08 March 2016
The summer break was over and the first round of the 2016 NSW Supersports Championship was finally here. A hot and sunny Wakefield Park was the venue of the first round and a solid turn out of cars rolled out for early morning qualifying.
The field was mixed with a variety of cars; Neale Muston in a Radical SR8, Darren Barlow in the Stohr, Alexander Kenny in a Chiron, Neil Kenny in a Juno, Craig Watson in a Westfield and Kim Burke, Peter Paddon, Oliver Smith, Greg Smith, Chris Sutton & Simon Bathgate. This variety of cars with different speed and strength in various parts of the track would spice up the racing.
There was a hint of fog as the cars attempted to set a qualifying time, it was evident that Burke was struggling with some understeer in the early running. Oliver Smith had a gentle spin at turn 6 while trying too hard, he was able to continue without bringing out the safety car. Muston made the most of qualifying claiming pole with a time of 57.1335 and alongside him on the front row was Barlow. The second row comprised of Alex Kenny and Burke. Four different cars in the first four position.
A standing start would be in order for the races this weekend, the front row pair were tardy as the light turned green. Alex Kenny on the second row made the most of it and found himself in first place by turn two. Back in the pack Bathgate virtually stalled on the start line, he eventually got going albeit half a lap behind. The order after the first lap was A Kenny from Burke and O Smith. Muston and Barlow were starting to make up lost time and by the third lap the both overtake the car of O.Smith. Barlow’s Stohr made its speed at the twisty tight section of the track while the radicals and the Chiron were fast down the main straight.
By Mid race the leader had a healthy lead from Burke who was being chased down by Barlow, Muston and Paddon. Muston superior straight line speed enabled him to overtake Barlow for position and in the heat of the battle Paddon had a half lose and subsequently lost plenty of time. Paddon was not the only car to have an off, Neil Kenny trying too hard around the fishhook spun. He was able to rejoin and finish the race. At the end it was a start to finish win for Alex Kenny, Muston made a remarkable comeback to claim second position while Barlow’s consistency claimed third.
Race 2 was a reverse grid race for the first six cars, this meant that the three fast cars of Barlow, Muston and Alex Kenny would start in 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. But as the light went out this really did not make much of a difference. The SR8 of Muston took off like a rocket and by the end of the first lap he was already in first position. He was closely followed by O Smith and Alex Kenny. During the second lap O Smith had a small off at the top of the hill relegating him down to seventh position. Muston was in the command of the race and held a solid margin to second positioned car of A Kenny. The battle for the last podium position was intensifying between Sutton, Barlow and Burke. Barlow’s car was all over Sutton at the back of the circuit, once turn 10 was out of the way Sutton would build a small relieving margin. On the third lap Barlow eventually got through and pulled away. This left the order as; Muston in the lead with a gap to A Kenny who in turn had a similar gap to Barlow. The 4th position battle between Sutton, Burke, Paddon & the recovering O Smith was raging lap after lap. Greg Smith had a lonely spin at the fishhook and the unfortunate Watson retired on lap 7. At the end the final order was Muston 1st, A Kenny 2nd and Barlow 3rd.
Race 3 (Trophy race) was held late Saturday afternoon and the start was similar to the previous race, Muston made the most of the front row and he was closely followed by A Kenny and Barlow. To Barlow’s credit he was able to hang on to A Kenny’s Chiron and he was not alone; Sutton, Paddon & Burke also joined the battle. It seemed that A Kenny car did not have the same speed of the previous races and these five cars where nose to tail for at least 4 laps. During the fifth lap Barlow got through and proceeded to hunt Muston down. A lap later Paddon made an ambitious move under brakes at turn 10 and found himself in the dirt off the track……he rejoined the race albeit in 7thposition.
A Kenny’s lack of speed was evident and his car was acting more like a cork in the bottle. Burke eventually got through and he was followed by Sutton and the charging Paddon. At the front Muston coasted home claiming 1st followed by Barlow in 2nd and Burke finished 3rd. The hapless A Kenny dropped down to 6th position.
Great start to the years racing and looking forward to a bigger field at the next round. Congratulation to Neale Muston with two wins and a second allowing him to claim the round.