Nick Percat left Hidden Valley Raceway wondering what could’ve been after a series of incidents masked strong improvements in race pace at the Darwin Triple Crown.

Nick arrived in Darwin after a strong weekend in Launceston, but his Mobil 1 NTI Racing car was less quick to get up to speed in the far warmer Northern Territory climes.

After a pair of 30-minute practice outings car 2 was 13th and 21st fastest, albeit with the entire field spread across less than 0.7 seconds in the second session of track action.

Changes were made for qualifying, but they weren’t enough to propel Nick further up the field, leaving him 26th on the grid.

An aggressive start saw Nick up six places in the first four laps and looking good for big gains, but an early safety car locked in the status quo when most of the field took their mandatory pit stops on lap 5, requiring drivers to eke life out of their tyres on the sizzling track.

He was then run off the road at the final corner by Thomas Randle, costing him three places and leaving him down on straight-line speed in the second half of the race thanks to car damage. He nonetheless finished 18, seven places up from his starting position.

A much smoother qualifying run on Sunday saw Nick start seventh in the afternoon race and cruising towards a top-10 finish after a mid-distance lap-16 pit stop, but contact with David Reynolds earnt him a 15-second penalty that dropped him to 19th.

The final race of the weekend called for another sterling recovery drive after qualifying 24th on the grid, but he was equal to the task.

He propelled himself up seven places in the first 10 laps before taking a late pit stop on lap 21, and some incisive late passing late secured him 15th, up nine places on his grid slot.

“Overall I think as a team we made some good improvements to the car. Obviously qualifying is a key area that as a group here we need to improve.

“I loved having the Indigenous livery on the car; it's amazing to see how good the two cars looked.

“We'll keep on punching and hopefully roll up to Townsville a little bit quicker and have a good result there.”


2023 Supercars Championship round 5: Darwin Triple Crown

Race 13: (35 laps): started 26th, finished 18th.

Race 14: (35 laps): started seventh, finished 19th.

Race 15: (35 laps): started 24th, finished 15th.

Championship: 23rd (467 points).

Next round: Townsville 500, Reid Park Street Circuit (7–9 July)

Best individual finish: fourth place (2014, 2020 and 2021).

Last year’s results: 13th and 12th