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Apr 25, 2014

FORMULA FORD TITLE TUSSLE EXPECTED AT SHANNONS NATIONALS

DESPITE JUST ONE DAY of practice in the books, it is clear that a highlight of the 2014 Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals will be a revitalised Australian Formula Ford series.

21-cars logged laps across three practice sessions today at the 2.6km Mallala circuit in South Australia with all indications pointing to the most competitive national series in years.

Just 1.3 seconds covered the top 13 runners today with Sonic Motor Racing’s Nick Rowe topping the practice charts, just 0.2s faster than teammate Hamish Hardeman.

Spectrum driver James Golding was third and Tom Randle fourth in his Mygale.

One driver excited about the revitalised series is 18-year-old Toowoomba talent Jordan Lloyd, who was the 2013 Formula Ford rookie of the year and is the highest placed finisher from last year’s championship to return this year.

On his first visit to Mallala, Lloyd ended the day fifth outright driving his BF Racing Mygale, less than 0.5 seconds off the pace.

“It is a massive boost for us this year because the costs have come down and, because of that, more people are able to race and it becomes more competitive,” he said.

“For people like us running a one-car team on a very tight budget it makes life easier for us to compete at a national level.”

Lloyd returns to race against several of his key 2013 rivals this year, including fellow Rookie of the Year candidate, Tom Randle.

“If anything it’s more competitive this year. Winning Rookie of the year last year was a real confidence booster and we hope to improve from that to be a top three championship contender this season,” Lloyd said,

“Obviously we want to win the championship, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Formula Ford officially kicks off their 2014 Championship tomorrow with a further practice session prior to qualifying and their first race of the new year.

The Kumho Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car Series commenced their 2014 campaign today with gamer-turned-racer Justin Ruggier topping the charts in his Eggleston Motorsport VZ Commodore on his series debut.

Mechanical issues sidelined favourite Ryan Simpson, his newly-liveried ex-Triple Eight Falcon completing only the first session this morning before spending the remainder of the day in the garage.

On combined times, Ruggier edged Simpson by just 0.1 seconds today despite Simpson only completing first practice.

Former Saloon Car champion Simon Tabinor (BA Falcon), local Chris Smerdon (Falcon) and second-year driver Matt Chahda (Falcon) were also in the mix today, series favourite Ryan Simpson missing the second practice session today with mechanical issues on his ex-Triple Eight Falcon.

The age-old battle between Seven-time Kerrick Sports Sedan series champion Tony Ricciardello and Darren Hossack resumed today, the pair split by just tenths across the Kerrick series’ three sessions today.

Hossack and Ricciardello both dropped into the 1m06s bracket today with the Audi ultimately 0.01s faster than the Audi across the three sessions.

Meanwhile, Shane Bradford made the debut of a stunning new livery on his Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, the ‘Hot Wheels’ style paint scheme reflecting the original livery that the car ran during it’s time in the Sports Car Club of America TransAm Series in the early 1990s.

Bradford was fourth today, behind Calibra driver Steven Tamasi.

The Australian Sports Racer Series commenced their Shannons Nationals campaign today with four chassis brands and a host of competitive drivers making their season opener look particularly competitive.

Twice Gold Star champion James Winslow (West), Formula Fordster Roger I’Anson (West), plus AP Racing teammates Adam Proctor and Darren Barlow – both racing the Stohr chassis – are all shaping as likely contenders for the opening round this weekend.

Old winners have returned to the Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series this weekend and ran competitively in practice; Wayne King (Commodore) and Matt Lovell amongst the pace setters in today’s sessions.

The second round of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals commences officially tomorrow with two big days of racing – the highlights including a 40-lap Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Series endurance race running into the night on Saturday evening.