Teen Gives Stars A Big Spray

Teen Gives Stars A Big Spray
2021 Australian Racing Group, Round 2, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia Friday 12th March to Sunday 14th March 2021. DKR50024.CR3 World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz Photographer

No-one was remotely surprised when Supercars veterans Chaz Mostert and Garth Tander each added a victory to their impressive career totals in the mix-and-match ARG championship meeting at Phillip Island.

But everyone was hugely surprised with a 17-year-old burger flipper from McDonalds did the job in a soaking-wet S5000 race he had no business leading, let alone winning.

Cooper Webster hit the front early in the single-seater feature race, drove without a mistake, then resisted intense pressure from Tom Randle to become the youngest winner in the short history of Australia’s new premier single-seater series.

“It’s simple. You just don’t f. . k up,” was the Tander verdict on how to win on a day that produced lots of losers and only a handful of winners.

“It applies to everyone. That kid did a good job.”

Mostert reduced the rest of the TCR Australia Series field to high-speed spectators as he drove to a 32-second victory in an Audi RS3 after qualifying on pole position in only his second TCR meeting.
“It was good fun, to be honest,” said Mostert.

But even he could see, and feel, the hazards.

“I was getting faster and faster. The track was pretty scary. I puckered-up a few times.”

He was followed home by his Audi team mate Luke King with Lee Holdsworth third in an Alfa Giulietta.

2021 © Copyright: Jack Martin Photography Captured at 2021 ARG – Phillip Island on 20210313 by Jack Martin Photography.

Tander had a relatively easy ride to victory in the two-driver GT World Challenge Australia race, sharing an Audi R8 with car owner Yasser Shahin, as Jamie Whincup raced to second while sharing with Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Mostert managed third after a giant delay when Tony Bates was blocked in the pit entry by the Porsche of Stephen Grove.

“I was pretty confident, because Yasser has been doing a really good job. We felt if Yasser got the lead early it would set the race up,” Tander said.

“It got easy when the Porsche had the problem. It was pretty straightforward after that.

“In our race it was just spitting with rain, so the track never really got wet. It wasn’t slippery. You just had to keep the tyre temperature up.”

But things were radically different for Webster, whose only advantage – in a car which is nowhere near as quick as the S5000 front-runners on a dry track – is that he had good visibility as the race leader.

“I had a gap at the beginning so I just did my own race. I was counting down the laps, just praying for the flag,” Webster told Race News.

“I probably surprised myself. I was happy with the way I drove, not making any mistakes.

“I was just waiting for someone to make a lunge. But I was able to hold then off.”

Webster has a background in karting, although his most-recent racing before S5000s was in a Hyundai Excel, and grabbed his golden pass.

“For sure the car doesn’t matter nearly as much in the wet as it does in the dry. The biggest thing was keeping my cool. Not over-thinking it, and staying calm,” he said.

“I just had to stay smart about it. The whole race I was thinking ‘Don’t make a mistake’.

“I had one big moment on a patch of standing water, when the rear got squirmish. And I had a few moments through The Hayshed in the later part of the race.

But he was also enjoying himself.

“The power you feel with the acceleration never gets old. And the downforce and all the grip through the corners makes it exciting every time.”

The Sunday forecast for fine weather means Cooper Webster is unlikely to repeat his web-footed performance but he still has his eye on a race place in Supercars at some time in the future.

Until then, it’s training and planning and McDonalds, ahead of the next leg of the S5000 season at Sandown Park.

2021 Australian Racing Group, Round 2, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia Friday 12th March to Sunday 14th March 2021. DKR59701.CR3 World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz Photographer