David Reynolds has driven the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang to two top ten finishes as Supercars returned to racing at Sydney Motorsport Park. Round 8 of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship saw a return to racing after more than 100 days, with the Kelly Grove Racing driver in top form as he made the most of the three 32-lap races over the weekend.
“It was a challenging weekend, as we expected, but we made the most of our strategy and avoided some of the carnage for a pretty decent overall result,” said Reynolds.
The return race kicked off as the sun set over the Blue Mountains, with a smart strategy from Reynolds’ P11 starting position as the Kelly Grove Racing Mustang showed off its fresh Penrite livery beneath 132 light posts and more than 800 individual lights.
After a gripping arm wrestle with Fabian Coulthard in the early laps, a masterstroke saw the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang the first of the 24-car field pit, just 10 laps into the 32-lap battle. Changing two tyres on the right-hand side of the car, Reynolds was unleashed into clear air and set his fastest lap, a 1:30.9734, on Lap 11 as he made the most of the undercut.
“We maximised the tyre choice after qualifying to make the undercut, and while we were battling understeer, we made a go of it and it pushed us into the top ten,” said Reynolds. “It was sketchy battling with Fabs in the opening laps on the older rubber but was massive fun and I think we both enjoyed it.”
As the pit stops for the rest of the field were taken, Reynolds drove superbly to be 16th by half-race distance, and only four laps later sat in an impressive sixth pace. Now on the oldest tyres in the field, Reynolds succumbed only to Will Brown – who’d pitted late for four new tyres – in a tenacious drive to seventh place. The #26 Penrite Racing Mustang was the only competitor to finish in the top ten after starting outside it.
Sunday morning’s qualifying saw two back-to-back 10-minute sessions which took place only 10 minutes apart. Conditions were significantly different from the cooler, late afternoon Saturday qualifying session and the cooler night race, which offered more grip than the scattered cloud and warm sun on Sunday.
Reynolds pumped out a 1:29.6482 for P13 in the first session for Race 21, and an early 1:29.4517 in the second qualifying session which would be his fastest of the weekend and put him 15th on the grid for the final race.
Race 21 was another brilliant drive from Reynolds, with a fantastic opening lap seeing the Kelly Grove Racing driver storm from 13th into the tenth, and pick up another position in the #26 Penrite Mustang to be ninth after just two laps.
The pit stops started on Lap 7, with Tim Slade first in from 10th position, with Reynolds climbing to second place before pitting on Lap 18. Rejointing the field in 18th, the Penrite Racing Mustang was back up to 13th once every car had completed their compulsory pit stop.
From here Reynolds took advantage of his pure pace and younger tyres, with a smooth pass on Jack LeBroq behind Corporate Hill to steal 12th place on Lap 21, before coming out on top of a battle with Will Brown and Todd Hazelwood to come home in tenth – his second top ten finish in as many days. Following the race, fifth-placed Anton De Pasquale was disqualified to lift the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang into ninth place.
The final no-holds-barred race of the weekend saw a dramatic set of opening laps, with Reynolds in a batch of cars sometimes five-wide. In the thick of it, the Kelly Grove Racing Mustang was forced onto the grass at the exit of the hairpin, before recovering to complete lap one in a train of side-by-side cars, dropping to P19 before fighting back to 17th at the end of the second lap.
The action went on, with Reynolds passing Brodie Kostecki for 16th and picking off Jack Smith for 15th the following lap.
“It was a free-for-all, and none of us had anything to lose,” said the Penrite Mustang driver. “I managed to miss Hazelwood and avoid damage and I threw up a bit of dust on the exit of the hairpin, but it turned out okay and we could push on to pick up a few more spots.”
Compulsory pit stops started on Lap 7, with Reynolds in pit lane from 14th on Lap 8 to rejoin in 22nd place. Once the pit stops had been completed, the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang was in 13th place after 20 laps, with on-track tussles with James Courtney, Cam Waters and Kelly Grove Racing team mate Andre Heimgartner.
A spot lost to LeBrocq saw damaged minimised as the field struggled in the final few laps with tyre degradation, Reynolds home 14th, bettering his grid spot, for a strong weekend overall.
“A decent result given the tyre challenges at Sydney, and we can build on this. We’re still hunting for more pace, but we’re not far off and it looks good for the coming round, where we’ll have more tyre choice and should be able to push that bit harder.”
Reynolds will be back behind the wheel of the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang for Round 9 of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, The Armor All Sydney SuperNight, at Sydney Motorsport Park on November 6-7.