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Aug 24, 2016

SPORTS SEDANS: CAN TONY TAKE ON 10 TITLES?

 

Now more than any other point of the season so far, there is an enormous chance that Tony Ricciardello will end 2016 with a record 10th Australian Sports Sedan Series title to his credit.

The West Australians’ season has been his Sports Sedan career in a microcosm – fast when he needed to be, reliable when he had to be and consistent all of the time.

His nearest rival, the John Gourlay Audi A4 driven by Jack Perkins, may have won five races to Ricciardello's four, but four non-finishes have cost Perkins valuable points.

Perkins won the first three races of the year at Sandown and extended his series lead with a win in the first race at Round 2, but the Supercars race-winner failed to finish races two and three at Winton and Ricciardello was there to strike with a pair of race victories.

At Queensland, Perkins again found himself in a similar situation with pole and a victory in the first race before a further pair of non-finishes, handing more points to the little red Alfa.

The big question is, can Perkins still win the series? Of course he can – though he’ll need the luck of the draw to swing significantly back to his corner in the final two rounds.

There’s no doubt that this year the Audi is the faster of the two cars on raw speed and Phillip Island and Sydney Motorsport Park will suit it perfectly.

But the 193 points margin is significant: a clean-sweep of a round is worth 135 so even if Perkins wins three times at the Island, Tony can afford to finish second (or lower) in each race to effectively rule Perkins out of series contention going into the final round.

Essentially though, it does simplify the job for both drivers. Perkins must win – there’s simply no other option, and Ricciardello just needs to finish every race and title number ten will be his.

Of course we must keep our eyes fixed on other contenders too, with a supremely consistent year has Victorian champion Michael Robinson second in the series.

Thirty-one points behind Robinson is Daniel Tamasi, with his old man Steven Tamasi sitting two points behind.

Corvette driver Stuart Inwood is fifth in the standings and only a further five points back from the Tamasi team, giving us a strong battle for second and third place in the series going into the final two rounds.

The battle will continue in three weeks time when the Kerrick National Sports Sedan Series heads to Phillip Island on 9-11 September.