Trans Am battle stepping up a notch

Since Nathan Herne departed the National Trans Am Series at the end of 2022, the race to be crowned the series champion has never been so wide open.

All competitors are fighting harder than ever to claim race wins, making the category a must-watch on the 2023 Shannon SpeedSeries bill.

The opening round of the season during AWC Race Tasmania saw many shoulder-to-shoulder battles and nail-biting finishes, with the closest coming in qualifying after Ben Grice topped the pre-session favourite James Moffat by just six-thousandths of a second.

Not only that, but an incredible 10 drivers qualified within half a second of the polesitter, further emphasising the competitive nature of this year’s line-up.

After an impressive outing in Tasmania, Lochie Dalton is one of many who are wary of the improved calibre of drivers and teams on the grid.

The Garry Rogers Motorsport driver (GRM) walked away from the opening race weekend second in the overall standings behind teammate James Moffat, who successfully completed a clean sweep of race wins.

Despite the promising result on paper, Dalton emphasised the lift in competitiveness in 2023 compared to the previous year.

“Coming out of Tassie, I think it was obvious that everyone had stepped it up a lot this year, we have got a few new teams and they are really taking it up to us here at GRM,” Dalton said.

“That means coming into the round, we were a little bit unsure; I knew it would be strong but then you’ve got the new teams right on our tails and outqualifying us.

“You have then also got drivers like Grice who will be on our tail all year, same with the likes of Jaylyn Robotham and a few of the other boys who are running under that camp.

“I think those DNFs hurt Grice a little bit, but I know he will definitely bounce back and be fighting with us all year.”

This year, Dalton shares the grid with a handful of stars including the likes of Owen Kelly, James Moffat and Brett Holdsworth, but was looking forward to the challenge.

“There are a lot of big names, Owen has had a very big career in America and in Australia and the same with the likes of Moffat, Brett Holdsworth and even Jaylyn is very experienced in Supercars,” Dalton explained.

“Yes, they are big names, but it makes it even more rewarding for me to beat those sorts of people, when you are out on track you just treat them like anybody else.”

Despite the heavy competition, there is confidence within GRM that the car they have produced is worthy of a title run.

“I have got a new car this year, and it’s going really well,” Dalton added.

“The GRM boys have done an excellent job figuring out the longevity of the car, the shifting and keeping the tyres underneath it as well as the braking, so I am really impressed with how the car is going this year.

“I definitely want to wrap up the championship this year, it’s my second year now so I feel like I have no excuses.”

Tickets for the second round of the season are still available via motorsporttickets.com.au.

For those who are unable to make the trip to Phillip Island, Stan Sport will provide live and uninterrupted coverage from most of Saturday and Sunday’s action, while 9Gem will also broadcast three hours of Saturday afternoon’s racing.

The second round of the National Trans Am Series kicks off at the Shannons SpeedSeries Phillip Island event on 12-14 May.