Ricciardello beaten in Sports Sedan final
Chevrolet Camaro driver Scott Butler caused a major upset by winning the final race of the opening round of the 2011 Kerrick Sports Sedan Series at Mallala.
Six-time series winner Tony Ricciardello had dominated the weekend up until Race 3 – including taking the Clem Smith Cup awarded to the winner of Race 2.
The B&M Ricciardello Motors Alfa Romeo GTV was unable to resist the challenge of Butler in the final however – with the Menai Blinds Camaro sweeping to the front with three laps remaining.
“What a great result,” said Butler afterwards.
“That’s such a great reward for the team and all our efforts in the off-season, I can’t thank them enough.
“We’ve had a good year on the new tyre now and we seem to have found a better setup with the car.
“I’m sure Tony won’t be down for long though, but to come away with a good haul of points and be so close to the pace of the Alfa was the perfect way to start the season.”
Ricciardello appeared to suffer from tyre problems in Race 3, and fell to third behind Jeff Barnes (Barnes High Performance Pontiac Trans-Am) on the final lap.
Mallala marked Ricciardello’s first weekend on the Michelin rubber – which caught the Western Australian team by surprise.
“I didn’t expect to be under this much pressure, but we’re really losing out on a lack of time with the new Michelin rubber,” said Ricicardello after narrowly winning his third Clem Smith Cup.
“This is my first time on the tyre which behaves significantly differently to the Dunlops we’ve been using for years.”
Butler finished second in the Cup race despite running low on fuel in the closing laps, while Dean Camm (Fivestar Fencing Corvette), Bob McLoughlin (Marinellis Mechanical & Performance Commodore VS) and Shane Bradford (Astron Air Chev Camaro).
Also at Mallala, the Australian Swift Racing Series put on what could only be described as a respectable debut during their maiden event.
Clearly disappointed not to have filled all 15 seats (there were 15 completed race cars at the event), the teams entered gave the Nationals regulars a taste of what can be expected from the nimble Suzukis.
In the end the round victory was taken by experienced New Zealand Swift campaigner Rex McCutcheon (Peter Davies Suzuki), over rising local star Jesse Dixon (Ice Break Queensland), with Morgan Haber (Haber Excavations) third.
Frustratingly for Allan Jarvis and his father – V8 Ute campaigner Rob – the pair spent the bulk of race two on the sidelines after an errant overtaking move saw seven cars all fighting over the same real estate at turn three on the opening lap, with the two Jarvis cars forced into immediate retirement.
Both were repaired for the final race, which was won by McCutcheon, with an impressive drive by Haber netting him second, with Dixon third.
In the South Australian HQ Holden support class, Neil Corey clean swept all but the last of the four races, with former Saloon Car champion Bruce Heinrich claiming the final eight lapper. In Formula Vees, reigning SA champion Robert Surman (Stinger) took two wins, with one apiece for Bo Jensen (Scorpion Mk 2) and Nicholas Pavan (Sabre).
The Shannons Nationals now prepares for round three of the championship at Winton Motor Raceway on the June 24-26 weekend, where the Kerrick Sports Sedan Series will be joined by the Radical Australia Cup, the Swift Racing Series, Commodore Cup, Saloon Cars and the debut event for the new ProSports class.