Australian Motor Racing Series manager Wayne Williams has declared himself satisfied with the inaugural event for the new, Benalla Auto Club-managed and AASA-sanctioned national series, after overwhelmingly positive feedback from categories and competitors who participated in the race meeting at Winton this weekend.
The event attracted more than 180 entries across 10 different categories, with thrilling racing and a multitude of broken lap records despite temperatures above 30oC on both days.
“For our first event, it was absolutely brilliant – I had nothing but positive feedback from category managers who want to keep spreading the word and attracting more cars to the series,” Mr Williams said.
“I’m over the moon with the dedicated effort from our entire team to make this happen, especially all the volunteer officials – everyone from the race control officials to our flag marshalls and recovery crews put in a massive amount of work to ensure this weekend was successful.
“The live stream was a big hit – there were more than 20,000 views in total and lots of engagement through our social media channels.
“Overall, the weekend was a massive success so we can’t wait to take our show on the road for the next round at Mallala in April,” Mr Williams concluded.
James Burge made the perfect debut in the Legend Car Series, qualifying on pole position and winning all five races in the opening round of the “Race to the US” competition, which rewards the 2018 Legend Cars Australia Champion with an all-expenses-paid trip to America to compete in the US Legend Car Nationals.
While Burge was unstoppable, the minor positions were hotly contested with Brendan Hourigan finishing second overall by virtue of top-three finishes in all five races ahead of the consistent Bryan Neal in third.
Ben Jagger recovered from a number of off-track excursions to take fifth for the weekend, while the other driver who showed front-running pace was Zane Morse, who fought his way back to second in the weekend’s final race after a DNF in the first heat due to contact in the first corner.
Mazda RX8 Cup
Experienced rotary racer Ric Shaw claimed victory in the new one-make series with a clean-sweep of four race wins, ahead of former NSW Improved Production racer Will Harris, and returning driver Nick Dunkley.
Trent Murray demonstrated strong pace, but failed to finish the second race after spinning into a gravel trap and was left to fight back through the field in Races 3 and 4, eventually taking second in the final.
Also returning to the track after a 25-year absence was former Australian Production Car Champion Terry Lewis, who challenged for the top three before his weekend was cut short with oil cooler hose failure.
Australian Formula 3 Premier Series
Cameron Shields won the first Australian F3 round with victories in Races 1 and 3, but copped a scare in Race 2 when he ran off the circuit and handed the lead, and win, to Harri Jones.
Western Australian Alex Barboutis, who made his F3 debut after success in the F1000 category, made an impressive transition, finishing third in all three races and challenging Jones for second in the final; he also won the National Class ahead of Roman Krumins and Gerrit Ruff.
IROC Challenge/BMW Drivers Cup
Porsche racers Sven Burchartz and Greg Keene battled all weekend for IROC Challenge honours with Burchartz winning the round thanks to victories in the first two races; Keene won the third race while also claiming a new lap record for the category.
The BMW Drivers Cup races were closely-fought with Brian Bourke winning the first race before Chris Bell jumped to the lead at the start of Race 2 – Bell went on to win the round ahead of Bourke and Alex Jory.
The thundering V8-powered Camaro, Mustang and Dodge Challenger Trans-Am 2 cars proved to be a crowd favourite, producing spectacular racing across the weekend.
Ashley Jarvis dominated proceedings with four race wins while Hugh McAlister was an impressive second overall, with a series of measured drives in which he fended off challenges from faster vehicles.
Chad Cotton finished third overall after a rollercoaster weekend – he qualified on the front row of the grid but was bundled to the back of the field after an incident at the start of Race 1; he recovered to finish second in the final two races.
Australian Formula Ford Championship
Hunter McElrea converted pole position to his first career round win in the Formula Ford opener; after staving off a late challenge from Liam McLellan in Race 1, McElrea claimed more comfortable victories in Races 2 and 3.
McElrea’s Sonic Motor Racing Services team-mate Hamish Ribarits was second for the round with a new lap record, and Liam McLellan completed the podium despite a penalty for an incident with Cameron Shields in Race 3.
Victorian TT/Group 4/Super 6/Utes
A consistent run of three third-place finishes was enough for Joe Stickland (Holden Commodore) to win the Victorian Super TT round, after Race 1 and 2 winner Merrick Malouf (Falcon Ute) failed to start Race 3. In his giant-killing Mini Cooper S, Craig Lindsell finished second overall ahead of Phil Deane in the Super TT class, while Production TT honours went to Michael Rice with a clean-sweep of race victories in his VT Commodore, ahead of Damien Hunter (Renault Clio) and Tony Heasly (VP Commodore).
Driving his VE Commodore, Richard Mork won the Utes class with Brent Edwards the best of the Group 4/Super 6 entries in his BA Falcon.
The weekend was marred by a nasty crash for long-time Victorian TT competitor Steve Murray in Race 1. Murray spun into the wall at Turn 11 and his Commodore caught fire; while Murray escaped unharmed, the car was catastrophically damaged.
Stock Cars/Extreme TT
Michael Coulter (Oztruck) won the Stock Cars round ahead of his father Steve Coulter, with Shane Harris in third position.
The Extreme TT races were taken out by Cory Gillett in his V8-powered Nissan Silvia, ahead of Peter Ryder and Ashley Maclurkin (also in Nissan Silvias).
Miniature Race Cars
A non-finish in Race 4 was not enough for Chad Cotton to miss out on a round win in the Miniature Race Car Series, thanks to his Race 1 and 3 victories and second in Race 2. Cotton (Future Racer) claimed the round win from Craig McWhite (Future Racer) and the consistent Peter Klein (Aussie Racing Car).
The other race winners were Brad Neilson (Race 2) and Toyota 86 Series front-runner Jake Klein (Race 4) – Klein also led most of Race 1, only to retire on the penultimate lap with a mechanical problem.
The Superkarts ran separate events for the different classes – 250cc and 125cc gearbox karts ran on Saturday, while 125cc Stock Honda and non-gearbox karts ran on Sunday.
Class winners were Gary Pegoraro (250cc International), Tim Clarke (250cc National), Bradley Tremain (125cc Gearbox and 125cc Stock Honda), Nicholas Schembri (125cc Rotax Light) and Colin McIntyre (125cc Rotax Heavy).