At the conclusion of Round 5 this weekend, teams and drivers will turn their attention to the season of endurance, with three one-hour races to bring the biggest season in the category’s history to an end.
Sydney Motorsport Park will play host to the final State Championship round on September 17 and 18, before a massive 10-week break prior to the season-ending Winton Double Crown at Winton Motor Raceway on the opening weekend of December.
The busy schedule and tight turnarounds of the last three months is just one reason why all categories in the NSW Motor Racing Championship have experienced a drop-off in entries as the championship has rolled on, and this series is no exception.
For the first time since the opening round at Wakefield Park in February, less than thirty entries have been received for this round of the V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship.
But first – Winton’s sister track – Wakefield Park is on the agenda. This weekend sees three races that could have a huge bearing on the State Championship if what we’ve seen in the opening three installments is any guide.
Just nine points separate first and fourth in this championship, which is incredible considering we’ve had six sprint races and the single one-hour enduro in the three rounds so far.
Anthony Soole has been the big mover in this championship – he’s taken the lead of the Club Championship from Daniel Oosthuizen, and sits fourth outright in the State Championship, just 9 points off the new leader, Matthew Holt.
Holt’s consistency has paid off – he holds a 2-point lead over defending Champion Chris Reeves, with just four races left in the NSW Championship portion of the season.
Bathurst’s Blake Aubin has been a standout performer in 2016 – He’s taken class wins in both visits to Sydney Motorsport Park, and ran second to Daniel Byron and Josh Muggleton in the MoComm Cup opener in Goulburn.
Unfortunately, Blake’s brother Kyle was one of several non-starters in the last round of the series, after the team ran into fuel pump issues with his Renault Megane. The team has reported that the problem has been fixed, and Kyle will be on the grid for this round of the series.
Josh Muggleton has dropped off the lead pack after retirement in the final race of the last round at Sydney Motorsport Park. He sits sixth – 31 points off the pace, after leading going into the previous round.
Retirements are costly in this championship as Dylan Thomas found out in last year’s title deciding round at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Thomas – after a retirement in the opening State round at Sydney Motorsport Park – has conceded defeat in the 2016 championship, and has opted to sit out this round as a result.
Thomas will focus on his Formula Vee championship commitments, as Gavin Holland jumps into the #68 Evo in his place.
Sticking with CXC, and the Oosthuizen Motorsport stable expands to three cars for this round of the series, with Roeluf (Daniel and Jacques’ Father) lining up for the first time in 2016. His return to the cock-pit comes 12 months after his last drive in the series, when he teamed up with Jacques in the MoComm Cup race at the same venue.
Daniel Oosthuizen set Wakefield Park alight in February, winning three of the four races that made up round 1 of the championship, and will go into this weekend as the unbackable favourite in the absence of Thomas, as Mitsubishi look to continue their dominate run of Race victories in the 2016 season.
Despite running second to Jimmy Vernon in the last two rounds of the championship, the defending two-time champion Chris Reeves still sits second outright in the State Championship standings, which means the hat-trick is still very much a possibility for the Triple Zero Racing Toyota 86.
Reeves still holds the lead in Class D in the State Championship, and he has also closed to within two points of David Bailey in the Club Championship, after Bailey was forced to retire from the last race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Elsewhere, Zac Raddatz will be the sole charger in Class E, as Finley Hill will not contest this round of the series.
This round of the V8 Superlaps Championship consists of timed practice, Qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday, ahead of Races 2 and 3 on Sunday.
Races 1 and 2 will be 10 Laps, with 15 the distance for Race 3.
Entry to the circuit is $20 each day, and trackside commentary of this round of the championship will be provided by Lachlan Mansell and Zak Caban – and don’t forget, Races 2 and 3 will be aired on 2MCE Sport, Monday night from 11pm AEST.