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THE most successful team in the history of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship underwent a transformation for the 2018 season with some heavy-hitting names in world motorsport joining the Walkinshaw family in creating Walkinshaw Andretti United.
Ryan Walkinshaw’s connection with Andretti Autosport and United Autosports brought together organisations with rich histories of success in a variety of motorsport categories, making for an exciting new chapter in the team’s history as it rolled out of a pair of new shape ZB Commodores for the new season.
Once known as the Holden Racing Team, the team - now under the Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing banner - rolled out for its debut event at the season-opening Adelaide 500 in South Australia with James Courtney and Scott Pye returning for their second year together as teammates.
And it proved to be Courtney who was first onto the podium, recording a brilliant second place in Race 1 after qualifying third in the Top 10 Shootout.
The 2010 Supercars Champion kept the pressure on eventual winner Shane van Gisbergen but was unable to get by. However, scoring the first podium for WAU in the team’s new era and on the race debut of the new ZB Commodore (making it a 1-2 for the new model car) proved to be a brilliant achievement.
“It’s the start of a long journey, but it’s great that it’s begun so well,” said Courtney post-race.
“Typically, we go well here anyway, but the car was really strong, it was easy to drive, and it was extremely consistent and predictable.
“Shane just had that little bit more than me at the end but it’s still a great result, and a great reward for everyone’s hard work over the break.”
Courtney - who swapped to car number 25 for the new season to celebrate Mobil’s 25th season with Walkinshaws in Supercars racing - was forced to fight back on Sunday from a lowly 14th on the grid to come home sixth after an entertaining scrap with Craig Lowndes.
For teammate Pye the weekend was packed with positives as the team left Adelaide with four top 10 results from four attempts.
The South Australian native finished 10th on Saturday from 13th on the grid and improved further on Sunday by coming home eighth from 15th on the grid.
“It was nice to have a positive afternoon and grab a top 10 finish in the end,” said Pye post Race 2.
“We thought we could have been a little higher up in qualifying, so it wasn’t going to be an easy afternoon, but the car was really good, and the strategy worked well.
“To have both cars inside the 10 in both races is a really solid start to the year for the whole team.”
Perhaps the ultimate sign though of the success of the debut of Walkinshaw Andretti United’s new era was the fact that the Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing squad left Adelaide in the lead of the coveted Supercars Team’s Championship, its results proving the best of all teams over the course of the first weekend of the new season.
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