It’s race-day in the Top End.
After crocodiles and cricket, and a bunch of other fun stuff, the Supercars circus gets down to business at Hidden Valley at the start of the most intensive series of racing in touring car history.
The double-run in Darwin is followed by another double-header at Townsville and already the drivers are itching to go.
“I’m just glad that we’ve been able to make it happen. Hopefully we can put on a few smiles for everyone in the Territory,” says championship leader Scott McLaughlin.
The defending Supercars champion is also defending the Darwin Triple Crown and is confident he has the Shell Mustang to do the job, despite a change to a three-sprint format with the overall winner decided by points totals on Sunday afternoon.
“I’ve always enjoyed this track. Everyone is going to be able to have the chance to win it this year. It’s going to be a lot of fun to try and go back-to-back,” he says.
Ace photographer Daniel Kalisz is on the sport for Race News and delighting in the bright lighting and the chance to put his cameras to good use.
He has the only local driver in the field, main-game rookie Bryce Fullwood, for a sunset shoot and also captures Scott Pye waiting for action in the pitlane.
“I’ll be the first Territorian to race a Supercar here. It’s a pretty big achievement,” says Fullwood.
“It’s pretty cool to come home. I’m really keen to be up here and be with my family. Haven’t been to Darwin for quite a while.”
But Fullwood, who lines up alongside Chaz Mostert in a WAU Commodore, also knows his homecoming is also a work weekend.
“We’re really looking forward to the race ahead and happy to be here. For me, being a rookie, if I can be somewhere between Top 10 and Top 15 I’ll be really happy.
“We have to maximise what we’ve got on the Saturday. We’ll see how we go, but just really looking forward to the challenge.”
Hidden Valley is the first race since the Adelaide 500 with a reasonable spectator attendances, with 4500 fans for each of the dour days in Darwin, and Fullwood knows what it means to the locals.
“For a lot of Territorians it’s a really big event for the year. It’s still really cool that we can have some people, and have the most people that we’ve had so far,” he says.
The BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown is being broadcast live on Ten, Fox Sports and streaming on Kayo, with live coverage on Foxtel channel 506 from 11.15am today.
But, even with racing about to resume and the challenge of winning and protecting his championship lead, Scott McLaughlin already has his eyes on another prize before he lines up for Darwin2 next weekend.
“I’m going to go fishing next week, so I’m excited,” he laughs.