A massive weekend of racing, which saw the team running seven cars, for six drivers, across three different categories, and two different circuits.
It was a massive assignment across two days of racing, but the operation was deemed a success, with the standout performance being Daniel Smith, who ran in two categories, across two circuits, and maintained his outright lead in the Shockwave Signs Production Touring Car Championship in the process.
Of all the Trackschool drivers, Smith was the busiest, by far, across that weekend, competing in the Pitcher Partners APRA Series at Wakefield Park, as well as round four of the Production Touring Car season up the road at Sydney Motorsport Park.
He started the weekend in Sydney, for Qualifying and a sprint race, ahead of the one-hour MoComm Cup outing on the Sunday, then drove to Goulburn that night, to ensure he’d be trackside and ready to go in Round 4 of the APRA series on the Sunday morning.
From there, he’d contest all three races in his Nissan Pulsar, before getting some outside assistance for the trip back to Sydney Motorsport Park, to successfully take to the track in the Production Touring Car Championship endurance race.
Given Smith is in title contention in the Pitcher Partners APRA Series and was the points leader heading into the third round Shockwave Signs Production Touring Car State Championship, Trackschool went all out in a bid to ensure Smith remained in contention in both series.
Team chief, John Boston, spared no expense in ensuring Smith could successfully contest both events. Immediately following Race 3 in Goulburn, there was a Helicopter waiting at Wakefield Park to take Smith directly to Sydney Motorsport Park, so he could jump behind the wheel of his Honda Integra within minutes of arriving at the circuit.
In order to successfully complete the mission, the Trackschool team called on the services of Toyota 86 Racing Series competitor, Tim Brook, to co-drive the #75.
Brook started the race, with Smith arriving at the circuit mid-race, to take over from Brook during the pit-window, and drive the Honda to the the chequered flag.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and while championship points are in the bag now, he had a day to forget in Goulburn.
Qualifying was just about the highlight for the man who, coming into this round, had won four of the first nine races of the championship. Smith clocked the second fastest time, marginally behind Matthew Boylan, who has taken over as the form man in this series, with such consistency across the opening half of the season.
In Race 1, Smith was only able to manage fifth position – his worst finish of the season so far – but it would remain his best result of the day.
In that opening race, he was the third fastest car on circuit, but unable to stay with the top four, as Matthew Boylan secured his second win of the season, four seconds ahead of Joshua Heath, who had a similar margin back to Cem Yucel and Thomas Petrovich, who came home in fourth spot.
Smith ran into tremendous trouble in race 2, as his day went from alright to terrible in a real hurry.
Smith fell back through the field gradually, before he had to pit on lap five, and would later finish the race two laps down in 27th position.
The New Image Kitchens Pulsar started race 3 in 27th, and in what was a champion drive, Smith passed 16 cars in just nine laps, to finish in 11th position.
If the championship is decided by mere points come December 3, July 2 could be the day that costs Daniel Smith the title… that said, on what was a character building day, it’s the damage control drive in Race 3 that may get him across the line IF Matthew Boylan and Joshua Heath strike trouble in the final two rounds of the season.
As detailed earlier, it was a far better day for the New Image Kitchens Trackschool team at Sydney Motorsport Park, where the Honda Integra of Daniel Smith and Tim Brook came home in 12th position, after an enthralling hour of racing.
Smith was listed as Driver A, while Brook was a handy selection co-driver duties, and, due to Smith’s commitments in Goulburn, was left to start the race on Sunday afternoon.
As a result, Brook had no choice but to set a lap time in the Driver B Qualifying session, and to the surprise of no one, he was the fastest Class D car in that session, with a 1:47.6129.
Earlier, Smith set the fastest Class D time in Driver A Qualifying, with a 1:47.1325.
While Tim Brook elected not to run his sprint race on Saturday afternoon, Daniel Smith had no choice, as he had a championship lead to defend, and he did just that, by finishing second in class, 18th outright, directly behind Jimmy Vernon, who scored his second consecutive win over Smith in Class D, after the Honda pilot won the opening five races of the season.
As for the main race, it couldn’t have been any better timed by the team, with Smith arriving in Sydney, from Goulburn, part-way through the pit-window. In just seven minutes, Smith landed at the circuit, raced to the pit-lane, the team had Tim Brook bring the car to pit-lane, and Smith took over for the run to the chequered flag.
Smith and Brook finished second in Class D, and Smith’s overall championship lead was cut to just nine points, ahead of Jimmy Vernon, who claimed 8th spot and first in Class D in his Toyota 86.
Smith jumped behind the wheel of the Honda Integra moments before the Safety Car entered the track for the second time in the race, and at that time, Vernon was able to complete his compulsory pit-stop and leapfrog the Honda.
Back at Wakefield Park, Smith was one of no less than FIVE drivers competing in the Pitcher Partners APRA round, with Charlie Viola, Ben Hanrahan, Ben Sheedy and Iain Salteri joining Daniel Smith on the grid.
In qualifying, Iain Salteri was the best placed, after Smith, down in 13th position, fractionally ahead on Ben Hanrahan in 14th, while Charlie Viola was 18th, with Ben Sheedy qualifying in 23rd position.
Ben Sheedy was the only driver to make progress in the opening race, moving up to 22nd, as his team-mates lost ground.
The best of the bunch was Hanrahan, who was impressive in his drive to 15th, just behind Brianna Wilson. Salteri lost ground to finish just ahead of Viola, and they came home in 19th and 20th respectively, in the thick of a battle pack that included Ben Silvestro (18th), Peter Paterson (21st) and Sheedy.
While race two was a disaster for Daniel Smith, the rest of the team came through unscathed – all finishing inside the top twenty.
Ben Hanrahan followed Salteri through the field, in a nice drive to 13th, while Sheedy and Viola couldn’t be separated, coming home in 16th and 17th respectively.
All Trackschool pilots managed to finish inside the top ten again in Race 3, with Iain Salteri breaking into the top ten for the first time this round, finishing in 8th position, ahead of Smith in 11th. Hanrahan slipped back to 15th, Sheedy finished where he started in 16th, with Viola coming home in 18th position.
The action didn’t stop there for the Trackschool team, Kerry Smith the sole representative for the squad in the Mazda MX5 Cup.
Smith proved consistent throughout the day. After Qualifying 12th with a 1.15.1115, he recorded finishes of 14th, 15th and 13th across the day, and a rather competitive field, but the lap speed wasn’t there. Smith’s fastest lap of the day came in race 1, with a 1:11.7156, but gradually lost pace across the day, only managing to record 1:13’s in the final race.
Daniel Smith’s Production Touring Car Championship campaign continues in Goulburn on August 12 and 13, with another one-hour race, ahead of the finale at Sydney Motorsport Park in September, where he’ll be looking to secure the championship in his debut season.