Bumper field makes up Sandown festival

After more than 12 months of waiting, the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships returns to Sandown Raceway this weekend through the inaugural motorsport festival, the Shannons Motorsport Australia Festival.

Created in conjunction with the MG Car Club of Victoria, the event will welcome a bumper entry list of more than 180 competitors speared across a variety of categories, as drivers compete for bragging rights on one of the greatest race tracks in Australia.

Headlining the list of categories will be the combined Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup and Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia , which will feature up to 18 entries from both one-make series. Drivers will compete over three races, including a 45-minute endurance race on Sunday.

While its entry list features an impressive pool of talented drivers, the category’s variety of veterans and youth will certainly make the weekend interesting as experienced heads Stephen Grove, Nick McBride, Michael Almond take on the likes of young stars Harri Jones, Aaron Love and Ryan Suhle – all of whom have bright futures ahead of them.

For Grove, who will race in the Michelin Challenge class, the 53-year-old has already enjoyed some success in the past 12 months, taking out class wins at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and at the Carrera Cup’s only round in February, as well as a podium at the 2019 FIA Motorsport Games in Italy.

Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup regulars McBride and Almond will also be ones to watch as they look to maximise their experience in the category and claim top honours. Both have experience winning with McBride claiming victory last time the category was at Sandown in 2017, while Almond also managed to win a race in 2019.

Other categories to feature at the Shannons Motorsport Australia Festival will include the Hyundai Excels, Formula Free, BMW E30’s and a host of Regularity classes.

Like Porsche, the MG and Invited British classes will form the make-up of one grid across the weekend. Additionally, Porsche will also perform a series of Speed Comparisons with 15-minute sessions taking place on both Saturday and Sunday.

Despite the a number of competitors in the BMW E30’s competing at the circuit at club level this year, this weekend will mark the first appearance for many of them, with Brian Bourke and Simon Leach looking to capitalise on their podium place finishes which they recorded in February at the Motorsport Australia Victoria Circuit Championships.

In the popular Hyundai Excels, Karl Neilson, Matthew Binks, Antonio Molluce and Euan Potter return to Sandown for the second time in 2020 since the corresponding event in February.

All drivers will have the opportunity to take part in practice and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday morning with three races to be shared between the race categories and four sprint sessions between the regularity classes.

With Friday seeing all categories enjoying private practice, the official action gets underway on Saturday morning at 9:10am with the Group 1 sprints, while the Group 3 Sprints begin Sunday’s schedule at 9:10am at the same time, while the BMW E30s wrap up both days around 5pm AEDT.

Unfortunately, due to ongoing COVID restrictions, the large number of competitors and the venue set up, spectators will not be able to attend this weekend’s event at Sandown.

The Shannons Motorsport Australia Festival takes place at Sandown International Raceway on 11 – 13 December.