The opening round of the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship heralded the arrival of the Ford Mustang, two new drivers to the grid, and two sweltering races in the Adelaide sun.
It also spurned some impressive performances. From Scott McLaughlin’s emphatic wins to a career best for Todd Hazelwood, there were a number of efforts up and down the lane that caught the eye.
In this week’s Pirtek Poll, we want to know which of them impressed you the most.
Scott McLaughlin (Race 1 Qual 3rd, Finish 1st; Race 2 Qual 1st, Finish 1st)
It’s difficult to look beyond the winner of both the weekend’s races. Heading to Adelaide, McLaughlin had never claimed pole nor victory in the City of Churches, but has left as the clear leader of the Supercars Championship.
But it’s not simply the fact that he’s leading the championship, but the manner in which he seized control, with two dominant, error-free performances. It’s a commendable performance, especially when one considers the oppressive conditions on Saturday.
Cam Waters (Race 1 Qual 4th, Finish 22nd; Race 2 Qual 4th, Finish 2nd)
Speaking after the race on Sunday, Waters suggested his second-place finish was redemption for the disappointment of Saturday’s race.
Having shown strong pace heading into the opening race of the weekend, his outing was cut short when a coolsuit failure saw officials curtail his race.
He responded in impressive fashion on Sunday, booking a place in the Armor All Top 10 Shootout and racing his way into second place, all with a burned right foot and Shane van Gisbergen breathing heavily down his neck in the final laps.
Mark Winterbottom (Race 1 Qual 16th, Finish 9th; Race 2 Qual 24th, Finish 6th)
Seeing Frosty race a Commodore is going to take some getting used to, but clearly not for him. Out of the gate, Winterbottom was fast in the Triple Eight supported Irwin Racing entry.
On Saturday he was ninth and on Sunday improved to sixth having started from the back of the grid, a solid way to start his relationship with his new team.
He missed out on appearances in the Armor All Top 10 Shootouts, but he put in a solid weekend’s work and looks to have helped drive the Charlie Schwerkolt-owned team forward.
Todd Hazelwood (Race 1 Qual 21st, Finish 12th; Race 2 Qual 7th, Finish 10th)
Climbing from his car after qualifying on Sunday morning, Hazelwood must have had goosebumps. After a tough debut season he responded with a maiden Shootout appearance on home soil – he grew up little more than a stone’s throw from the circuit.
He performed admirably in the Armor All Shootout and then raced well to remain inside the Top 10 come the chequered flag. It’s a result which, when put in the context of his 2018 campaign, is nothing short of remarkable.
Will Davison (Race 1 Qual 7th, Finish 4th; Race 2 Qual 5th, Finish 8th)
It’s important to remember that 23Red Racing is only in its second year of competition. With that in mind, Davison’s fourth place in Saturday’s race in Adelaide is an impressive feat.
It also came as no surprise, with Davo having shown plenty of pace to that point in the weekend, and recording another Top 10 on Sunday. Incredibly, he sits fourth in the championship behind McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, and Whincup.
Tim Slade (Race 1 Qual 11th, Finish 17th; Race 2 Qual 11th, Finish 4th)
The Brad Jones Racing driver has had a bit of a dry spell of late. Speaking after Sunday’s race he pointed to the fact he hadn’t had a Top 10 since The Bend, midway through the 2018 season.
He put that right with a strong fourth place finish on Sunday afternoon, where he was followed home by his Brad Jones Racing team-mate Nick Percat. Slade flirted with the top 10 for much of the weekend before finding the sweet spot on Sunday which allowed him to snare a well deserved top five.
Fabian Coulthard (Race 1 Qual 1st, Finish 6th; Race 2 Qual 10th, Finish 20th)
Sunday’s race was a disaster, with Coulthard unable to take a trick, but his pace was still solid, as it had been on Saturday when he banged the Shell V-Power Mustang on pole.
A bobble at the start hampered his race, but he clawed his way back to within 10 seconds of second placed Jamie Whincup, suggesting he would have been capable of running away at the front with team-mate Scott McLaughlin.
Who impressed you most in Adelaide? Cast your vote in this week’s Pirtek Poll.