Search
  • Radical Australia

Perini begins title defence with double victory in Sydney


Reigning Radical Australia Cup champion Chris Perini delivered a resounding message to his rivals across the opening round of the 2020 season at Sydney Motorsport Park, claiming pole position and two dominant race victories to fill his account with maximum points in what were often challenging conditions on a changeable circuit.

He may have started the opening race from pole position, but it was 2019 title contender Mitchell Neilson that stopped the clocks with the top time in qualifying, out-pacing the experienced Brad Shiels and Josh Hunt in the process, whilst three-time champion Peter Paddon became acquainted with his new SR3RSX, a relationship which didn’t quite deliver the results he was hoping for first time out, but by Sunday night he felt he was much closer to where he wanted to be.

Sydney also saw a string of first-time Radical Australia Cup competitors including Carmelo Bonaventura, Susan Esselmont, Jon Grant and Warwick Morris, all of whom were on a steep learning curve across the two 50-minute races, although it was only Morris who had not competed previously behind the wheel of an SR3, however all four carried wide smiles by the close of the weekend, despite the challenge of the inclement weather.

Qualifying

With drivers the calibre of new Tilton Racing recruit Brad Shiels and Porsche Carrera Cup Australia regular Josh Hunt sharing driving duties, you could have expected James Winslow’s 2016 lap record (1:28.4401) to be under threat, but whilst teams fell short, it wasn’t either of the two experienced campaigners who set the pace, instead, 2019 title contender Mitch Neilson was the man everyone was chasing after setting the mark at a 1:29.7454.

Brad Shiels elevated the Kosta Phorukov #26 entry to second fastest, with Josh Hunt close behind, but once the times were combined between the two driver teams and the grid set, it was old foes Chris Perini and Peter Paddon who would share the front row for the start of both race one and race two, with the grid for the second 50-minute journey set by the second fastest lap of each driver/team across the 30-minute session.

To highlight just how complete a driver Perini had become after claiming his maiden title in 2019, his two best laps were separated by just five one hundredths of a second.

There were also some notable debut performances during the session, Carmelo Bonaventura mixing it with NSW State Series front-runners Stephen Champion and Paul Braico to be fastest rookie Cup driver, whilst fellow rookies Warwick Morris, Susan Esselmont and Jon Grant battled with 2019 Cup rookie-of-the-year Jim Hernandez, the quartet running with the returning father-and-son Tony and Simon Haggarty HRT entry.

Race#1 (50-minutes)

Perini led Paddon away off the rolling start with the inside running through turn one and down to the hard braking 180 degree left-hander at turn two, with Pohorukov, Peter Clare and Stephen Champion in tow and Bonaventura holding out qualifying pace-setter Mitch Neilson.

Paddon clearly didn’t have the pace of team-mate Perini, the three-time champion forced to watch the #81 car pull away in front as behind him Pohorukov held third from a tight string of cars led by Volante Rosso’s Peter Clare, Neilson and Champion, Neilson seemingly unable to make a move forward defying how impressive his qualifying speed had been.

By the opening of the pit window, both Perini and Paddon were in, employing the same tactic Paddon had used to outstanding effect over the last few seasons, leaving Pohurkov to take over the lead from Clare and Neilson who ultimately took the front running ahead of his stop.

By mid race the on-track action stepped up with Bill Medland tagging RAC rookie Warwick Morris under brakes at turn two, forcing the closely following Jon Grant to take to the weeds on the outside of the circuit, Medland coming off second best as he lost the best part of a lap trying to restart the #52 entry - fortunately he was able to, before returning to pit lane for the RA Motorsports team to check over the car as he effected his compulsory stop.

After everyone had concluded their timed stops, Perini returned to the top of the timesheets with Paddon holding down second from GWR team-mates Stephen Champions and Paul Braico, with Bonaventura taking back fifth from experienced sportscar campaigner JP Drake who was now behind the wheel of Mitch Neilson’s #38 entry.

