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Ups and Downs for Moffat in the Top End

Ups and Downs for Moffat in the Top End

Wilson Security GRM driver James Moffat had an up and down weekend in the Top End, as the Supercars Championship rolled into Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway.

Highlights for Moffat included a new lap record, a top-ten performance in the opening race and a third place qualifying effort on Sunday, which unfortunately came to naught when a tyre failure curtailed his charge in the race.

Following 12 races of season 2017, Moffat now sits 12th in the season point score, with the next event scheduled for the streets of Townsville in three weeks' time.

Friday

  • Fine and hot conditions, which started when the Supercars championship first visited the venue 20 years ago, and continued throughout this race weekend.
  • Moffat set the 17th fastest time in the opening 45-minute practice session, before improving to seventh best in the afternoon session.

"It's always great to be back racing in Darwin and it was nice to be back in the car after a few weeks break between races," said Moffat.

"I was pretty happy with the car balance in practice and I felt we showed top ten pace throughout both sessions. 

"We also elected to do a longer race run stint in practice two to see what sort of tyre we could expect over the race distance, and we were pretty pleased with the performance of the car at the end of the day."

Saturday

  • The third and final 45-minute practice session kicked off the day, with Moffat tenth fastest.
  • In the 15-minute qualifying session, Moffat set the 13th quickest lap time.
  • An uncharacteristic slow start saw Moffat complete the first circuit of the 120km opening race in 17th position.
  • Moffat hit the pits on lap 10 of 42 after climbing up to eighth position.
  • A smart strategy saw Moffat run in clear air, setting a new lap record for the circuit with a 1:06.9824sec time on lap 13.
  • Once the pit stop shuffle unfolded on lap 23, Moffat found himself in ninth position, which he held down to the finish.

"I was a little disappointed with qualifying in 13th, as I think we definitely had the potential to be inside the top ten, but the warmer track conditions probably caught us out a little and we didn't quite hit the setup well enough," said Moffat.

"I dug us in a pretty deep hole at the start after I stalled, which was frustrating, as our starts are usually a real strength for us. 

"From that point on I just put my head down to gain back as many positions as possible, the team did a good job to put me in clean air after the pit stop which allowed me to maximise the speed we had in the car. 

"To fight back to ninth and get the race lap record, I thought that was a good recovery after my poor start."

Sunday

  • Birthday boy Moffat set the fifth fastest time in the all-in 20 minute qualifying session, earning his place in the second top-ten shootout contested to date this year.
  • A great showing in the shootout elevated Moffat to third on the starting grid.
  • Another tough getaway from the start saw Moffat settle in sixth.
  • A long first stint saw Moffat pit on lap 16 of 70 from second position, before settling back into ninth place.
  • Car 34 pitted on lap 34 and returned to a heated battle for the second half of the top-ten.
  • When looking set for an eighth-place finish, the left rear tyre of the car deflated on lap 58 on the fast run out of the first corner.
  • Following a slow tour back to the pits, Moffat could only muster an unfortunate 26th place in the final run down.

"Qualifying went really well and the car hooked up really nicely in the cooler morning conditions," said Moffat.

"Our objective was to try and make the top-ten shootout, and qualifying fifth was a great effort from everyone in the team. 

"I was really happy with my lap in the shootout, and I think it's one of the best shootout laps I can remember doing – so it was great to jump up a couple of spots and qualify third. 

"I lost a couple of spots at the start, which wasn't ideal but we settled into a rhythm early on and we were maintaining pretty well in sixth position. 

"Unfortunately we fed back out into some traffic after our first pit stop which hurt our progress through the middle of the race but ultimately a tyre failure with around 12 laps to go ended any chance of another strong top ten result. 

"It was a frustrating way to finish what had been a positive day for us and I feel for all the guys in the team because they deserved a better result for all their hard work. 

"We also lost some valuable driver and team championship points, which was disappointing."

 
 
 
 
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