Nick Percat had his chance to build momentum cruelled by yet more Gen3 car issues on a busy two- day weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Nick rolled out of the garage looking competitive in the dual practice sessions on the packed Sydney SuperNight Saturday schedule, which was run to a uniquely lopsided two-race format comprising a 200-kilometre refuelling race on Saturday and a 140-kilometre sprint on Sunday.
With only soft tyres in use for the weekend, Nick ended the pair of 30-minute sessions 10th and 13th respectively and eyeing a similar spot on the grid later that day.
But in an unpredictable dusk qualifying hour that saw the bottom 15 cars separated by only half a second, Nick missed out on a Q2 berth by a slender 0.056 seconds, locking him into 21st on the grid.
He made early progress in the 200-kilometre race to run 19th after five laps, but his car developed a steering issue just three tours of SMP later, and he dropped frustratingly down the order.
A late safety car brought him some joy, bunching the field and allowing him to slog his way back up to 20th despite his car problems.
Nick was set up for another recovery drive on Sunday after a late flurry of qualifying laps conspired to drop him to 25th on the grid, and again his early progress was very strong. He gained five spots on the first lap and another three before the first pit stop cycle began on lap 15, shortly before half distance.
But what should have been a moment to consolidate his progress and target greater gains was spoilt again by unreliability. His power steering failed after he left pit lane for lap 20, leaving him hamstrung in his defence of what was by then 16th place.
He slipped down to 19th at the flag to conclude a tough weekend of car trouble in Sydney, leaving him hoping for cleaner running in his home state for the next round in Tailem Bend.
“It wasn’t a great weekend for car 2, to be honest. We had a little issue in the rear of the car on Saturday, which hurt the result.
“Then on Sunday we had the power steering go midway through the race. We still made up six positions for the day, so the car speed and potential are there, but those little niggling Gen3 things aren’t really going our way.
“It’ll turn for us eventually. We’ll re-prep and get ready for Tailem Bend in South Australia, near Adelaide. It’s a bit of a home race for me, which is exciting, and hopefully car 2, the Mobil 1 NTI car, can have a clean weekend to have a good crack heading into the enduros.”
2023 Supercars Championship round 7: Sydney SuperNight Race
18: (51 laps): started 21st, finished 20th. 200
Race 19: (36 laps): started 25th, finished 19th. 140
Championship: 23rd (659 points).
Next round: The Bend SuperSprint, The Bend Motorsport Park (18–20 August)
Best individual finish: fourth (2019 and 2020).
Last year’s results: 13th, DNF and ninth.