There’s been lots of change throughout the paddock, with new sponsors, new drivers, new cars and new liveries all the rage ahead of the first race of the season.
The New Sponsor
Shockwave Signs will take over from V8 Superlaps as the naming rights sponsor of the series.
Shockwave Signs, owned and operated by John Vernon, will also sponsor a second car in 2017, as the business becomes the primary sponsor of Matt Shylan’s Honda Integra.
Shockwave Signs is a family owned business based out of Hornsby, that often undertakes projects interstate as well.
Shockwave Signs business has stretched as far as the lofty heights of Supercars –with John designing and wrapping Jonathon Webb’s ‘Mother’ sponsored Tekno Autosport Supercar in 2010.
Shockwave Signs Motorsport has run the Shockwave Signs Motorsport team since 2012. After a few years involved in Motocross, they turned their attention to four-wheel motorsport.
Many series regulars use the services of Shockwave Signs, such as Mark Phillips, Paul Lane, Gavin Clarke and More Driven Media’s Cary Morsink.
John Vernon has always been passionate about motorsport, and a rich history in it himself, having competed at Mount Panorama in the 1991 Tooheys 1000.
John has also competed in Formula Ford, Sports Sedans and the now defunct Commodore Cup, before turning his attention to son Jimmy, for whom he is the chief pit crew mechanic.
We welcome Shockwave Signs on board for season 2017, along with returning sponsors: Massell, Race Bred Engineering, V Sport, Hankook (Control Tyre Supplier once again), Bilstein (also the naming rights sponsor of the QLD Championship), and MoComm Racing Communications (naming rights sponsor of the endurance portion of the season, once more)
For many, April is a very busy month, with the opening two sprint rounds being contested at the top and the tail, and a date with the mountain in the middle, as many will flock to Mount Panorama, to mix it with the stars of the national series in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour over the Easter weekend.
For the NSW series, it will be the first round contested on Queensland soil.
MoComm Cup Racing continues at Sydney Motorsport Park in July (1-2) and Wakefield Park in August (12-13), before sprint racing returns for the last NSW round of the season at Sydney Motorsport Park from September 15-17.
The Queensland events will also form part of the brand new Queensland Production Touring Car Championship, which also commences this weekend, with a stand-alone round at Lakeside Park.
Endurance races will again be a feature of the series, with at least five one-hour races across the two states, to compliment the sprint racing on offer in the opening two rounds, and round five of the series.
Shorter sprint races will also feature on the opening day of all MoComm Cup rounds.
The 2016 winners came from three different classes, and represented three different manufacturers.
Daniel Oosthuizen was dominant in claiming the Club Championship. The CXC Global Racing driver pocketed nine wins across the course of the season, including his first enduro win, with brother Jacques, at Sydney Motorsport Park in September.
Unfortunately, the Sydney driver won’t contest the opening round, after going through some shoulder surgery over the summer, and as we’ve found out in the past, failing to score points in one race, let alone missing a full round, is enough to cost you the title.
Four round wins in Class D throughout the CAMS Championship portion of the season, along with Class D honours at Winton, which gave him victory in not only the MoComm Cup outright, but also in Class D as far as the Club Championship was concerned.
This year, he’ll contest every round, and if he can carry his 2016 form into 2017, he’s an outright title contender.
Holt managed to put Holden back on top of the Production Touring Car Championship in 2016, claiming his third title, in an extremely wet finale at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The victory put an end to Chris Reeves hopes of a hat-trick, after claiming the 2014 and 2015 championships.
Holt, as the champion, is the man everyone wants to catch, and beat, in 2017, and because of that, it won’t be an easy championship defence, but it never is in this game, which is what makes the PTC such compelling viewing.
Holt’s consistency will help his cause for a fourth title – he finished every race in 2016, netting finishes inside the top three in Class A2 in EVERY race, which is remarkable, given the competitive nature of the class.
New Cars, New Drivers, New Liveries and New Championship Contenders.
In Daniel Oosthuizen’s absence, his brother Jacques will lead the CXC Global Racing Oosthuizen Motorsport charge, as the sole entry in the CXC Mitsubishi Evo stable in the opening round at Wakefield Park.
The younger of the Oosthuizen duo broke through for his first race wins in season 2016, and will be looking to build on that in 2017, but will face stiff competition from his brother, once he returns, as well as Anthony Soole, who is making the change from Class B2 to A1, and Clay Skinner, who is coming up from Class B1.
CXC Global Racing team boss, Dylan Thomas, will be missing from the grid in 2017, as he focuses his attention on the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, and his maiden tilt at the Toyota 86 Racing Series.
Clay Skinner was a standout performer in his two appearances during the 2016 season.
Racing in Class B1, Skinner took the challenge to the Class A1 drivers, fighting for the race lead and podium positions on many occasions. He defeated the A2 competitors, and had everyone taking notice, with a tremendous showcase of his ability and natural talent behind the wheel.
He was achieving what Jimmy Vernon was in Class D – being able to get more performance out of his car than those around him, and not only that, but overachieving with a considerably older car, that was lacking some of the finer detail of the newer model Evo’s around him, that he was fighting for track position with.
