It may be just the second round for the new Thunder Sports Series, but a total of 30 cars will line up on the grid when the series heads to The Bend Motorsport Park as part of the third event of the 2019 AMRS.
Among those 30 cars are several drivers with extensive experience and success in national motorsport competition. In keeping with the philosophy of the series, there is a highly diverse array of vehicles with varying degrees of modification, but all are aimed at going fast and having fun.
The opening round of Thunder Sports at Winton produced a tight battle for outright victory between Cory Gillett (Nissan Silvia) and Mark Tracey (BMW E36), with both drivers entered for The Bend along with Vin Stenta (Nissan R32 GTR), who is third in points after a consistent run in the season opener.
The Bend has attracted a raft of new challengers, headlined by last year’s Aussie Racing Car Champion and current Dunlop Super2 Series driver Joel Heinrich will join the field in an ex-Steven Ellery AU Falcon V8 Supercar, owned by his father Bruce.
Along with Myles Bond (Ford Escort) and Rick Newman (Falcon), Heinrich will be in Class A for cars capable of faster lap times than a prescribed benchmark, and will therefore not compete with the main title protagonists for points.
However, there also some well-credentialled newcomers in Class B, including another Super2 racer Matt Chahda who is entered in a V8-powered Magna. Last year’s Group 4 and Super 6 Touring Car Champions, Gavin Ross (Commodore) and Brent Edwards (Falcon) also join the fray, along with experienced Canberra production car racer Daniel Flanagan, who lines up in a Mitsubishi Evo.
Flanagan’s Bathurst 6 Hour and Wakefield 300 co-driver Merrick Malouf returns to the grid in his V8 Falcon Ute; Malouf has generously thrown his support behind the round through his business, Prime Finance, which will sponsor the round and also the Hard Charger Award, which will be presented to a driver who qualifies in the lower 50 per cent of the field, and improves the most positions over the course of the weekend.
Other drivers returning for their second Thunder Sports round include Paul Cornell in his production-spec Subaru WRX, and six-cylinder Falcon drivers Cameron McKee and David Shaw.
Peter Ryder returns to the series in his Nissan Silvia after a blown engine prematurely ended his run at Winton, while Tickford Racing Supercar mechanic Corey Walton will also be hoping for better luck after failing to finish any of the Winton races thanks to a variety of mechanical problems.
Series organiser John Ristevski is thrilled with the number of competitors flocking to the category.
“To already have 30 cars on the grid in only our second round has exceeded our expectations, especially when a large number of competitors are travelling interstate for this event,” Ristevski said.
“The philosophy of the category was always about giving enthusiasts a place to race cars that don’t necessarily meet an overly restricted set of technical regulations, and the majority of competitors are people who like tinkering with their cars in the garage at night after work, and then enjoy the fruits of their labour on weekends.
“This round, there are also a few higher-profile drivers who want to have a more relaxing weekend, enjoying going motor-racing without some of the pressure that comes with top-level series.”
Thunder Sports will stage practice and qualifying on Friday, with two races on Saturday and Sunday.
Thunder Sports – top 10 points after Round 1
- Cory Gillett – 96
- Mark Tracey – 88
- Vin Stenta – 60
- Merrick Malouf – 55
- Ashley Maclurkin – 51
- Jack Porritt – 39
- Daniel Van Der Heyden – 31
- Cameron McKee – 26
- John Ristevski – 25
- Casey Ambler – 24
Thunder Sports Round 2 entry list
- Ian Cowley – Cowley Security Australia Holden Commodore Class B
- Craig Hendrick – B & M Banks Solid Plastering Toyota Celica GT4 Class B
- Paul Cornell – Trik Trailers Subaru WRX Class B
- Brett Mitchell – Hunter Valley Spray Booths Austruck Silverado Class B
- Casey Ambler – Ambler Direct Nissan Silvia S13 Class B
- Cameron McKee – Truckrite/Phoenix Lubricants/Aus Fleet Ford AU XR6 Class B
- Myles Bond – Chris Milton Engine Developments Mdr Motorsport Ppg Ford RS2000 Escort Class A
- Brent Edwards – Cable Source/Truckphones.Com.Au/Racefuels/Formula Bookkeeping/Phoenix Lubricants Ford Falcon XR6 Class B
- Mark Tracey – Twin City Roller Doors BMW E36 Class B
- Daniel Flanagan – Fifth Gear/Ultimate Tunes/Goodyear Mitsubishi EVO VIII Class B
- Matt Chahda – Auto One Albury Mitsubishi Magna Class B
- Vin Stenta – The Groove Train Greensborough Nissan Skyline R32 GTR Class B
- Cory Gillett – Reliance Mechanical /Engine Master Australia Nissan Silvia S13 Class B
- Jon Lawson – Focus Environmental Subaru WRX STI Class B
- Joel Henrich – Heinrich Performance & Tuning Ford AU Falcon Class A
- Andrew Goldman – Andrew Goldman Subaru WRX Class B
- Gavin Ross – Blackwell Race Engines/Gmg Automotive Services Holden VT Commodore Class B
- Tony Heasly – Agh Plumbing/Jodee’S Home Care/Cowley Security Holden Commodore Class B
- Corey Walton – Mipa Australia/Breeze Logistics Ford Falcon Class B
- Andrew Williams – AW Automatics Holden Torana LJ XU-1 Class B
- Rick Newman – Nuline Homes Ford Falcon Class A
- Joe Stickland – Ben’s Motors Benalla/Warehouse Cuts Benalla Holden Commodore Class B
- Merrick Malouf – Prime Finance Ford Falcon Ute Class B
- John Ristevski – Rook Finance/Customer Sport And Restoration Mazda RX8 Class B
- David Shaw – Truckrite/Phoenix Lubricants Ford EB XR6 Class B
- Peter Ryder – Rapid Performance Parts Nissan S13 Silvia Class B
- Daniel Van Der Heyden – Men In Sheds Holden VN Commodore Class B
- Scott McGuinness – FFS Motorsport Mazda MX5 Class B
- Jack Porritt – FFS Motorsport Nissan S13 Silvia Class B