The S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship has officially closed the curtain on another thrilling year of action following an entertaining round in Adelaide last weekend, where Team Valvoline GRM’s Aaron Cameron was crowned champion.
The 23-year-old driver from Victoria entered that final round with a healthy gap over Cooper Webster, who was ultimately unable to integrate himself into podium contention all weekend – losing second place in the championship as a result.
However, while there were no major surprises that Cameron would leave Adelaide as champion, the road to a maiden Motorsport Australia Gold Star award wasn’t as smooth sailing as it seemed.
Kicking off the season at AWC Race Tasmania, Cameron would ultimately be left to fight for podium positions as reigning champion, Joey Mawson dominated proceedings.
After claiming the first pole position of the season, Mawson was barely challenged the entire weekend and enjoyed an early lead in the standings.
— Shannons SpeedSeries (@SpeedSeriesAU) February 26, 2023
The following round at the renowned Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in May saw 20-year-old Webster insert himself into title conversations with an emphatic performance in qualifying, before converting it into two race wins.
Mawson would then return serve at Hi-Tec Oils Race Winton after completing his second clean sweep in three rounds to reinstate himself as the championship favourite.
However, the script would ultimately flip on its head when it was announced that the championship leader wouldn’t compete for the remainder of the season – swinging the advantage back into Websters favour.
Then, to add to the drama, Webster wasn’t entered into the following round at Sydney Motorsport Park due to clashes with his international GB4 Championship commitments, where he also found himself in the midst of a thrilling title race.
With the next round taking place at Sydney Motorsport Park, Cameron would go on to win all three races around the Eastern Creek circuit, and by doing so inserted himself into title contention for arguably the first time in 2023.
Two South Australian rounds remained for the season, with Shell V-Power Motorsport Park hosting arguably the most important weekend of racing for the year.
Cameron had the early advantage by claiming pole position but was unable to capitalise at the start of both races one and two, losing the lead to Webster, who started alongside him on the front row.
Two fast starts for Webster ultimately turned into two race wins on Saturday, however a much closer race three saw Cameron take victory and score some vital points ahead of the Adelaide street fight in November.
A crucial qualifying session again went the way of Cameron in the season finale, who by this stage had one hand firmly on the title after Webster failed to crack the top 10.
From there, Cameron was barely headed as he cruised to victory in races one and two – scoring enough points to mathematically claim the title barring any further penalties in the final race of the season.
Another dominant display then secured the title, with Webster only managing a weekend-best fifth place finish in that final outing.
The poor weekend from Webster meant not only did he miss out on a maiden Gold Star, but would lose second place in the championship to Cameron’s Team Valvoline GRM counterpart, Jordan Boys.
Boys capitalised on some late season form to finish on the podium in eight of the last nine races, including Sydney, where Webster was absent.
The S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship will now turn its focus to 2024, where a calendar is still yet to be announced.