RAC Round 1 Mount Panorama
28 February 2014

Round one of the 2014 Radical Australia Cup sees the teams tacking ‘The Mountain’ - Bathurst’s famous Mount Panorama Circuit in country NSW. With many competitors competing at Bathurst for the first time, track experience for some competitors shone through while adaptability and good strong preparation was the name of the game for the rest.

In race one our current reigning SR8 Champion Neale Muston showed why he remains the man to beat in 2014, not only taking pole but executing a flawless first lap to move quickly into a comfortable 5 second lead. Back in the pack positions were swapping constantly, with John Corbett s spin at Sulman Park the prelude to one of the best comebacks we ve seen in a while! Kangaroos were also in attendance, luckily none ventured onto the track in front of the racing.

Michael Shaw meanwhile was making an exceptional full time debut in the RAC, maintaining his lead in SR3. It wasn t long though before a spin from Dean Koutsoumidis brought out our first safety car, bunching up the field.

At the restart it was a resumption of the status quo, with Muston streaking ahead followed by a battling Tim Berryman and Peter White. Ollie Smith began pressuring Shaw for the SR3 lead with Kim Burke showing that comprehensive preparation pays off in a very strong third. 


As the laps wind on it was Peter White who really turned on the pace, closing on Berryman across the top in a strong driving display. Simon Haggarty, one of the preseason title favorites in the SR3 category was having an uncharacteristically quiet weekend until a wild trip across the track at skyline on lap 7 in his brand new SR3 RS after contact with the inside wall saw our second Safety Car of the race. Rare mechanical failures also saw Chris Medland and Greg Smith on the sidelines at around the same time. Meanwhile, John Corbett had stormed from the back into 12th position, an epic recovery following his lap one spin.

 

In what was to be the final restart, the battle continued anew but it was to be a brief one as a sizable crash for Peter White over skyline saw the red flag brought out. White was caught out over the kerb on the way down and ended up in the fence - It wasn t all bad for the First Neon driver however as red flag rules saw his finishing order reinstated to 3rd.

So for the first ever RAC race at Bathurst the SR8 podium was Muston followed by Berryman and White, while in SR3 Shaw continued his strong showing followed by Smith (who also is fulltime this season) and a solid third for Kim Burke.

In race two it was business as usual for Neale Muston, showing that he is only becoming more dominant as the seasons go on. This weekend really is an exceptional drive from our reigning champion. Richard Kimber spun at T1 after contact with SR3 contender Ollie Smith, who paid for the contact by finishing the race in the pit lane with damage.

It was a race against time for the three cars that suffered damage in race one, with Dean Koutsoumidis, Peter White and Simon Haggarty all lining up for race two. White was even being timed by hand as a result of not having time to fit the timing equipment!

Kim Burke continued his strong weekend, holding onto the tail of Michael Shaw in the SR3 battle - although in race two, the following positions were much closer. Gary Walker, Peter Paddon and Peter Johnson were all taking their piece of the lead battle.

Two of the cars damaged in race one, Koutsoumidis and Haggarty, had a strong battle going until Dean spun while attempting an ambitious move on Simon into the final corner, both of whom were looking to move forward and recover from the rear of the grid.

 

Ross Lilley meanwhile was showing his Bathurst experience as he circulated in a strong 4th in SR8, right behind the ever brewing battle of White and Berryman. It was almost a carbon copy of their race one fight, though this time it was Berryman doing the chasing. He was strong at the bottom section of the track, though White s pace across the top seemed to be enough to hold Tim at bay.

 

As we passed half race distance, action was all over the track - small contact between Chris Medland and Greg Smith, Gary Walker was even spotted coming backwards down the track at the cutting! He d had an unfortunate spin while battling with the lead SR3 pack and was luckily able to continue unscathed.

 

The Berryman / White battle finally boiled over on lap 9, with Berryman spinning White into the gravel at turn 1. This resulted in our first safety car for the race. They both resume at the back of the pack.

Muston again emphasizes his dominance at the restart, with a lead of 5 seconds at Conrod Straight on the last lap. Corbett continues his recovery from race one moving past Lilley and into second for SR8.  

Disaster though for Phil Anseline and Nick Stavropoulos on the last lap, Phil unsighted in the dust from another car ending up in the fence. Nick was the innocent victim and crashed trying to avoid the accident.

So Muston wins again followed by an excellent drive from Ross Lilley and then John Corbett.

SR3 it was the Michael Shaw show in a classy performance followed by Peter Paddon, also an exceptional job. Kim Burke continues to be the quiet achiever of the SR3 class, with another third place from the two races.

NB: Please note the final points once amended did show Ross Lilley taking second place from John Corbett in the SR8 class.

 
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