When the 2016 New South Wales Production Touring Car Championship commences in Goulburn this Saturday, we’ll be inside five weeks until cars hit the circuit for practice ahead of the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour at Mount Panorama.
While the focus for many is very much on the enduro, vital championship points are up for grabs in the opening round of the season at Wakefield Park this weekend.
It may only be a sprint round, but as we saw last year, every point counts, with podium positions in both the Club and State Championship battle decided in the final races of the season at Sydney Motorsport Park.
This year, eight rounds, and more racing than we’ve ever seen before for the series, as well as a rare trip interstate, for the series finale at Winton on the opening weekend of December.
The opening event of the season is also unique, as the series supports the Valvoline Wakefield 300 for the very first time, with four sprint races to be contested across the weekend.
It’s not the first time the series has ventured to Wakefield Park for a AASA sanctioned event. In May 2014, a 2-Hour enduro was contested, as part of the AASA NSW State Championships – the race was won by Graeme Shaw and Rick Bates.
Then, last year, the series was due to hold a race alongside the Modern Sports Cars series at Wakefield during the fourth MRA meeting of 2015 – the event was later cancelled due to a scheduling conflict at the Goulburn facility.
It’s a valuable chance for those not competing in the six hour to get points before the third round of the championship at Sydney Motorsport Park at the end of May.
With the six hour looming ever closer, there are some notable names missing the opening round of the season, such as Steve Hodges, Robert Coulthard, defending champion Chris Reeves, and 2015 MoComm Cup winner, Dylan Thomas, who are all busy testing and preparing their cars, as they gear up to tackle the mountain over Easter..
As for Round 1, Jacques and Daniel Oosthuizen return in their Mitsubishi Evo’s, and Daniel will start as the outright favourite in the absence of Luke Searle and Dylan Thomas. Oosthuizen, of course, won the 2015 sprint round here in June, and will look to do the same in 2016, and start his quest for Production Touring supremacy in the best possible way.
Barry Graham is entered, and Barry will be running the BMW he shares with Luke Searle in the longer races. He and Jacques Oosthuizen will be Daniel’s main opposition in Class A1.
BMW is the best represented brand on the grid for this round of the Championship, with no less than seven cars on the grid in a seventeen strong field.
Grant and Michael Sherrin will each run a 135I in the opening round of the series. It’s double-duties for them this weekend, with Grant teaming up with Iain Sherrin, and Michael driving with David Ayres in the Wakefield 300.
It’s a busy year for the Sherrin’s, with Iain’s Ontic Sports taking up category management of the renamed Australian Production Car Series, which runs on the Shannons Nationals card, and they’ll also be contesting the 2016 Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
The Sherrin’s aren’t the only ones on double-duty this weekend, as David Bailey will also run in both the opening round of the Australian Endurance Championship, and the sprint round for the NSW Production Touring Car Championship.
Bailey will team up with Adam Hughes in the Toyota 86 for Sunday’s 300.
Elsewhere, Brett Heeley is back for 2016. Heeley has been busy in the off-season, with the Heeley Motorsport team also in charge of V8 SuperLaps down at the Marulan Driver Training Centre, but he’s now back behind the wheel of his commodore for an important hit-out before the 6 Hour.
Incidentally, V8 SuperLaps commence their partnership with the Championship this weekend, as the series’ new windscreen sponsor. All cars will run V8 SuperLaps signage on their windscreen for the 2016 season.
A pre-season get together four weeks ago at the sponsors ride day has given everyone racing fever once more, after an enjoyable summer break.
It’s a four-race weekend, and the action commences with Qualifying at 9:25am on Saturday morning.
|2016 NSW Production Touring Car Championship Calendar|
|February 20-21||1||4 x Sprint Races||Wakefield Park, Goulburn|
|March 25-27||2||6 Hour Enduro||Mount Panorama, Bathurst|
|May 28-29||3||1||3 x Sprint Races||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|July 2-3||4||2||Enduro||Wakefield Park, Goulburn|
|July 30-31||5||3||3 x Sprint Races||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|August 20-21||6||4||3 x Sprint Races||Wakefield Park, Goulburn|
|September 17-18||7||5||Enduro||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|December 3-4||8||2 x 1hr Enduro||Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, Victoria|
|2016 NSW Production Touring Car Championship | Round 1 | Wakefield Park, Goulburn|
|Saturday February 20|
|11:25am||Race 1||10 Laps (22km)|
|2pm||Race 2||10 Laps (22km)|
|Sunday February 21|
|10:05am||Race 3||12 Laps (26.4km)|
|10:55am||Race 4||15 Laps (33km)|