20/04/2024

Matt Stone Racing's Nick Percat gave the team its second ever win. Image: Matt Stone Racing

Nick Percat was the surprise winner of a chaotic final race in Melbourne, his first in nearly four years.

Ford cars, this time Matt Payne and Chaz Mostert, once again ran into one another while battling for the lead, opening the door for an all-Chevrolet podium.

Mostert closed up again but ran into the back of Payne into the fast turn nine on lap four, forcing both off the road.

Percat inherited the lead and was able to see off pressure from both Triple Eight cars, first from Feeney on lap eight, when the Matt Stone Racing driver crisscrossed and got back underneath the Red Bull.

The Red Bulls were out of position in qualifying but quickly moved back through the field together, and finally after five races locked together on track this year, there was a head-to-head battle between the teammates.

When Feeney attacked again at turn 13, he was run out wide and an opportunity opened for Will Brown. The pair, battling for the Larry Perkins Trophy, ran side-by-side down the Walker Straight and then to turn three.

The championship leader held around the outside of the corner and was on the inside for turn four, slipping past his teammate and released to chase Percat.

Brown built pressure on Percat for the last five laps but couldn’t make a pass on the Bendix Camaro. Brown was second and Feeney third, all three within a second of each other.

The result gives Matt Stone Racing its second win in its history and ends Triple Eight’s perfect run in 2024.

Off the back of a disastrous two seasons with Walkinshaw Andretti United, in which he finished no higher than 15th in the championship, Percat said he “hated every second of that mob”.

“When I met Matt [Stone] and the team and understood what they were doing there, I thought, I’ve got to be in this car,” he said.

Percat spoke about how the drivers in the karting team that he spearheads motivated him to continue racing in Supercars.

“I got pretty low,” he said.

“I was trying to avoid coming to the track, I’d get here as late as possible, leave as quick as possible. But it’s pretty cool when you can have young karters who dream to race cars motivate you so much when it’s getting so tough.”

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His tactics were in contrast to the Triple Eight cars in the previous races, where instead of controlling the pace at the front to conserve tyres, he pushed harder and pulled a gap on the field. The leading trio finished nearly ten seconds ahead of fourth-placed Thomas Randle.

“When I got to third, I could see Payne and Chaz looked like they weren’t actually that quick and my game plan was to get to the lead,” Percat said.

“Then I wanted to play the opposite game of what [Feeney and Brown] were doing and I was trying to stretch the field, make them chase me, minimal tyre save, and just see what happened, and it obviously worked out well.”

As he accrued the most points across the weekend at Albert Park, Will Brown will walk away with the Larry Perkins Trophy.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “There’s been some great names win this trophy and I was just excited to get that.

“I’d like to be first and not second, I’ve gotten three seconds in a row, but it’s still awesome points and an awesome result.”

Throughout the breathless, aggressive Supercars racing this weekend at Albert Park, the driving has been fair for the most part. Then yesterday’s incident between Cam Waters and Matt Payne set the tone for today.

Shortly after the incident with Mostert, Payne was turned at the first corner by Bryce Fullwood, sending the Mustang to the back of the field.

There were other incidents for Jack Le Brocq, who was out of the race after copping damage from Thomas Randle when they got together on lap one, and his Erebus teammate Todd Hazelwood, who was spun around by James Courtney at turn nine and had to nurse damage to the end.

Cameron Hill, in a battle pack for seventh with a number of cars, was forced into the gravel trap at turn six by Ryan Wood on the last lap.

The stewards were busy, applying five-second penalties to Mostert, Fullwood and Courtney but a much harsher 30-second penalty to Wood.

Mostert dropped one spot to fifth due to the penalty, followed by Will Davison in sixth, while Anton De Pasquale didn’t even start the race after a suspension problem appeared on the formation lap.

Supercars will now travel overseas to a new venue in New Zealand for the Taupo Super400 from 19-21 April.

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