After a thrilling Merlin Darwin Triple Crown, the Repco Supercars Championship returns this weekend with the NTI Townsville 500.
In keeping with the theme of the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown’s Indigenous round, the NTI Townsville 500 will celebrate NAIDOC week and many teams will once again run their liveries celebrating Australia’s rich Indigenous culture.
While the race meeting will continue shining a spotlight on diversity and culture, it will move away from the three-race format that have become common in the past few years and will instead host two 88km races, with one 250km outing to take place on Saturday and the other on Sunday.
And while the traditional longer form of racing will keep fans excited this weekend, last month’s battle in Darwin gave the Supercars community a potential insight into what may happen throughout the rest of the year.
Reigning champion Shane van Gisbergen has undoubtedly been the dominant force this year and has had the mental edge throughout the season – however Darwin looked to have changed that.
Even though he still banked good points in the opening races with two podiums, for the first time in 2022, van Gisbergen didn’t win a race during an event and his rivals in Anton De Pasquale, who won his first race of the season in Darwin, while Cameron Waters and Will Davison managed to close in on him ever so slightly in the championship standings.
Although the current leader won’t be too fazed with more than 200 points separating he and De Pasquale.
Not only that, but van Gisbergen’s record at Reid Park is quite impressive with three wins in four races there last year, as well as victories and/or podiums every year, bar one, in Townsville since 2013.
The New Zealander has plenty of experience at the circuit and is one of three drivers to have raced in all 34 of Supercars’ appearances there with Mark Winterbottom and James Courtney the other two drivers to have done so.
There have been quite a few learnings to take away from rounds at Townsville in that time and one of the most recent lessons is being on pole goes a long way in helping you win with nine of the last 11 races having been won by the polesitter.
That certainly makes it interesting from a qualifying point of view with the ledger currently swinging in favour of Ford drivers, who have taken 14 out of the 18 ARMOR ALL Pole Positions so far this season.
However only five of those pole positions have been converted into a race wins and with van Gisbergen never one to be written off, it makes the two long races extremely exciting.
Outside of the regular championship title talk, the other notable talking point for this weekend is the return of James Golding, who replaced Garry Jacobson in the PremiAir Racing Holden Commodore in between rounds.
Golding's last Supercars appearance as a full-time driver was in 2019 for Garry Rogers Motorsport, while he spent the past few years as a co-driver at the Repco Bathurst 1000 and a main stay in the S5000 Australian Drivers Championship.
Both races take place at 2:50pm AEST on each day and the four support categories will keep spectators entertained in between.
Tickets are still available for purchase and can be done so here, while fans can watch the full race meeting live and free via Fox Sports and Kayo.
The NTI Townsville 500 takes place at Reid Park on 8-10 July.
Championship Top 10
1. Shane van Gisbergen – 1581 points
2. Anton De Pasquale - 1367
3. Cameron Waters - 1293
4. Will Davison - 1287
5. David Reynolds - 1111
6. Chaz Mostert - 1107
7. Broc Feeney - 1059
8. Brodie Kostecki - 977
9. Andre Heimgartner - 954 10. Tim Slade - 903
Friday 8 July
10:10am - 10:40am:Practice 1
2:50pm - 3:20pm: Practice 2
Saturday 9 July
9:50am – 10:05am - Armor All Qualifying Race 19
12:00pm – 12:30pm: Armor All Top Ten Shootout Race 19
2:45pm-4:50pm: Race 19
Sunday 10 July
10:10am – 10:25am: Armor All Qualifying Race 20
12:00pm – 12:30pm: Armor All Top Ten Shootout Race 20
2:45pm - 4:50pm: Race 20
*All times are AEST.
Touring Car Masters
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia
Dunlop Super2 Series
Walkinshaw Andretti United
#2 Holden Commodore ZB - Nick Percat
#25 Holden Commodore ZB - Chaz Mostert
Tim Blanchard Racing
#3 Ford Mustang - Tim Slade
Brad Jones Racing
#4 Holden Commodore ZB - Jack Smith
#8 Holden Commodore ZB - Andre Heimgartner
#14 Holden Commodore ZB - Bryce Fullwood
#96 Holden Commodore ZB - Macauley Jones
#5 Ford Mustang - James Courtney
#6 Ford Mustang - Cameron Waters
#55 Ford Mustang – Thomas Randle
#56 Ford Mustang - Jake Kostecki
#10 Ford Mustang - Lee Holdsworth
#26 Ford Mustang - David Reynolds
#9 Holden Commodore ZB - Will Brown
#99 Holden Commodore ZB - Brodie Kostecki
Dick Johnson Racing
#11 Ford Mustang - Anton De Pasquale
#17 Ford Mustang - Will Davison
#18 Holden Commodore ZB - Mark Winterbottom
#20 Holden Commodore ZB - Scott Pye
#22 Holden Commodore ZB - Chris Pither
#31 Holden Commodore ZB - James Golding
Matt Stone Racing
#34 Holden Commodore ZB – Jack Le Brocq
#35 Holden Commodore ZB – Todd Hazelwood
Triple Eight Race Engineering
#88 Holden Commodore ZB - Broc Feeney
#97 Holden Commodore ZB - Shane van Gisbergen