Melbourne 400 Preview: Will Whincup Celebrate 500 Races With A Victory? | The Sporting Base

Melbourne 400 Preview: Will Whincup Celebrate 500 Races With A Victory?

March 11, 2020

Melbourne 400 Preview: Will Whincup Celebrate 500 Races With A Victory?

The second round of the 2020 Supercars Championship gets underway in Melbourne on Thursday. The event will have a different schedule to most others this year, as the four-day event is run in conjunction with the Formula One Australian Grand Prix.

There’ll be four races, rather than two, each 100 kilometres long and with a maximum 75 points up for grabs. The format has differed slightly from last year, in which two of the races were shorter and two longer. 

 Drivers will take to the track for two 30-minute practice sessions on Thursday morning, before jumping straight into back-to-back qualifying sessions for Races 3 and 4 on Thursday afternoon. The sessions are only 10-minutes long, and will effectively be treated like a shootout lap, with drivers likely to only get one good lap in during the time period. Penrite Racing team boss Barry Ryan told there will be more emphasis on the driver to get it right in qualifying. 

“There are so many opportunities to get it wrong,” he said.

“I think the driver that gets the corners 95 percent right will be on pole. The driver that gets half the corner 100 percent and the rest 75 percent won’t be on pole.”

The same qualifying format will take place on Friday morning to determine the grid for Races 5 and 6, which will be run on Saturday afternoon (Race 5) and Sunday morning (Race 6) before the Formula One. Race 3 will be run on Friday afternoon, and Race 2 on Saturday morning. 

The Albert Park Street circuit, which is more than 5.3 kilometres long, is the second-longest on the Supercars calendar, with only Mount Panorama exceeding its distance. Last year, the event was dominated by Ford, with Scott McLaughlin winning three of the four races, and Chaz Mostert winning the other. Holden hasn’t won at Albert Park since David Reynolds in 2018.

There have been two changes to the grid since Round 1 in Adelaide last month: James Courtney has sensationally quit Team Sydney after just one round, while Jake Kostecki will make his Supercars debut in the #24 Matt Stone Racing entry. 

Courtney moved to the team after a nine-year stint with Walkinshaw Andretti United. His shock split with Team Sydney came after a DNF in Race 1 and a 15th in Race 2. The team today confirmed Alex Davison, brother of Tickford Racing driver Will Davison, would drive the #19 entry for the remainder of the 2020 Supercars Championship. Davison said he is excited to return as a full-time driver for the first time since 2013.

“I’ve missed racing Supercars a lot and am still as passionate and motivated as ever to go racing,” he said.

Team Sydney boss Jonathan Webb says the driver change has not interrupted the team’s focus. 

“We knew that the restructure our team has undertaken this season was not going to be easy. We are committed to the project and providing benefit to our Sydney base, our sponsor parties and followers,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Kostecki will race for the first time in 2020 in the shared entry with Zane Goddard. The pair will alternate races throughout the year in the only Supercars entry to feature two main drivers. Goddard raced in Adelaide, where he finished 18th in Race 1 and 16th in Race 2. Neither Kostecki nor fellow rookies Jack Smith and Bryce Fullwood have ever raced at Albert Park in any category before.

There will be one special milestone this weekend, with Jamie Whincup starting his 500th Supercars race on Saturday. Whincup will be just the eighth driver in the Supercars/Australian Touring Car Championship to achieve the feat. At 667 race starts Craig Lowndes holds the record, ahead of Garth Tander, Russell Ingall, Jason Bright, Rick Kelly, Todd Kelly and Mark Winterbottom. Whincup told he is thankful to have been involved in Supercars for so long. 

“When I started I never thought I’d get through the first couple of years, but to be here for 15-plus years is a fantastic feeling,” he said.

“I’ve loved it that much that I want to do another 500 races, probably not behind the wheel, but on the other side of the fence.”

Whincup has at least one more full-time season in him, confirming last month he has re-signed with Triple Eight Race Engineering for 2021. 

Championship Top 10 Leaderboard

      Driver                Points
  1. Scott McLaughlin – 288
  2. Jamie Whincup – 261
  3. Chaz Mostert – 234
  4. Cameron Waters – 231
  5. Will Davison – 231
  6. David Reynolds – 210
  7. Lee Holdsworth – 171
  8. Mark Winterbottom – 162
  9. Fabian Coulthard – 162
  10. Rick Kelly – 150

Fill In The Form Below To Receive Our Previews And News Via Email

March 28, 2024

Our three best tips for the 2024 Houston Open

After not on the 2023 golf calendar, the Houston Open is returning in 2024, with the Texas Children's Hospital as the primary sponsor Let's take a look at the three golfers we like the most for this Read More

Hawks deliver biggest comeback in franchise history

There was a great scene on Monday night as the Atlanta Hawks came back from a 30-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 120-118 The Hawks were once trailing the Celtics 68-38 with four minutes and Read More

Nine more linebackers to switch teams in 2024 NFL free agency

NFL free agency is just over one week old Here are nine more linebackers who have switched teams Frankie Luvu The native of Tafuna, American Samoa signed a three-year deal worth $36 million Read More