Epic Effort gets Nick into the points in Fiery Melbourne SuperSprint
Nick Percat has picked up some valuable points after a dramatic car fire put him out of Saturday’s race and qualifying on Sunday morning.
Nick arrived at the uniquely formatted four-race Melbourne round off the back of a difficult opening round in Newcastle and was immediately up to speed around the super-fast Albert Park track.
On the cold and low-grip temporary circuit on Thursday morning, with the new Gen3 cars struggling for traction, Nick finished a competitive 15th and ninth in practice ahead of twin qualifying sessions and the first race later that same day. He then steered his Mobil 1 NTI Mustang to 10th and 17th for qualifying.
Nick spent race 3 vying for a top-10 finish, but a tyre rule loophole following the declaration of a wet track allowed several rival cars to jump him in the stops, dropping him to 14th at the end of Thursday night. But he fared worse in race 4 on Friday afternoon with the front-left corner of his car ablaze due toa suspected electrical issue in a control component.
He was able to pilot his crackling car back to pit lane and escaped unscathed, but it set up a herculean repair task for his team ahead of qualifying early the following morning. Nick pitched into the effort before being ordered home for sleep, but work continued through the night with only a couple of hours rest in the middle.
The car was ready right on time for qualifying, but after some system checks a red flag left him without a representative time for race 5. He bounced back admirably to qualify 16th for race 6 in the following session.
He gained an impressive nine places on Saturday night in drizzly conditions, up from the back of the grid to 16th, before capping off the weekend with a 20th-place finish on Sunday morning, with both him and his teammate struggling with tyre wear on a much warmer sunny afternoon.
"It was great to be back racing at the Melbourne Grand Prix. It’s always such a big weekend and one that is unique with the short sprint race. As a whole the weekend wasn’t smooth sailing, obviously having car 2 catch fire and damage the car was far from ideal. It’s a huge credit to the WAU team for getting my car back on track. It would have been easy for them to say there’s too much damage and pack it up. A big weekend, glad we have a couple weeks until the next round where we can head back to HQ to work on the car after Friday’s fire. I’m really looking forward to Perth and getting our cars back to the front. It was a testing weekend at the GP, but I know we will bounce back big on the west coast.”
2023 Supercars Championship | Round 2: Melbourne SuperSprint
Race 3: (19 laps): started 10th, finished 14th Race 4: (eight laps): started 17th, did not finish
Race 5: (11 laps): started 25th, finished 16th
Race 6: (13 laps): started 16th, finished 20th
Next round: Perth SuperSprint, Wanneroo Raceway (28–30 April)