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Five things we learned at the NTI Townsville 500

Supercars
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Here's what Supercars.com learned in Townsville, the most dramatic round of the season so far
3 mins by James Pavey
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The championships are still in Triple Eight's grasp, but the NTI Townsville 500 changed the narrative of the season, with Ford teams powering back into contention.

Will Brown suffered his first stumble in 2024 following a dramatic Sunday incident, and unlike New Zealand, Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters capitalised in the race. Broc Feeney didn't enact a hammer blow on Brown, however, further helping Waters and Mostert close the gap.

Here are five things Supercars.com learned in Townsville, the most dramatic round of the season so far.

Triple Eight isn't bulletproof...

For the first time in 2024, Triple Eight didn't have the answers. Team boss Jamie Whincup lamented the championship leaders' "worst day of the year" on Sunday, with Will Brown crashing out of contention and Broc Feeney recovering from a first-lap clash of his own to finish seventh. The team still holds sway in both title fights, but Tickford Racing, Walkinshaw Andretti United and Penrite Racing all scored more points for the weekend.

... and this time, the Fords capitalised

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Triple Eight's first hiccup of 2024 came in the New Zealand opener, with Brown and Feeney ninth and 22nd on a tough day under rainy skies. It was a golden opportunity for Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters, Ford's leading stars, to get crucial ground back. Problem was, Waters was taken out off pole by Tim Slade, and Mostert lost a wheel while disputing the lead. When both Triple Eight drivers faltered again on Sunday, this time, Waters and Mostert both got onto the podium and clawed back crucial points.

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So, is Waters a title contender?

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While Mostert has been hanging on since the Bathurst season opener, Waters has been on one heck of a rollercoaster. He got back in the discussion with a superb Perth round, but like Mostert, fell away in Darwin. Heading into Townsville, Waters was 515 points down. With a win and a second, Waters scored 288 points to Brown's 162, and is now 389 points down in 1820 to win. It's a big ask for the Tickford driver, who has traditionally had slow starts to a season. If he gets on a roll, he could seriously be in with a shout come Adelaide.

Penrite Racing the benchmark on its day

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Late last year, Penrite Racing showed it could lead the way with stunning wins on the Gold Coast and Adelaide. The team is here for wins and championships, and while it showed glimpses of performance in the opening rounds in 2024, had yet to nail and overall package. The team nailed it on the weekend, with Matt Payne the class of the field on a track notoriously tough on tyres, something the team had been caught out by so far this year. Payne is now fifth in the championship, albeit 450 points down. However, if the team repeats its Sunday performance, the Kiwi could be a pest to the title contenders.

A winning format, and a jumbled field continues to deliver

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The 250km races led to plenty of drama and unpredictable racing, given drivers were on different strategies. The true contenders of the Sunday race didn't reveal themselves until after the halfway mark, while the enthralling battles and changeable weather saw the Saturday race take several twists and turns. The format was the perfect storm for what has so far been a highly competitive few rounds, with six different pole-sitters in seven starts, and seven different winners in nine starts. The best part? We do it all again in Sydney next week!

The 2024 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Panasonic Air Conditioning Sydney SuperNight on July 19-21. Tickets can be purchased via Supercars.com. Live coverage can be found on Foxtel, with live streaming available on Kayo. Highlights will be shown on the Seven Network and 7plus. International viewers can follow all the action on Superview.

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