Oosthuizen continues dominant start to 2016, as Thomas nabs his first win of the season, on a weekend that re-wrote the record books.
Two months on from a Mountain adventure, and three months on from the opening round of the season, the teams and drivers of the V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship were back in action at Sydney Motorsport Park for round 2 of the 2016 championship, and the opening leg of the CAMS State Championship.
The first of three trips to Sydney for season 2016 was met with huge interest, as no less than forty cars entered the event – a massive field that reflected not only the growing interest in this championship, but also Production Car racing as a whole, on the back of the success of the recent Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
Despite the large field, and very good numbers, there were three cars missing from that field, which left organisers and competitors feeling very positive about the entry numbers going forward for the remainder of the season.
Brett Heeley was a late withdrawal, while former Formula 4 racer Jimmy Vernon, and karting gun Zac Raddatz were unable to race due to submitting their entry after the cut-off date.
Despite some absentees, the talking point in the paddock was debutant, Finley Hills.
Finley, at the age of 14, becomes the youngest driver to compete in the championship, and will drive a Class E Mazda in 2016.
Round 2 is the first of five rounds in the space of four months in this championship, which is an incredibly tight schedule, that will no doubt be challenging on the teams and drivers, given the tight turn-around between events, and could be problematic for anyone who runs into major trouble, be it through a crash, or a mechanical failure, during this busy period.
All five of these rounds will count towards the NSW State Championship battle for 2016. This round (2), Round 4 and Round 5 will be sprint rounds, while Round 3 and 6 will be endurance rounds as part of the 2016 MoComm Cup.
Daniel Oosthuizen was out to continue his strong form from the opening round of the season, where he won three of the four races, but he was set to face stiff competition from his CXC Global Racing team-mate, Dylan Thomas, as well as brother Jacques Oosthuizen, and the man who took a race off him in Round 1, Greg Symes.
Wet weather greeted the drivers on Saturday morning for Qualifying, and that pleased the likes of Daniel Byron, who were praying for that forecast to come to fruition – hoping it would play into their hands.
The 15-minute qualifying session was quite challenging for the drivers, and entertaining for those watching on, after a heavy shower passed over Sydney Motorsport Park just prior to the session commencing.
As expected, it played into the favour of those driving either a Four-Wheel Drive or an All-Wheel Drive, such as Byron, and those Mitsubishi Evo’s that dominated proceedings during the opening round in Goulburn.
It wasn’t a good start to the weekend for Kevin Herben. The Blend Line Commodore missed the session due to some ongoing niggling issues with that car, and the weekend, sadly, wouldn’t get much better for him.
At the front, Daniel Oosthuizen absolutely blitzed the competition, and took his second pole of the season. The time – a 2:13.9832, was 1.4 seconds faster than the rest of the competition.
Clay Skinner was a standout in Qualifying – charging to second position outright, and a clear winner of the point for pole in Class B1.
Greg Symes was third, just ahead of Dylan Thomas, while Matthew Holt rounded out the top five, and claimed honours in Class A2.
Seventh outright was more than enough for Paul Lane’s Holden Clubsport to be the fastest qualifier in Class B2. Daniel Byron was streets ahead of the competition in Class C – finishing 8th outright in that session – no wonder he was cheering when the rain started falling earlier in the morning.
Daniel Williams sprung a surprise in Class D. The Toyota Camry was 11th outright, just ahead of fellow Class D competitor, David Baker, while Chris Reeves was down in 20th position.
I spoke to Reeves after qualifying, and he said, given the size of the field, and the conditions, his approach would be to make his move early in Race 1, before the faster cars that qualified behind have a chance to move through the pack.
Fastest in Class E was Finley Hills, while Jonathan Fishburn was the best of Class S, and Sam Silvestro was fastest in Class X.
Kevin Herben’s ongoing struggles would continue into Saturday afternoon, and he would therefore miss the opening race of the weekend, as would Richard Allen, leaving 38 cars to line-up for the first of three races at Sydney Motorsport Park.
From the start, Daniel Oosthuizen bolted to the lead at turn one, and like the opening race of the season at Wakefield Park, it was a battle for second – he would not be caught.
Dylan Thomas’ season started on a very poor note, with the Mitsubishi Evo coming to a stop at turn 8 on the opening lap of proceedings.
At turn 3, Daniel Williams and Daniel Byron ran into trouble, bringing undone their terrific qualifying efforts. Byron would go on to retire from the race, with Williams fighting back to finish in 31st position.
Daniel Oosthuizen raced away to take his fourth win of the season, by over ten seconds, from Greg Symes, who just held off Clay Skinner (1st in Class B1).
Jacques Oosthuizen was fourth, and Josh Muggleton moved from 9th to 5th, and took Class A2 honours.
Paul Lane was first across the line in Class B2 – in 9th outright.
Jim Pollicina was a big mover in the opening race – going from 22nd to 11th.
Further back, the defending champion started 2016 where he finished 2015, with first in class (D) and 20th outright.
Bathurst’s Blake Aubin was first in Class C, with 24th position.
