Nov 2, 2015
TOP 10 DRIVERS - No. 8 JAKE CAMILLERI
CELEBRATING it's 10th season, the Shannons Nationals has set out to rank the top ten drivers to have raced regularly at our rounds since 2006.
Selected by a panel of industry experts and assisted by more than 2500 votes from an online fan poll, our top-10 really is a who's who of Australia's racing elite from the last decade. We will be rolling out the full list in the next two weeks, with the Number One driver to be announced on the Friday morning of the 2015 Shannons Nationals finale' at Sydney Motorsport Park this November 13.
At number 8 it's the 'giant killer' of Production Cars - Jake Camilleri.
IN THE 1970s the term ‘Giant Killer’ was applied to the Holden Torana GTR XU-1 thanks to its consistent ability to get up and play with the big V8 Fords, despite its apparent six-cylinder handicap.
If there has to be only one modern representative of the tag, in a similar discipline of racing, the Brisbane Mazda dealer Jake Camilleri is clearly the most deserving.
His five (and as we go to press it could be six) class titles in Australian Production Car racing are a tribute to his performance and ability however it’s not his class success that we want to highlight here.
No – it’s his ability to get up and boogy with cars that, at least on paper, should be miles quicker.
In his Mazda 3 MPS Jake has for years been the thorn in the side of Mitsubishi Lancer and BMW drivers in Australia’s top Production Car category. Out classed, out-powered and with the supposed handicap of front wheel drive, it has remained a staple of the sport for eight years now to see a little blue Mazda fending off a rear-drive BMW or a four-paw EVO.
Coming from a racing family, Jake began racing aged 15 and quickly progressed through the ranks of Queensland state-level racing, winning the state title and finishing third in the national HQ Holden crown in 2000.
He was second in the 2002 Australian Saloon Car Championship raced for several seasons in the six-cylinder Holden and Ford category, serving as one of the champions of the introduction of the VT Commodore to the category.
His switch to Production Cars not only gave him a higher profile on the Nationals stage but gave the family business a handy medium to promote their brands on the circuit. As such, ‘The Grand Prix Mazda 3..’ remains a common catchcry on the public address and TV coverage of AMChamp racing around Australia.
Along with his friend and co-driver Scott Nicholas, Camilleri finished second outright in the 2008 AMChamp title and fourth the following year, despite the strong multiple-car efforts from teams like Mitsubishi Ralliart that was filled with ace drivers like Stuart Kostera.
Jake was an easy fit for our top 10, with more than half of our judges agreeing that he was worthy.
‘Everyone loves an underdog, but Jake and his team never played to that.. it was their belief that they could on occasion run with the bigger, faster cars that gave them the appeal,” one judge wrote.
‘Still not totally sure how he managed to keep tyres under the front of his car,’ wrote another. ‘No Mazda since the RX7 has gone that quick in production car racing,” agreed a third.
There’s nothing more than Australian sports fans love than an underdog. That Jake and his little family team from Queensland are accepted as front runners regularly speaks volumes for their achievements.
TOP 10 DRIVERS OF THE SHANNONS NATIONALS DECADE:10th - Bruce Heinrich
9th - Des Wall
8th - Jake Camilleri