Edwards: Wildcards showcasing Best to Tickford and rivals

Zak Best

Tickford Racing CEO Tim Edwards is eagerly awaiting the next step in Super2 protege Zak Best’s journey this weekend, even if he can’t guarantee there’ll be a main game opening at his squad next year.

Best will make his solo Repco Supercars Championship debut as a wildcard at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown, in a fifth Tickford Racing Mustang.

The Benalla product could become a factor in the fast approaching silly season, having impressed as a co-driver last year at Bathurst.

Best joined the Tickford stable last year as Broc Feeney’s replacement, and went on to finish runner-up to Feeney in the 2021 Super2 Series. He led the second-tier standings after Round 1 this year before a nightmare Perth event set him back.

Now his chance on big stage has arrived.

“We have seen what he can do in Super2 over the last 18 months and we all saw what he did at Bathurst last year as a co-driver, so it’s going to be a great opportunity,” Edwards told Speedcafe.com.

“I’m trying to temper his expectations; it’s a tough field and it’s not a track that he’s done a huge amount of mileage at, but it’s all part of the journey and that’s what it has got to be treated as.

“He’s not going there to be naïve enough to be thinking he’s going to be standing on the top step of the podium. It’s about learning and it’s what these wildcards are for, it is for these young guys to try to get ready for that transition to the next step.

“It is a big jump between Super2 and the main series.”

Tickford has a proud history of bringing talent through the ranks, including with two of its current four Supercars full-timers in Cameron Waters and Thomas Randle.

Asked whether Best could join that club next year, Edwards was cagey.

“This is all part of the apprenticeship, isn’t it? You do the wildcards, and whether it’s for us or somebody else, this is him showcasing his abilities to everybody,” he said.

“It’s part of the journey he has got to take and I’ve no doubt at some point he’ll make it to the main series, that’s for sure.”

Citing examples such as Chaz Mostert’s loan to Dick Johnson Racing in 2013 and Randle’s step away from Tickford to win the 2020 Super2 crown with MW Motorsport, Edwards acknowledged that “sometimes you do have to part ways temporarily”.

“You can never promise anything; you don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s why I call it a journey,” he continued.

“Obviously any young driver, they want it to be yesterday when they make it to main series, but you have got to wait for the appropriate seats to become available and all the stars to align, and that’s just part of the game.”

Whether Tickford does have any seats available is a question mark.

Waters is under contract until the end of 2023, while “multi-year” deals were announced late last year for both James Courtney and Jake Kostecki.

“Well, all of those things would be commercial in confidence,” Edwards chuckled when prompted on the matter.

Tickford enters Hidden Valley Raceway on the back of a bumper Winton round where Waters won two of the three races.

The Ford outfit has since spent a test day, where Edwards indicated some level of development items had been in play.

“We always align our test days for when we have got something to test,” he explained of why Tickford tested at Winton post-event, and not pre-event like most others.

“We try not to get suckered into the whole ‘you have got to test two weeks before the race’. For us it’s more about we’ll test when we’ve got something to test.”

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