Paddon takes ninth Bathurst victory, Shiels claims first


After more than 12-months of inactivity due to the pandemic, the 13th season of the popular RA CUP Australia finally got underway at Bathurst over the Easter weekend, with a strong field of competitors taking advantage of almost perfect autumn conditions, but when finally done and dusted a familiar name emerged at the top of the scorecard.. Peter ‘Perfect’ Paddon, the three-time Cup champion claiming his ninth Bathurst win from 12 starts.

It hadn’t been the perfect weekend for the ‘First Focus’ driver, in fact by the close of the red-flag impacted single practice session, Paddon was faced with an engine change after issues with his primary powerplant. The experienced GWR Australia team made the change, ultimately transplanting a brand new long-stroke 1500cc RPE power-unit to give Paddon the extra performance he needed to take the fight to local star and Bathurst SR3 lap-record holder Brad Shiels, and GWR team-mate, 2019 champion Chris Perini.

Friday provided just a single 30-minute practice session, the second session of the race weekend which saw some of the first laps in anger on Mount Panorama into a rising autumn sun. Those conditions, with a number of rookies in the field and a few drivers returning to the seat after more than 12 months away meant that the chances of a red flag were high, but despite a slippery track surface and plenty of mental cobwebs, there was just a single incident at ‘The Dipper’ when Warwick Morris got caught in the barriers after locking a brake.


Damage was limited to just some broken bodywork and a damaged dive-plane, but the tyre barrier locked him in place and he was unable to extract himself, forcing a ten-minute delay in proceedings, and with a time-certain schedule, that reduced the session to just 20-minutes of track time.

Once completed though, it was Neale Muston on top of the timesheets, the V8-powered (2.7-litre) SR8 setting a blistering 2:07.5226, two-tenths faster than his long-standing 2014 lap record, whilst SR3 lap-record holder Brad Shiels laid down the benchmark for the CUP competitors with a 2:13.3475, a full second faster than reigning champion Chris Perini and two seconds up on Paddon who was clearly suffering a setback.


Qualifying (2 April)

Incredibly the GWR Australia team were able to replace Paddon’s engine within the gap between practice and qualifying, whilst Paddon also took advantage of an opportunity to have a former F1 driver review his data.. an opportunity which would ultimately pay dividends during Sunday’s final race!

Whilst the track surface condition had improved with subsequent classes running between the two sessions, the warmer ambient temperatures had impacted the outright performance of the engine, but that didn’t deter the teams, Neale Muston claiming pole with a 2:07.8017, whilst Brad Shiels took the top spot in his ‘Tilton Racing’ SR3, Peter Paddon though showing the benefit of his new powerplant to be just 21, one thousandths slower - Shiels mark, a 2:12.9349.


Sadly there was one mishap in the session, Bathurst rookie Jim Hernandez coming unstuck at ‘Forrest’s Elbow’ after running a wide line and grabbing the ‘marbles’ in the braking zone. Damage was restricted to the left-rear, but the ‘RA Motorsports’ team were able to make repairs overnight to ensure Hernandez was back in action for Saturday’s opening race. His only disappointment, not improving further on his practice time, although he had found 28-seconds up to that point, to be well within striking distance of the other rookies in the field.


Race#1 (40-minutes)

The opening race of the season ultimately provided one of the best battles in RA CUP history, a late Safety Car intervention mixing up the field which forced the top drivers to have to work their way forward from the back.. It provided a spectacle enjoyed by both the drivers and the television crowd on 7plus that had tuned in for the race.


Not surprisingly from pole position Neale Muston began a charge towards the compulsory pit stop window, his ‘Invitational’ status seeing him serve a stop time which was 45-seconds longer than the bulk of the field, meaning he needed to push from the start if he hoped to make an impact on the overall podium.


Behind him focus turned to the battle for top SR3 honours with Brad Shiels, Peter Paddon and Chris Perini locked nose-to-tail for the opening laps before Paddon hit pit lane soon after the pit-stop window opened, leaving Perini and Shiels to battle for CUP honours up front.


They hit pit lane the following lap as much of the field stayed out, but almost as soon as they were in the lane, the yellow flags were out and ultimately the Safety Car for an incident at ‘Forrest’s Elbow’, CUP veteran Phil Anseline in the wall after getting caught wide on the inside in an incident not too dissimilar to Jim Hernandez during qualifying..


“I got Lip [Sebastian] into the last corner, then I had some good car speed on Greg Kenny and I was closed up behind him at the Esses and I thought I’d just have a go at him at Forrest’s Elbow, but unfortunately in the marbles, I locked the rears and backed it into the wall,” Anseline explained. “Really impressive driving from Lip behind me to miss me, he did really well, I thank him for that, otherwise I’d have more damage.”


With the Safety Car circulating as they recovered the ‘WT Partnership’ SR3 from the circuit, the bulk of the field were forced to wait until it returned to pit lane to conduct their stops [the following lap], but with that they’d also had the leaders of the SR3 field move onto the tail of the train, something which created bedlam on the restart.


