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Apr 20, 2013

NATIONALS RACE INTO THE DARK AT MALLALA (UPDATED)

THE LIGHTS were turned on at Mallala Motorsport Park this evening, the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals doing it in the dark with a 40-lap feature race for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia the star attraction.

The Kumho V8 Touring Cars and Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series also raced under Mallala’s lights in a cool yet otherwise fine evening, but it was a pressure-cooker Porsche enduro that was the highlight.

Series rookie Richard Muscat won the first of three ‘Jim Richards Endurance Trophy’ events to be held this season, withholding sustained pressure from local driver Michael Almond for much of the race’s 100km distance.

Almond got the jump on his Victorian rival from the front row, but was passed by Muscat on lap five – after several laps of sustained battling. Almond refused to give up from there, shadowing the leading car for the remainder of the race.

The pair of similar 997 Porsche GT3 Cup Cars were never split by more than 2.5 seconds, Muscat even surviving a late-race safety car to take his maiden Porsche victory.

Behind Almond, Fraiser Ross finished third, Phil Woodbury fourth and Porsche legend Peter Fitzgerald fifth.

Matt Hansen scored his maiden victory in the Kumho V8 Touring Cars this evening, winning an entertaining 15-lap battle into the twilight ahead of Tony Evangelou and Terry Wyhoon.

Hansen had qualified second – behind Shae Davies, who scored his second consecutive pole position earlier in the day – but got shuffled to third by the end of the opening lap. Davies led into turn one, but was soon shuffled back to fourth in a frentic opening lap.

Tony Evangelou assumed the lead before Hansen picked him off to take the lead by lap eight.

Davies battled with the leading trio early before contact with Terry Whyoon saw him spun at the Southern Hairpin – ultimately recovering to fifth.

The action packed race included plenty of close racing and several niggling incidents that will undoubtedly fire the field up for their two further races tomorrow.

After stunning the establishment with pole position, Ben Grice faded to third place in the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series race – the 12-lapper held under lights won by South Australian Formula Ford racer, Luke Fraiser.

Mike Gore passed Grice for second on the final lap with the pair completing the podium. Allan Jarvis and Keishi Ayukai completed the top five.

Mallala expert Wayne King won the first Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car series race, leading the race’s entire 14 lap duration.

The Adelaide driver has made limited national appearances during his career, but has dominated state-based competition in both Saloon Cars and HQ Holdens – and he showed that local knowledge counts today.

King beat home round one winner Simon Tabinor and Lindsay Kearns’ Ford Falcon, Tabinor extending his series lead as the first series-registered driver home.

Earlier in the day King had scored pole position by nearly a full half-second, again ahead of Tabinor and Kearns.

Tony Ricciardello scored pole for round two of the Kerrick Sports Sedan Series tomorrow, taking the top spot from Darren Hossack by a comfortable six-tenths of a second in qualifying today.

Ricciardello’s famous Chev-powered Alfa Romeo GTV dropped into the 1m06s today to take an early advantage ahead of tomorrow’s feature Clem Smith Cup race. Hossack will line up alongside Ricciardello once again in his Audi A4.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came with Phil Crompton’s still new TransAM-spec Mustang out qualifying defending champion Kerry Baily’s Aston Martin, the pair to line up tomorrow in third and fourth. Speedy Victorian Daniel Tamasi was fifth.

Tickets for Sunday are available at the gate for $25 (weekend) Kids under 15 are admitted free.

Saturday’s big program will include racing into the evening with V8 Touring Car and Swift Series races to precede the Porsche enduro Saturday evening.