whincup took his first win of the year.
The first race of the weekend saw Scott McLaughlin take pole and lead the opening stanza while Coulthard was spun and hit at Turn 1. As the championship leader at the time, Coulthard’s crash meant he lost the points lead to his teammate who went on to win the race. He held out Whincup for the victory while Mark Winterbottom took the last spot on the podium.
Yet again it was McLaughlin on pole for Sunday’s race though superior pace from the Triple Eight team meant Whincup was able to fight at the front, taking the win. It was the first of the year for the six-time champion who used the momentum to go on and win his seventh title. McLaughlin was able to hold on for second while Shane van Gisbergen put himself on the last step of the podium.
The Form Guide
Heading into this weekend, Scott McLaughlin has a 168-point lead in the points table, miles ahead of his rivals compared to last year and with six wins under his belt. It’s been a big year on the road to redemption for the Kiwi this year who will be looking for consistency even if he can’t win this weekend.
The track style should suit the ZB Commodore like it did in Adelaide with Shane van Gisbergen looking to replicate his 2016 form here. Currently second in the points, he’s looking to mount a title challenge but is over a race worth of points behind his countryman. His teammate Jamie Whincup has nine wins from 19 starts in Townsville and will be wanting to get his assault for another title back on track this weekend.
David Reynolds’ speed in Darwin showed he’s a title contender and can fight against the best of them. It’ll be interesting to see how the Erebus driver handles the pressure of being near the top of the points standings while having to keep his rookie teammate behind him. Expect Anton de Pasquale to star here after having red hot form in qualifying at the last round.
The Nissan’s drivers shouldn’t be discounted either with Rick Kelly already taking a win this season at Winton while Michael Caruso has consistently been one of the team’s strongest drivers. Tickford Racing must fight hard in this round to turn around their season of woes.
|2018 Watpac Townsville 400 Weather Forecast|
|Friday||18°C – 26°C||Saturday||18°C – 26°C||Sunday||13°C – 27°C|
Images via LAT Images and Red Bull Holden Racing Team