Smerdon takes Kumho V8 victories at Mallala
Chris Smerdon has elevated himself back into Kumho V8 Touring Car Series title contention by taking out Round 2 of the 2012 season at Mallala.
The local driver finished third in yesterday’s opening race before emerging victorious from a pair of action packed Sunday encounters.
The result sees Smerdon fourth in the points standings despite having failed to score in the opening round at Eastern Creek last month.
Jim Pollicina finished second to Smerdon for the weekend at Mallala after chalking up two seconds and a sixth across the three races.
The Sydney driver, who pilots an ex-Tasman Motorsport Commodore originally raced by the late Jason Richards, now heads the series standings, with erstwhile leader Josh Hunter 27 points adrift after a tumultuous weekend.
Sidelined for Saturday’s action after being found to have an out-of-date fuel tank bladder, Hunter charged from the back of the grid to second in Race 2 on Sunday morning only for his car to fail on the last lap.
He again fought through from the rear of the field in the 20-lap final, eventually finishing third despite losing time after contact with Michael Bartsch at the Northern Hairpin on Lap 16.
Bartsch had been on target for a podium finish until the contact. The subsequent spin dropped him to eighth in the race and fifth for the round.
Hunter’s team-mate Justin Garioch eventually took the final podium position. Fourth place in the final race helped the Falcon pilot take the third Kumho Series podium of his career.
Rookie Bobby Jane, son of Australian motorsport legend Bob Jane, impressed in just his second weekend in the Kumho Series. The Image Racing-run Falcon driver finished fifth in Race 3 and fourth overall for the weekend.
Just nine cars finished from the 17 that started Race 3, though the most fortunate was Aaron Tebb, who survived a high-speed off-track excursion at the end of the back straight.
He was unhurt and his car relatively undamaged, though the accident brought out the Safety Car and set up a five-lap dash to the finish for the remaining cars.
Earlier in the day, Saturday’s Race 1 winner Mark Shepherd leapt away to a solid lead in Race 2 of the round and looked on target to seal another victory until his engine blew. The damage was enough to sideline the Wangaratta-based driver from the final race.
The 2012 Kumho V8 Touring Car Series will continue with the Shannons Nationals presented by Hi-Tec Oils at Winton on June 23-24.