The 2018 Radical Australia Cup comes to it’s conclusion this weekend, perhaps fittingly at the home of Radical Australia - Sydney Motorsport Park. For the first time in four seasons a new champion will be crowned, but outgoing champion Peter Paddon will be back in the field looking to end the season just as he started it at Bathurst all the way back in February.. as a winner!
Coming into the season finale though it’s all on Kim Burke to convert his two season wins into the 2018 championship. He comes in well clear of nearest rival Chris Perini with a 62-point advantage and it’s likely no-one will stop him, but like any true champion you could expect he will go into the final round looking for more wins, and nothing - not even the return of Peter Paddon - is likely to stop him.
With a strong field of entries, which includes Paddon and NSW SuperSport sensations Mitch Neilson and John Beck and the returning JP Drake, Burke will have his work cut out for him, but he’s ready and like many of his rivals, spent time dialling himself in during a pre-event test day on the Monday ahead of the title decider…
Paddon starts somewhat a favourite having won four of the last six starts at Sydney Motorsport Park, whilst Burke has not been on the podium at Radical’s home event since 2015, but if there’s one thing the champion-elect has learnt in 2018, it’s how to string a championship together having come so close in past seasons. He knows that Paddon could prove a threat at home, but Burke also knows that Paddon isn’t in this year’s title fight, nor is the hottest man in an SR3 right now, Mitch Neilson..
Neilson has dominated the Class 1 category of the NSW SuperSeries and has been so quick and consistent in the state series that he’s also leading the outright points against much faster Class 2 competition. Back alongside father Brad for the RAC season finale, Neilson is looking to add to the pairing’s victory at The Bend earlier in the year and like Chris Perini, are within mathematical chance of moving forward in the championship points.
Perini has been a real sensation this season, the former Superbike competitor a standout at the season opening Bathurst event, running a close second to Paddon at Mount Panorama before putting himself in contention for the win in race two before an incident at the top of the mountain ended what had otherwise been a faultless debut.
Like title-rival Kim Burke, Perini was at SMP turning laps on Monday, the affable youngster turning some quick laps, whilst admitting he needed to step up another level to take the fight to Burke and Paddon.
2016 and 2017 runner-up Oliver Smith will be back too for the final event of the tenth season of RAC, the multiple race winner enjoying a ‘Back to the Future’ moment alongside Phil Anseline - who has taken over Smith’s 2017 SR3RSX - the Sydney local returning to a co-driving role alongside Anseline which is where he started his RAC career more than six seasons prior.
With Sandown podium finisher John-Paul Drake back in the field - ably assisted by Aldous Mitchell - and the Haggarty Racing Team duo of Tony and Simon Haggarty also in the field, you could expect an exciting close to the 2018 season.
With Rowan Ross, Greg Kenny and the ever-improving Peter Clare - who was a strong contender at Wakefield Park during the most recent round of the NSW SuperSport Series - also entered in the field, you can expect the action to run right through the field, and whilst Burke has proven to be every bit the champion this year, the likely outright winner will be difficult to predict.
Teams will get their first chance to circulate Sydney Motorsport Park cicuit in anger on Friday, 21 September, with three 20-minute practice sessions scheduled across the day, whilst Saturday will see a single 30-minute qualifying session ahead of the opening race at 2:44pm, and then race two at 9:26am on Sunday.
Sunday’s race will be streamed live via the CAMS Australian Nationals website;
http://www.thenationals.com.au with live timing available through;http://racing.natsoft.com.au/results/
1. Kim Burke (255-points), 2. Chris Perini (193), 3. Brad/Mitchell Neilson (150), 4. Tony Haggarty (122), 5. Yasser Shahin/James Winslow (122), 6. Sue Hughes (105), 7. Peter Clare (103), 8. Rowan Ross (96), 9. Simon Haggarty (92), 10. Chris Medland (87), 11. Peter Paddon (74), 12. Bill Medland (67), 13. Michael Whiting (61), 14. J-P Drake (60), 15. Jon Collins (55), 16. Nick Kelly (51), 17. Nicholas Stavropolous (47), 18. Greg Kenny (40), 19. Nathan Kumar (35), 20. Phil Anseline (34), 21. Peter White (27), 22. David Crampton (21)
The final round of the 2018 Radical Australia Cup, will be streamed live online on Sunday, but keep up to date across the weekend through the CAMS Australian Nationals website, visithttp://www.thenationals.com.au
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