The SuperSport Series returned to Sydney Motorsport Park over the weekend for the final round of the 2017 season, an event which attracted a strong field of Radical entries, with the mighty SR3s and Peter Hills’ SR8 mixing it at the front of the 17-car field.
Ultimately it was Radical veteran Rowan Ross who claimed the top points in Class-1 to take the round win, the experienced SR3 campaigner overcoming a challenging year plagued by niggling technical issues to find once again the pace to fight with the outright contenders.
The return of Alexander Kenny in the Chiron LMP3 and reigning champion Darren Barlow in the Stohr meant that the top spots on the podium were likely a forgone conclusion with the pace of the faster Class-2 and Class-3 cars, but that provided another element of interest as the big field of Radical SR3s battling for Class-1 honours together with Hills in the Class-3 SR8.
Qualifying in fine conditions again saw the impressive Chris Perini in the SR3RSX take the top spot ahead of John Beck in the Vantage Property SR3 who was enjoying just his second start in a Radical.
Rowan Ross was next in his SR3RSX - the long-time Radical campaigner suffering a post-qualifying penalty for exceeding track limits, making his job of retaining his four-point class lead over Chris Perini a greater challenge. He still held on to fifth though ahead of Chris Sutton in the non-RAC-spec Radical, whilst Peter Hills was seventh in the mighty SR8. Stephen Champion showed good pace to be eighth ahead of Radical Australia Cup regular Greg Kenny and Paul Braico who rounded out the top ten.
Drivers were met with near perfect conditions for the standing start opening race, although for Stephen Champion his start was less than ideal after stalling, which affected Paul Braico’s start, the two making contact as Champion worked to re-fire the #34 machine.
Once away though Champion was quickly back through the pack and inside the top ten battling with Braico. A slow starting Greg Kenny too was quickly back through the field, working his way to seventh at the flag as up front Chris Perini closed down Rowan Ross’ championship lead with third outright and first in Class-1. Peter Hills stormed through to second, from the impressive John Beck who managed to hold out Rowan Ross for third in class.
Sunday morning’s second race saw a rolling start with Peter Hills making great use of his V8 powerplant to move quickly forward, but an off on lap three dropped him back behind Rowan Ross to third in the Class-1 battle, with Perini continuing to lead up front.
On lap six things began to change with Perini suffering a spin at turn 15 whilst third and leading Class 1, that handed Hills third, which quickly became second as Kenny dropped out of the outright lead to give overall points leader Barlow back the front running.
With Perini recovering for sixth behind John Beck and Stephen Champion, that gave Rowan Ross back the Class-1 points lead, the #88 SR3RSX crossing the line second in class behind Hills and third outright, leaving the championship wide-open coming into Sunday afternoon’s season finale.
Needing to finish fifth or better in Class-1, Rowan Ross knew he had his work cut out for him and he fired off the line to be alongside Perini on the run into turn one, the two making contact but continuing down to turn two with Perini getting the better of the battle to be fourth outright and hot on the tail of Peter Hills.
Sadly for the 2017 rookie, his championship hopes came to an end two laps later, the SR3RSX driver pulling off the circuit at turn five with a technical issue, handing title rival Ross the position and ultimately the Class-1 championship crown.
Peter Hills concluded a solid finish to his maiden season of SuperSports with a strong third outright in the SR8, from Ross, Champion, Paul Braico and Greg Kenny - John Beck having failed to start the final race due to commitments elsewhere.
That concluded the five round 2017 SuperSport season, leaving the final round of the Radical Australia Cup season as the next event on the calendar at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand on 11-12 November.
DNF. 81. Chris Perini (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX)
* Class 2 // ** Class 3
2017 SuperSport Series - Championship Points (Class-1) after five rounds of five
1. Rowan Ross (156-points), 2. Chris Perini (144), 3. Paul Braico (101), 4. Stephen Champion (87), 5. Oliver Smith (83), 6. Chris Sutton (71), 7. John Beck (60), 8. Mitchell Neilson (32), 9. David Crampton (22), 10. Brad Neilson (9)