Further back there was a terrific battle brewing between ‘pro’ drivers Shiels (in Kosta Pohorukov’s #26 Tilton Interiors entry) and Hunt (in the #47 Shared Runway Peter Clare entry), the pair pushing each other to some of the fastest laps on track, allowing them to move through the pack to be classified sixth and seventh at the flag, but up front, no-one could match Perini.

“I thought once Brad [Shiels] and Josh [Hunt] got in their cars they’d be able to breach the gap so I just kept pushing,” Perini admitted after crossing the line more than 40-seconds clear of Paddon, with Champion a close third having withstood a late charge from Bonaventura.

Braico was fifth, with the charging Shiels and Hunt close behind. Zig Fuhrmeister dropped off the lead pack after the pit stops, whilst JP Drake was unable to find his usual prototype pace in the #38 Neilson entry, the team lamenting a lack of speed after such a strong qualifying effort, having left the car unchanged ahead of the race.

Rowan Ross was tenth, the former NSW State Series champion all smiles after a strong run with no setbacks, whilst Jon Grant was the second of the RAC rookies across the line (Bonaventura the first) having recovered from his off avoiding the Medland-Morris contact.

Jim Hernandez was all smiles again after finding more time across the opening race, to be 12th and clear of Susan Esselmont who had suffered a lurid slide coming out of the fast turn one right-hander, sailing across the gravel towards the barriers before regrouping to re-join the field, although she dropped a number of positions in the process.

Likewise Warwick Morris recovered from his incident at turn two to lead home Bill Medland and the returning Simon Haggarty and Tony Haggarty.

Race#2 (50-minutes)

Overnight rain and steadily falling showers saw very few drivers venture out on track for Sunday morning’s short warm-up session, although a number of drivers including GWR team-mates Chris Perini, Peter Paddon and Stephen Champion contested laps on a wet circuit as part of the Prototype Series - Perini and Champion ultimately ending up in the turn one gravel, whilst Paddon briefly led before crossing the line second.

Sadly, the circuit was still damp by the start of the second race, with a dry line appearing very quickly, a situation which gave the more experienced drivers a great opportunity to press their advantage, whilst also forcing the bulk of the teams in for an early pit stop to swap across to the control Hankook slick tyre.

Perini and Paddon again started side-by-side for the second 50-minute race although this time Perini was unable to press his advantage as hard down to turn two, Paddon running right alongside as they hit their braking markers ahead of the tight left-hander, Perini assuming the lead on the run into turn three, before Paddon put his earlier wet weather experience to good use to take the lead out of turn six.

Behind them Josh Hunt and Brad Shiels were on the attack, Hunt through to third by turn eight, Shiels dropping Champion back to fifth on the run through turn nine, Fuhrmeister, Braico and Bonaventura locking in close behind.

Hunt quickly closed on Perini, trying to make a move on the run onto the main straight but Perini was able to hold him out, before the #47 Shared Runway entry moved past on the run into turn two, Shiels taking the points leader on the exit of turn four.

Clearly quicker, Paddon allowed Hunt through on the exit of turn eight before holding Shiels out for almost a full lap before he too dropped Paddon down a position, the two Pro drivers relishing the damp conditions.

Behind the lead pack, Stephen Champion was also putting his earlier laps in the damp conditions to good use, to close in on Perini and Paddon who were trying to find as many damp patches as they could as the track started to develop a clear dry line, whilst further back, Braico was monstering Fuhrmeister, although he also had to contend with Bonaventura, who was filling his mirrors.

Sadly for the luckless Braico - who despite achieving impressive results at his home circuit through the State Series - his Radical Australia Cup woes continued, a broken throttle cable leaving him stranded on the side of the circuit on the exit of turn three shortly after, prompting a Safety Car intervention just moments after Brad Shiels took the lead from Josh Hunt on the run into turn six.

Perini meanwhile used the opportunity to dive into pit lane early for a set of Hankook slicks, Hunt doing the same thing the following lap to have the car set up ready for Peter Clare ahead of their second stop (Perini, Hunt, Esselmont and Fernandez pitting outside of the compulsory pit window forcing a second stop once the window had officially opened).

