With three weeks until the finale of the 2016 V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship, many series regulars are taking the opportunity of some extra track time this weekend, in preparation for the Winton finale on the opening weekend of December.
No less than eight cars and 14 drivers – from the NSW series – are entered for the final round of the Australian series at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The fourth round of the revamped national series is a four-hour race on Sunday morning, as part of the seventh and final round of the 2016 Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals.
CXC Global Racing will lead the state series’ assault in Sunday’s race, with three Mitsubishi Evo’s lining up, along with a BMW, three Toyota 86’s, a Holden and a CSV.
The event sees the racing return of TLA Racing’s main man, Trevor Mirabito, who will drive alongside Troy Williams.
Mirabito has spent the majority of season 2016 preparing cars for the likes of Mark Caine and Josh Muggleton to drive in the V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship, but will this weekend trade the spanners for the cockpit, and is over the moon to be doing so, as he gets ready to co-drive with Hong Kong based, Troy Williams, who shared that car with Muggleton in the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour at Mount Panorama earlier in the season.
The BMW M135i that Luke Searle and Barry Graham have raced successfully throughout 2016 is also on the grid. Searle will team up with Stadium Super Truck racer Paul Morris in Sunday’s event.
There’s no doubt that the Toyota 86 has established itself as one the cars to be in, given Chris Reeves’ success in recent years, and no less than FIVE will compete in Sunday’s race, THREE from the Production Touring ranks.
David Bailey will team up with Victorian Matt Thewlis, in the number 39 Advance Gas Maintenance entry. Father-Son duo Graeme and Joshua Heath will team up in #522, but the entry that will attract the most interest, and is probably the most exciting prospect in this class, from the Production Touring ranks, is that of Jimmy Vernon and Mark Caine.
Caine secured tenth with Chris Reeves in the Bathurst 6 Hour, while Vernon has established himself as the driver to beat in Class D, having won all four rounds he’s contested in 2016, and that form will no doubt see him tipped as an early favourite in the 2017 championship, after Reeves took 3rd outright in this year’s State Championship, won by Matthew Holt.
Mitsubishi’s have won every race of the 2016 V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship season to this point, and the team at CXC Global Racing has taken the majority of those victories.
They’ll be joined by winners of the recent Production Touring one-hour race on that track, Jacques and Daniel Oosthuizen, and their father Roelof will drive alongside Gavin Holland in the third CXC Global Racing entry.
The final Production Touring combination is Steve Hodges and Robert Coulthard, who will drive the Mondo CSV.
It’s been an interesting season for this pair – an engine failure at Bathurst, followed by a nasty shunt for Hodges at Phillip Island left the team with some work to do, but since then, some good results in both the State and National championship meetings, and if they can go the distance on Sunday, there’s no reason why they can’t finish inside the top ten.
Two Practice sessions, and two qualifying sessions will take place tomorrow, ahead of the 4 Hour race at 9am AEDST on Sunday.
The V8 Superlaps Production Touring Car Championship will return on the opening weekend of December, with the final round of the championship at Winton Motor Raceway.