Russell Wright recorded four race wins on his way to a clean sweep victory in the first round of the 2018 Performance Wheels Australian Trans-Am series at the Lakeside Tribute.
Stepping up to a stroked 5-Litre 347ci engine package, Wright (Ford Mustang) set the pace in qualifying with a blistering 59.15 second lap. Former Trans-Am champion John English (Pontiac Firebird) clocked in a 59.93 to claim a front row spot on his Trans-Am comeback, while Alwyn Bishop (Ford Mustang) and Mike Collins (Ford Mustang) set the pace in the Sportsman and 5 Litre classes respectively.
Wright faced a stern challenge from Tenkate, but held him off to score all four race wins with English rounding out the Trophy Class podium. English recovered from a deflated left-rear tyre in race two to climb to the podium from the rear in race three, before diff troubles resulted in an early finish to his weekend.
An impressive run of two outright podiums and two fourths rewarded Bishop with a clean sweep of the Sportsman class over Shane Wilson (Ford Mustang) and Martin O’Kane (Chevrolet Camaro). Wilson netted four class podiums across the weekend, while O’Kane hung on to third for the round ahead of Harry Charalambous (Ford Mustang).
In the Five Litre Classics, Mike Collins scored three out of four race wins to win the round ahead of Len Balme (Mercury Cougar) and Mark Bowtell (Pontiac Firebird). Tricia Chant (Ford Mustang) suffered a gearbox issue in race one, resulting in a four-hour return trip to Toowoomba to fit a spare gearbox to complete the weekend. Bowtell found trouble with a tyre failure in race two causing him to spin and scrape the wall under the bridge and gearbox issues in race three to bounce back and win the class in race four.
Wright was impressed by the performance of his Mustang following an overhaul in the off-season, and is looking forward to the year ahead.
“We’ve done a bit of work on the car in the off-season. With the upgrade in the motor there’s a bit more grunt which has helped in straight-line performance, but to compensate for the extra weight we put on some wider rubber which we’re allowed to do,” explained Wright.
“The end result is even though I’m carrying more weight, the cornering and braking seems to be the same as it was before.
“Thanks to Marty White at John White Racing Engines, my engine has run perfectly and we’ll see how it goes with the longer straights at Queensland Raceway.”
The second round of the 2018 Performance Wheels Australian Trans-Am series will be held as part of the Ipswich Festival of Cars meeting at Queensland Raceway on April 21/22.