26th position was good enough for Jonathan Fishburn to win Class S, with Finley Hills the best of Class E in 35th place.
After charging from 22nd to 11th in Race 1, the HSV GTS of Jim Pollicina would take no further part in the weekend. Commitments elsewhere saw Jim pack up on Saturday night, and sit out races 2 and 3.
Pollicina wouldn’t be the only one to miss Sunday’s racing, with the Class D Toyota 86 of David Baker also missing from the grid on Sunday, after claiming 21st position in the opening race of the weekend.
Kevin Herben returned to the grid, as did Richard Allen – but the focus would be on Dylan Thomas, to see just how far he could charge through the field in a 9-lap race, after retiring on the opening lap of Race 1.
Sunday dawned dry, and remained dry for the final two races of the round, and once again it was Daniel Oosthuizen who led the field away at the start of Race 2, with Greg Symes and Clay Skinner following closely. Skinner would soon move by Symes, and pull clear to finish a comfortable second, behind Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen slowed down on the run home – we weren’t sure at the time whether it was because of an issue with the car or not, but it later became clear that mechanical dramas were again plaguing that car.
Oosthuizen was victorious in Class A1, while Skinner claimed Class B1, and Jacques Oosthuizen rounded out the outright podium..
Dylan Thomas was sensational in Race 2. After starting at the rear of the field, the CXC Global Racing star charged through to finish in seventh position, just behind Matthew Holt.
Holt was second in Class A2, again, behind Josh Muggleton, who had heads spinning in the paddock with his sensational drive in the TLA Racing Holden.
Paul Lane claimed Class B2, finishing tenth outright. Further back were Blake Aubin in 21st (1st Class C) and Chris Reeves (1st Class D) in 23rd.
Jonathan Fishburn moved forward to 24th position, and remained the highest placed Class S car, and Finley Hills was again first in Class E, down in 36th position.
Just 36 cars would take the start for the final race of the weekend, with Daniel Williams and Richard Allen joining Jim Pollicina and David Baker on the non-starters list.
There was more drama ahead, before the race even started, with some drivers missing the call to make their way to the pre-grid area. That confusion and drama arose due to the event running ahead of schedule and the planned lunch break being scrapped.
This left Josh Muggleton, from the TLA Racing stable, starting from pit-lane. As you could imagine, they were less than impressed with the change to the schedule, and the lack of communication they received over such.
Muggleton wasn’t alone – Matt Shylan was stuck at pit-exit with him, as the rest of the field charged down towards turn 1.
Oosthuizen took an early lead from Clay Skinner, as Dylan Thomas began his charge to the front of the pack.
Very soon after, Oosthuizen found himself in pit-lane with dramas that carried over from the end of the last race. He would rejoin two laps down, in 35th position, and later move up to 34th, due to the retirement of Richard Allen.
Jonathan Fishburn was also to retire due to a mechanical failure.
With Daniel Oosthuizen in the pits, Clay Skinner inherited the lead of the motor race, but had Dylan Thomas hunting him down, and when he got there, we saw one of the best battles in recent time, with Skinner fighting to stay ahead of Thomas.
He held his own for much of the race, but eventually, outright pace and experience saw Thomas pace Skinner, and take the lead.
Thomas eventually won the battle, but Skinner won a lot of respect from those in the paddock, with an awesome drive to second outright, in a Class B1 car.
Dylan Thomas completed the triple treat for CXC Global Racing, and what a drive it was in both races on Sunday – driving back through the field, to end up on top, and get his first win of the season.
The battle between Jacques Oosthuizen and Greg Symes, for the final spot on the podium, went right down to the wire, with Symes passing Oosthuizen on the main straight, on the approach to the chequered flag.
With Josh Muggleton out of contention, it was Trevor Symonds who claimed Class A2 honours, ahead of Tony Virag and Matthew Holt – the latter two enjoyed a race long scrap, but the third in class result for Holt gave Muggleton the points lead at the end of round 1.
Speaking of Muggleton, it was very nice damage control from the young man, as he charged, from a pit-lane start, to 13th position outright (5th in class).
For the first time all weekend, Anthony Soole got the better of Paul Lane in Class B2 – Soole took his BMW to 8th outright.
Blake Aubin and Chris Reeves won Classes C and D respectively. Aubin finished 19th, while Reeves was two positions back in 21st.
Once again, Finley Hills claimed the win in Class E – three starts, three finishes for the 14-year old debutant.
Class S saw James Herrington score his first win of the weekend – capitalising on the demise of Jonathan Fishburn.
So, a clean-sweep for CXC Global Racing. Daniel Oosthuizen still the man to beat, but Dylan Thomas has got himself on the board in 2016.
There’s much to be excited about when you look down through the field, with the progress of Clay Skinner, Josh Muggleton and Blake Aubin as well, and Chris Reeves has started his quest for a hat-trick in the best possible way.
We hope you enjoyed Round 2 of the 2016 Championship. The next stop is Goulburn for the first-leg of the 2016 MoComm Cup, and we can’t wait to get there.