On the restart Shiels led Paddon, Champion, Fuhrmeister and Bonaventura, with Perini now back in position nine and Hunt last of the 14 remaining teams (Bill Medland didn’t make the start of race two).

Two laps later Perini returned to pit lane for his compulsory stop, Champion also coming down pit lane, whilst Shiels, Fuhrmesiter and Rowan Ross came in the following lap, Drake and then Paddon and Bonaventura following suit soon after.

By the time the full quota of compulsory stops had been committed, the decision to put Perini on slicks was more than validated, the race one winner emerging with a strong lead, an advantage he again pushed to more than 40-seconds before the finish, Paddon again second with Kosta Pohorukov third for a GWR Australia 1-2-3.

Bonaventura was an impressive fourth having closed down Pohorukov’s advantage over the closing laps, the Queenslander crossing the line just over a second off a podium result on his RAC debut, and comfortably clear of Stephen Champion, the two of them sharing third for the round.

Mitch Neilson was sixth having capitalised on team-mate JP Drake’s strong opening stint, whilst Susan Esselmont was an impressive seventh and second rookie home, she was also the final finisher on the same lap as the leaders.

Fuhrmeister, Rowan Ross and Peter Clare - who was delayed by the two pit stops the #47 SR3 contested during the race - filled the top ten, with Simon Haggarty, Jim Hernandez, Jon Grant and Warwick Morris completing the finishers.

-----------------------------------------------------

What the drivers had to say..

1. 81. Chris Perini

“Full credit to the GWR team for that one, they made a perfect strategy call - it might have been a little high risk, but I think we were pushed into that option because of where we were after the first few laps. We probably weren’t the quickest out there today at the beginning but we were quick when it mattered.”

2. 31. Peter Paddon

“Yesterday wasn’t that great, even when I thought I had the [new] car in the zone it wasn’t that quick. Today, it was quick everywhere - the only reason I think we lost that race was because we didn’t quite nail the pit stop strategy which was my fault, but the car was quick. Because it develops downforce with the underfloor moreso than with the older car it’s a lot more pitch sensitive, so that induces a lot more compromises and sacrifices - you need to be a lot more precise with the balance of the car, so you can lose a lot of time. With the other car, because the aero was more at the top of the car, it didn’t really matter what the bottom of the car was doing, it would still generate the same amount of downforce - the other part of it is just understanding how changes to the setup affect the car”

3. 34. Stephen Champion

“It was great to race with Paddon and Perini across the opening laps on wets, that was the first time I’ve really been able to race with them and push them, but ultimately we went to slicks which were better in the long run, but by then I’d lost contact with the leaders and just tried to hold my own despite the fact there were parts of the circuit that were still very wet. Overall I’m very happy to be third for the weekend alongside those two guys, it's a great start to the season.”

-----------------------------------------------------

2020 Radical Australia Cup

Rnd#1 - 2020 Radical Australia Cup

Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW (6-8 March, 2020)

Race#2 (8 March):

1. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) - 29-laps

2. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) +42.8501

3. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov/Brad Shiels (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) +49.9505

4. 14. Carmelo Bonaventura (Melos Rendering Radical SR3RS) +51.4781

5. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Growth Adv. Radical SR3RS) +1:01.7492

6. 38. JP Drake/Mitch Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) +1:11.7559

7. 24. Susan Esselmont (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) +1:34.7187

8. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Elec Motorsport Radical SR3RS) - 28-laps

9. 88. Rowan Ross (RA Motorsports SR3RSX) - 28-laps

10. 47. Josh Hunt/Peter Clare (Shared Runway Racing Radical SR3RS) - 28-laps

11. 5. Tony Haggarty/Simon Haggarty (HRT/Axiom Wealth Radical RS3RS) - 28-laps

12. 23. Jim Hernandez (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 27-laps

13. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 27-laps

14. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 27-laps

DNF. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) - 6-laps

DNS. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS)

Race#1 (7 March):

1. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) - 32-laps

2. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) +41.2438

3. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Growth Adv. Radical SR3RS) +42.2383

