They say the first win is always the hardest to get, but then you find scoring them much easier, and that’s exactly the way it’s been for Matthew Boylan in 2017. His first win in Sydney last time out has opened the floodgates, and seen him leave Goulburn with pole and another three race victories to his name.
Round 4 of the Pitcher Partners NSW APRA Series saw the teams and drivers return to Wakefield Park, where all three rounds in the second-half of the 2017 season will be contested, and it was there where Boylan staked his claim for title supremacy, taking the fight to Joshua Heath and Daniel Smith, in what’s set to be a three-way fight for championship glory.
The clean-sweep couldn’t have come at a better time for Boylan, who now, with four victories, has the same number of race wins this season as title rivals, Heath and Smith.
Going forward, consistency will be the key to this championship for those three men, because after twelve races, it’s the other eight results – where they ended up in the races they didn’t win – that tells the difference when you look at the points table.
A return to Goulburn, after two rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park, saw a spike in the entry list, with thirty-one cars taking to the circuit for Qualifying.
As detailed earlier, it was Matthew Boylan who charged to pole position, and he claimed top spot by a staggering margin of 0.8973, from Daniel Smith and Joshua Heath, meaning the title contenders would all be starting inside the top three, which bode well for a great day of competition.
Thomas Petrovich was fourth fastest, and Jack Winter rounded out the top five, after upstaging Cem Yucel.
Boylan’s dominance in Qualifying was backed up in the opening race of the weekend, as the #777 cruised to a 4.3 second victory.
He absolutely smashed the competition, leaving them to battle for the minors, and in doing that, he sent the message to the entire paddock that he meant business, starting the second half of the season in emphatic style.
Joshua Heath was a clear second, ahead of Cem Yucel, who scored his best finish of the season, leading home a fierce pack, consisting of Thomas Petrovich, Daniel Smith and Jack Winter.
Petrovich held on for fourth, while Smith narrowly edged out Winter in the battle for fifth, but interestingly enough, that fifth position was Smith’s worst finishing position in the ten races contested to this point in 2017.
While Boylan was again victorious in the second race, it was Cem Yucel who stole the show, as he got the better of Joshua Heath, to secure second position, which was a new personal best race result for him, after scoring his first podium finish of the season earlier in the day.
Joshua Heath continued his streak of podium finishes, securing third, ahead of Thomas Petrovich and Jack Winter, but the big story was further down, as the state of play in the championship changed dramatically early in that second race, with Daniel Smith running into trouble, and later finishing two laps down, in 27th position.
Given his disastrous luck in Race 2, Smith was on a rescue mission come Race 3. Starting at the back of the grid, he needed to make up as much ground as possible in order to limit the damage done in the points race.
While all eyes were on Smith, to see how far he could progress, there was no one stopping Matthew Boylan at the front of the field. Taking the lead off the start, the winner of the opening two races stormed to his biggest victory of the days, as he took the chequered flag 5.9 seconds ahead of Cem Yucel and Thomas Petrovich, who fought hard for the minor placings. Yucel secured second by one-tenth of a second, while Petrovich secured his best result of the season.
Daniel Smith charged back through to 11th, finishing just behind Gene Alexander, who had a quiet day, finishing eighth in the opening two races, before that 10th place finish in race 3.
Craig Thornton’s up and down season continued in Round 4. After qualifying 16th, he finished race 1 in 12th, race 2 in 15th, but ended the day strongly, with a 7th place finish in race 3.
Post-race, Mark Crutcher, Matthew Leenman and Brad Connelly were all handed 30-second penalties, relegating them to positions 24, 25 and 26 respectively.
Sadly for Joshua Craig, his consistent day came to an end in the third race. After finishing the opening two races in 7th and 6th, he failed to finish the final one of the day.
As soon as he got back to his garage, Daniel Smith was racing off again, this time to a nearby helicopter, to be flown to Sydney Motorsport Park, where he would race in the last race of Round 4 in the Shockwave Signs Production Touring Car Championship.
Teaming up with Tim Brook in the Honda Integra, it was a far better result for Smith in Sydney, after a horrible day at the office in Goulburn. He drove to second position in Class D – 12th outright – and while he lost out to Jimmy Vernon in the class battle for the third race in a row, he did his title hopes no harm whatsoever, and he’ll continue to lead the outright state championship going into the next round at Wakefield Park in August.
As for the APRA Series, they now enjoy a two-month winter break, ahead of Round 5 of the series, which is again at Wakefield Park in Goulburn, this time supporting the final Motor Racing Australia event of 2017.
The 2017 Pitcher Partners NSW APRA Series is proudly supported by: Toyo Tyres, Bluett Bodyworks, BlueSky Modular Buildings, Kubota, New Image Kitchens and Trackschool.