Mitsubishi sweep the podium – continue unbeaten run in the 2016 V8 Superlaps NSW Production Touring Car Championship.
Zak Caban reports, with photos courtesy of On The Redline.
After winning the sprint races on Saturday, Michael Caine and Jim Pollicina teamed up to win Sunday’s one-hour at Wakefield Park in Goulburn, in Round 3 of the 2016 V8 Superlaps NSW Production Touring Car Championship.
The win for Pollicina and Caine ended CXC Global Racing’s winning start to the year. Going into the round, the Dylan Thomas stable had enjoyed six wins in the opening seven championship races – five for Daniel Oosthuizen, and one for Thomas.
Thirty-five cars would take to the track for the opening race of the MoComm Cup campaign. Four of the remaining ten championship races are one-hour in length, including a double-header weekend at Winton Motor Raceway in December.
The race was scheduled for late Sunday morning, but some delays in the schedule saw the lunch interval moved forward in the schedule, and the enduro became the first race of the afternoon program, rather than the last race of the morning schedule.
Jim Pollicina and Michael Caine would start from Pole Position after Caine’s scintillating shootout lap on Saturday afternoon. Dylan Thomas would share the front row with Pollicina, with his three team-mates (Daniel Oosthuizen, Jacob Andrews and Jacques Oosthuizen) all starting inside the top ten – as Mitsubishi dominated the top ten.
Jim Pollicina won the start from Dylan Thomas, who got the initial jump, but was forced to tuck into second position, as the field made their way through turn one.
Thomas assumed the lead at the completion of the first lap. Jim Pollicina said on the grid that the race won’t be won in the first corner – it is a one-hour race, so if Dylan wanted to lead, he would let him.
Pollicina was right, this race wouldn’t be won in the first corner. Compulsory pit-stops often make and break races, but with thirty-five cars on track, there were so many other variants to take into consideration.
Elsewhere in the field, a good battle between Tony Virag and Matthew Holt from Class A2, as well as Greg Symes from Class A1 held our attention in the early stages – Symes, by his own standards, had a poor qualifying on Saturday. He started in 11th position, and when asked why he was off the mark on Saturday, he simply replied “The driver didn’t do a good enough time”.
Kevin Herben had mechanical dramas right throughout the weekend in the previous round at Sydney Motorsport Park. He had some minor issues in Friday practice, but got to Qualify, and had a terrific run in the shootout, but the opening exchanges of the race weren’t strong for him, as he lost positions to Matthew Holt, Tony Virag and Greg Symes, before also losing out to Daniel Reynolds within a handful of laps.
It was an interesting start for the team at CXC Global Racing. Jacob Andrews was slow off the line, and lost four places, but the race pace of the Evo saw him move back up to 7th by the end of 9 laps, as he too displaced Kevin Herben – but it wasn’t smooth sailing for team-mate Jacques Oosthuizen. After a good start, Jacques soon ran into trouble, as the radiator fan on the #16 cut the turbo hose in his car, which resulted in Jacques having no boost for the remainder of the event – an unscheduled pit-stop was the first sign of trouble for that car, and after losing six laps, he returned to the circuit, and ran a conservative and trouble-free race from that point forward, as he worked to ensure he could get the CXC Global Evo to the line and score valuable championship points.
It’s unusual for Daniel Oosthuizen to not be leading the pack, but the championship leader could only manage third in qualifying – he slipped to fourth on the opening lap, before moving past Mark McHenry on lap 2, and he would remain third until the pit-stop sequence of the race, but a slow pit-stop ended his chances of challenging for the win. He later ran into further issues, when the brakes decided to go, leaving the man in charge on the points table in a similar position to brother Jack – circulating to just get to the finish, and secure championship points.
The pit-window opened at the start of the 21st minute, and would remain open for the second third of the race, and with 35 cars scheduled to complete a pit-stop, things were about to become very busy down in the lane.
