ROUND 5 - OCTOBER 28 - SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK - REPORT
Written by Riccardo Benvenuti.
The final round of the MA NSW Supersport Championship was held at Sydney Motorsport Park. Cool morning conditions mean fast times for the field in qualifying. 11 cars rolled out onto the track: 9 Radicals, that included Warwick Churche, Sue Hughes, Paul Royal, Warwick Morris, Terry Knowles, Sergio Pires, Mark Brame, Justin Tigani and Jonothan Canavan. The other 2 cars were a Stohr of Paul Palmer and a Revolution of Mark Williamson.
Canavan set the fastest time to claim pole from Williamson and Tigani. Brame was 4th and Pires 5th. Knowles 6th and Morris 7th . Royal, Palmer and Hughes rounded out the top ten.
In Race 1 the leaders made an even start. In the braking zone at turn 2, Tigani made an aggressive move on the inside of Williamson. Tigani’s car understeered and his rear right wheel made connection with Williamson’s Front left. Both cars raced on, but lost some time to Brame who was in the lead. As the field settled, dices were starting to form. But the most intense battle was the one for 2nd position. Tigani and Williamson swapped position multiple times and in doing so also gained time off the leader.
During the 6th lap Williamson overtook Brame. The order at mid-race distance was; Williamson 1st, Brame 2nd, Tigani 3rd, Pires 4th and Canavan. The latter has a prominent fuel leak from the fuel cap. The unfortunate Morris coasted with no engine noise and toured towards turn 3. At this point confusion reigned. A safety car board came out at turn 3, while other post just had yellows. Some drivers slowed and others powered on. No safety car came out and most drivers were confused. It was during this strange situation that Tigani went from 3rd to 1st, overtaking cars under yellows.
The former leader Williamson was now in 2nd, but he would eventually retire. The final result was Tigani 1st from Brame and Pires. Canavan was home 4th and Knowles 5th. Tigani was given a 15 second penalty for overtaking under yellows, relegating him to 3rd position.
Race 2 started mid Saturday afternoon in perfect conditions. As the field rounded turn 1 for the first time, there was some contact in the mid pack. Palmer’s car went a hard right into the outfield, as other cars around him took avoiding action. The result was relatively harmless considering the speed at that part of the track, Palmer rejoined in last position. Due to this turn 1 mishap the field was spread apart more than normal. Pires took an early lead from Tigani, both drivers had a gap to 3rd positioned Royal. Brame and Canavan diced for 4th position. Royal could not maintain the pace and started dropping back, Up front Tigani was catching Pires and quickly overtook him to claim the lead.
By mid race distance, the leaders were spread apart. Tigani was 1st with a big lead to Pires, who in turn had a similar gap to Canavan. 4th position was more hotly contested with Williamson, Knowles, Brame and Morris in close quarters. At one stage Brame and Knowles had a small side by side contact in the braking area of turn 2.
The recovering Palmer was having a great race with Hughes, a dice that would last many laps. Williamson pulled away from the midpack battle to assert himself in a solid 4th position. At the end Tigani won comfortably from Pires. Canavan finished 3rd from Williamson and Knowles. At race conclusion the Clerk of Course intervened, and Justin Tigani was handed a post-race penalty resulting from contact with Mark Brame in turn one. This meant the loss of points from Race 2.
The final race of the season started late Saturday afternoon. This time the field made a clean start, the only indiscretion was Brame touring the outfield between turn 1 and 2 during the first lap. Tigani made the best start and quickly pulled a gap to Canavan. Pires was a lonely 3rd from an epic dice between Knowles Morris and Royal.
The unfortunate Palmer retired on the 3rd lap. One lap later Tigani’s car blew a small puff of smoke and suddenly slowed. The pursuing Canavan caught up to it and was about to claim the lead, when Tigani picked the pace again. This would not last with Tigani eventually retiring.
At this stage only 7 cars were still racing, Canavan was first and claimed the Richard Crawshay Memorial trophy and managed to keep a resurgent Pires behind him. Brame was in 3rd and Knowles 4th from Royal in 5th and Morris 6th, Hughes 7th. Even though Tigani suffered a retirement in the final race, he had accumulated enough points to win the title. Winner of the day was Serio Pires, with the category looking forward to a new calendar in 2024.