In 2017, he moves up to the outright class – A1 – and that will make him a serious contender for race victories. Skinner will drive an ex-Graeme Shaw Mitsubishi Evo X, a model that served Dylan Thomas, Jim Pollicina and Michael Caine very well in the 2016 MoComm Cup.
Anthony Soole missed the last event of 2016, after he acquired a BMW 1M for season 2017, and sold the BMW M3 he drove to Class B2 victory in 2016.
Soole, up until round 4, was an outright title contender, but after not scoring points in the final race of the August round at Wakefield Park, he was out of the race, left to rue what might have been, but still able to secure the B1 honours.
For both Skinner and Soole, this weekend’s opening round will be the test – to see if the off-season car preparation and testing has paid off.
It promises to be a fascinating battle between Oosthuizen, Skinner and Soole across the weekend.
Tony Virag will move from Class A2 to B2 in 2017, as he joins Krincorp Racing and Joe Krinelos, in a new Holden VF, that they’ll share at the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, and MoComm Cup rounds of the Production Touring Car Championship.
Further afield, Jimmy Vernon will come up against new competition in Class D, with former Nissan GT Academy star Josh Muggleton joining the ranks in his Volkswagen Golf GTI.
He started with TLA Racing’s Class A2 Clubsport, then teamed up with Daniel Byron, in Byron’s Subaru, for a Class C win at Wakefield Park, before helping Matthew Holt secure the championship at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Muggleton’s natural ability to very quickly adapt to any car he drives will serve him well for the Volkswagen’s race debut this weekend.
In a family affair, he’ll later team up with brother Jared, for the MoComm Cup portion of the season.
In the past, Caine has raced on a semi-regular basis. He claimed a race win at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2015 for CXC Global Racing, secured a top-ten finish with Chris Reeves in the Toyota 86 at the 2016 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, and grabbed the first win for Matthew Holt’s new car at Winton in December.
In between, he drove for TLA Racing at Wakefield Park in July, and teamed up with Jimmy Vernon for a top-five finish in the national series round at Sydney Motorsport Park in November.
Caine will debut his Showtell Racing/TLA Racing VF Clubsport R8 at Wakefield Park this weekend, and will race all points paying rounds in that car this season. He’ll also look to continue that successful partnership with Jimmy Vernon, when the pair team-up in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
Fifteen year old Zac Raddatz will return to the field in 2017, but not in the Class E Mazda he drove in 2016.
Raddatz will run a BMW 135i when he eventually joins the gird. He’ll miss the opening round, as preparations continue for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
Also missing this weekend will be Bathurst locals, Kyle and Blake Aubin.
The Aubin Brothers Racing team recently revealed a new livery for their Renault Megane, which the pair will drive together in the Hi-Tec Oils 6 Hour. After that, it’s expected that they’ll share that car in MoComm Cup races of the PTC season.
2014 and 2015 Champion Chris Reeves will also sit much of the season out. He’ll race at Easter, but then his attention will turn to his 2018 campaign, and a move away from Toyota, with a new challenger on the cards.
His fellow Class D racer David Bailey will line-up for Round 1, sporting a new livery as well, with new sponsors coming on board in the off-season.
Along with drivers who are changing cars, there are new drivers joining the fold for 2017.
Smith will run a Honda Integra, and will be helped along the way by Trackschool’s John Boston.
The quiet achiever of last year’s Bathurst 6 Hour was the Suzuki Swift of Andrew Crawshaw, Simon Hodges and Daniel Holihan.
In 2017, two Swifts will line up on the grid, with Jamie Little and Greg Cox set to tackle the opening round of the series.
Cary Morsink makes a welcome return to the grid, while Kirt Metcalfe, James Goldsbrough, William Cauchi, Scott Soames, Stephen Thompson and Paul Pearson will all join the field.
With new competitors comes new, and returning, manufacturers. No less than ten different manufacturers will line up on the grid for the opening round of the season, and with Renault and Subaru likely to be represented later in the season, at least twelve different manufacturers will race in the Production Touring Car Championship in 2017 – easily making the category home to the most diverse range of cars you’re likely to see in New South Wales across the season.
Apart from the Suzuki Swifts mentioned earlier, the Hyundai Getz of James Goldsbrough is also a unique addition to the fold, in a massive thirty-four car field.
North of the border, a new era commences with the opening round of the Bilstein Suspension Queensland Production Touring Car Championship, where series regulars Greg Symes, Brian Anderson and Gerry Murphy will line-up, alongside the new flock of Queensland talent, such as Karl Begg, that is set to take this category into a brand new and exciting era.
So, this weekend – it starts. Season 2017 launches on both sides of the Tweed, and by the end of it, we’ll have more of an idea of what sort of shape the season may take, and who the title contenders may be.
It’s a season that promises so much, with the addition of a new championship and two new venues as well, further adding to the PTC legend, with much interest on who will prevail when NSW competitors face Queensland’s finest, on the first Sunday in June at Lakeside Park.
The countdown is over… it’s time to go racing again.