Craillsy’s Preview: Sydney Motorsport Park

As always, the history of motor sport in Australia informs a lot of what goes on today.

Whether it’s Supercars celebrating retro round or a modern incarnation of Formula 5000—in the same way they are selling more vinyl records these days than they have in 30 years.

There’s a lot of ‘what is old is new again’ going on at the moment.

Production car racing is no different with the class evolving much in the same way it did in a previous life.

This weekend’s Shannons Nationals season finale includes a four-hour enduro for the Jacuzzi Spas Australian Production Car Series amongst a bumper program that really offers something for everyone.

From the open-wheelers in the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship to a double dose of Sports Cars thanks to the Radical Australia Cup and the Australian Prototype Series presented by Hot Wheels to Aussie Racing Cars, there’s plenty going on.

Oh—and there’s the finale of the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge too, but more on that later.

In the meantime, it’s back to production cars.

Perhaps the biggest moment for the class in Sydney came in 1995, when the Bathurst 12 Hour shifted from, well, Bathurst to the circuit then known as Eastern Creek.

In a gruelling race, Dick Johnson and John Bowe partnered in an Allan Horsley-prepared Mazda RX-7SP to win the race by under a lap, from another pair of legends in the form of Peter Fitzgerald and Jim Richards driving their Falken Porsche 968RSCS.

Andrew Miedecke and Mark Noske finished four laps back in third place in another Porsche.

You’ll notice that in this production car field, the first three cars home were two-door weapons from Mazda and Porsche.

In fact, the first five cars home were similar with another Mazda finished fourth and Ross Palmer’s Honda NSX came fifth. The first four-door car home was a Subaru Impreza in sixth.

There’s a lot of similarities with that field of 27 years ago with the evolution we’re seeing in production car racing these days.

In previous years the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was the car to beat, then it was BMW’s M3s and M4s.

Now, it’s the Lotus Exige charging away at the front of the field thanks to the talented hands of people like Grant Denyer, Tony D’Alberto, Jim Pollicina and Ryan Simpson amongst others.

Soon, there will be a Porsche Cayman joining the group thanks to the patronage of well-known ‘Proddy’ racer Bob Pearson too … who knows what else is down the line.

So really, there’s not a lot of difference between the production cars of 1995 and the evolution of the class as we know it today.

Ironically, Sydney should suit the Lotus’ entries as much as Winton did just a few weeks ago: the long, fast and flowing corners that are a hallmark of the venue are perfectly matched to the cars. Watch for the BMW’s down the chute though – and you can never rule out the Brothers’ Sherrin or Beric Lynton.

In Porsche land it’s the final round of the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia and it has the potential to be a beauty.

Cooper Murray leads Simon Fallon by just 11 points, after the pair endlessly danced for the lead across three cracking races at Winton last time out.

There’s only two races this weekend to decide the title at a circuit that has always put on some cracking Porsche racing.

Both drivers have been surprise packets this year—Murray with the ‘came from nowhere’ approach and Fallon in the way he has quickly adapted from the rigours of open-wheel racing to the intensity of Porsche’s one-make grid.

The stakes are high in team land too, with Ash Seward Motorsport is looking for their first ever title while Sonic Motor Racing are gunning for their fourth-straight in the Cup Challenge, to add to their already impressive roster.

Formula 4 is back and after the flat-strap Winton weekend where they condensed two championship rounds into one weekend, a mere three races this weekend will seem like a holiday in comparison.

The Sydney Motorsport Park round is an ideal chance for local team AGI Sport to enhance their title credentials, with their drivers Jayden Ojeda and Ryan Suhle currently 1-2 in the standings.

The absence of third-placed Cameron Shields (who’s testing at Indianapolis) will almost certainly ensure this year’s title battle becomes an inter-team fight between the AGI duo.

The Aussie Racing Cars join the Shannons program for the first time in a long time this weekend, with the pocket rockets always putting on a good show at Sydney Motorsport Park, while the racing in the class this year in particular has been feisty.

Rounding things off nicely will be two decent grids of sports cars, both in the Australian Prototype Series presented by Hot Wheels and the Radical Australia Cup.

The RAC is in it’s final round, with Kym Burke looking to claim his first title, while the APS enters their penultimate round of the year in good shape with 17 cars, with all of them looking to chase points leader Jason Makris.

What’s more, there’s a large crossover of Radical entries between both classes ensuring plenty of laps for the local competitors especially.

Finally, the Veloce Racing Association will bring their grid of Alfa Romeos back to Sydney for the second year in a row, showing that there really is something for everything at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend.

Get your backside trackside or get on the free and live stream on Sunday to catch all the action.

– Craillsy