Percat scores breakthrough BJR win

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 28/06/2020
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Nick Percat broke a four-year victory drought for himself and Brad Jones Racing in the second leg of the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint.

WATCH: PERCAT'S RACE-WINNING MOVE ON WHINCUP

In his 200th career Supercars start, the 31-year-old won out in a race-long battle with fellow milestone man Jamie Whincup.

Percat had not won since his triumph with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport at the 2016 Adelaide 500, while Brad Jones Racing’s last victory came with Tim Slade at Winton in the same year.

Tyre strategy was the key to the race, with teams taking different approaches to juggling their five sets across the weekend’s three 32-lap heats.

Starting sixth, Percat and BJR clearly went aggressive on tyre strategy; the Dunlop-backed Commodore charging to second by lap six.

Percat then hunted down Whincup, who had made the most of his ARMOR ALL Pole in his 500th career start to build an early lead.

The Dunlop Commodore stalked the Red Bull entry until Percat pitted on lap 14; Whincup reacting with his own stop a lap later.

Whincup rejoined with a two-second advantage but had only taken two new tyres to Percat’s four, leaving the seven-time champion vulnerable.

Percat made the critical pass at Turn 4 on lap 22 and eased away over the final 10 laps, taking the flag three seconds ahead.

“It’s amazing. I can’t thank Brad and the whole team enough,” beamed Percat, who joined BJR in 2017.

“[Brad] can’t be here [due to the personnel restrictions], but thank you Brad for having the faith in me.

“It’s taken a few more years than I would have wanted but BJR, AE [Andrew Edwards, engineer], everyone did a mega job.

“Obviously as soon as we were in a good position we just threw everything at it to ‘live for now’.

“My first lap when I passed Shane [van Gisbergen] I went ‘hold on, there’s something going on here’.

“I was straight on the radio and went ‘mate they have not put tyres on so we need to go’, so it was mega.”

Whincup stressed the need to spread the tyres across the three races to maximise the overall result.

“It’s really interesting with the strategy,” he said.

“We used six tyres there so we are a little bit compromised for the next race, but not too much.

“So a third and a second, reasonable points for the weekend so far, we’ll see what we have got for Race 3.”

Saturday winner Scott McLaughlin rounded out the podium ahead of Chaz Mostert, David Reynolds and Cameron Waters following a thrilling late battle between the four drivers.

Waters and Reynolds had also charged in the first stint on good tyres and made early first stops, leaving them battling to hold on at the end.

They ran third and fourth with less than four laps to go, but were soon demoted by both McLaughlin and Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Mostert.

Shane van Gisbergen finished seventh, having dropped from second on the grid to 11th by the time the pitstops kicked off on lap 10.

Mark Winterbottom, James Courtney and Andre Heimgartner completed the top 10.

Fabian Coulthard had a difficult run from fourth to 15th, having been among those losing ground to those on fresher tyres in the opening stint.

A third 32-lap race will complete the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint from 2:35pm AEST.

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