Last time 25 V8 Supercars belted around a street track Jamie Whincup kicked off his title defence with a win, Marcos Ambrose lined up for the ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout and Chaz Mostert made a meal out of his and other innocent victims' races.
We had 10 DNFs in total and James Courtney and Garth Tander stood on the podium next to each other - that was on the streets of Adelaide way back in March.
Here we are in July and oh, how things have changed! Whincup is lost, Mostert is on fire, the Courtney-Tander situation is far from ideal and Ambrose is sitting in the garage wearing a headset. We are back on the streets and I say bring on the street fight.
I love Townsville. It is seriously one of my favourite stops on our calendar. I was lucky enough to spend a few days up here a couple of weeks ago for the Townsville Tri Festival and basically I am now considered a local - and I'm not complaining!
Unbelievably accommodating, like Darwin, it just has 'the vibe'. You get the feeling when you get off the plane - there is usually a show car on display at the airport and everyone knows why you're here. A pretty stunning backdrop for a V8 Supercars event, with Castle Hill in the distance, a walk from the track to the town centre then over the crest to The Strand, and we are here during 'winter' wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It's not bad at all.
We are back to the SuperStreet format but the race distances are slightly different this year and they do differ from the Clipsal 500. There will be four practice sessions across Friday and Saturday, a 20-minute qualifying session and a 200km, 70-lap race on Saturday, and a 20-minute qualifying with a Top 10 Shootout and a 200km race Sunday afternoon.
Townsville's tough. It's a mix of street and purpose-built circuit that winds around the Reid Park precinct, parts of it flowing but with enough concrete to make it hurt.
The varying track surface is always a factor on street circuits and according to the drivers has definitely deteriorated over recent years.
Having a car that can handle the kerbs well is always crucial on street circuits; the V8 Supercars need to glide through the chicanes yet land and recover well. We have seen all too many times races ended prematurely from damaged cars that don't handle kerbs and chicanes. Turn 10 is another tricky part of this circuit; very fast and quite bumpy - we saw last year plenty of guys hit that concrete wall on exit and only just got away with it.
Traditionally Whincup stands tall in Townsville. He has the most wins of any driver at this track and won two of three races last year. This needs to be his turning point to get his season back on track.
You can never discount the Champ, but things are not happening as they would like at Red Bull Racing Australia. Recent reports say you will see a different person wearing the headset and talking to Whincup this weekend.
HRT harmony? Is all really well at Team Red? One side says yes; the other says, not so much. The last two years here they have had a Pole Position and a 1-2 on the podium - something clicks with their cars and this circuit. But they have had a miserable run the last two outings and I can't imagine team dinners are that fun right now.
Hopefully the pretty awesome new livery will make everyone forgive and forget and a bit of sunshine will give the Melbournites warm hearts. GT [Garth Tander] has a pretty solid record in Townsville and I am sure he will be more determined then ever to enjoy some G.H.MUMM this weekend, he really does deserve it!
Milestone moments - we have a couple of really significant milestones to celebrate this weekend. Jason Bright will race his 500th ATCC/V8SC race and Garry Rogers Motorsport will start its 600th Championship race. A huge congratulations to both of them for outstanding longevity in a terribly tough sport and I wish them all the best for a successful weekend.
A Particular shout-out to Jason's heavily pregnant wife Lucy who is home with their young son and sick dog while Jase is racing this weekend!
Riana's Wrap - Look out for street fighters Shane van Gisbergen and Will Davison who perform well on these types of circuits. - Prodrive Racing Australia - this is a true test for their cars after they struggled at Adelaide, but were strong at the Australian Grand Prix support races. - The RBRA garage will look different this weekend.