Rnd#5 - 2019 Radical Australia Cup
The Bend Motorsport Park, South Australia
23-25 August 2019
A record breaking run by West Australian teenager Aaron Love that saw pole position, a new lap record and victory on Radical Australia Cup’s return to The Bend Motorsport Park was one of the highlights of the Supercars weekend, but despite his fantastic pace it was in part overshadowed by the ongoing battle between three-time champion Peter Paddon and team-mate Chris Perini which has paved the way for an epic season finale in New Zealand in early October.
Marked by Paddon as a likely race winner during the season-opener in Bathurst, Aaron Love delivered on that promise during qualifying with the fastest lap in the session, but it was the ever-present consistency of Paddon that saw the ‘First Focus’ SR3 claim pole for race two, crucially with Perini hot on his tail.
Despite Love’s youthful exuberance, it was Paddon who led the early leg of race one, with Perini soon closing in for second intent on keeping Paddon within sight in the battle for the title, but after the compulsory pit stops, Love emerged as leader to take the win by 7.5-seconds from Paddon who still had Perini locked on his tail.
That result handed Paddon back the points lead, but just 24-hours later, his title rival emerged with his third win of the year, crossing the line comfortably clear of Love and Mitch Neilson, whilst Paddon could only card fourth leaving Perini an eight-point advantage heading to the season finale at New Zealand’s Highlands Motorsport Park.
With half a season of the one-make Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge under his belt, it was no surprise that Arise Racing’s Aaron Love claimed the top spot in the session, but the title contenders made him work for it.
Typically, three-time Cup champion Peter Paddon was fast, the GWR/First Focus SR3 driver going to the top mid-session with a best of 1:51.5700 to better Love’s earlier 1:51.7328.
Chris Perini too was quickly in on the action, improving Paddon’s best by half a second, before Love returned from pit lane for one last lunge, smashing out a pole-setting 1:50.7050 to improve Perini’s time by three tenths of a second, but it was the vital second fastest lap that would set the grid for race two, and that advantage went to Paddon with a 1:51.6609 to defeat his title rival to pole by seven one hundredths of a second, Perini P2 with a consistent 1:51.7318.
Love was classified third, just one, one hundredth of a second slower than Perini, whilst Phillip Island winner Mitch Neilson was fourth on both grids paving the way for another epic Cup race.
Arise Racing’s second entry for team-owner Adam Lisle and driver coach BD Soutar-Dawson was fifth for race one alongside GWR’s impressive Paul Braico - and eighth for race two, whilst Braico’s team-mate and NSW SuperSports rival Stephen Champion would start sixth for race one and fifth for race two on his Cup return.
There were a string of solid performances up and down the grid ahead of the two Cup races despite the qualifying session seeing drivers heading into the setting sun at various stages across the lap, in the end Love’s pole time less than three seconds slower than the Supercars session that had taken place just an hour prior.
Starting at 4:40pm local time, teams were again faced with the prospect of a low, late afternoon sun, but in bright sunlight, they were also faced with near perfect conditions from which to go after James Winslow’s 2018 lap record.
Not surprisingly, Peter Paddon started strongly to lead the opening lap after setting off from the second row, the categories most successful proponent proving again just how quick he is on cold tyres to get the jump on both pole-sitter Love and title rival Chris Perini.
Mitch Neilson too was keen to move forward with Love finding himself as a leverage point between the three title contenders, all of them looking for valuable ground and vital series points with just a handful of races left in the season.
Sadly Mitch Neilson was down pit lane early with a technical issue, the #38 car not running happily forcing the Veloce Rosso team to retire him from the race, something which would have a big impact on his title aspirations as his rivals continued to run at the front of the field.
As has become his trademark move, Paddon was down pit lane as soon as the compulsory-pit-stop window opened with Perini and Love in close pursuit.
By virtue of their previous successes (and therefore longer CPS times), Love emerged in front of the two GWR rivals, effectively sealing the fate of the race, the West Australian extending his advantage over the closing stages to claim the win over Paddon by 7.5-seconds, and the fastest lap of the race - setting a new record of 1:50.5025 in the process.
Behind the leading trio, there was no shortage of action. Paul Braico again impressed to be fourth at the flag having forced his way past the Adam Lisle/BD Soutar-Dawson SR3 mid way through the second leg of the race, the West Australian team claiming fifth ahead of Adelaide’s Brenton Griguol in the stunning Bank SA, SR3RSX.
Sadly for Stephen Champion, his solid qualifying effort was hampered by an electrical issue during the compulsory stop, the GWR driver entering pit lane inside the top five, but the setback cost him eight laps in pit lane before returning to set a string of impressive lap times. Frustratingly he was not classified at race end after failing to reach 75% of race distance.
That allowed Volante Rosso’s Brad Neilson and Greg Kenny to move forward in the outright order ahead of Bill Medland, with Cup veteran Rowan Ross closing out the top ten.
New Zealand rookie Ashleigh Stewart drove an impressive race for her Arise Racing Cup debut carding eleventh with a further improvement in her lap times, whilst Peter Clare recovered from a tough start to the race which saw a lap two visit to the pits after contact to be the final classified finisher.
Hard chargers Kosta Pohorukov and Chris Medland were also in the wars, the two making contact at the notorious turn 14, Kosta up the inside and into Medland who suffered rear suspension failure, whilst not long afterwards Pohorukov too was out with a broken front splitter.
