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PRODRIVE RACING – NEWCASTLE SATURDAY WRAP

Misfortune in the early going of Race 25 at the inaugural Newcastle 500 disrupted Prodrive Racing (Australia)’s performance on Saturday, rendering what could have been a strong day into an underwhelming result. Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FG X) led the four-car team to the chequered flag with a sixth place finish, having kept clean amidst a pack of cars for a majority of the afternoon.

Stable-mate Jason Bright’s (#56 MEGA Fuels FG X) last race weekend as a full-time Supercars driver got off to a sour start when he was collected in a multi-car incident at Turn 8 which brought out the safety car on Lap 1. Sustaining significant frontal damage, Bright drove the car back to pit lane, but would retire from the day’s action following a damage assessment.

With the pits open, both Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FG X) and Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy FG X) encountered problems on pit lane as a majority of the field came to pit road under the safety car. A slow stop for Winterbottom delayed the queuing Waters and dropped the pair to the back of the field, with Winterbottom’s run ending when he incurred damage on Lap 74 in contact with Car 34 at Turn 2. The damage cost the 2015 Champion two laps en route to a 17th place finish. Turning to an alternative strategy mid-race, Waters recovered to finish 13th, advancing six spots from his starting position.

Prodrive Racing return to the track Saturday for qualifying, a top ten shootout, and Race 26, the finale of the 2017 Supercars season.

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DRIVERS’ VIEW
#5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford
Mark Winterbottom
Qualifying: 11th, 1m10.24s
Race 25: 17th

“The track is very limited to passing, so when we came into the pits about eighth and came out 20th it sort of ruined our race. From there, you’re just trying to hold on and try to claw your way back in. We made some good moves, but you just can’t make mistakes in this category, it puts you too far back. It’s tough to pass so you need to qualify well, but on the flip side you need to be trouble free. The track’s good, it’s tough, very physical. I had no drink bottle and no helmet fan today, so it was quite physical in that race, but we want big results, and that just means qualifying’s so important. We’ll try to have a better day tomorrow.”
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#6 Monster Energy PRA Ford
Cameron Waters
Qualifying: 19th, 1m10.45s
Race 25: 13th

“Obviously the first stop killed us a bit, but we fought back anyway. Once we got clean air and got up front I was able to drive away for a while, so that was promising, it was good to kind of get back to a half decent result from the back of the field. I think our pace was okay, the points from sixth to eighth are really tight, so we’ll see if we can make it better for the finale.”

#55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford
Chaz Mostert
Qualifying: 10th, 1m10.22s
Race 25: 6th

“Tough day. We didn’t qualify that well, we were tenth, and just tried to stay out of trouble. There’s a lot of rubber on the track because it’s not that wide, so if you go just a little bit off line you could be in really big trouble. It was really hard to pass, not high tyre degradation because the track surface is so smooth, so basically the race was in the pits and strategy-based. I don’t think we had a bad strategy, but that pit lane is so narrow, and being mid-pack in the pit lane really hurt us; I got stuck sitting there for several seconds on the first stop. Not a bad day for points, but definitely want to get a trophy. Just wasn’t completely our day, I think we need to make our car a little bit better, but saying that it looks like everyone was struggling some way or another. Overall, not a bad day.”
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#56 MEGA Fuels PRA Ford
Jason Bright
Qualifying: 25th, 1m11.12s
Race 25: DNF

“Obviously Jamie (Whincup) was running around slow, and when I came across I went around his outside, but Dale Wood was in the wall ahead of us. Taz Douglas was in the back of him, and I had nowhere to go and I ended up in the back of Taz. It’s a shame, we need to qualify better and we’ll miss things like that. Hopefully tomorrow’s an easier day.”

Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
“Everyone had something go wrong today, which obviously hurt us quite a bit. The team gave a good effort to recover from those issues, but it’s not a great feeling to have only one car in the top ten. Tomorrow’s a new day, so we’ll diagnose whatever needs changing overnight, and leave it all on the track tomorrow.”

DUNLOP SUPER2 SERIES
The day was not without hardware for Prodrive Racing, as Garry Jacobson (#1 MEGA Fuels FG X) claimed runner-up honours in the Dunlop Super2 race early Saturday afternoon. Jacobson, the defending Super2 champion, qualified third in morning qualifying and leapt into second at the start, where he would challenge eventual winner Todd Hazelwood but could not pass in the final laps. Josh Kean (#5 Wynn’s Racing FG X) spent a majority of the race in the mid pack after advancing a few positions in the opening lap. Making contact with a charging Macauley Jones on Lap 4, Kean slapped the Turn 8 tyre barrier, but continued on track en route to a 14th place finish. Super2 also concludes its 2017 season on Sunday with a 20-lap race on the streets of Newcastle.

#1 MEGA Fuels PRA Ford
Garry Jacobson
Qualifying: 3rd, 1m11.34s
Race 25: 2nd

“I’m really happy with the result. I was able to get a good launch at the start and was far enough alongside (Jack) LeBrocq to muscle it by him in Turn 1. After that it was just a matter of trying to track down Todd for the lead. I think I had the pace to get by him, but only by a little, and when it’s as tough to pass as it is here, I needed him to make a mistake to get a good chance. He had a little slip up in the hairpin, but I did as well, so that really killed any chance of trying to pass him. Still a good day for the team, and we’ll look to go one better tomorrow.”

#5 Wynn’s Racing PRA Ford
Josh Kean
Qualifying: 17th, 1m12.55s
Race 25: 14th

“It definitely was not the easiest of days for us. This track is very cool but pretty nasty, and tough to get a good handle on. I was just trying to get into a rhythm and didn’t see Macauley go up the inside at Turn 8, fortunately I hit the wall squarely, so it didn’t hurt the car too much. From there it was just about bringing it home. We’ll get her fixed up tonight, and go for strong one on Sunday.”