David Reynolds Ford Mustang in Townsville, 2022

Tough Townsville for David Reynolds

David Reynolds set some fast times and ran as high as second over a tough weekend in Townsville that didn’t reflect the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang driver’s recent strong form. The NTI Townsville 500 saw Reynolds struggle to match the pace he’s shown in season 2022, despite a clean weekend where he managed to avoid much of the on-track carnage.

“We started off okay, but we just didn’t have the consistent pace to challenge the fastest cars,” said Reynolds. “We showed some speed, but we couldn’t put it together to qualify higher, and where we started was unfortunately a genuine show of the pecking order.”

The second round in Northern Australia for 2022, the weekend saw the first long-race format, with a pair of 250km races around the Reid Park Street Circuit in Townsville’s CBD.

The Penrite Racing Mustang was impressively quick when it was rolled out of the truck for Friday Practice, setting the early pace in the first session and being in the mix with the top group of Supercars drivers.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session saw Reynolds agonisingly close to making the Top Ten Shootout, a mere 0.04sec away from the final spot in the ten-car session. Starting P11 for the afternoon’s Race 19, there was consolation in that the race was a 250-kilometre 88-lap affair.

Reynolds was one of only three competitors to start the race on the faster Super Soft tyre, which revealed a grip advantage over rivals who used the Hard Dunlop to travel further into the race. Reynolds charged through the field early, taking full advantage of the Super Soft to pass Pole Sitter Shane van Gisbergen before rounding up Will Davison at the final turn on Lap 10 to sit second behind Tim Slade, who was also running the faster Dunlop.

The first of the compulsory pit-stops came on Lap 15 when Todd Hazelwood pitted, with Reynolds staying out on the Super Soft tyre, whose pace advantage ended around Lap 22 as the wear rate saw runners on the Hard tyre match the Super Soft lap times.

Reynolds pitted on Lap 28 and fitted the Hard tyre, rejoining in P13. The slower Hard tyre saw Reynolds slip down the field, as the strategy of running the Super Soft later in the race proved more effective. Reynolds finished 18th.

“We rolled the dice by starting on the Super Softs – only two other cars did, but it didn’t really pay off for any of us,” Reynolds said. “We had to maximise the advantage early in the race, but in hindsight the cars that used the Super Soft later had less fuel and were able to make better use of it.”

Overnight the Penrite Racing Mustang was significantly changed in terms of set-up, Reynolds pushing to make the Top Ten Shootout – which he did, with the 10th-best time in qualifying.

The shootout saw a slippery track courtesy of oil dropped from incidents during support races challenge the Supercars drivers, Reynolds intelligently negotiation the unknown grip levels to jump a spot to start ninth for Race 20.

The Saturday strategy of starting on the Super Soft was switched on Sunday, Reynolds starting the race on Hard Dunlops and avoiding a significant first-lap incident between Davison and Scott Pye to run seventh when a Safety Car was called.

With the restart on Lap 4, Reynolds battled to be in seventh position when he stopped on Lap 29. Fitting more Hard tyres, Reynolds climbed from 17th as he exited pit lane to be 13th two laps later before passing Andre Heimgartner for 11th on Lap 33. This became 10th when Percat pitted.

From ninth place Reynolds’ second stop on Lap 59, a set of Super Softs was strapped onto the #26 Penrite Mustang and saw a rapid Reynolds the fastest car on the circuit, charging from 19th to ninth when passing teammate Holdsworth on Lap 65. The following lap, Reynolds passed Slade, who he had been in a race-long battle with, before a sizzling dice with Heimgartner to grab seventh place on Lap 69.

With the advantage of the fresh Super Softs eroding, Reynolds managed to hold on in the dying stages of the 88-lap race, coming home in 11th place as the chequered flag was waved.

The weekend saw Reynolds fall down the championship ladder from fifth place to seventh, on 1234 points, in what was essentially damage limitation.

Reynolds returns to the track in the #26 Penrite Racing Mustang for Round 8 of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship, the OTR SuperSprint, on July 29-31 at The Bend Raceway, South Australia. Tickets are available here.

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