Sep 23, 2012
WILD WEATHER BRINGS WILD RACING AT PHILLIP ISLAND
TORRENTIAL rain turned to blue skies and sunshine as Round 7 of the Shannons Nationals Presented by Hi-Tec Oils experienced all four seasons at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, in Victoria, today.
Six national-level categories produced typically competitive racing, another thrilling one-hour Australian GT Championship enduro again a highlight of the day producing a race that went right down to the closing stages.
After narrowly finishing second to V8 legend Craig Lowndes yesterday, German driver Maro Engel returned serve today by taking his Mercedes Benz SLS AMG to a convincing victory – but he had to work for it.
The top four cars – Engel, Lowndes plus title contenders Klark Quinn (Porsche) and Peter Hackett – all emerged from the pit stop window locked together in a furious four-car battle for the lead.
Quinn was leading but ultimately relented to Engel and later Hackett and Lowndes but not before a highly competitive battle ensured.
Whilst Engel pulled away in the final 15 minutes to record a comfortable victory, the battle for second between Lowndes and Hackett went down to the wire; the GT points leader ultimately holding on to give the Erebus team their second 1-2 at Phillip Island this season.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia saved their best to last, a thrilling third and final race of the weekend – and the season – won by Jeff Bobik after an eight-car battle for the entire eight laps.
With Bobik looking likely to move onwards from the Porsche series next year, it was an ideal way for the successful racer to end his Porsche series career. However the big winner was Kane Rose, who won another round to end his championship-winning season on a high.
Having taken race one yesterday, Rose won the second of three races this morning in wet conditions before going on to finish third in the hugely competitive season finale’ – enough to seal the round.
Bobik and Phil Woodbury completed the round podium at the end of another competitive Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season.
Josh Hunter rebounded from a tough run of recent luck in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series, The Finance-EZI Falcon driver backing up yesterday’s success with two more victories today to claim his third round win of the season.
Hunter’s win came in the same week that he finished high school and he will now take a handy 40-point lead over Jim Pollicina into the final round at Sandown in November.
The young gun even overcame a five-second-jump start penalty in Race 2 to still claim a clean sweep of wins – the first time it has occurred in the series since he did it in the opening round at Eastern Creek in March.
After holding a 20-point advantage coming into the weekend, Pollicina’s title aspirations took a major hit when he spun out of Race 2, became bogged on the wet grass and failed to finish.
He fought back and finished second in the final race and wound up fourth for the round, behind Tony Evangelou and Matt Hansen.
Whilst a German ace won in GT, British driver James Winslow won the final round of the 2012 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship, today – ending a season he had dominated.
Winslow won the feature race this afternoon in a day that began with 17-year-old rookie Hayden Cooper winning the morning’s second sprint race in stunning fashion with a masterful wet weather performance.
It was a big win – but when conditions dried Winslow’s emphatic lights-to-flag victory was enough to put an exclamation mark on a dominant season, Winslow just edging away from outgoing champion Chris Gilmour and team-mate Steel Guiliana to take the win.
South Australia’s Josh Kean has hit back after a disastrous fourth round to win the fifth one of the seven-round Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series at Phillip Island on September 23.
The young Australian Crash Holden Commodore driver barely made the top ten in qualifying but surged to fourth in the shortened race one before posting two race wins to take the round overall, ahead of Victorian Travis Lindorff and West Australia’s Garry Hills.
In direct contrast to the Queensland round where Ford drivers make up the podium, this round produced a Holden shutout with Commodores filling the top eight placings.
Race one winner and series leader Simon Tabinor looked likely to be unbeatable until the final lap of race two when his Commodore broke its gearbox and had to retire. He started the third from the rear of the grid and in a sensational drive, stormed through to third place, ultimately finishing sixth for the round behind Nathan Callaghan and Shaun Woodhouse.
Neale Muston won the sixth round of the Radical Australia Cup, after Sunday’s race ended with a two-lap dash to the flag on a wet track.
With a majority of the field on slick tyres, the field managed to hold on and reach the flag in a frenetic end to a competitive weekend of racing.
It was Muston’s first ever Radical round win outside of New South Wales, affirming his position at the top of the standings as the series’ heads into its final round, in October.
He beat Peter Johnston and Oliver Smith to the round win, with Tony Haggarty taking out the masters division.
Action from Round 7 of the Shannons Nationals presented by Hi-Tec Oils will continue at Goulburn’s Wakefield Park Raceway on October 13-14.