Race two again came late in the day on Sunday, but once more under bright blue skies.
Peter Paddon led the field into turn one with title rival Chris Perini hanging tough on the outside, but the aggressor this time was race one winner Aaron Love who quickly moved the #78 Arise Racing SR3RSX into the lead with Paddon and the hard-charging Mitch Neilson getting through on Perini for third.
Perini though returned fire within two laps to take the position back before running down pit lane as soon as the CPS window opened, leaving Love and Paddon alone up front.
Love and Paddon were in the following lap with the remainder of the field trickling in over the following six laps, and once completed, there was a good idea of how the race would unfold.
Despite his third-placed finish in the opening race, and still carrying some residual time from his win at Phillip Island, Chris Perini stopped ten seconds shorter than Paddon, and 15 seconds shorter than race one winner Love to emerge as race leader after the GWR team effected a flawless stop.
At that stage Mitch Neilson was holding onto second and staring down the barrel of more valuable championship points before a charging Aaron Love - who set a new lap record of 1:49.7773 in the process - dropped him back to third just three laps from home.
Love though couldn’t do anything about Perini who was lapping at a similar pace (the #81 Perini entry also going under the standing lap record), falling almost 12 seconds short at the flag, with Mitch Neilson third and Paddon crucially for Perini, fourth.
Behind the top four teams, the action continued as it had done in the opening race. It began off the line with Stephen Champion looking for a strong recovery from his race one setback, but despite being right in the mix off the line, contact from behind had him turned around by the exit of the opening corner and with a mountain of work ahead of him.
He again set some blistering laps to work back into contention, to be classified ninth behind team-mates Paul Braico (fifth) and Kosta Pohorukov (sixth), Brad Neilson (seventh) and the Arise Racing combination of Adam Lisle and BD Soutar-Dawson (eighth).
Brenton Griguol completed the top ten ahead of Greg Kenny and Rowan Ross, whilst Ashleigh Stewart finished her debut event in the Cup with 13th.
Sadly for the Medland brothers, a mid-race setback saw them both down pit lane early, whilst for Peter Clare, he was sidelined with gearbox damage sustained in the opening race.
After another fantastic Radical Australia Cup race, the result has left the championship equation falling Perini’s way, but with an additional time penalty for the opening race in New Zealand at a circuit Perini has not contested in the past, something which may well work back into Peter Paddon’s favour.
One way of the other, all will be revealed at Highlands Motorsport Park in early October [4-6]..
For the Radical Australia Cup teams, the season comes to its conclusion in New Zealand, although for the NSW SuperSports Series regulars, their action continues at Wakefield Park on 7 September before concluding at the home of Radical, with the season finale at Sydney Motorsport Park on 26 October.
2019 Radical Australia Cup
Rnd#5 - 2019 Radical Australia Cup
The Bend Motorsport Park, South Australia
23-25 August 2019
Race#2 (25 August):
1. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) - 24-laps
2. 78. Aaron Love (Arise Racing Radical SR3RSX) +11.9614
3. 38. Mitch Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) +23.1708
4. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RS) +34.2478
5. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) +1:20.5933
6. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) +1:23.3517
7. 39. Brad Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS) - 23-laps
8. 14. Adam Lisle/BD Soutar-Dawson (Arise Racing Radical SR3RS)
9. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Growth Advisers Radical SR3RS)
10. 69. Brenton Griguol (Koala Motorsport/Team BRM Radical SR3RSX)
11. 56. Greg Kenny (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS)
12. 88. Rowan Ross (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX)
13. 11. Ashleigh Stewart (Arise Racing Radical SR3RS)
DNF. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 14-laps
DNF. 9. Chris Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RS) - 13-laps
DNS. 47. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Racing Radical SR3RS)
Race#1 (24 August):
1. 78. Aaron Love (Arise Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 23-laps
2. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RS) +7.5593
3. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) +8.8193
4. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) +1:37.1446
5. 14. Adam Lisle/BD Soutar-Dawson (Arise Racing Radical SR3RS) +1:43.8294
6. 69. Brenton Griguol (Koala Motorsport/Team BRM Radical SR3RSX) - 22-laps
7. 39. Brad Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS)
8. 56. Greg Kenny (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS)
9. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX)
10. 88. Rowan Ross (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX)
11. 11. Ashleigh Stewart (Arise Racing Radical SR3RS)
12. 47. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Racing Radical SR3RS) - 20-laps
DNF. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 18-laps
DNF. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Radical SR3RS) - 17-laps
DNF. 38. Mitch Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) - 13-laps
DNF. 9. Chris Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RS) - 12-laps
Race#2 Grid (23 August):
1. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RS) - 1:51.6609
2. 81. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) - 1:51.7318
3. 78. Aaron Love (Arise Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 1:51.7328
4. 38. Mitch Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RSX) - 1:53.2284
5. 34. Stephen Champion (GWR/Champion’s Business Radical SR3RS) - 1:54.1149
6. 80. Paul Braico (GWR Radical SR3RS) - 1:54.1798
7. 26. Kostinken Pohorukov (GWR/Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 1:54.6027
8. 14. Adam Lisle/BD Soutar-Dawson (Arise Racing Radical SR3RS) - 1:55.0373
9. 9. Chris Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RS) - 1:55.6809
10. 39. Brad Neilson (Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS) - 1:56.7454