Aside from ace Cameron Waters posting the second fastest time in Practice 1, the Tim Edwards-led squad has struggled to feature at any stage during the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight this weekend.
Its Friday night focus on long runs amounted to little in Race 20, with Waters placing 13th and stable-mates Jack Le Brocq and James Courtney both finishing outside the top 20 while fellow Ford outfit Dick Johnson Racing stormed to victory courtesy of an in-form Anton De Pasquale.
It made for a sour note to launch the flurry of events to wrap up the season for a Tickford team that had won the final race before the break in sensational fashion.
“There's no hiding from that one, we just missed tonight,” Edwards said post-race.
“Each car had its own smaller issues – Cam had traffic, Jack had some damage, and JC started way back – but we just didn't have the cars in the window to compete how we should.
“After such a long wait to get back racing it's certainly frustrating to come out like that, but we'll wear it and move on to tomorrow.”
Waters labelled the 32-lapper “a race to forget”.
“In the race we just didn't have much to fight with,” said the 2020 championship runner-up.
“I had a little miscue on my stop just getting out of the box, that cost us a little time and then towards the end I got stuck behind a couple cars, I was faster than them but just couldn't get by, unfortunately we just didn't have the balance to get it done.
“It's a really frustrating result, we're better than that and we're not far from having something better to talk about, but yeah, we just didn't have the pace tonight to do much more.”
Le Brocq, who will head to Matt Stone Racing next season, felt a decent result had gone begging.
“It's a tough pill to swallow, that one,” he said.
“I actually had a pretty good start and the car was okay overall, we were just trucking along and then obviously the long stop really hurt us.
“It looks like the guard was almost holding the tyre on so the boys struggled to get it off in the stop, it is what it is but it probably kept us from a reasonable finish which is disappointing.”
Courtney simply called it a tough day at the office.
“Unfortunately in the race we just didn't have the balance anywhere near where we needed it, and at that point we just had what we had so I just got it to the end,” said Courtney.
“It's hard to be positive but we had a good start, and a good stop on my car so credit to the boys for that, we just have to work hard to put a better car together for [today].”
The first of two back-to-back qualifying sessions this morning gets underway at 10:30 local time/AEDT.