The penultimate round of the 2016 Aussie Racing Cars Championship was held at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend in very trying weather conditions.  Friday morning dawned wet but slowly fined up.  This was a kind of blessing in disguise as it gave the teams the opportunity to set the cars up for both the dry and wet conditions which would be needed before the weekend finished!

The last round to be run on Australian soil this year was part of the New South Wales Motor Race Championships, 250 cars were entered over 9 categories but it was the Aussie Racing Cars that were the stand out category with nearly 40 cars on the grid.

The pocket rockets were first up on Friday to a track getting wetter by the minute, however after the sun came out the class had two more practice sessions later in the day with a drying and then fully dry track.

Saturday for qualifying was on a dry track which would remain that way all day, fastest out of the box was Ben Walsh with a hot lap of 1:41.8569 the only other car to break into the 41’s was Kel Treseder with a 1:41.9881, third fastest was Peter Carr.

Quite a few drivers were experiencing Sydney Motorsport Park for the first time so after Fridays wet session they were pleased to be qualifying in the dry.

Race One Saturday morning saw a few drivers discover they ran past the track limits at turn Five and were penalised for doing so, this included the first and second place getters on the track Ben Walsh and Peter Carr, demoting them down the order to 9th and 10th respectively.  This promoted Craig Woods from third to the top spot, Kel Treseder was happy to get second from James Duckworth in third.  The race ran for 7 laps, albeit with 2 under safety car after Emma Clark and Leigh Bowler suffered break downs.

The Aussie Racing Car Race Lap Record fell to three drivers during this race, by the race end a new record of 1:43.1942 was set by Peter Carr, previously held at 1:43.5824 by David Sieders from 2007.

Race Two on Saturday unfortunately didn’t get off to a good start with two separate incidents on lap one, the local recovery struggled to clear the cars and after 3-4 laps under safety car the time ran out and the race ended up being deemed a non-event.  This was a bit of a shame for James Duckworth, Kel Treseder and Trent Young who as the top three were ready to battle it out.

On Sunday unfortunately Sydney failed to supply another bright sunny day and the class arrived at the circuit to rain starting to fall and continuing all day with some heavy downpours across the day.

However, in stark contrast both Sunday races ran full duration with only a one lap safety car period in the second race.

The new Race Two on Sunday morning was again a close fought event off the line, but Duckworth soon was setting the pace for the race with Walsh and Treseder swapping positions behind him and finishing in that order.  The race only ran for 5 laps after the schedule only allowed 16 mins for this race to accommodate the other classes too.

The final race for the weekend was again a wet affair but the class managed to run the full allotted time with a single lap under the safety car when Glenn McNamara spun his Camaro across the bridge at turn 4.  Duckworth lead for the full 7 laps, Trent Young and Blake Sciberras worked hard on each other for the second spot with the later succeeding at flag fall.

This is the classes last run in Australia for 2016, the next and final event will be in New Zealand at Hampton Downs circuit around an hour’s drive south of Auckland, the follow week the cars are running an invitational event at Pukekohe Park with the Supercars.

Team & Driver Comments:

Team Rinkin: Well what an awesome way to finish our last Aussie Car racing in Australia for this year!!   As always James Duckworth was consistent with two wins for the weekend, after some spectacular wet weather racing, Kyle Clews was consistently in the top ten.  Micheal Rinkin debuted his brand new Camaro, which although it took a lot of time to get the handling and brakes sorted there’s no disputing that with its bright new livery has set a new standard in exceptional ARC presentation!

Overall James took out the highest point score and we took out the team’s championship for the weekend, our best result this year.  It’s now time to pack up the cars and head to Auckland for two rounds where we race at Pukekohe and at Highlands Park Raceway.

The next race is very important for James as he is currently winning the point score and if successful will be Aussie Car #1

Madison Dunston: In the new look branding, Madison Dunston hit this weekend fired up and ready to take it to the field.  The practice sessions went well and whilst Madison felt confident in the car, unfortunately a combination of the wet track and few mechanical issues prevented her from improving her standings.  She is now focused on her preparations for a successful 2017 season….watch out boys!

Jeff Watters: BIG thanks to Thommo (Craig Thompson) for arranging for Mark Geyer to meet our MND client and thanks to Aussie Racing Car for the tickets for Mark and the client.  The rest of the meeting was “challenging” for myself, I’ll leave it at that!

James Duckworth: We entered the round knowing it was our home track but knew it was our main competitors home track also.  The RDA Brakes team started the weekend qualifying 4th out of 38 cars. 

Entering the weekend, I was hopeful on getting our first win for the season, The RDA Brakes Team pushed hard in Race 2 and managed to take the win but unfortunately the race was called a non-event due to not enough laps being completed, The RDA Brakes Team were a little dejected but we knew we had to focus on the other two remaining races on Sunday.  Sunday was a day to remember, we walked away with two victories leading every lap. I was able to win the round and extend the Championship by several points. Now to get the car prepared again for New Zealand in October.

Brendon Pingel: Well SMP was certainly a tough weekend for the reigning champion Brendon Pingel. After spending five weeks on a full rebuild and his spirit of Lockyer car better than new Brendon found good early car speed setting his personal best time in qualifying but not enough to match the front runners who were clearly more familiar with the circuit.

Reasonable results in race one finishing sixth and on track for a great result after only one lap in race two in fifth position and closing on the lead pack safety cars unfortunatley  put a stop to racing.

“I was reasonably happy with results on Saturday given we were basically running a new car after the QR accident. As the team pushed the car back into the pits the steering universal joint failed which had the race recommenced could have been a catastrophic results. Thankfully God was watching over me”, Brendon commented.

“Sundays wet racing set up eluded us and by this time I was in a state of disappointment realising that the last three rounds incidents  have cost me my shot at retaining the number one spot. Not having any quality testing time since QR certainly took its toll” Brendon concluded.

Results & Points
Outright for SMP
1st James Duckworth 202
2nd Blake Sciberras           194
3rd Trent Young 189

Series Standings
1st James Duckworth 247
2nd Craig Woods 235
3rd Trent Young 231

1st Kel Treseder 252
2nd Zac Best 239
3rd Harley Haber 231

1st Grant Ludbey 250
2nd Ben Walsh 249
3rd Grant Thompson 234

Gold Cup
1st Brendon Tucker 251
2nd Jeff Watters 247
3rd Glenn McNamara 245

1st Emma Clark 250
2nd Ruth Bowler 246
3rd Charlotte Poynting 204

Teams Championship
1st Western Sydney Motorsport 248
2nd The Torque Team 247
3rd Sean Rose Motorsport 242