2021 ROUND 1 - APRIL 10 - SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK - REPORT
Written by Riccardo Benvenuti.
Perfect weather greeted the NSW Supersport competitors for the first round of their championship. A solid field of 17 cars commenced qualifying with many cars backing up a week on from the Bathurst 6 Hour support races.
The field consisted of 2 x Stohr WF1, 3 x Radical SR8 and 12 x Radical SR3. One of the forementioned Stohr was driven by Darren Barlow, his car just installed a fresh new engine from the US making this its first run . Barlow utilised the new package to its fullest by claiming pole position with a scorching time of 1.27:8933. Peter White (SR8) qualified in 2nd place. Row 2 consisted of Brad Shiels (SR3) and Neale Muston (SR8). The third row was occupied by Ryan Godfrey and Peter Paddon, both in SR3’s.
The start of race 1 was rather messy. Muston, White and Barlow made an even start and went through turn 1 in close quarters. On the brakes at turn two Barlow was on the outside, White in the middle and Muston on the inside. As the three cars powered out of turn 2, the unfortunate Barlow was squeezed on the outside towards the grass. All he could do is release the throttle and tour the outfield, re-joining the race in 3rd place.
Behind all of this was even more trouble. Brianna Wilson missed the braking marker and used the rear of Paddon’s car to slow down. The unfortunate Paddon found himself facing the wrong way with the remaining field finding a way to avoid the stricken car. Once the dust had settled and body work panels stopped flying, Paddon was dead last. Surprisingly both cars continued. Up front Muston had a small lead from Shiels and Barlow. The latter did not waste much time to pass Shiels and by lap two he was already in the lead.
The race settled down with the three leaders pulling away. The unfortunate White retired on lap 2 as Paddon started his fight back, driving through the field. Paddon was able to go from 17th outright to eventually finish in 9th. Groups of dicing cars started forming, Peter Clare, Brad Neilson and Greg Kenny put on a great show scrapping for 6th. Further back, Steven Roberts and Steven Shiels were dicing as vigorously. Wilson had a gentle spin at turn 2 adding to her woes. The result was Barlow comfortably 1st from Kelly and Muston.
Kelly made the best start in the second race, he and Barlow approached turn 2 side by side. As Kelly had the inside line, he opened the steering delaying Barlow chance to accelerate early at the exit of turn 2. Kelly temporarily took control of the race, but it would be short lived. Barlow overtook him before laps end. The race stabilised early; Barlow was in the lead from Kelly, Muston and Shiels. All four drivers were separated by more than a second with 5th position a distance behind.
The dice for the minor placing was a lot closer, Bonaventura, Paddon and Clare battled for 5th. Steve Roberts and Sue Hughes exchanges were quite spirited. The unfortunate Gregory Kenny’s car stopped on the outside of turn 2. The disconsolate driver got out and proceeded to watch the rest of the race from the outfield. This caused the Marshall to put out Double Yellow flags in one of the best overtaking spots of the track.
Kenny was not the only DNF, a lap later Wilsons also retired. Barlow was comfortably in the lead at this stage, he eventually won by a massive 24 second margin from Kelly. Muston finish a strong 3rd, just ahead of Shiels.
The last race started during the late afternoon, Kelly continued his good starts and lead the charge into turn 1. Barlow’s new engine was working wonders and it did not take him long to take the lead. Muston in 3rd position was putting plenty of pressure on Kelly and eventually went past him during lap 3.
Wilson had a spin at the last complex of corners, her car became stuck on the edge of the track and a safety car was called out for a few laps. Racing resumed on lap 6 with Barlow immediately pulling away from Muston, who in turn was distancing himself from Kelly.
Clare and Craig McLachey had a coming together at turn 2, the latter eventually got going, however Clare retired. As all of this was happening, Paddon went past Kelly into 3rd position. With only one lap left Paul Palmer retired in his Stohr. At the end Barlow made it 3 wins from 3 starts. Muston finished 2nd and Paddon came home in 3rd place.