THE THIRD round of the seven round 2017 series saw the teams make the longest haul by road, well for the truck drivers that is, the road trip is at least two to three days from the main centres, across the Nullabor into Perth.
It’s been a couple of years since the pocket rockets have had a hit out on the Western Australian circuit and this was the second time only they have visited. Once again like the previous round more than half the field had not run on the Perth circuit, but it didn’t take them long to get the feel for it.
Barbagello Raceway is characteristically a slippery track, the run offs are deep sand traps and often this is dragged onto the circuit. The track is short but fairly wide, it’s best known for the downhill back straight with the tight right hand corner onto the home straight. A few years back the main pit lane was moved to the inside of the circuit, only the Supercars use this, the support categories used the old pit lane on the outside of the track.
This Supercar round is one of the biggest sporting events in WA and easily the biggest Motorsport event, the West Australians were out in force and were greeted with close exciting racing, just what the Aussie Racing Cars are famous for.
Tyre degradation was an unknown with the new Kuhmo Tyres, the abrasive track is hard on any tyre selection and the teams closely monitored the wear and tear, and were pleased to report the tyres went well over the course of the weekend.
Going into round three Blake Sciberras lead the series with 99pts from James Duckworth who was on 96pts and he was tied with Craig Woods. It was suggested that all the teams were hoping for a fine weather event, the past two rounds have seen the rain both shorten races and dampen spirits – and our media team who had to stand in it to capture those wet racing images from the past two rounds, and Perth delivered with wonderful weather all weekend long.
Out of the box Woods showed he was going to be a contender for the weekend, both he and Duckworth settled into the track quickly, along with them Kel Treseder was quick, all three broke into the 1:05.00’s in qualifying. WA local Travis Sharpe qualified in fourth after his first every Aussie Car drive.
However, it was Woods that set the pace for the weekend winning three of the four races, Treseder and Duckworth along with Sciberras and Jaie Robson kept him honest with all of them running in the top three over all the races.
The third race was a reverse grid race and this time the top 11 were reversed, Craig Thompson started off in pole and got away to a great start but the race was neutralised when two of his team mates broke drive shafts off the line. When the safety car headed back into pit lane Thompson was edged off the track at turn two collecting the wall hard backwards. Chris Stevenson took hold of the race from there but the youngster Reece Chapman edged past Stevenson to take his maiden win in the class.
The final two races for the weekend saw American Stadium Super Truck driver Bill Hynes vacate his seat in the Sean Rose Motorsport Nissan Altima, race three had the Super Truck Guru/owner Robbie Gordon try his luck, Gordon started from 15th and worked his way to 8th spot, and in the last race the current Super Truck champion Sheldon Creed started from 17th to finish in 9th.
As previously mentioned Woods won the round outright from Robson and Duckworth, in the championship standings Sciberras has been relegated to third on 144pts, Duckworth is second with 145pts and Woods leads with 147pts.
In the other standings, Charlotte Poynting has extended her lead in the ladies’ competition and is now on 26pts from Emma Clark on 16. Robson has a strong hold on the Rookie Championship with 26pts, Thompson leads the Masters Cup with 18 pts and Brendon Tucker has a big lead of 30pts over Jeff Watters on 16 in the Gold Cup standings. Western Sydney Motorsport tied up the Teams Comp on the weekend and lead the race to the cup with 30pts.
The class now has a mid-winter break with the fourth round slated for the first weekend in July for the Townsville 400 event.
Ruth Bowler: Barbagallo Raceway Wannaroo! What a fabulous circuit with its mysterious morning fog and shifting sands! Despite a promising practice session the Little Ford Coupe fell consistently back all round until she became the lure for the pack to chase down! Watch the last lap of the replays! I seem to be in the enviable lead pack! That aside the round was balanced by a warm Perth welcome and incredible racing with emerging superstars sharing out the race wins! I still love my seat best for all the action! Wouldn’t you? Thanks Perth for a memorable round and the privilege to race at one of the country’s great circuits! Now back to the workshop to try and address some of the issues ahead of the next foray for the little car… Ruthie Xx
Grant Thompson: What an awesome little track, had some ups and downs over the weekend but happy with where I am at with car, I learnt a lot this weekend driving forward to around the top 10 really looking forward to Townsville I enjoy racing on the streets.
Reece Chapman: Perth was a great round for Reece Chapman driving for motorsport 25. Reece qualified in 5th position for the start of the weekend, in race one Reece finished in 6th position whilst also setting the fastest lap of the race, in race two Reece finished in 7th position while having a great battle throughout the race. Race three provided a great result for Reece as he held off the 2016 champion to get 1st place, race four Reece brought the TJL cameo home for a solid 5th position with a total round position of 5th
Jeff Watters: Perth’s Barbagello racing is always an interesting place. The #96 Cure for MND Foundation Nissan Altima welcomed local WA company TL Engineering as a sponsor for the weekend and I gave them some great TV coverage in race 2 when Grant Thompson and I had the slightest of touches at the bottom of the hill, resulted in the #96 ending up side wards in the wall. Unfortunately, the DNF that resulted gave Brendan Tucker a free hit at Gold Cup for the weekend again. Otherwise, the #96 had a handling gremlin in qualifying that left it back in the pack, the WSM team worked their usual magic to get the car handling fixed and damage repaired. Bring on Townsville.