Mar 29, 2014
DRIVER OF THE YEAR DELIVERS IN 2014 NATIONALS KICKOFF
THE SHANNONS Australian Motor Racing Nationals 2013 driver of the year Richard Muscat has firmly lodged his candidacy for the 2014 award – and it happened on the opening day of the season today at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne.
Muscat charged from last to first to win the season opener in the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli with a storming drive through the field that was one of many highlights in a massive day of on-track action.
Two Dial Before You Dig Australian Super Six Touring Car Series races, a Radical Australia Cup Enduro plus sprint races from the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and the F3 Australian Drivers Championship were included in an action-packed day.
Muscat’s charge through the field to GT victory was impressive given he missed qualifying, after the Erebus team diagnosed a broken fuel line in the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3.
That didn’t deter the young Victorian however as raw speed matched by a strong pit stop strategy from the Erebus team saw him hit the lead by mid-race, ultimately taking a commanding 20-second plus victory.
A late charge from Klark Quinn in the McLaren saw him finish second, ahead of John Bowe and Peter Edwards in the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458. Tony Quinn and Steve Owen / James Koundouris completed the top five.
The pole sitting Lamborghini shared by Justin McMillan and Steven Richards was sitting second within the last 10 minutes of the race however a late-race spin saw them tumble down the order.
The Australian GT field returns for a further one-hour encounter tomorrow.
Defending Australian Manufacturers Championship winner Garry Holt will start from pole position in tomorrow’s Sandown 3 Hour classic, driving his Mitsubishi Lancer he shares with three-time series champion Stuart Kostera.
For the AMChamps Sandown 3 Hour Classic the starting grid positions are determined by who each team nominates as their starting driver and their fastest qualifying time, Holt nominating to start the three-hour race aboard the Eastern Creek Karts entry.
Beric Lynton will start his BMW 1M second with the similar Tony Alford / Peter Leemhuis Donut King entry third.
Pro Duct Motorsport have elected to start team owner Bob Pearson in tomorrow’s race meaning that, although co-driver Glenn Seton was second fastest overall in qualifying today, the car will actually start fourth thanks to Pearson’s qualifying effort.
The Sherrin Rentals BMW 135i topped Class B, Jake Camilleri’s Mazda 3 MPS was the quickest in Class C while Luke King driving a Honda Integra topped the Class D battle.
The Sandown 3 Hour Classic kicks off a season of endurance-based racing for the production car series that includes marquee four-hour events at Phillip Island and Sydney Motorsport Park later this year.
Experienced Porsche ace John Goodacre has held off young chargers Jon McCorkindale and Fraser Ross to take victory in the opening race or Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli, while Matt Campbell continued his Class B dominance.
Goodacre charged to the lead at the start from the second row of the grid and was able to keep the trailing Ross and McCorkindale at bay for the 12-lap duration in a highly competitive motor race.
It was Goodacre’s second victory in his Porsche career and ensures he’ll start the first of tomorrow’s remaining two races from pole position.
Queensland driver Ben Gersekowski will be the toast of small town Cecil Plains tonight, the country boy taking his first career Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship victory this afternoon in style.
The Gilmour racing pilot and championship leader Simon Hodge traded lap records across today’s 12-lap sprint race whilst John Magro battled his way through the field to finish third. It was Gersekowski’s first win after 74 starts in Formula 3 and came in the series marquee 250th championship race.
The pair of Dial Before You Dig Australian Super Six Touring Car Series races were won by Travis Lindorff (VT Commodore), the series to conclude their opening round with a third and final race tomorrow morning.
Kane Baxter-Smith (AU Falcon) and Holden driver Gavin Ross also featured on the podium today however it was Ben Grice – son of Bathurst legend Allan – who created the biggest news when he rolled on the opening lap of race two.
The former Swift series racer ran wide at the top of Sandown’s famous ‘rise’ on the back straight and rolled his AU Falcon, however escaped unscathed and walked away under his own power. The race was red-flagged and later restarted.
Tomorrow’s action will be broadcast live on the internet via the Shannons Nationals online streaming service, Nationals TV, via www.thenationals.com.au.
Tickets are available for purchase at the gate for $25 with Sandown’s famous ‘Red Hill’ open to the public again.