26 March 2013

Round 2 of the Radical Australia Cup delivered more close racing at Sydney Motorsport Park, just 2 weeks after Round 1 in front of a packed out Top Gear Festival Sydney crowd. Again there was a strong presence of technical expertise and support amongst the Radical field, with professional driver coaches Garth Walden, George Miedecke, James Winslow, Josh Hunt, Mike Navybox, Paul Stokell and Ben Porter all supporting various members of the field.

Saturday’s qualify sessions produced a clear divide between the SR8 and the SR3 field, with Neale Muston continuing his hold on the front locking out both 50 minute race poles from Ash Samadi and Nick Kelly. Whilst in the SR3’s Queenslander Liam Talbot took his first series pole in race 1 from John Morriss and Oliver Smith, whilst pro driver Ben Porter produced no surprises in taking the top SR3 grid spot for race 2, from Talbot & points leader going into the round, Peter Paddon.

Saturday’s 50 minute race proved to be the most eventful right from the off, Neale Muston dropping back to 3rd after getting swamped at the start by Samadi & Kelly. However it only took 8 laps to claw back the lead from Ash Samadi – the 2 enjoying a close race long battle, Samadi unable to put an end to Muston’s winning streak on his home track. In his effort to regain the Race 1 lead early on, Muston went about setting a new lap record for the SR8's on their first official run on SMP's 3.9km GP circuit - at 1.28.222. We can expect this to come down over the coming months as the SR8 drivers become accustomed to the new vehicle and improve the set up, whilst James Winslow's lap record in the SR3 still stands at 1.29.4820.

Behind the front running V8’s Liam Talbot was fighting hard to hang onto their tail, oblivious to the intense 8 car battle going on behind between John Morriss, Kim Burke, Oliver Smith, Richard Bloomfield, Greg Smith, Andrew Macpherson, Simon Haggarty and Peter Paddon – all swapping places multiple times before the pit stop window opened.

Several drivers pitted early in an effort to find clear air, a wise decision when the safety car came appeared on lap 15, bunching up the pack to the disadvantage of those yet to pit. Greg Smith in the works Radical Australia SR3 benefitted most from an early stop, jumping from 14th to an outright 5th and 2nd in the SR3 Class behind Talbot – clearly enjoying the experience and advice of Team Manager Paul Stokell.

Muston and Samadi remained at the top until the flag, with Liam Talbot an impressive 3rd on the road from Chris Medland in his works SR8 and team mate Greg Smith’s SR3 rounding out the top 5.

Muston and Samadi continued their stranglehold on the front during Sunday’s second 50 minute race of the weekend, whilst SR3 pilot Ben Porter battled hard in the early stages with the SR8’s of Chris Medland and Richard Kimber, with Liam Talbot again holding onto their tail.

It was the mid pack that produced the most entertainment, with another close battle and several place swaps between Paddon, Greg Smith, Haggarty, Oliver Smith, Burke & Bloomfield. This time around Simon Haggarty played the best strategy card, jumping from 8th to 4th outright after the stops and with a narrow SR3 lead from Liam Talbot. Haggarty clearly benefited from a DNF in race 1 meaning he had no success adjustment added to his compulsory pit stop time for race 2.

The class win was anyone’s for the remaining 13 laps, however local works Radical Australia driver Simon Haggarty remained strong despite the best efforts of Talbot, who ultimately had the one lap pace but couldn’t find a way past.

Greg Smith took third spot in the SR3 class for Race 2, rounding out a great weekend for the works team driver.

Overall Muston’s winning streak continued and put him on the top spot in the overall weekend results, with Ash Samadi hot on his heels and works SR8 driver Chris Medland filling the remaining spot on the SR8 class podium.

In the SR3 class Queenslander Liam Talbot’s 1st and 2nd places resulted in a deserved win, with father and son combination Greg and Oliver Smith enjoying a proud family moment to share 2nd and 3rd places on the podium.

Teams and drivers now have some time to regroup before the Shannons Nationals visit Phillip Island for Round 3 late on 25 - 26 May – no doubt the Islands unpredictable Autumn weather will spice up the action as it did during both of last year races, on the famous Motorcycle Grand Prix circuit.

Watch TV footage by clicking here.

Top 10 series standings after 2 rounds are:

1 - Neale Muston - SR8 RX, 171

2 - Ash Samadi - SR8 RX, 141

3 - Liam Talbot - SR3 RS, 130

4 - Oliver Smith - SR3 RS, 112

5 - Peter White - SR8 RX, 110

6 - Greg Smith - SR3 RS, 107

7 - Richard Kimber - SR8 RX, 105

8 - Andrew Macpherson - SR3 RS, 98

9 - Peter Paddon - SR3 RS, 97

10 - Nick Kelly - SR8 RX, 97

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