The popular SuperSport Series moved to Victoria for round four of the 2017 season, bringing a big field of Radical entries to the Grand Prix circuit in typically challenging winter conditions, conditions which served up all four seasons across the weekend.
Ultimately the weekend was dominated by former Radical Australia Cup champion Neale Muston in his rapid Excalibur Racing SR8, the experienced Radical campaigner topping every session and winning every race, whilst behind him, a strong field of Radical SuperSport regulars turned in three great races with some real standout performances across both days.
Recent Radical recruit and SuperSport front runner Chris Perini showed fantastic pace on his birthday weekend, whilst Peter Hills - on his debut at Phillip Island - recorded one of his best weekend’s of the year.
It was great to see local Radical competitor Gary Walker back in the field, the Geelong driver carding a string of top four results, whilst rookies Darren Kurzok and Paul Braico also enjoyed some valuable miles mixing in with the experienced Radical campaigners.
After qualifying on pole position - comfortably clear of reigning SuperSport champion Darren Barlow - Neale Muston was second into turn one, but the SR8 driver was quickly through to the lead and never again headed during the opening ten lap race, crossing the line more than four seconds clear of Barlow.
The main focus though was further down the field, with a great run by Chris Perini giving him a strong start to be mixing it with the leaders before dropping back to a comfortable third, the recent Radical Australia Cup graduate putting his recent experience at the top level of Radical competition to good form to be comfortably the fastest SR3 driver on the Island.
Radical Australia Cup veteran Rowan Ross too started strongly, but sadly suffered a spin at turn four (Honda Corner) on cold tyres, dropping him back towards the rear of the field, although he soon recovered to be mixing with the recovering Peter Hills (bad start) and Paul Braico on his way to sixth at the flag.
Hills fifth and Darren Kurzok’s 12th were strong results on their Phillip Island debuts, Kurzok sadly forced to start rear of field after a technical issue in qualifying.
Sunday morning’s second race threw a curve-ball at the field as they lined up on the dummy grid, early morning rain having cleared leaving a slight dry line on the circuit. That was enough to force Chris Perini down pit lane to make a tyre change, forcing him to start from pit exit, whilst the remainder of the field - with the exception of Barlow - elected to stay with wet weather tyres.
Muston again led the field away with Barlow in tow, whilst behind them Gary Walker had taken up third as the leading SR3, but he was quickly deposed by Peter Hills.
Perini was the big mover in the field, quickly through the grid of PRB Clubmans and inside the top ten by lap four. He continued his charge - careful to stay on the dry line - to be fifth by lap ten, ultimately crossing the line in third, his 1:35.1530 making him comfortably the fastest SR3 on circuit, and faster than race leader Muston who set a best of 1:36.2217 on lap three.
Hills was an impressive second in the challenging conditions for an SR8 1-2, inheriting the position after a late off by Darren Barlow - who like Perini had made a last minute change to slicks - whilst Gary Walker again claimed fourth, losing a potential podium on the final lap to Perini.
Stephen Champion was a solid fifth after closing on Walker in the closing stages, whilst Darren Kurzok continued his charge forward after the frustrations of qualifying to cross the line sixth, ahead of Rowan Ross and Paul Braico.
Conditions improved again for the weekend’s final race, although the outright result was no different, Neale Muston again leading to the line, although this time he was forced to defend across the full 12-lap journey from reigning champion Barlow in the Stohr.
Chris Perini completed an almost perfect weekend in the RA Motorsports’ SR3RSX with his third podium in two days, overcoming Peter Hills who had held third across the opening laps of the race.
Gary Walker’s return to Radical too saw an almost perfect run inside the top four, with the exception of a spin on the opening lap at turn two, dropping the experienced SR3 campaigner to rear of field forcing a charge back through the field which saw some impressive overtaking mid-race, including four cars on lap eight alone. Sadly it wasn’t enough, the Victorian having to settle for ninth at the flag.
Rowan Ross’ tough weekend saw a better overall result in the final race, the long-time SR3 campaigner fifth after a major shift in setup after a tough start to the event, whilst Darren Kurzok was an impressive sixth ahead of Paul Braico, Stephen Champion and Walker.
The SuperSport championship now returns to Sydney Motorsport Park for the final event of the season on Saturday 16 September where a strong field of Radicals is expected ahead of the final round of Radical Australia Cup at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand on 11-12 November.