Of the leaders, Jim Pollicina would be the first to dive in – he would hand the McDonald’s Mitsubishi Evo over to Michael Caine for the drive home, and Caine would rejoin in 14th position, but we wouldn’t get an indication of how the #7 was positioned in the race until Dylan Thomas completed his scheduled stop several laps later.
More cars pitted closer to the end of the window than the start – the consensus was that some drivers would leave it as late as possible, in the hope that the Safety Car would make an appearance, and they could then pit under caution, but they didn’t get lucky there – the race went green from start to finish.
Matthew Holt’s pit-stop was one of the quickest in the race – on corrected order, he was running fourth at the completion of the pit-window, before he was eventually passed by the faster finishing Greg Symes on Lap 41 – he then lost 4th place to the Subaru of Adam Proctor on the very last lap.
Dylan Thomas’ stop was slower than the one of Pollicina and Caine, so much so that, after pitting from the lead, Thomas would rejoin behind the #7 by some 15 seconds, in second position.
Barring an accident, or mechanical issue for Caine, the margin was big enough that Thomas would be unable to catch up, simply because lap times between the two cars were too close to impact on the margin between the two on circuit.
Black flags always find their way into an NSWPTC endurance race, and Wakefield Park was no exception. The final third of the race saw a few drivers, including Geoff Kite, detour via the pit-lane for a drive-through penalty as a result of an infringement during the compulsory pit-stop.
The Class C BMW of Nicholas Cox also found itself in pit-lane after being issued a mechanical defect flag – that car would not return to the race track – Cox retired just ten minutes from home.
Caine would go on to take the chequered flag from Dylan Thomas by just under 16 seconds. Greg Symes held on for third, ahead of the first of the non-Mitsubishi entries, as Adam Proctor and Mark McHenry held on for fourth, ahead of Matthew Holt.
Championship leader Daniel Oosthuizen was 11th – that was good enough for 6th in class, and another good haul of championship points going forward to Sydney at the end of the month.
I mentioned Kevin Herben earlier – the race didn’t go to plan for the Blend Line TV entry – he finished five laps down in 27th position.
Just five cars finished on the lead lap – Pollicina and Caine only led 20 laps of the 53 (the last 20), after Dylan Thomas help top spot for the opening 33 laps of the motor race.
Greg Symes was terrific – ran a faultless race, avoided drama, raced well, and quietly made his way from 11th to 3rd to again be on the podium at the end of the weekend.
Class A2 honours went to Matthew Holt (5th outright). ahead of Tony Virag and the entry of Trevor Symonds and Paul Lane. Virag had a good scrap with Holt in the early stages, but Holt’s pit-stop was superb, and he got out ahead of Virag, and went on to claim the class victory comfortably – Virag was right in the thick of the action for the whole hour, with an incident involving he and Brett McFarland resulting in the HSV losing its rear bumper bar for the second time in the weekend.
Class B1 was won by Paul Loiacono (14th outright), who capitalised on the late race misfortune of Brett McFarland. McFarland lost his rear bar after the incident with Tony Virag at turn 10, and was handed a mechanical defect flag – the unscheduled pit-stop put pay to his class victory aspirations, and he would settle for third behind Peter Lown.
Daniel Reynolds and Matt Stubbs (9th outright), the former Formula Vee champions, claimed victory in Class B2. It’s the second time their new BMW has been on the NSWPTC grid in 2016 – of course, Matt Stubbs drove the car in the opening sprint round here in February – and they had a faultless run to finish 9th outright, some 18 seconds ahead of Anthony Soole, who was second in that class in his BMW, but it doesn’t seem to matter what they drive, Reynolds and Stubbs always seem to have a strong race package, and get a good result.
Class C was won by Daniel Byron and Josh Muggleton (18th outright) in Byron’s Subaru WRX. The pair finished 18th outright, which was good enough to beat the boys from Bathurst, Blake and Kyle Aubin, and secure the win. Blake Aubin led that class early on, but the race, as we suspected it might be, was run and won in the pits, with Byron and Muggleton going through the motions far quicker than Blake Aubin, and then Byron was able to hold on for the Class win. To Blake Aubin’s credit though, he only finished just shy of six seconds behind the Subaru, showing that he is a serious threat in Class C in 2016.
