Three races, three different winners, including a first time winner, and the first race wins for two new cars as well – they were the statistics that stood out for most at the completion of Round 2 of the 2017 Shockwave Signs Production Touring Car Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park.
After the thrilling race we saw on Day 1, drivers, crews and fans returned for the final day of action hoping for more of the same.
Mark Caine put Holden back in victory lane after Race 1 – much to the delight of Holden V8 fans up and down the lane, but the Mitsubishi Evo brigade arrived on Day 2 looking to restore order.
After failing to set a competitive Qualifying time, and retiring from Race 1, David Baker decided to cut his losses and not race on Sunday. The early retirement was caused by an oil surge – a problem which the team will look to rectify before the next round of the series.
It’s been a huge weekend for the crew at CXC Global Racing. After the dramas documented on Friday night, both Daniel Oosthuizen and Dylan Thomas were brought undone by mechanical issues in Race 1
Thankfully, the issues weren’t major, and we faced the exciting prospect of seeing them charge through from the rear of the grid in Race 2.
Before we went racing, we paused to acknowledge Josh Muggleton’s 30th Birthday. No better way to spend it than at a race track, as he continues to get his head around that new Volkswagen Golf of his – he finished 20th outright (4th in Class) in Race 1.
Race 2 started cleanly, but it ended prematurely for Daniel Oosthuizen, when the engine of spare parts, that was assembled by CXC Global Racing, gave in. The engine failure saw Oosthuizen’s frustrating weekend brought to an abrupt and early finish.
At the front, Paul Loiacono got the better of Mark Caine at the start. Stephen Thompson bolted from 6th to be for the a position in the top three by turn 1, and Caine also lost second to Matthew Holt.
Barry Graham was slow off the line, while Stephen Thompson and Tom Muller launched brilliantly, but the efforts off the line were undone for Muller at turn two, when he locked up and speared into the dirt, losing a stack of positions in the process.
Dylan Thomas, who started at the rear of the field, found himself in 12th position by the end of the first lap.
When Oosthuizen came to a stop, we saw the Safety Car deployed for the first time this season.
The race resumed on lap 4, and it was nothing short of chaotic, as the massive field went about finding some clear real estate. There was plenty of overtaking, and lots of jockeying for position in the first handful of corners, as they sorted themselves out, and unfortunately, it wasn’t without incident, as Mark Caine and Matthew Holt ran into trouble.
Caine, while looking to change his approach for turn two, made contact with the rear-right of Matthew Holt’s car, and while Holt was able to continue, despite evidence of missing bodywork, the contact was enough to force Caine into retirement.
Holt inevitably lost second position to Trevor Symonds, and slipped back to ninth before the end of the race, as Loiacono pulled clear. Dylan Thomas was back inside the top five by the end of lap five, and would eventually finish third.
Due to the Safety Car, the chequered flag was waved after only six laps – a direct result of timed-races at Sydney Motorsport Park, and Paul Loiacono was able to pull away from Trevor Symonds, and claim his first outright win in the Shockwave Signs Championship.
Trevor Symonds and Dylan Thomas rounded out the top three, as Symonds recorded his best result of the season, with his first class (A2) win.
Class B1 honours went to Phillip Allen, Class B2 to Adam Gosling, D to Daniel Smith, E to Finley Hills and S to James Herrington.
Matthew Holt’s 9th place finish was only good enough for 4th in class, which helps Rodney Thorpe out in the battle for top spot, after Thorpe could only manage fourth in race 1.
Post-race, both Nigel Williams and Scott Turner were disqualified from the race. Their exclusion came as a result of separate infringements during the Safety Car and subsequent race restart.
Race 3 picked up where Race 2 left off, with Paul Loiacono again leading the field to the first corner, as Stephen Thompson blasted up to second, ahead of Trevor Symonds and Dylan Thomas, who made a sluggish start by his own standards.
Contact between Greg Lomax and Paul Pearson ended Pearson’s race on the opening lap, and saw the field come under the control of the Safety Car for the second time in as many races.
As the Safety Car was deployed, Stephen Thompson passed Paul Loiacono for the race lead. Unfortunately for Thompson, the move came after the deployment of the Safety Car, leaving him to answer to the stewards at the end of the race.
Off the restart, which was much cleaner this time around, Dylan Thomas wasted no time in moving to the front of the field, as he gobbled up Trevor Symonds, Paul Loiacono and Stephen Thompson very quickly.
Jacques Oosthuizen followed his team leader through, and was as high as third, before the boost let go, leaving him to crawl around on the final lap, and limp to the chequered flag.
Oosthuizen’s misfortune allowed Trevor Symonds to move onto the podium – he passed Oosthuizen on the outside through turn 1, en-route to an outright podium, and victory in Class A2.
By this time, Jimmy Vernon was leading Class D – something he hadn’t yet done this season – after getting the better of Daniel Smith at the start of the race, and being able to hold that lead with the intervention of the Safety Car.
Vernon found himself in a battle for position with Adam Gosling and Cary Morsink, while just behind them were Jonathon Fishburn, Daniel Smith and Geoff Kite.
At the front, it was a case of de ja vu for Dylan Thomas and CXC Global Racing. Last year here in the opening state round, he failed to finish the first race, and came back through the field to win the third, and history repeated itself 11 months later, as he took the chequered flag and the victory – our fourth different winner of the season, and third of the round.
Further afield, Jimmy Vernon ended Daniel Smith’s Class D winning streak, finishing 11th outright. with Adam Gosling – the first Class B2 runner – just behind in 12th.
Richard Allen took Class B1 honours in 19th, while Class C was won by Scott Turner in 20th.
Following the completion of the race, Nigel Williams and Stephen Thompson were both excluded. For Williams, it was his second exclusion of the day – again for overlapping off the restart, while for Thompson, it was direct result of passing under the Safety Car.
In the end, three races gave us three different winners, including a first-time winner in Paul Loiacono, which is a really positive sign of things to come, as he continues development of his new Class A1 Mitsubishi Evo.
The racing wasn’t without controversy, with some exclusions handed down, and some drivers rather unhappy with the aggressive nature of the two Sunday races, not helped by the Safety Car interruptions, of course.
For Daniel Oosthuizen, Bali awaits, but for everyone else, all roads lead to Lakeside, where the next round of the series will be held on June 3 and 4. Oosthuizen will be double-checking his racing calendar before booking Holidays in future, after revealing on commentary, that he failed to check the PTC calendar prior to booking his trip to the Indonesian city.
Given his misfortune in Sydney, and the fact he missed Round 1 in Goulburn, it’s probably not as bad as it could’ve been for Oosthuizen, whose Club Championship defence was already in tatters.
The next round of the series will be historic. Lakeside Park the venue, as the competitors from the all new Bilstein Suspension Queensland Production Touring Car Championship prepare to welcome their NSW colleagues, for the first combined event of the season – a meeting that will have a State of Origin feel to it, and rather appropriately so, given that Game 1 of the 2017 Holden State of Origin series will be played earlier in the week.
Lakeside will be Round 3 of the NSW Championship for Shockwave Signs, Round 2 of the QLD Championship for Bilstein Suspension, but most importantly, Round 1 of the 2017 MoComm Cup.
That’s right – the season of endurance is upon us, and we can hardly wait.