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Jul 17, 2013

HAGGARTY AND MUSTON KINGS OF FIRST NEON RADICAL 250 ENDURO

The First Neon Radical 250 was an event not to be missed - 23 Radical drivers & 10 co-drivers, including several given 'pro' status, competed during the longest race the series has ever held - over 250km around Sydney Motorsport Park. Pro drivers doubled as driver coaches - lap records tumbled & many regular drivers set new PB's, SR3's breaking the 1min 30 barrier, whilst the SR8's were down into the 1min 25's and 26's! There's clearly a lot of learning going on in the Radical Australia Cup right now! At the end of it Radical Australia Cup (RAC) series leader Neale Muston continued his recent domination to win both 45 minute legs, whilst SR3 and Radical Australia works driver Simon Haggarty scored two victories in the four-cylinder class – the pair scoring equal points for the weekend.

Muston won the opening 45-minute stanza comfortably over Ash Samadi and Richard Kimber, the leg interrupted by one, two-lap safety car period to remove the stranded Django Racing SR8 driven by John Corbett. Corbett and former international Aussie open-wheel ace Nathan Antunes were a favoured podium combination, though a failure to score points in the opening leg would rule them out of trophy contention regardless of the pro-drivers performance later in the event.

Another fancied combination to strike dramas early was the #9 Radical Australia SR8 RX entry of Chris Medland and James Winslow; Medland dropping from fourth to ninth on lap six. Finishing the first leg eighth put a damper in their chances for an overall placing, with consistency across both legs critical to a big overall result.

The First Neon entry of Peter White and international single seater ace Josh Hunt showed hot pace early on, White one of the first to go under the existing record before making an unscheduled stop with a misfire – an issue which despite quick resolution from his works Radical Australia team had significantly hampered any chance of success.

Simon Haggarty convincingly won the SR3 battle, edging out Nick Kelly by two seconds and Peter Paddon by a further three in a close battle.  Following a 25-minute refuelling break, the second leg saw a number of   ‘pro’ drivers installed in the cars for the next 45-minutes to race amongst themselves and the regular RAC competitors.

Works driver James Winslow rocketed up eight positions on the opening lap of the second leg, incredibly jumping from the fourth row of the grid to an early race lead.  From there he pulled away from Muston, breaking the lap record on lap eight in his effort to extend as big a margin as possible – however, it wasn’t large enough when his time to visit pit lane for a compulsory drive-through penalty came around on lap 13.

Pro drivers were assessed a drive-through handicap as part of their status this weekend, the 30-odd second trundle through the pits at 40km/hr dropping Winslow from the lead to third position.  An earlier safety car also cost Winslow the opportunity to extend the margin required to pit and resume his race within close proximity to his nearest rivals.

The Briton then chased down Ash Samadi and passed him with seven laps to go before setting after the race leader - but the margin would be too great: Winslow got to within seven seconds of Muston by the end of the race, but didn’t quite have enough to catch the runaway leader.

With Winslow second and Samadi third, Nathan Antunes finished the race fourth and Simon Haggarty fifth - first of the SR3s. Ben Porter and Liam Talbot were second and third, respectively, in the SR3 class.

Showcasing the depth of the field and the hot pace at the front, the lap record fell in both legs of the race - five drivers ultimately lapping underneath Neale Muston’s existing Sydney Motorsport Park Grand Prix Circuit benchmark.  Muston took 1.2 seconds out of his previous best in the first leg, before Winslow lowered it further to a remarkable 1m25.70s in the second.

The final results ensured Muston (62 points) beat home Samadi (50) and the pro-am pairing of Winslow / Medland (49) in the SR8 battle, whilst it was Simon Haggarty (62 points) on top of the SR3 class and ahead of Ben Porter / Andrew Macpherson (47) and Liam Talbot (46).

Muston extends his overall Radical Australia Cup lead after the First Neon Radical 250, his 303 points some 53 ahead of Liam Talbot. Simon Haggarty’s strong weekend moves him to third in the overall standings.

Talbot leads Andrew Macpherson and Haggarty in the SR3 Class standings, Muston remaining well ahead of Ash Samadi and Peter White in the battle of the V8’s.

The next round of the Radical Australia Cup will be contested at Phillip Island (with the Shannons Nationals) on September 21-22.