A strong field of Radical entries enjoyed a solid weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park for the final round of the 2018 New South Wales SuperSports season, an event which crowned Radical Australia Cup rookie Mitch Neilson as the 2018 outright and Class 1 champion, an impressive feat against the quicker Class 2 and 3 cars, whilst for RA Motorsports the round also allowed teams to get a feel for the new Hankook tyre that will be the control tyre for the category in 2019.
Qualifying saw a mixed bag for the Radical competitors with some teams continuing to campaign the existing Dunlop tyre whilst others chose to break ground with the new 2019 control Hankook tyre - one of those - points leader Mitch Neilson.
Neilson was again quickest of the Radical SR3 drivers in qualifying, but just three tenths of a second clear of early season rival John Beck, Beck having been top qualifier for the class across the early rounds before a setback mid-season saw him lose valuable ground to 2017 Radical Australia Cup [co] Rookie-of-the-Year’ Mitch Neilson.
Sadly the brief 15-minute session saw an early retirement for the weekend for Peter Clare, the ‘Shared Runway’ driver suffering a technical issue with the gearbox which saw him sidelined for the remainder of the day.
For Neilson - who had come into the round leading not just the Class 1, but also the outright points - he was mindful that he needed to maintain his consistency to seal the dual 2018 titles, although he was also aware of the returning Kostinken Pohorukov in the ex-David Crampton RSX, the former Radical Australia Cup regular making a return ahead of his entry into the 2019 Cup season, and he was back looking to make an impression.
Needing just three championship points to secure the two titles, Mitch Neilson took a conservative approach to the opening race of the day, although sadly a few of the teams around him took quite the opposite approach, a number of them coming unstuck including Peter Hills whose blistering start ended in dramatic style on the run into turn one the second time around.
By the time the dust had settled though, the cars of Alex Kenny and Darren Barlow were comfortably away up front, whilst behind them a horde of Radical SR3s led by Pohorukov, Neilson, Braico and Champion were embroiled in their own battle for position.
Mindful of securing the title, Neilson was conservative but aggressive, pushing hard to take ‘Kosta’ for the Class 1 win, the RAC regular though electing to play it safe across the closing laps after he and Pohorukov had broken free of Braico and Champion, to claim second in class but the 2018 championship title.
Paul Braico got the better of the battle with Stephen Champion to be third, with the recovering Peter Hills fifth but only marginally clear of John Beck, with Bill Medland seventh.
With the title settled, Neilson was looking to continue his winning streak in race two, letting ‘Kosta’ pull away at the start before mounting an attack in the dying stages to steal the Class 1 win away at turn one with a handful of laps to go, crossing the line just clear of Pohorukov with Peter Hills third in the thundering Radical SR8.
John Beck got the better of Stephen Champion across the closing laps to be third in class, with Paul Braico further back in fifth ahead of Greg Kenny who just got the better of Bill Medland to gain valuable championship points and remain second in Class 1 heading into the season finale.
After losing the top spot to Neilson in the second race, Kosta lined the bright orange #3 SRX up on the grid with a new set of tyres on the car intent on gaining a second win on his SR3 return, and he achieved not just that, but also the outright win after Alex Kenny’s Juno came to a stop on lap three after a mechanical incident, and Darren Barlow suffered suspension issues, opening the door for a rare outright victory for the Class 1 cars.
Mitch Neilson was unable to match the pace of his rival, but able to withstand the late race pace of John Beck to remain second, with Paul Braico fourth just clear of Stephen Champion, the pair again locked in a titanic battle across the final race of the year.
Greg Kenny was sixth, again just metres clear of Bill Medland, the result though guaranteeing his second place class finish for the year, although just three points clear of the impressive Braico who capped of a strong finish for the year with a podium finish for the season.
Sadly for Peter Hills, he was forced into retirement on lap three after a spin at turn 14, bringing the Safety Car out as a result, despite the setback though, he’d done enough to be classified as the Class 3 champion.
For the Radical teams that concludes the 2018 season, although Sydney Motorsport Park will host a ‘Gala Day’ for Radical teams on December 7, with opportunities for rides concluding with an ‘open pit-lane’ allowing teams to gain plenty of miles ahead of the 2019 season.
The conclusion of the 2018 SuperSports season also saw the release of the six-round 2019 calendar, a program which will see a number of single day events at both Sydney Motorsport Park and Wakefield Park, with the date of an additional round at Phillip Island yet to be confirmed, but expected during August.
Keep up to date with the Radical Australia website as details of the 2019 Radical Australia Cup are released, although the season will open once more at the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with two 50-minute races on the program on February 1-2.