1121 days later: WAU's journey back to winning ways

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 28/04/2021
  • By James Pavey

Chaz Mostert’s Race 8 win at the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint marked another critical step forward for Walkinshaw Andretti United.

The fanfare largely centred on Mostert, who broke a two-year win drought with his dominant victory.

However, it was a crucial day for his team, which scored just its second race win under its WAU guise, and first in three years.

For a team as decorated as WAU, a winless spell of 1121 days would have stung, especially considering the pedigree in the operation.

WATCH: MOSTERT DISCUSSES TASSIE WIN

Ryan Walkinshaw was joined by Michael Andretti and Zak Brown ahead of the 2018 season, which began with James Courtney scoring an Adelaide podium.

Scott Pye’s Albert Park breakthrough, claimed under fading light and in treacherous conditions was the first win by a Walkinshaw car since the 2016 Sandown 500.

It was a season of promise; Pye followed up his win with second at Winton, and another Bathurst podium alongside Warren Luff.

Courtney scored third in Tasmania, before clinching another Gold Coast podium alongside Jack Perkins.

Pye’s Albert Park win was a landmark moment for WAU

Pye was a brilliant seventh in the standings, Courtney 14th, and the team fifth, setting the tone for a breakout 2019 season.

However, it fell away, the team scoring just one podium across both cars courtesy of Courtney and Perkins at Mount Panorama.

The torrid campaign, coupled with the collapse of a major backer, quickly firmed into optimism with the coup signing of Mostert.

To Mostert’s signing, in two seasons under the WAU name, the team had clinched seven podiums, including a win.

WATCH: RECAP OF MOSTERT’S SYMMONS SUCCESS

It seemed far from the stuff of an enduring and successful partnership between Walkinshaw, Andretti and Brown.

However, to next weekend’s OTR SuperSprint, it's what it's turning out to be.

In 2020, while Mostert missed out on victory, the team took home six podiums and a pole position, with Bryce Fullwood clinching a surprise Tailem Bend podium.

The key ingredient was another Bathurst podium, Mostert and Luff third behind the dominant #97 and #6 crews.

Mostert celebrates Tassie victory with team boss Stewart

Team principal Bruce Stewart told Supercars.com earlier this year that the seeds to a stronger WAU were sewn during the trying COVID-19-affected 2020 season.

"There are always hard moments when you have long periods away like that," he said.

"I think what was really good to notice was that everyone gave each other space, and we collectively understood that not everyone could be 'up' all the time.

"You got around the people who were feeling a little bit low, or feeling the pressures at home, or struggling a bit.

WATCH: MOSTERT CELEBRATES WITH SYMMONS SKID

"We’d pull them back into a positive frame of mind in a positive way, which was cool. The team really gelled and we became a much better team for it.”

That was echoed by Mostert, who expected his team to “come out swinging” in 2021. That the team did, Mostert kicking off season 2021 with podiums in the Repco Mt Panorama 500, and a pole at Sandown.

The WAU story is far from over, Mostert now just 165 points from the championship lead heading to fourth round at The Bend.

The question is whether the team can stay at the front, having already shown frailties in Mostert missing the podium at Sandown.

However, back in the winners’ circle, WAU, armed with a winning Mostert, now looms as a genuine threat to Red Bull Ampol Racing having hit the front so early in the 2021 season.

WAU celebrates its Tasmania win

That will only be bolstered once decorated engineer Grant McPherson joins the fold.

“I have always set a goal for Andretti Autosport to diversify and succeed across multiple platforms, and this opportunity is a natural next step for the team as we continue to expand globally,” Andretti said in 2017.

“We are determined to succeed, and I have full confidence that this new venture, Walkinshaw Andretti United, will become a leading Supercars team.”

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to The Bend Motorsport Park for the OTR SuperSprint across May 7-9. Tickets are on sale now.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.

Walkinshaw Andretti United in Supercars (2018-)

Wins: 2
Podiums: 16
Poles: 2

List of WAU podiums

Adelaide 2018, Race 2: James Courtney (2nd)
Albert Park 2018, Race 5: Scott Pye (1st)
Tasmania 2018, Race 7: James Courtney (3rd)
Winton 2018, Race 13: Scott Pye (2nd)
Bathurst 2018, Race 25: Scott Pye & Warren Luff (2nd)
Gold Coast 2018, Race 26: James Courtney & Jack Perkins (3rd)
Bathurst 2019, Race 25: James Courtney & Jack Perkins (3rd)
Adelaide 2020, Race 2: Chaz Mostert (2nd)
Townsville 1 2020, Race 19: Chaz Mostert (3rd)
Townsville 1 2020, Race 20: Chaz Mostert (2nd)
Townsville 2 2020, Race 22: Chaz Mostert (3rd)
The Bend 2020, Race 25: Bryce Fullwood (3rd)
Bathurst 2020, Race 31: Chaz Mostert & Warren Luff (3rd)
Bathurst 2021, Race 1: Chaz Mostert (2nd)
Bathurst 2021, Race 2: Chaz Mostert (3rd)
Tasmania 2021, Race 8:Chaz Mostert (1st)

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