Webber’s protege takes Island clean sweep
From beautiful sunshine to driving rain, the five categories at the Shannons Nationals Motor Racing Championships at Phillip Island over the weekend produced exceptionally close racing, as competitors faced all four seasons throughout the two days of action.
In the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship, Mark Webber’s protégé Mitch Evans took a clean sweep of the three race wins, although the young New Zealander had to work hard for his victories.
“Not a bad weekend, it‚s what we needed to get our championship back on track (after missing the previous round at Symmons Plains),” Evans said.
“Hopefully we can keep it up for the rest of the season.”
The racing at times was hectic, including a three wide moment in the Sunday morning race when Evans swept around the outside of Tom Tweedie and Kristian Lindbom at Honda Corner in wet conditions.
”In the races we had to fight hard in the early going, but once we were in front we were able to make a decent gap,” Evans said.
“Phillip Island is very grippy in the wet, especially compared to Sandown and Wakefield Park, and with the high grip, high down force and high speed of the cars, it makes it very enjoyable to race here.”
Tom Tweedie and Ben Crighton both bounced back from off track excursions during the races to be placed second and third on the round podium.
Although Kristian Lindbom was classified in fifth for the round, he pulled off one of the moves of the season around the outside of Tweedie at the treacherous turn one in the second race, despite the damp conditions.
The Australian Manufacturers Championship racing featured two incredible hour-long races, with Stuart Kostera (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) taking the round victory over Garry Holt/Ryan McLeod (BMW 335i) in a count back, as tyre degradation played a major part in the outcome of the weekend.
Kostera‚s team mate Inky Tulloch looked good for the opening race win until tyre dramas struck, handing Kostera the victory.
The roles were reversed in the second race as Kostera suffered a flat, and with Tulloch conserving tyres in the dying laps, Lee Castle aboard the Subaru WRX Sti stormed through for a close second from McLeod in a thrilling finish.
“We were all running at an incredible pace throughout the races doing qualifying times, but unfortunately it was hard keeping the tyres under the car,” Tulloch said.
“It’s been a long time coming to finally notch up a win, and it’s a credit to the whole team for the effort they put in.”
Class A was taken out by Kostera, with Holt/McLeod winners in Class B, Peter O‚Donnell (BMW 130i) was an ecstatic Class C victor, with the small car classes won by Richard Gartner (Renault Clio) and Maddison Gray (Toyota Echo).
The Australian Manufacturers Championship will continue on July 18 with the Australian Six Hour, scheduled for Eastern Creek Raceway.
Nick Parker won the war in the Commodore Cup National Series, after taking two-victories and a third for the weekend.
Parker was pushed by new Series leader Scott Andrews all the way in the final race in a winner takes all fight to the finish.
“Scotty pushed me hard in that last race, but that’s what good motor racing is all about,‰ Parker said.
“My engineer keeps telling me to stop watching my mirrors and concentrate on the road ahead, and that paid off today.‰
Parker was particularly impressive in the opening wet race, charging through to the lead.
“I actually don’t like the wet that much, but the car performed very well,” Parker said.
“The car is going really well at the moment, and we really want to keep it on top and go for the championship this year.”
Round one winner Adam Beechey was classified in third for the round.
Less than five seconds separated the Holden Commodores of Shawn Jamieson and Tim Rowse over the entire three race results in the Australian Saloon Car Series, with the pair virtually stuck together throughout 24 laps of racing.
Provisionally Jamieson beat home Rowse and Simon Tabinor (Commodore) for overall round honours, as wet weather mixed up the results sheets.
In the opening round of the Australian Superkart Championship, the finishing order from the fourth and final race decided the order for the round.
Saturday’s polesitter Gary Pegoraro came through for the win in his Anderson Maverick from Darren Hossack and UK visitor Trevor Roberts.
Luke May took out the 250cc National class, while Darren Dunn took out the 125cc division, with the championship set to conclude at Morgan Park Raceway in August.