The next generation of racers in the V8 Supercars Championship proved they were coming for the experienced hands in yesterday’s chaotic and complex Clipsal 500 Adelaide race.
A clever call from Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport engineer Chris Stuckey helped Nick Percat cross the line for his first solo win on home soil, after keeping it clean for 48 laps in atrocious conditions on the Adelaide streets.
Yesterday’s race followed an intense battle on Saturday by two of the great former champions, and we have been left with an unexpected championship leader in Michael Caruso.
There were plenty of strong performances by drivers and teams across the big event – but here are the four selected by v8supercars.com.au for top performer at the 2016 season opener.
Vote now and comment below to explain your best.
Nick Percat, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport
Despite the various complexities of the race, he battled Fabian Coulthard at the final corner and held position to cross the line first for the cheering crowd (though Coulthard was later penalised for not taking on the mandatory minimum fuel load).
The team is desperately searching for sponsorship and is low on staff with team boss Barry Hay doubling as race engineer on the sister car and engineer Stuckey managing the engineering side. He made the call that won the day, and Percat kept the car on track to drive home the perfect story.
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia
He’s taken one of the top drives in the pit lane for 2016 and after filling in for Chaz Mostert after his accident last year, Waters is expected to perform for Prodrive.
The reigning Dunlop Series champion was quiet on Saturday but was able to nurse his car home in yesterday’s race and finish just off the podium in fourth.
A first time effort in those conditions? It looks like he may well live up to those high expectations with a performance like that one.
One to watch as 2016 plays out.
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Brave in the wet, and running through turn eight on his final lap defending on Saturday, perennial Clipsal performer Courtney left nothing on the table in his pursuit for championship points.
He finished race one in second and turned the tides in the following run, ahead of Jamie Whincup and looking like he’d prefer to eat concrete than give P1 to the six-time champ.
There was damage to the front of his Commodore after smashing a tyre bundle, but it didn’t handicap the 2010 champion, who always shows his talent on the vicious street circuit.
Jamie Whincup, Red Bull Racing Australia
He fought, he spun, he won race one for the third consecutive year, and after a head-spin weekend the all-time champ has come out of the first round second in the title fight.
Whincup has long said he is happy just to be part of the great battles, even if he doesn’t come out on top, and Saturday’s race two was another one of those opportunities.
The Red Bull racer gave his all trying to run down Courtney and reminded everyone he may not have the #1 this year – but he’s not done going after it.
Who was your best at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide? Vote now and give us your thoughts below.