23 Apr 2012

Round 1 2012 – Eastern Creek GP Circuit

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Natsoft race results

Debuts Victories

Round one of the NSW State SuperSports championship promised much, and duly delivered, but not in the way most expected.

It promised to be the clash of the Titans, with Championship Title holder Michael Shaw defending his title against his main threat last year, Adam Proctor, with Radical driver Garth Walden waiting patiently in the background ready to pounce. But that was the theory. In practice it was a great deal different.

Qualifying, Saturday, track dry, conditions good.

Qualifying was interrupted by a red flag as a Radical went of into the kitty litter on turn 5. We’ll save the driver’s embarrassment by not naming him, other than to say that it was a most unusual occurrence for this ex V8 Supercar driver.

As expected Adam Proctor in his Stohr headed the times table, but ex V8 Supercar driver Garth Walden  (Radical) was a mere 1 sec behind, followed by Mike Shaw in his West that he campaigned two seasons ago (due to the late arrival of his new car). But then came new recruit, Oliver Smith, in front of hardened campaigners like Phil Anseline, Greg Smith and George Davis. Tom Todd (Radical), in his first outing was impressive posting a 1.33, with the other debutants, Darren Barlow (West) Stig Richards and Richard Fowler (Radicals) gaining pace.

Race One 11 laps. Saturday, dry and warm

Pole sitter Adam Proctor had start line problems , unlike Walden who shot to the lead, which he never relinquished. Tom Todd had a bad start too, so he went into catch up mode for the rest of the race.

But the real excitement was with the chase for the lead after Walden built up a ten second gap. Proctor was chasing it down by a second a lap, but 11 laps was just one short of potential success for him as Walden greeted the chequered flag just a second in front. Oliver Smith impressed with third place ahead of Greg Smith and Mike Shaw.

Race Two. 9 laps, Sunday, dry and warm

The starter extinguished the lights, Walden shot off, but Proctor again bogged down, so something was clearly amiss with his car. By this time Proctor was used to seeing the ever closing rear lights of Walden’s Radical, so he started to chase. Behind him one threat went missing in the form of Mike Shaw’s West, who retired with gearbox problems. At the front it looked like a fierce fight was developing as Proctor closed the gap to within half a second, but then he dropped back to let Walden have it all his own way to the flag. It seems the Stohr was suffering from fuel pressure problems that inhibited progress.

But there was plenty of excitement back in the field as Tom Todd, in his first drive, stormed through to claim third spot ahead of Greg Smith, Oliver Smith, Phil Anseline, Darren Barlow, Richard Fowler, Stig Richards and George Davis.

Race Three. Trophy Race. 9 laps, dry but with cloud cover and rain threatening.

Despite intensive attempts to fix the problem, the errant fuel pump and relay from AP Racing’s Stohr refused to cooperate so Adam Proctor was unable to make the grid, which left Garth Walden occupying the front row on his own.

As expected he made anther clean start, unlike Darren Barlow, who coughed and spluttered almost to the rear of field until he got going.

Lap after lap Walden stamped his class on the field, pulling out, what we thought was an unbeatable lead of over ten seconds. Then drama struck, with Walden pulling into pit lane for some minor mechanical attention, which opened up the race again.

He returned in sixth position, nearly half a lap behind the leaders, but that was no deterrent, as he relentlessly closed the gap, picking off the chasing mob one by one, until the last lap, where he only had Barlow and Ollie Smith ahead.

He took Barlow on turn two and caught Smith on turn ten, ready to slip stream into the lead on the straight. But newbie Smith would have none of it and held out to the chequered flag to win by less than a tenth of a second.

The other run of the race was Darren Barlow, in his first race outing, following a poor start, He drove faultlessly to bring the West home in third place and the winner of class one.

Round one was full of drama from a smaller field than usual. We saw some great driving from an impressive bunch of drivers, but particular credit must go to the race debutants who performed so well, Darren Barlow, Tom Todd, Richard Fowler, Stig Richards, and, of course, race winner Oliver Smith.

The next round is a one day event including a mini enduro at Wakefield Park on 28th April  before returning for a huge outing at Eastern Creek in June when the Adelaide and Melbourne Sports Racers will be joining in the fun.

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