Nick Percat has collected a career-best finish on Sunday at the Bend SuperSprint to build some important momentum ahead of the gruelling endurance double-header.
A chilly morning in Tailem Bend, just 90 kilometres south-east of home city Adelaide, saw Nick return a low-key pair of 20th-place finishes in the twin Saturday practice sessions before diving headlong into three-part qualifying for the first of the weekend’s three races.
Nick was through Q1 comfortably, but a tight Q2 session saw him eliminated in 11th, just 0.058 seconds off a top-10 berth.
A good launch got him up to what should have been ninth, but he was pinched in a four-car pile-up at the first corner when Jack Le Brocq tipped Will Brown into a spin. Brown in turn knocked Nick’s car, causing damage to his left-rear corner.
Though he clung to 11th in the immediate aftermath, the damaged Mustang left him hamstrung for the rest of the race, and he limped to the flag 18th on a what-if afternoon.
But with all his bad luck seemingly out of the way, Nick enjoyed a much smoother Sunday at the Bend.
He started the afternoon race from 10th and came home 12th, but the evening race was far more productive from a season-best fourth on the grid.
Nick got a sublime launch from the left-hand side of the second row to put himself in some clear air on the run down to the first turn, where he seized second place around the outside of Cam Waters and Thomas Randle and slotted behind leader Brodie Kostecki.
He put up a brave defence of the lofty place ahead of the faster Tickford cars in the opening phase of the race before the places reverted to their starting positions ahead of the first pit stop window, with Nick taking his mandatory tyre change on lap eight of 20.
The second half of the race became a defence against Shane van Gisbergen, but Nick astutely held the fresher shod Kiwi behind him to come home fourth, his best finish of his campaign to date.
“This was a pretty good weekend for car 2. It was a bit of a home race for me, and it was cool to have friends and family here to support.
“Obviously on Saturday in race 1 we had good car speed but picked up a bit of damage, so that didn’t go to plan.
“Then on Sunday we finished 12th on race 2 and fourth in race 3, which was great. It was really good to see the NTI car at the front of the grid — it was much, much nicer. We unlocked a bit of extra car speed in qualifying, but we still need to find a little bit more for the race.
“It’s great to get a bit of momentum heading into the enduros. I’m really keen to get to them now with Fabian Coulthard. Sandown, Bathurst — can’t wait!”
2023 Supercars Championship round 8: Bend SuperSprint
Race 20: (20 laps): started 11th, finished 18th.
Race 21: (20 laps): started 10th, finished 12th.
Race 22: (20 laps): started 4th, finished 4th.
Championship: 21st (819 points).
Next round: Sandown 500, Sandown International Motor Raceway (15–17 September)
Best individual finish: 9th (2016).
Last year’s results (Sandown SuperSprint): 15th, 19th and 22nd.