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Nov 15, 2015

DECADE DONE AS 2015 SEASON ENDS IN SYDNEY

TONY RICCIARDELLO lived up to his status as the Shannons Nationals ‘Driver of the Decade’ by winning his ninth Kerrick Sports Sedans National title at the 2015 grand finale in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Liam McAdam delivered Eggleston Motorsport back-to-back Kumho V8 Touring Car series titles in another action-packed weekend of V8 competition.

Dylan Thomas and Stuart Kostera combined to win a compelling Australian 4 Hour AMChamp enduro with the overall championship going the way of the Sherrin Rentals BMW team.

Mark Laucke won a tense finale in the Australian Sports Racer Series, edging out title rival Adam Cranston by just ten points.

The eighth and final round of the 2015 season this weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park marks the end of the first decade of Shannons Nationals competition, and also the end of the series under the stewardship of founding Series Director, Rob Curkpatrick.

The series returns in 2016 under the auspices of CAMS with the traditional opening round to be held at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne on 1-3 April.

AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP

IN A RACE that was compelling to the very end, Dylan Thomas and Stuart Kostera have won the Australian 4 Hour race that brings an end to an era for the Australian Manufacturers Championship.

The race also delivered the outright AMChamp championship to the Sherrin Rentals team and driver Grant Sherrin – despite their BMW striking dramas mid-way through the race.

The Sherrin entry broke a bolt in the rear suspension approaching the two hour mark and plummeted down the order – potentially losing their grip on the outright title and handing the advantage to Rick Bates, who was leading the race in the Pro Duct Mitsubishi he shares with Bob Pearson.

The Sherrins charged as hard as they could however looked to fall one or two laps short of gaining the required positions needed to win the title – right up to the point when the ProDuct Evo expired within the final half-hour of the race.

The team had worked through a blown head gasket for much of the second half and were nursing the car to the finish – though it expired within the final 30 minutes to hand the championship advantage back to the Sherrin outfit.

Out front, the CXC Global team took the race lead when Pearson suffered a puncture at the two-hour mark and the team were never headed from there.

The victory is revenge of sorts for the Sydney outfit after Thomas and Kostera were controversially denied victory in the same race in 2013.

Mark Eddy and Dean Fiore finished second in the Audi TT RS with the all-French combination of Franck Donniaux and Francious Jouy finishing third – under the banner of the tricolour flag – in their Renault Megane RS.

The Pedders Suspension Toyota 86 of Grant Phillips and Andrew Turpie finished a spectacular fourth outright with Colin Osborne and Adam Spence fifth in another Renault.

KUMHO V8 TOURING CARS

LIAM McADAM delivered back-to-back Kumho V8 Touring Cars series titles to Eggleston Motorsport at Sydney Motorsport Park, beating home year-long rival Alex Rullo to claim his maiden national racing title.

On a drying track, the 18-year-old Queenslander saw off a concerted attack from Rullo in the final two laps of the second race of the weekend following a lengthy Safety Car interruption to recover stranded cars.

On a greasy circuit and on slick tyres, the pair rubbed bumpers in the closing laps before the Holden driver was able to see off his Ford rival to take the race win and the title.

“It’s pretty great – a good feeling. I knew we had a bit of a lead and I knew we’d be able to get it back. It got a bit rough towards the end there but we did what we could to bring it back.

“There were a few wet patches and bring on slicks it made it pretty difficult but we took it pretty conservatively and made sure we didn’t make any mistakes.

“It put the pressure on me a bit but we had to keep it calm and finish the race.

“It’s an awesome feeling.”

With the championship done, race three was a mere formality with McAdam and Rullo staging a breathless battle for the lead in the closing laps. The pair drew side by side with two laps to go however McAdam was strong enough to hold on and sweep the weekend to end his championship on the highest possible note.

The championship victory is the third V8 title in two years for Eggleston Motorsport, who won the Kumho series and V8 Supercars Development Series last year.

The team becomes the first to claim back-to-back Kumho series titles in the series’ history.

Jim Pollicina edged out Steve Briffa for third overall in the standings, also sealing the Kumho series privateer crown.

KERRICK SPORTS SEDANS

TONY RICCIARDELLO won his ninth Kerrick Sports Sedan series title today at Sydney Motorsport Park.

As his title rivals floundered around him, the West Australian driver scored consistent results across the final round to further etch his name in the record books as Australia’s most successful circuit racing champion ever.

Jack Perkins won all three races in Sydney – to take his streak to nine in a row – and also set a new lap record at the circuit, but it didn’t come easy.

Title contender Thomas Randle led the second of three races convincingly this morning before a kill switch issue on his Kerrick SAAB saw him stranded on the sidelines.

When Calibra-Chev driver Steven Tamasi broke an axle soon after, the championship was all but Ricciardello’s with one race to spare.

Ricciardello said he was able to enjoy the final race of the season as he cruised to title number nine.

“I put some old tyres on the back, put the wing down and had a bit of fun in that last race. Its relief now – we can think about it and not worry about next year until tomorrow,” he explained.

Ricciardello finished third in the finale’ after a storming Randle charged past in the closing laps.

“We weren’t going to slow him (Randle) up, I didn’t have the tyres on the back. They had a bit more pace all weekend. We didn’t get to fight for the win so we just had to be smart – I got a little bit of that knowledge from Kerry Bailey and we can go home now and enjoy it.

“I didn’t want to break anything and give it too much grip. I wanted to work harder in that race and get out there and enjoy it!

“It always seems to get better, when you’ve got the number one. The category is growing, with tougher competitors and the cars are getting faster. We just keep on bringing it on. It’s hard to stay number one and hard to stay on the top.”

Ricciardello believes the Sports Sedan category has a bright future thanks to the unique nature of the cars.

“There’s nothing like them in Australia at the moment. They’re just muscle and you’ve got to drive them. They aero is getting better, the cars are getting faster and we’re doing some really good lap times around the country. Kerrick have been behind the category for so many years and the Shannons Nationals, and their team, have been looking after the series.

“We’ll be back. She’s getting tired, the old girl, so we’ll freshen her up and have a bit of fun. We’ll see what we do in the off season and what we need to bring to the table.

“We’ll see where we can maximise the rules – but let’s not worry about next year and worry about tonight!”

Steven Tamasi finished second in the championship and Randle third, Jack Perkins’ sweep of the final three rounds elevating him to fourth in the final standings in the Audi Spares A4.

AUSTRALIAN SPORTS RACER SERIES

ADELAIDE DRIVER Mark Laucke edged out Adam Cranston in a thrilling finish to the Australian Sports Racer Series at Sydney Motorsport Park, winning the title by just ten points having started the day locked together.

Laucke started race two from last position following his gear selection woes on Saturday – but an aggressive opening lap saw him carve his way through the field to fourth place at the end of 10 laps.

Adam Cranston finished one position behind his title rival however was penalised 5 seconds for a start penalty and relegated to sixth position in the final order.

The penalty was controversial given Cranston had passed Laucke on the last lap of the race – essentially giving him the championship lead only to have it removed post-race.

Laucke then finished second – behind race and round winner Aaron Steer – to secure the title in the final race of the season.

Cranston finished only ninth, having made contact with the rear of Laucke’s West on lap two and damaging his front wing, the RFR1000 driver cruising to the finish from there.

Jason Makris finished third in the championship, edging out Sydney round winner Aaron Steer by just one single point for the final spot on the overall podium.