Hot off the back of the outright round victory during the second event of the Radical Australia Cup at the new ‘The Bend Motorsport Park’ in South Australia, Sydney’s Mitchell Neilson has carried his form into the second event on the 2018 NSW SuperSports Series calendar, with two class victories at Sydney Motorsport Park and the Class 1 championship points lead.
Whilst Neilson was the top point scorer for the round, it was title rival and round one winner John Beck who took top honours in qualifying in a short and testing session impacted by rain, the local driver exceptional in the slippery conditions to claim the top spot outright by more than four seconds over fellow Radical pilot – the returning Chris Sutton.
In fact, despite the fact that the Class 1 cars weren’t the fastest cars in the category, Radical SR3s claimed nine of the top ten starting positions, paving the way for a solid haul of points across the three scheduled races on the day, although despite their speed advantage in the wet, the weather would ultimately clear for the remainder of the day.
Race one saw a slippery circuit that was drying, but still featured damp patches, drivers choosing a mix of wet and dry weather tyres for the race start. Sadly, the conditions would ultimately have a big effect on the championship battle, with round one winner John Beck spinning off the circuit on the out-lap, the points leader regaining his position at the front of the field for the start, something that was against the regulations, Beck incurring a black flag and an early drive-through penalty which dropped him back to rear of field.
Starting behind the Safety Car, the field was released after two laps, but very quickly Chris Sutton and Paul Braico were caught out, spinning to the outfield, Sutton able to recover and continue, Braico unfortunately forced to retire.
Starting well down the order after the wet qualifying session, Alexander Kenny and Darren Barlow were ultimately able to work their way to the front in their faster Class 2 cars, whilst behind them, Radical Australia Cup race winner Chris Perini was embroiled in a great battle with Mitch Neilson, the pair crossing the line 1-2 in Class 1, with reigning champion Rowan Ross storming through from tenth on the grid to place third.
Peter Clare was an impressive fourth, ahead of Darren Kurzok and Stephen Champion.
Sadly for Chris Sutton he was an early casualty in race two after a big hit down at turn four after what had been a fast and clean getaway at the front of the field. That forced a Safety Car intervention, but it was very quickly off the circuit and the field was underway again with the recovering John Beck taking Rowan Ross for position at turn 15, the duo running at the front of the field throughout the 11-lap journey.
Frustratingly though for Beck, despite crossing the line third and right on the tail of Mitch Neilson, he was again handed a penalty, this time 35-seconds post-race for a restart infringement after the Safety Car had withdrawn, dropping him back to eighth at the line which promoted Peter Hills to fourth outright behind Darren Barlow, Neilson and Rowan Ross.
Stephen Champion claimed third in Class 1 behind Neilson and Ross, holding out Radical Australia Cup regulars Peter Clare and Greg Kenny. Beck was classified sixth in class ahead of Darren Kurzok with Chris Perini ultimately last of the finishers after being forced down pit lane from second early in the race, the RAC race winner suffering a technical fault which stopped the car on the run out of the final corner, the GWR team though able to find a solution and send him back out to finish.
Saturday’s final race saw reigning champion Rowan Ross storm off the start to lead the Class 1 field into turn one, the experienced Radical campaigner enjoying some pre-race changes by the RA Motorsports team to lead the Class 1 field around and start pulling away from his rivals, as up front Barlow led the category around ahead of Hills in his Radical SR8.
Behind Ross, Mitch Neilson was suffering the after-effects of a big brake lockup into turn two, the flat spot affecting his ability to extract the best out of his SR3 under brakes which allowed title rival John Beck, Peter Clare and Stephen Champion to quickly close onto his tail with the recovering Chris Perini also making his presence felt.
By race end though, the battle behind Neilson for position allowed the 2017 Radical Australia Cup ‘Rookie of the Year’ to pull away and start to close down Ross up front, ultimately taking him for position with four laps to go, Ross though prevailing for second in class with Beck a close third.
Chris Perini recovered for fourth, taking Peter Clare for position late in the race, with Greg Kenny sixth ahead of Paul Braico and Darren Kurzok.
Sadly for Stephen Champion, his strong run at the front was thwarted by an issue just two laps from home whilst comfortably third in class, although ultimately his results see him hold fifth in the Class 1 championship behind new points leader Neilson, Beck, Ross and Greg Kenny.
The third round of the SuperSports championship is slated for Wakefield Park on May 26, but beforehand, many of the series regulars will contest the third round of the Radical Australia Cup at Melbourne’s Sandown Park on May 11-13.