Vernon victorious in wet APC finale as Russells take outright title

Russell APC BMW

The Russells’ BMW. Picture: Speed Shots Photography

Jimmy Vernon has won Race 4 of Australian Production Cars brought to you by Liqui Moly at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International while the Russell trio clinched the outright title.

Aaren Russell finished second to Vernon in a wet final race of the season at Mount Panorama, meaning the former, along with brother Drew and father Wayne, share the Class X spoils for the year as a whole, and the latter likewise in Class A1.

When the lights went out, Vernon (#50 Mitsubishi Evo) used four-wheel drive grip to shoot from Row 3 of the grid to the front of the field.

Chris Lillis (#64 HSV Clubsport R8) looked a chance of similarly nicking second place from sixth on the grid but emerged behind Beric Lynton (#23 BMW M3) and was then passed by Adam Burgess (#4 BMW M4) up Mountain Straight.

Vernon led by 2.4s after Lap 1 and another second by the end of Lap 2, just before a Safety Car was called due to a crash at the exit of The Chase, with Jake Camilleri (#36 Mazda3 MPS) tagged by Leigh Burges (#33 Ford Mustang) and then shunted by Dimitri Agathos (#66 Subaru WRX STi).

Under Safety Car, it was still Vernon from Lynton and Burgess, then Cameron Crick (#118 Mitsubishi Evo) in fourth, Russell (#58 BMW M3) in fifth, and Lillis in sixth.

The race restarted with time enough left for two laps, at which point Burgess cleared Lynton for second place before they even got back to Hell Corner, and Crick tried to follow.

However, he broke into a slide and made contact with Lynton which took both wide, effectively gifting third position to Russell and fourth to Lillis.

Still, Crick was undeterred, re-passing Lillis across the top before slapping the tyre wall at The Esses but pressing on.

He overtook Burgess and applied the pressure to Russell on the final lap, taking the chequered flag in third, behind Vernon in the Evo and the Novocastrians’ BMW.

However, Crick would be handed a 30-second penalty which relegated Car #118 to 18th in the final classification, with Burgess promoted to third, Class A2 victor Lillis to fourth, and Harrison Cooper (#11 Mitsubishi Evo) to fifth.

Jimmy Vernon APC

Jimmy Vernon leads. Picture: Speed Shots Photography

Wayne Russell said, “To have me and the two boys and the whole family come away and have a lot of fun has been great and we have exceeded all expectations to be honest and had an absolute blast.

“The category is great, the people are fantastic, it has just been a lot of fun.

“I want to say thank you to Karl Begg and Troy Williams and Debbie, who have worked their butts off over the year.

“I have seen Debbie soaking wet at Tailem Bend, she has been wonderful, so a big thank you to those guys, they have been fantastic.”

For Vernon, the win in Race 4 was a personal milestone.

“It is a big relief to have finally clinched the A1 title,” he remarked.

“It was our ultimate goal at the start of the year, and it is just surreal, but we have come through the five rounds and managed to lock it away.

“The last race of the season was awesome, it is always great to win at Bathurst but to get my first outright APC win was really special.”

The other class title winners are Lillis (Class A2), Camilleri (Class C), Amar Sharma/Daniel Natoli (Class D), and Allan Jarvis (Class E).

Australian Production Cars will be a regular feature of the SpeedSeries next year, following the Australian Racing Group’s investment in Production Car Racing Pty Ltd which was announced on the penultimate day of the 2022 campaign.

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