Apex Crystal Ball: 2017 ITM Auckland SuperSprint

Apex Crystal Ball: 2017 ITM Auckland SuperSprint
October 30, 2017 | 10:30 am | Author: Steven Wright

In a new regular preview feature, replacing our editorial predictions, will focus on the favourites and the darkhorses for the upcoming Supercars round, 2017 ITM Auckland SuperSprint.

Favourites:

Scott McLaughlin

Heading back home as a true championship favourite will pump the 23-year-old Kiwi for two strong results in the Shell V-Power Racing. The weak point for this car could be Ludo Lacroix, as he sat on the sidelines when Roland Dane learned that the talented Frenchman was heading to this team. However, DJR Team Penske has been very strong at this circuit after Pye scoring podiums in both years since Penske’s brought the majority stake in the team.

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Jamie Whincup

As it’s the business time in the championship, this is the time the Red Bull star performs, scoring a lot of his Supercars career victories also being the championship leader for the first time this year might give him an extra boost. Winning at Pukekohe previously has put him as a strong favourite winning either race at Pukekohe, and also becoming the first repeat winner of the Jason Richards trophy.

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David Reynolds

The class clown, sorry current Bathurst 1000 champion has been very strong in the very recent races. Back on the 2016-spec Dunlop Hard tyre this weekend, last time this spec was used was Bathurst, and the Penrite Holden qualified 2nd and won the race. Reynolds also had some previous success at the Auckland circuit after winning one of the races in 2015 while racing for Prodrive.

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Shane van Gisbergen

Racing on home soil will play to this Red Bull racer’s advantage. He showed last year how good he really is by winning two of the four Pukekohe races last year and got the Jason Richards trophy. Getting a podium and the collecting the most points on the Gold Coast will put him on a good roll for him to put a strong performance in front of family and friends, meanwhile being the top driver ever at Pukekohe, 3.9 finishing average – better than Murphy’s 5.9 average.

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Chaz Mostert

Mostert has been a top scorer since the Ipswich round making him a strong contender for strong results at Pukekohe. He hasn’t got a victory at the Auckland but his finishing average is pretty good, 9.6 but two podiums in the two years racing at the circuit will keep him honest this year.

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Darkhorse:

Scott Pye

The 27-year-old South Australian has been very strong at this circuit, abit being in a different team than this year. Pye scored a podium finish on both Sundays racing for DJR Team Penske but to do the same for Walkinshaw Racing, the Holden will need to find the critical qualifying pace. Pye has a strong finishing average of 8.9 at Pukekohe.

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Mark Winterbottom

The 2015 champion is having another disaster year, worst since joining Prodrive Racing Australia in 2006. The Prodrive veteran has been a top five and race winning contender previously but this year he victorious experience has been absent. The team’s speed at Bathurst has kept him on this list.

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Cam Waters

Man, Waters has been on a roll of the late and has had the Richie Stanaway factor the last two months. Now he is back on his own and needs to perform at this circuit but expect him to be the number 2 Prodrive Racing driver with Wintebottom being outclassed by the younger two racers.

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Photo: Alan Suter, Daniel Kalisz