Weekend Motorsport Wrap-Up

Jul 8, 2024

Kiwis were busy in the States this weekend, with an incredible win and a couple of heartbreaking DNFs. Champagne was also flowing for our drivers closer to home, with great results in Supercars and Porsche Sprint Challenge.

Ups and downs in the Windy City for SVG

NASCAR returned to Chicago this weekend for the first time since Shane van Gisbergen made history by winning on debut on the city streets. The three-time Supercars champ was pulling double duties, competing in both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races for Kaulig Racing.

SVG picked up right where he left off last year, winning the Xfinity race after a race-long, caution-filled battle with NASCAR great Kyle Larson. “I thought we were going to run out of laps with all the yellows, but made good decisions, passed a lot of people, and won the race, so not too bad,” said Shane van Gisbergen.

The Cup race was a different story. After a middling qualifying that saw him start P5 on the grid, SVG was able to move up the field and become the favorite for the win. The rain that had been building over the course of the race continued to intensify, with drivers beginning to be caught out by the conditions. One of those drivers was Chase Briscoe, who lost control and nudged SVG into the barriers hard enough to end the Kiwi’s race early.

“Of course, I’m disappointed. We had a really amazing Camaro there, and Kaulig Racing/Trackhouse gave us a great car. We were able to lead and I felt like I was driving well within myself. So, it’s a shame to be out so early and a shame we couldn’t have a proper crack at it at the end.”

Matt Payne takes first victory of the year in Townsville

It’s been a long wait since his first win at the end of last year, but Matt Payne finally returned to the top step of the podium with a stormer of a race in Townsville. After finishing P4 in Race 13, it was clear that Payne had pace on the street circuit. It would be an aggressive three-stop strategy that’d win the 21-year-old Kiwi his second-ever victory.

Starting in P10, Payne progressively climbed up the order, running in P4 when he pitted on Lap 19. This early work put him in a strong position for the strategy game over the rest of the race. The Penrite Racing driver would pit two more times and take a comfortable victory, sitting 9.5 seconds ahead of his closest competitor at one point.

Ryan Wood also ran the three-stop strategy, securing one of his best finishes of the season in P6.

Dixon DNF’s in Mid-Ohio

Scott Dixon’s IndyCar Championship title hopes have taken a major hit at Mid-Ohio after he was forced to retire on the formation laps with an electronic issue.

It was the first race of the IndyCar Hybrid era, with the cars running a new electrified powertrain. The six-time IndyCar champion seems to have been a victim of teething problems with the new system, and now sits 71 points behind Alex Palou in the championship.

Compatriot Scott McLaughlin managed to secure a podium, a strong result after some tricky weekends for the Supercars champion.

Surprise victory for late-called Chris van der Drift in Thailand

Chris van der Drift found himself on one of the world’s most challenging street circuits after being called by Toro Racing to take the reins of their #99 car as the series went to Bangsean. He made it worth the trip, with a win in the opening race of the weekend.

The 38-year-old nearly made it a double for good measure, finishing less than a second off the leader in the second race.

Marco Giltrap also made the trip to Thailand and earned some strong results on the unforgiving circuit, with P5 in Race 1 and P6 in Race 2.

Townsville triple-podium for Brock Gilchrist

Brock Gilchrist stepped onto the podium no less than three times in Townsville, on the Porsche Sprint Challenge’s first-ever outing on a street circuit.

Gilchrist finished P2 in the first and second race of the weekend, with a P3 in Race 3. Crucially, however, the NZ GT4 Champion finished behind key championship rival Oscar Targett in each outing. 

This leaves Gilchrist second in the championship, 26 points adrift of Targett. The pair are pulling away from the rest of the competition, with third-placed Hamish Fitzsimmons 89 points behind Gilchrist.

Hedge falls just short of podium in Mid-Ohio

Callum Hedge arrived at the Mid-Ohio circuit hunting for his first Indy NXT victory. While he wouldn’t step on the top step of the podium, he’d have one of his strongest weekends this year.

It was the 20-year-old’s best qualifying in the series so far, securing a P4 start for the race.

It would be a drama-free race for the Kiwi, finishing where he started in P4. The result has jumped Hedge up to P4 in the championship, with a 95-point deficit to third-placed Caio Collet.

Sceats’ toughest weekend of the season

Liam Sceats was looking on for a great result at Mid-Ohio after the weekend’s initial practice sessions, with his pace putting him in the mix at the front of the field.

That pace wouldn’t translate to the race for the young Kiwi, finishing P14 in the opening race of the weekend. A DNF in race 2 after an incident would make matters worse, dropping him to P5 in the championship, 95 points behind leader Lochie Hughes.