Talking point from Supercars’ Winton SuperSprint

Round 5 of the 2022 Supercars Championship has been completed and dusted off with an exciting return to the regional Victoria and historic Winton Motor Raceway for the first time since 2019.

The home track advantage was at the head of Victorian teams like Tickford, who adapted well to the track through their tests, although this did not deter the championship leader from taking a piece of Winton Pie.

From more intimate fights between old enemies, standout team performances on home soil are the talk point of the Winton Superprint here.

Water is the best SVG in the end

Cameron Waters kept calm under extreme pressure from Shane Van Gisbergen in the final stages of Race 13, with Winton knocking out the Supersprint opener to win his first race of the season.

In his first win since last year’s Townsville, Waters put himself ahead at the start of the race, ahead of polycaster Van Gisbergen. The championship leader then hunted down Monster Energy Mustang for a period of 36-lap sprints, though the 26-year-old held on to the challenge.

Going into the pit-stop phase, the Red Bull brings the ruling Supercars champion to Lap 15 to undercut Waters, but Tickford responds to the following lap to maintain their lead in the driver race.

Due to the minimal distance between the two for balance, Van Gisbergen made a bold lunge for the lead in the last corner, but in the end made little contact and had to withdraw completely.

The result will be welcome for Waters and Tickford, who have not won Race 19 in Townsville. In the wake of Waters’ criticism of Van Gisbergen’s fight in the previous race, the display racing style in Race 13 was exactly the style of racing to defeat the Kiwis, mostly on Simmons Plain where little defense was provided.

Waters was also unlucky to miss the Waneru raceway when he was penalized for re-joining the track unsafely from the final corner – when he fought Will Davison for Ford’s first win in 2022.

Serving SVG returns

Waters’ pole position in Race 14 was ahead of Van Gisbergen’s and he was able to make a good start, leading the Supercars champion at the start.

Van Gisbergen fell into the clutches of a chase pack led by Chase Mustart and David Reynolds, who struggled to stay behind top Monster Energy Mustangs like Saturday’s race.

The Red Bull went on to undercut Lap 16 again, triggering Tickford to bring Waters to the lower lap. With the tires up to the temperature, Van Gisbergen wanted to get a return to the Ford driver after Race 13 and got heated in turn 1.

Waters crossed Turn 1 curb and then parked his car in the middle of a series of open corners, although Kiwi ran out of Turn 2, cut through the inner line, and was able to nail the pass to Turn 3.

Any room available for Van Gisbergen will see the two-time champion take advantage, and unfortunately for Waters, he has left enough room for the Red Bull Commodore for his 63rd career win.

Shane van Gisbergen
(Photo by Daniel Kallis / Getty Images)

Three tires vs two

A tactical difference between Tickford and Red Bull Ampoule Racing has led to a thrilling conclusion at the Winton Supersprint Weekend, with Waters coming up with another win in Race 15.

Monster Energy Mustang saw another strong start from the pole, as Van Gisbergen found himself being harassed by Brad Jones Racing’s Andre Heimgartner and eventually lost second place in the first half of the race.

On this occasion, Water was brought in for a pit-stop before Van Gisbergen for a traditional two-tire change. The Kiwis later made several laps, but gambled to get three new supersoft tires, which saw a grip advantage for the Red Bull Commodore.

In the battle with Heimgartner after the pit-stop, the Kiwis admitted when it was clear that Van Gisbergen was fast with new tires. Coming back to Waters by a huge margin, Van Gisbergen set a final lap showdown like Saturday – but there was enough time for Tickford Racer to win.

Heimgartner’s third place was added to the podium that Brad Jones chose in Perth for racing, while in the championship, Van Gisbergen is 281-points ahead of Anton de Pasquale, an anonymous one from Winton.

The first single-round win for the Waters strengthened its position in the standings ahead of the third and reigning supercars champions by 333-points.

Grove takes advantage of the home track

Behind Waters’ apparent standout performance for his first singles round win at Tickford’s home track, it was Grove Racing as a team that stood out in their home testing circuit.

Victorian teams were encouraged to be able to race on the track they conducted their test this weekend, so it was naturally assumed that there would be a form of home field facility for these outfits.

The real winners behind Waters were the Penright Mustang duo David Reynolds and Lee Holdsworth, with a top six finish for both drivers throughout the round – as well as a pair of podiums for the 2017-Bathurst 1000 winner Reynolds.

Reynolds lamented their inability to qualify for the front row, as they lacked the ability to fight like Waters and Van Gisbergen to win at Winton. Although more established Victorian names like Wakinsho and Erebus and even the Shell V-Power Squad have won the brace operation in this case.

Quietly, the 36-year-old is just 52-points ahead of Shell V-Power’s Will Davison in fifth place in the championship. Holdsworth, meanwhile, is a little out of the top ten, 12-points behind Tickford’s James Courtney.

In terms of team championships, the densely populated order from 4th to 6th separated only two-points between Erebus Motorsport, Grove Racing and Wakinash Andretti United. With Grove’s mindset changing, they have reason to believe that they can sit on top of that mound if they keep going.

Walkinshaw’s Shock Ford Switch

Despite the announcement being scrapped after the Perth Round of the Championship, its significance is still a matter of debate, given the extent to which Walkinshore’s history involves the Supercar with the General Motors brand.

Walkinshaw Andretti United will launch two Ford Mustangs at the start of Gen3 Regulation in 2023, ending a rich relationship where Victorian clothing once had a proud factory holden racing team.

Although without the glory of the championship for more than a decade, it seems like the right call for the heavyweight Triumvirate to follow another manufacturer and take the next step to become a championship competitor again.

The Perth Supersprint was the team’s worst in recent history, as neither Chase Mustart nor Nick Percutt qualified for the top twenty. Twice Bathurst 1000 winners Mostart Winton bounced back, but the fourth-best weekend was still not enough compared to the championship leaders.

Although Parkton’s best result at Winton was only the fourteenth, as former Bathurst champion Wakinash continues to fight for Commodore qualification.

It remains to be seen whether this decision will be substantiated by 2023, but for grid diversification, there will now be 11 Mustangs as opposed to 14 Chevrolet Camaros. WAU’s move also denies Matt Stone Racing the opportunity to align itself with Ford, as the Blue Oval says it does not currently want to add any more teams to the grid.

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