4. 14. Carmelo Bonaventura (Melos Rendering Radical SR3RS) +42.3838

5. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) +46.2947

6. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov/Brad Shiels (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) +47.1288

7. 47. Peter Clare/Josh Hunt (Shared Runway Racing Radical SR3RS) +49.0058

8. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Elec Motorsport Radical SR3RS) +1:27.0796

9. 38. Mitch Neilson/JP Drake (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) - 31-laps

10. 88. Rowan Ross (RA Motorsports SR3RSX) - 31-laps

11. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 31-laps

12. 23. Jim Hernandez (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 30-laps

13. 24. Susan Esselmont (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 30-laps

14. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 30-laps

15. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) - 30-laps

16. 5. Simon Haggarty/Tony Haggarty (HRT/Axiom Wealth Radical RS3RS) - 30-laps

-----------------------------------------------------

Race#2 Grid (7 March):

1. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) - 1:30.3886

2. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) - 1:31.0411

3. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Growth Adv. Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.3679

4. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov/Brad Shiels (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 1:31.4566

5. 47. Peter Clare/Josh Hunt (Shared Runway Racing Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.6280

6. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Elec Motorsport Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.6417

7. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.9847

8. 38. Mitch Neilson/JP Drake (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) - 1:31.9873

9. 14. Carmelo Bonaventura (Melos Rendering Radical SR3RS) - 1:32.1239

10. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) - 1:33.1201

11. 88. Rowan Ross (RA Motorsports SR3RSX) - 1:33.1472

12. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 1:34.0028

13. 24. Susan Esselmont (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 1:34.6806

14. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 1:34.9744

15. 23. Jim Hernandez (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 1:36.7695

16. 5. Simon Haggarty/Tony Haggarty (HRT/Axiom Wealth Radical RS3RS) - 1:37.0051

Race#1 Grid (7 March):

1. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) - 1:30.3398

2. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) - 1:30.8431

3. 47. Peter Clare/Josh Hunt (Shared Runway Racing Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.1720

4. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov/Brad Shiels (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 1:31.2262

5. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Elec Motorsport Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.2559

6. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Growth Adv. Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.3581

7. 38. Mitch Neilson/JP Drake (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) - 1:31.4480

8. 14. Carmelo Bonaventura (Melos Rendering Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.5565

9. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) - 1:31.9017

10. 88. Rowan Ross (RA Motorsports SR3RSX) - 1:32.6632

11. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) - 1:32.8766

12. 5. Simon Haggarty/Tony Haggarty (HRT/Axiom Wealth Radical RS3RS) - 1:33.8720

13. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 1:33.9221

14. 24. Susan Esselmont (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 1:34.2316

15. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntel Radical SR3RS) - 1:34.5819

16. 23. Jim Hernandez (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 1:35.9183

-----------------------------------------------------

Championship Points (after one round of six)

1. Chris Perini (81-points), 2. Peter Paddon (71), 3. Stephen Champion (54), 3. Carmelo Bonaventura (54), 5. Kosta Pohorukov/Brad Shiels (52), 7. Mitchell Neilson (40), 8. JP Drake (38), 9. Zig Fuhrmeister (36), 10. Peter Clare/Josh Hunt (34), 12. Rowan Ross (30), 13. Susan Esselmont (31), 14. Paul Braico (24), 15. Jon Grant (21), 16. Jim Hernandez (20), 17. Tony Haggarty/Simon Haggarty (18), 19. Warwick Morris (16), 20. Bill Medland (7)

-----------------------------------------------------

2020 Radical Australia Cup

Rnd#1 - 6-8 March - Sydney Motorsport Park, New South Wales (Aust. Prod. Car Series)

Rnd#2 - 10-12 April - Mount Panorama, Bathurst, New South Wales (MA Nationals)

Rnd#3 - 12-14 June - The Bend Motorsport Park, South Australia (MA Nationals)

Rnd#4 - 11-12 July - Barbagallo Raceway, Western Australia

Rnd#5 - 21-23 August - Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Victoria (MA Nationals)

Rnd#6 - 11-13 September - Sandown Raceway, Victoria (MA Nationals)


  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

© 2019 by Radical Australia