Saturday rain and shine at The Bend

As conditions improved, so did the times. For many of the field, Saturday’s programme saw the start of racing proper. Here is a rundown on who shone during the second day at The Bend Motorsport Park:

carsales TCR Australia Series

It was obvious during the first lap of the carsales TCR Australia Series opener that this was going to be a race which wouldn’t be won until the very end.

James Moffat’s Garry Rogers Motorsport worked overtime last night to have the Renault Megane fit to race after Friday’s practice mishap. Moffat repaid their hard work by securing the AstronTech pole position during qualifying. Joining Moffat on the front row of the grid was Tony D’Alberto in the Honda Civic Type R. Dylan O’Keefe (Alfa Romeo Giulietta) and Garth Tander (Audi RS) secured themselves positions on the second row.

The heavens opened up briefly during the opening lap, contributing to the off track excursions of both Tander and D’Alberto. It was also in the first lap that Moffat’s lead was cut short when newcomer Jordan Cox (Honda Type R) made contact and Moffat was sent off into the grass.

Series leader Will Brown (Hyundai i30N) started in 16th but by the halfway mark had worked his way to second, keeping race leader Cox busy trying hold both Brown and John Martin off.

Martin briefly took the top spot, but debris stuck in the front grill of his Honda Civic Type R caused issues which saw him to start to drop back through the field. By this stage Tander had fully recovered from his earlier incident and was lying in wait to claim the lead, where he stayed until the chequered flag fell. Brown crossed the finish line in second, with Aaron Cameron (VW Golf GTi) in third.

TCR will be back on grid from 12:45 ACST tomorrow for Race Two, with Race Three following directly after.

Photos: Nathan Wong

CAMS Australian Endurance Championship

The CAMS Australian Endurance Championship started with two qualifying sessions. Times tumbled as the track dried, with the second session drivers experiencing the benefits of the improving conditions. Fraser Ross was the fastest across both sessions, posting a 2:06.54. Peter Hackett was second fastest with a 2:07.87 and Yasser Shahin wasn’t far behind with a 2:08.17.

The glory of winning the second round of the Endurance Championship went to the pairing of Liam Talbot and Shane van Gisbergen in the Lamborghini Huracan. Talbot kicked off the pair’s campaign from third on the grid. After spending a lot of the race mid-pack, the pair found pace in the final hour and crossed with a 15 minute gap to the second-placed Geoff Emery and Garth Tander in the Audi R8 LMS. Rounding out the podium was Peter Hackett and Dominic Storey in the Mercedes AMG GT3 who were 20 minutes away from the lead.

Photos: Nathan Wong

CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship

Team BRM’s Lochie Hughes claimed his first championship round win in the penultimate round of the championship, breaking Luis Leeds’ stranglehold of round wins in 2019.

In Race Two, Hughes capitalised on his front row place on the grid with an excellent start. Ryan Suhle was not far off the pace, and finished less than a second after Hughes. Championship leader Luis Leeds was third.

An incident early in Race 3 saw Hughes collect a five second penalty after the race, which once applied saw him drop to second place and Jackson Walls promoted to first. Luis Leeds came away with third, giving him enough points to be declared the 2019 CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Champion-elect.

Tomorrow the final round of the Formula 4 season begins. The first of the three races scheduled for the day start at 9:40am ACST.

Photos: Nathan Wong

National Sports Sedan Series

Thomas Randle (SAAB 93) secured pole during the qualifying session. Tony Ricciardello was the second fastest of the session in the Alfa Romeo GTV just over two seconds behind Randle. Jordan Caruso (Audi A4) and Myles Bond (Ford Escort) found themselves on the second row of the grid.

Ricciardello hung onto his lead until lap four of Race One, making way for Shane Woodman in the BMW M3 to take top spot. Woodman’s lead was short lived when a charging Steven Tamasi (Holden Calibra) took command of the lead with Simon Copping squeezing through right behind (Holden Commodore) – relegating Woodman to second when the chequered flag fell.

Race Two of the National Sports Sedan Series gets underway 11am ACST tomorrow.

Photos: Nathan Wong

Improved Production

Improved Production joined the programme today, undertaking their Practice session first-up in the morning. The heavens opened up, which dissuaded a few in the field from taking part in the session. The all-wheel drive in Andrew Sarandis’s Mitsubishi Evo 8 came in handy in the unfavourable conditions, posting the fastest time around the 4.95km circuit with a 2:52.50.

Times were close during qualifying with Sarandis, Scott Cook (Nissan Silvia) and Maximilian de Meryic (Mazda RX3) all posting times within the 2:05 bracket, scoring one, two and three respectively.

Improved Production Race One will be the opening race of tomorrow’s program. Cars will be on track from 9:10am ACST.

Photos: Nathan Wong