Defending Champion Chris Reeves has done exactly what he needed to do in order to win his second consecutive Shaw Vineyards NSW Production Touring Car Championship – finish all three races.
Consistency was the ultimate key to success in the 2015 series finale at Sydney Motorsport Park, and sadly for Dylan Thomas, who led going into the round, things didn’t go to script.
Last time the series was at Sydney Motorsport Park, the field was in endurance mode, in a one-hour race won by Thomas, but for the finale of season 2015, we were back in sprint mode for the third time in 2015, with three shorter races to decide the winner of not only the round, but also the championship.
Fine and sunny conditions greeted the drivers for Qualifying on Saturday morning, and those fine conditions would remain for the entire weekend, leaving Steve Hodges, Dylan Thomas and Chris Reeves to fight it out for title supremacy.
Dylan Thomas secured the MoComm Cup in the previous round of the series at Sydney Motorsport Park, but there were still two titles to be decided, with the Club and State Championship winner to be crowned this weekend.
.In the State Championship, it would be a battle of four, with Chris Reeves, Steve Hodges, Daniel Oosthuizen and Dylan Thomas all vying for the title, and Thomas and Oosthuizen also battling for Class A1 honours.
Matthew Holt was also in the mix, doing battle with Steve Hodges and Brett Heeley for the final spot on the podium in the Club Championship, with Thomas and Reeves again fighting for the overall win.
The weekend started perfectly for Thomas, who drew first blood after securing Pole Position in Qualifying, in a CXC Global Racine 1-2, with new team-mate Mark Caine taking 2nd place.
Barry Graham, Tony Virag and Josh Muggleton rounded out the top five, with Virag the fastest competitor in Class A2.
Paul Lane was fastest in B2 after qualifying 8th, while the man challenging Thomas for the title, Chris Reeves, was fastest in Class D in 21st place.
Two drivers new to the series in 2015 also topped their respective class in Qualifying, with GWS Motorsport racer James O’Donnell finishing fastest in Class C, and Emily Duggan topping Class E.
Race 1 turned out to be a weekend and season defining one, with massive implications for two championship contenders, after Dylan Thomas ran into mechanical dramas,and was forced to retire.
Daniel Oosthuizen also retired in the 10-lap race – leaving both Class A1 leaders watching from the side of the track. So, while that class battle was unaffected, the overall State and Club Championship got a real shake up.
The race was won by Thomas’ team-mate Mark Caine, from Barry Graham and Tony Virag. Chris Reeves left the circuit on Saturday afternoon with the Championship lead after finishing 20th outright, and first in Class D.
Steve Hodges lost a few championship points in Race 1. The Class A2 points leader finished the race in fifth, but was given a 10-second penalty post-race, and relegated to 8th position, and fourth in class.
All Chris Reeves had to do in Sunday’s final two races was finish, and he’d be a two-time and back-to-back series champion.
Daniel Oosthuizen’s title aspirations received another significant blow on Sunday morning, as he failed to finish for the second race in succession due to ongoing mechanical difficulties.
Dylan Thomas came through the field to finish second in Race 2 behind eventual winner Barry Graham. It was an impressive drive from Thomas, who retired in Race 1, and started right down the back of the grid as a result.
Mark Caine would come home for third, ahead of Matthew Holt and Steve Hodges, while Reeves maintained the series lead by finishing 17th outright, which was good enough for victory in Class D.
With two races down, just one remained in the 2015 championship, and it all came down to 10 laps of the 3.93km Gardner Circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Sadly for Daniel Oosthuizen, the final race wouldn’t prove to be any better than the first two, as he retired after completing just one lap in the finale.
Thomas continued on from the very strong performance in Race 2, to secure victory in the final race of the season. Of the 13 races, that was victory number seven for the CXC Global driver, and it was a comfortable victory too, with Barry Graham taking second position, sixteen seconds behind Thomas, with Matthew Holt a further eight seconds back in third place.
Holt was also the Class A2 winner, with Paul Lane claiming B2 honours, and Nick Cox winning Class C in 18th position outright, but everyone was looking for Chris Reeves – victory in Class D would give him not only Club Championship honours, but also State Championship honours, after having already wrapped up Class D for 2015.
The champ didn’t disappoint, finishing 16th outright, but first in Class D – a marvellous effort, and one that secured him back-to-back titles.
Steve Hodges was an unfortunate retirement on Lap 7, but he had done enough in the previous 2 races to secure third place in the CAMS Championship, relegating Daniel Oosthuizen to fourth, with Brett Kite in fifth place.
In the Club Championship, Matthew Holt held on for third place from Steve Hodges, who only just snuck ahead of Brett Heeley who took fifth. The margin between the pair was a single point (432 to 431).
For Reeves, it was victory for the second year in succession, and even he was surprised. Having trailed Dylan Thomas for the majority of the season, Reeves felt sorry for Thomas, in the sense that he only snatched it from him right at the very end. It was Dylan’s championship until those mechanical dramas on Saturday, and Reeves acknowledged that when accepting his Trophy for victory in Class D.
So, Season 2015 is over, and what a season it was, with a variety of different race winners, a mix of wet and dry events, some thrilling class battles, and a captivating outright battle that went down to the wire, but in the end, as is often the case, there was a sting in the tail.
From all of us here, thanks so much for