Nov 4, 2013
TITLE THRILLERS SET FOR SUPER SANDOWN
TWO THRILLING national titles will be on the line when the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals completes the 2013 season at Sandown Raceway.
Billed as ‘Super Sandown’, the final round of nine this year features two title deciders that are likely to go down to the final race of the year - and two other major championship titles yet to be decided that could go either way.
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And in the middle of Melbourne’s Spring Racing carnival, these title battles will quite literally be sprints to the flying finish.
The Kerrick Sports Sedan Series and Australian Swift Racing Series titles are set to go down to the wire, with the thundering Sports Sedans featuring a title fight that includes five drivers with a very realistic chance of success.
Australia’s fastest ‘tin tops’ championship sees Mazda RX7 driver Bruce Banks leading fifth-placed Daniel Tamasi (Holden Calibra) by just 57 points with Shane Bradford (Camaro), Tony Ricciardello (Alfa-Chev) and Kerry Baily (Aston - Chev) in between.
Things are even tighter in the one-make Swift Racing Series with Luke Fraser and Benjamin Grice locked together at the top of the standings with 630 points apiece.
Each series will have three sprint races to decide their respective champions at the challenging, high-speed 3.2km circuit in Melbourne’s South Eastern suburbs.
It’s the Kerrick series that has featured one of the most unpredictable championship campaigns of any national series this year with a variety of drivers taking their turn at the top of the standings.
Three different drivers have led the championship across the four rounds contested to date, with the biggest swing of all occurring at the series’ most recent round at Phillip Island.
Seven-time champion Tony Ricciardello led after round one before dropping as low as fourth following the series third round at Queensland Raceway, in August, after a series of reliability issues cost him points.
Six-time champion Kerry Baily assumed the lead at the second round and maintained it through round three, however his quest for back-to-back titles and a record-equalling seventh crown came unstuck at Phillip Island in September.
There, he slipped from first to fourth in the standings but remarkably remains just 40 points from the outright points lead.
The biggest winners at Phillip Island were perennial underdogs, Bruce Banks and Camaro driver, Shane Bradford; Whilst Bradford maintained second in the standings, a strong round from Banks in his recently rebuilt RX-7 saw him rocket from fourth to first in the standings.
He now has a 22-point margin at the top of the table.
The biggest wildcard of all remains Audi driver, Darren Hossack, who is out of the championship calculations for the first time in several seasons.
Without the weight of championship expectations on him, Hossack is likely to go all out for race victories in his thundering Chev-powered Audi and in the process possibly denying his closest rivals – Baily and Ricciardello – valuable championship points.
A thrilling round at Wakefield Park in October has tied the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series up between Luke Fraser and Ben Grice, the Sandown finale’ literally a winner-take-all proposition.
Fraser has won three rounds to Grice’s two – but late season form saw the second-generation driver charge back into championship contention after a slow start to the season. Fraser’s recent Wakefield Park round win returned him to the top of the standings, equal to Grice on 630 points.
The pair has dominated this season, having been remarkably evenly matched as the one-make championship heads towards another thriller of a championship showdown.
Twelve months ago Allan Jarvis sealed his second series title by just one point after a stunning final race showdown with Reece Murphy. Jarvis, who sits just 27 points away from the leaders in third entering the final round this year, remains a very realistic chance of a third consecutive Swift Series crown.
Jarvis is the only one of the three with prior Swift series experience at Sandown – potentially giving him a leg up in the title fight.
The Kumho V8 Touring Car series and the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship both have titles yet to be decided – through both respective series leaders are in substantially more comfortable situations.
Shae Davies leads the V8 standings by a comfortable 91 points, whilst home-town hero Tim Macrow heads John Magro in the F3 standings by 34 – with 48 points up for grabs across their three races next weekend.
Mathematically the Australian Manufacturers Championship (AMChamps) series is still winnable, however Garry Holt’s leading position makes him almost unbeatable while the Dial before You Dig Saloon Cars series was clinched by Simon Tabinor at Phillip Island, in September.
The Sandown Shannons Nationals Grand Finale will be held across November 15-17.