It may have been two months since the opening round of the 2017 Radical Australia Cup [RAC] at Mount Panorama, but the desire of the teams hasn’t faltered since Bathurst, with an impressive entry for the second round of the season at one of the mainstays on the annual RAC calendar, Melbourne’s picturesque Sandown Raceway.
Joining the CAMS National Racing Championships at Sandown after a 24-month sabbatical away from the historic Melbourne venue, RAC is back and if Bathurst was any guide, there will be plenty of records broken this weekend, and you could expect one of the new 2017 SR3 RSX’s to be responsible.
Bathurst saw the debut of the new model with the long-stroke 1500cc Hyabusa powerplant and whilst it was fast in the hands of reigning RAC #2 Oliver Smith, no-one could stop two-time Radical Australia Cup champion Peter Paddon from taking what was his fifth and sixth straight victories in an SR3RS on Australia’s most famous circuit.
That sees Paddon leading the championship coming into Sandown, but even he has admitted that after seeing the new RSX up close and personal (Paddon and Smith’s side-by-side drag race down Conrod Straight and into the Chase at Bathurst was a sight to behold for even the most storied Bathurst fan), he believes that the new car will come into its own at Sandown which features two of the longest ‘straights’ in the country.
As Paddon’s closest rival for the 2017 points lead, Oliver Smith perhaps starts favourite this weekend, his new mount aside, across the most recent RAC races held at Sandown - 2014 and 2015 - Smith holds the most wins in an SR3 at two, whilst Paddon has taken just the one victory (Race#1 2015). Interestingly, both of Smith’s victories came in longer 50-minute races, whilst Paddon won an 18-lap sprint..
The only other driver from that period who saw some level of success who is entered this weekend, is another sporting an updated 2017 SR3 RSX - Sydney’s Kim Burke..
There will be six of the new SR3RSX models on track this weekend, and all are likely to be in the mix across the two 50-minute races. Conditions are expected to be perfect on Friday and much of Saturday, and you would almost bet money on new lap records being set both in qualifying and across the opening 50-minute race. Sunday’s prediction though could present a whole new challenge for the Radical regulars with rain and much cooler temperatures predicted.
There will be only a few Sandown RAC rookies, although Peter Clare and Simon Meade should adapt quickly, Meade one of those who will be looking to impress on his ‘home’ circuit, whilst Clare showed impressive pace on his RAC debut at Bathurst in what was a real initiation of fire.
Teams will get their first chance to circulate the Sandown circuit in anger on Friday, 7 April, with three 20-minute practice sessions scheduled across the day, whilst Saturday will see two 15-minute qualifying sessions ahead of the opening race at 3:10pm, and then race two at 11:50am on Sunday.
Both races will be streamed live via the CAMS Australian Nationals website;
3. David Crampton (Vantage Freight Services Radical SR3 RSX-2017)
5. Simon Haggarty (Axiom Wealth/Radical Australia Radical RS3RS)
6. Tony Haggarty (Axiom Wealth/Radical Australia Radical SR3RSX-2017)
9. Chris Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RS)
32. Sue Hughes (Hughes Motorsport Radical SR3RS)
33. Michael Whiting (Taylor Collision/Laucke Flour Mills Radical SR3RS)
47. Peter Clare (Radical SR3RS)
52. William Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RSX-2017)
53. Simon Meade (Strategy One HR Radical SR3RS)
68. Kim Burke (Radical Australia Radical SR3RSX-2017)
78. Greg Smith (Radical Australia SR3RS)
86. Oliver Smith (Radical Australia SR3RSX-2017)
88. Rowan Ross (Radical Australia SR3RSX-2017)
Championship Points (after one round of five)
1. Peter Paddon (62-points), 2. Oliver Smith (57), 3. John Morriss (46), 4. Kim Burke (42), 5. Nicholas Stavropolous (32), 5. Tony Haggarty (32), 7. Simon Meade (28), 8. Michael Whiting (26), 9. David Crampton (24), 10. Peter Johnston (22), 11. Simon Haggarty (20), 12. Richard Bloomfield (17), 13. Shane Barwood (16), 14. Chris Medland (14), 15. Bill Medland (9), 16. Peter Clare (7), 17. Greg Kenny (5), 18. Sue Hughes (3)