Joey Mawson is confident he can bounce back after a near-perfect weekend from Cooper Webster at Phillip Island reduced his title lead in the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship.
After clean sweeping the opening round in Tasmania, the New South Welshman found himself on the back foot at the Island, as Webster picked up a pole position and two wins during the round.
After trailing this time last year, Mawson is no stranger to close competition at the top of the standings, having endured thrilling championship battles with James Golding and Thomas Randle in previous years and coming out on top on both occasions.
Despite the sudden pressure from Webster, Mawson was adamant his mindset must stay the same, and the championship will take care of itself.
“It’s the same mindset as always. We approach the weekend trying to go for victories, and if you are winning races, then the championship takes care of itself,” Mawson said.
“The approach is always the same. We can’t afford to DNF or take risks and qualifying is crucial to seeing how each weekend will turn out.
“I don’t see myself as being the chaser; Cooper had a very strong round and hats off to him, but at the same time, nothing changes, and I have the same approach. I think I’m in a better position than I was this time last year in terms of points.”
Following on from Phillip Island, the gap between the two currently sits at 11 points, with 30 points being awarded in the first two races, while the third and final race is worth double the amount – meaning the championship lead can change hands at any given time.
With the next round of the Championship taking place at the Winton Raceway next month, the tight, narrow circuit will provide both drivers with an opportunity to gain the upper hand in the points tally.
Overtaking is certain to prove difficult, and Mawson knows how important the Saturday qualifying session will be in terms of ensuring who will and won’t be competing at the front of the pack.
“There are no long straights, no fast corners and qualifying is going to be very important as overtaking is going to be tough,” Mawson explained.
“For someone like James Golding, he has been quick at both rounds but hasn’t been able to qualify in the best positions and that’s influenced the overall weekend for him.
“I have only driven at Winton when I have done trials in new cars, so I have never actually raced there properly but I am looking forward to it.”
As for his rivalry with Webster, Mawson was looking forward to fighting alongside him at the Winton raceway.
“I have a lot of respect for Cooper; I respect him as a racer and I very much enjoy racing against him,” Mawson added.
“We had a chat earlier in the year and we found out we even share the same birthday.
“He has done well each year to climb up the ladder and get closer and closer to fighting up the front, he is definitely a championship contender, and at BRM, we are excited to be competing against a new team in Versa Motorsport for the Championship.”
For Webster, his two victories in Phillip Island have been a big confidence booster for his title charge.
“I think it (Phillip Island) definitely gives me a lot more confidence going into the next couple of rounds,” Webster said.
“it’s the first weekend I’ve properly beaten guys like Joey, so it gives me a real confidence boost and a real shot at the series title,” Webster said.
“I can now approach the next couple of rounds with the title in the back of my mind, it could be possible compared to previous years when it was out of my reach.”
The next round of the S5000 Australian Drivers Championship will take place at the Winton Raceway on 9-11 June.