Nick Percat bade farewell to Walkinshaw Andretti United and the 2023 Supercars season with a difficult weekend on home turf at the Adelaide 500.
The round started strongly, albeit in the wet. The heavens opened ahead of the sole Thursday practice session, and Nick mastered the conditions to run sixth on the opening day.
His single-lap pace was strong around the Adelaide Parklands circuit, but the field remained right when Friday qualifying rolled around. The frenetic session left Nick 13th on the grid, just 0.149 seconds shy of a spot in the top-10 shootout.
Despite first-lap chaos, a clean getaway got Nick into the top 10 after 10 laps, where he spent much of the middle stint after his first stop on lap 25. But a lack of rear grip hurt his race pace in the final stint, and he struggled to make progress after his lap-53 stop, fading to 18th.
Sunday was a new day, and despite continuing optimism about strong qualifying pace, Nick missed out on the season’s last pole shootout after a disrupted qualifying session robbed him of a chance to set a banker lap.
Cameron Hill clipped the inside barrier at the infamous turn 8 and fired his car into the outside barrier, bringing out the red flag. Nick had been only metres from the finish line for his first timed lap, which he was forced to abandon.
Garage 2 gambled on an alternative set-up with time enough for only one more flying lap, but it didn’t pay off, leaving Nick 17th on the grid.
A strong start was enough to hold his place in the midfield, and by lap 5 he was starting to make steady progress forwards, but damage picked up from contact with another car dropped him back down the order before his first pit stop on lap 15.
He was powerless to fight back with his hamstrung car, and after a second stop on lap 47 he limped to the chequered flag 21st.
Sunday night brought to a close Nick’s two-year stint at Walkinshaw Andretti United.
As a parting gift, the team signed the bonnet of car 2 ahead of Sunday’s race, which Nick will take home as a memento of his time with the Clayton squad.
Nick will join the race-winning Matt Stone Racing team in 2024 alongside incumbent Cameron Hill.
The WAU story is over. Unfortunately I didn’t have the fairytale ending, but it’s a tough gig out there. Everyone’s so competitive. It was a tough weekend on the whole. Out one-lap speed was okay; the race pace was not good. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t end as well as we’d hoped.
But now it’s onto next year, and I’m excited to join Matt Stone Racing and see what we can do there. It’s a new chapter and a whole new environment, so that’ll be cool.
I wish WAU and Chaz (Mostert, teammate) especially all the best in the future. Chaz is a mega teammate and an awesome talent. I’m keen to see how he goes in the future. We’ll have a crack in something new!
2023 Supercars Championship round 12: Adelaide 500
Race 27: (78 laps) — started 13th, finished 18th.
Race 28: (78 laps) — started 17th, finished 21st.
Championship: 20th (1230 points).