Blake’s brother Kyle Aubin claimed third in Class C, just one lap down on Byron/Muggleton and Blake, in 25th outright.
It’s been a while since someone other than Chris Reeves scored a win in Class D, but the two-time defending champion met his match in Goulburn, as Jimmy Vernon stormed to a class win (and 22nd outright) in his series debut, and a very impressive debut at that.
Vernon, a former Formula Ford and Formula Four racer decided to try his hand at Production Car racing in 2016, and purchased one of the Toyota 86’s from Reeves’ Triple Zero Racing stable.
Reeves spoke to 2MCE Sport earlier in the weekend, and said if he’s going to be beaten, he’d rather it be by a (former) car of his, and that’s exactly what transpired. Class D will be one to watch as the series rolls on, with Vernon now challenging Reeves for race and round victories, which will make for some interesting racing, in a division that really has been dominated by the #1 in the last two seasons.
It wasn’t a straight forward weekend at the office for Reeves, who got smashed from pillar to post in Saturday’s qualifying race, and was just unable to match Vernon when it mattered on Sunday.
Matt Shylan in the Honda Integra was third in Class D,
Zac Raddatz took Class E honours. Like Vernon, the 14-year old was on debut this weekend. He was the sole entrant in Class E, with Finley Hills opting to sit this round out. Raddatz, a karting graduate, will have plenty of experience in driving with one eye on his mirrors after that race. Being in Class E, he was running one of the slower cars in the field (Mazda 3 SP23), which left him battling for minor placings, while also making way for the faster cars coming through to lap him – definitely not an easy task, but one that the young man handled well.
Raddatz finished 30th outright, ahead of Jacques Oosthuizen who was the last of the finishers, and several laps down due to the mechanical issues mentioned earlier.
Both Raddatz and Finley Hills – two member of the ever growing teen club of the NSWPTC, will contest Class E at the next round of the series in Sydney.
The other success story of the weekend came from the TLA racing stable, with Duane West and Kyle Austin finishing in 15th position. The recent Aussie Driver Search competition – run by Austin – uncovered Duane West as an up and coming motorsport talent, and through winning the amateur competition, West scored a drive with Austin in this NSWPTC round.
They exceeded expectations by finishing 15th outright, 6th in Class A2, in a smooth, quiet race for the Holden HSV Clubsport.
53 laps (or 116.6km) completed by the winning trio, in a flag-to-flag race with no Safety Car interruptions, and for that, all drivers are to be commended, because many of them commented on how congested and tight it would be with thirty-five cars on a 2.2km, but everyone drove smartly, and as is the way in the NSWPTC, it was hard but fair racing, and you can expect more of the same as the season rolls on!
31 finishers, which is a great reflection of the mechanical reliability of the entire field – we often speak of mechanical attrition in these endurance races, but that wasn’t a factor today, with 88% of the field taking the chequered flag.
Mark Caine’s TLA Racing Holden was one of those four retirements – there were problems with the car in Friday Practice, and some long hours and hard work from Trevor Mirabito and his team saw the car back on track first thing Saturday morning. Sadly though, he would retire 15-minutes from home on Sunday, after the car started leaking oil – Caine had already toured through the lane once, with an unscheduled stop due to a separate issue prior to the pit-window.
David Kruza and Rodney Stait’s BMW E36 328I was an early retirement – they were the first team to encounter trouble in the motor race.
Michael Caine and Jim Pollicina, too good for the CXC Global Racing outfit this time around, and the championship now heads back to Sydney Motorsport Park for another sprint round – it comes your way as part of Round 5 of the 2016 CAMS NSW Motor Racing Championships on the last weekend of July (30-31), as this busy stretch of five rounds in four months continues.
Entries are already flooding in for the next round of the series, in what is fast becoming a history making year of the championship. We look forward to your company from Sydney.
BONUS: The FULL 2MCE Sport Broadcast from Wakefield Park.