THE DARWIN Round of the 2016 Aussie Racing Cars Championship saw the biggest field so far this year with 37 cars taking to the Hidden Valley Raceway circuit.

As expected Darwin put on picture perfect weather, albeit somewhat hotter and a bit more humid than expected over the four days, with the latter very much sapping all of the driver’s energy after a race.  Hydration was key to performance this weekend.  All four races saw temps in the mid 30’s with a number of drivers reporting high engine temperatures too.

Ben Walsh driving his Dr Ink Tattoo Removal Camaro dominated the round but hot on his heels was Trent Young (Direct Clutch Services Nissan Altima), the two tied on 241 points but Walsh was awarded the round as he finished higher up than Young in the final race, Walsh won the race with Young finishing in fourth.   Past Champion Kyle Clews (Darrell Lea STIX Altima) finished third for the round, his best finish this year after a couple of years away.

Typical of Australia’s biggest (yet smallest) racing class, the races were tight fought affairs, a number of times the cars were 5 wide into turn one, and in other parts of the amazing Hidden Valley circuit.  Pack racing was evident throughout the field all weekend long.  At drivers briefing on Friday morning the drivers were forewarned of using the tow along the 1.1km front straight, it was alright to use the tow but not “bump” into the competitor ahead and it seems everyone pretty much heeded the advice of the CAMS stewards.

The first two races finished under safety car after on track incidents, new comer Mark Primmer (Dial Before You Dig Holden Cruze) spun in turn 5 and was collected by Madison Dunston’s Bounce Coffee Toyota Aurion in the first race.  In race two Harley Haber (CJEN Ford Mustang) and David Sultana (Newline Transport Toyota Aurion) tangled which resulted in Sultana’s car rolling several times, Walsh used the restarts to his advantage and was able to head away from the chasing pack in both races.

Race three was the full revers grid, staggered start race, the three groups raced together for the first 2 to 3 laps, then the faster cars started to come through the packs which really mixed it up but made for a great spectacle for the large Northern Territory crowd.  In the end Sam Milton (GE Hughes Constructions Toyota Aurion) was able to hold off Mark Griffith (Iveco Euro GT) from Blake Sciberras in third after starting his Millennium Building Group Ford Mustang towards the back of the second group.

The final race for the weekend was a thriller from lights out to the chequered flag, Walsh and Young fought tooth and nail with James Duckworth (RDA Brakes Altima) and Clews, once again the class were 3 and 4 wide around the track, the race was shortened to 10 laps due to a safety car on lap one when Ben Wilcox (Mustang) stalled on the grid and left Grant Thompson (Mustang) nowhere to go.  In the end Walsh was the victor from Craig Woods (Sinclair Ford Mustang) and Clews.

Round Three’s Trophy List:

1st Outright & Masters Cup – Ben Walsh
2nd Outright – Trent Young
3rd Outright – Kyle Clews
Rookie – Kel Treseder
Gold Cup – Brendon Tucker
Ladies Trophy – Charlotte Poynting
Team Trophy – Grant Thompson
Team Trophy – Blake Sciberras

In the current standings James Duckworth leads on 146 points with his nearest rival Ben Walsh just 2 points back, and in third is Craig Woods (140pts) with Brendon Pingel (139pts) in fourth, rounding out the top five is Adam Uebergang (136pts)

In the Masters Cup Ben Walsh leads from Grant Ludbey, with the Ladies Trophy Emma Clark leads from Ruth Bowler, The Rookie Trophy is close with Kel Treseder leading from Myles Bond and in the Gold Cup Brendon Tucker is holding off Jeff Watters.  Western Sydney Motorsport (Grant Thompson & Blake Sciberras) lead from Hertz – WSM/Advantage (Craig Thompson & Chris Stevenson) in the team’s trophy.

Driver Comments:

Jeff Watters:
“Darwin was the start of a new chapter for me, setting up and running my own car. I started with a very general setup that I hadn’t even driven so practice and qualifying were very much a learning curve of a new car. By the time race 2 came around, I was getting a handle on the car and made a few tweaks that really set my car up as a top 15 car. Races 2 & 4 both yielded top 15 finishes and only being spun twice in race 3 prevented what was likely to be a podium in that race.  Overall, I’m really pleased with the car setup and look forward to further improvements.”

Myles Bond:
We had a tough week, in more ways than one, but thanks to the selflessness and generosity or others in the Aussie Racing Cars category, locals in Darwin and Alice Springs, as well as our usual supporters and sponsors, we made it to the event and showed some great pace early on. Thanks again everyone, we’ll be back after some more tuning and ready to battle on in QLD!!

The fourth round in the championship is in just under 30 days at Queensland Raceway, effectively the classes home circuit.

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