At that stage a flawless stop by Perini had seen him leapfrog both Shiels and Paddon to be the effective leader, but a cautious restart saw him delayed on the run up ‘Mountain Straight’ where he was swamped by first Shiels and then Paddon into turn two.


Despite a close-knit group of cars on the run into ‘The Cutting’ Paddon pounced on Shiels, banging sidepods as they negotiated the tight left-hander, Shiels ultimately prevailing up to ‘Sulman Park’ before Chris Medland allowed Shiels to slip through.


By this stage Perini was firing again and he too looked for an opportunity to slip down the inside of Paddon who kept his assault alive to dive down the inside of Bill Medland on the run across ‘Skyline’, then inside Zig Fuhrmeister through the ‘Esses’, a run the pair carried into ‘The Dipper’ before Zig locked a wheel forcing the two wide on the exit which allowed Perini to pull alongside.


Paddon though wasn’t going to let Shiels out of his sight and he stuck the nose down the inside of Fuhrmeister on the run into ‘Forrest’s Elbow’ pushing the Victorian wide enough to let him through.


With very little separating the performance of the throng of SR3s on ‘Conrod’ Paddon was unable to effect a pass on Peter Clare until the braking point of ‘The Chase’ at which point Perini had also closed, Clare moving to the right on the exit in what appeared to be an effort to reclaim the position before making a last second dive down pit lane, catching Perini’s full attention in the process.


With less than ten minutes to go the bulk of the field - including early pace-setter Neale Muston - were down pit lane, allowing the SR3 leaders to extend their advantage up front, although race positions were maintained until the flag, the focus now turning to Muston and just how far back up the order he could charge now that he was half a lap behind the leaders.


That was all the incentive he needed, the experienced Radical and prototype competitor charging from ninth to fourth across a four-lap period in the process re-setting his 2014 lap record to a 2:07.4215 on his final lap, an impressive lap time from a lightweight V8 with a top speed of just 270kph - consider that a V8 Supercar circulates at around 2:05..


Ultimately Brad Shiels claimed his maiden Cup win by just a quarter of a second over Paddon with Perini settling for third. Muston closed down the leaders to cross the line just 24 seconds back, with Greg Kenny an impressive fifth (and fourth in class) just marginally clear of ‘Volante Rosso’ team-mate Peter Clare.


Zig Fuhrmesiter was the first of the Bathurst Cup rookies with seventh having recovered from a qualifying setback that saw him classified towards the rear of field, a suspected gearbox issue resolved with a replacement shift unit allowing him to carry on, his brush with Paddon in ‘The Dipper’ one of his race highlights!


Chris Medland crossed the line eighth in the ex-Simon Haggarty SR3 ahead of ‘RA Motorsports’ team-mate Warwick Morris and Sebastien Lip in the second of the ‘Invitational’ entries. Bill Medland, Kosta Pohorukov, Jon Grant and Jim Hernandez rounded out the field.


Sadly for Stephen Champion, the two-time NSW SuperSports Champion made it no further than the compulsory stop, a clutch failure bringing his run to a premature end - he’d been running comfortably inside the top five at the time. Unfortunately the news worsened overnight, an engine change thwarted by an electrical issue, a matching wiring loom and software incompatible with his car, sidelining him for race two.


Race#2 (45-minutes)

A 7:05am scheduled start saw the drivers and teams trackside as dawn broke over the central-west, but no sooner had the cars prepared for a start than news came that delayed the start of the race due to a clerical error, track access for the locals who live around the Mount Panorama circuit taking precedence.


Unfortunately it wasn’t to be the only setback for the RA CUP teams, miscommunication at the start initially delaying the field as they crossed the line, the signal to go only received as they negotiated ‘Mountain Straight’ although not all the field realised the race had started.


That initial feedback fell the way of Peter Paddon who immediately jumped onto the tail of Brad Shiels as they turned into ‘Griffins Bend’, Shiels however was caught behind Muston who wasn’t sure the race had started, Paddon going inside both to lead at ‘The Cutting’.


With the SR3s quicker across the top than Muston’s heavier SR8, Paddon opened up an early advantage to lead all the way around to ‘Murrays Corner’ before Muston assumed the lead and took off on his charge to press his advantage ahead of the compulsory pit stop.


Five laps in though the Safety Car was back on circuit, this time Chris Medland coming to grief at ‘the grate’ up at 'McPhillamy Park' after taking action to avoid the fast-moving Neale Muston who had made up significant ground on the midfield after the disjointed start, Medland ultimately running onto the grass before making contact with the right-front then coming to a stop on the run into ‘Skyline’.


At that point no-one had stopped for their compulsory stop, so on the restart, with about 15-minutes of the 45-minute race remaining, the bulk of the field hit pit lane led by Muston and Perini, whilst Paddon and Shiels continued to circulate.


The following lap they were in, and with an extra two seconds advantage due to Shiels’ race one victory, Paddon knew his pitstop had to be flawless, but like a number of his rivals who were penalised for shorting their ‘stop’ time in race one, he also knew that cutting it too fine could cost him the race.


In the end it was a near perfect stop and he held a solid advantage over Shiels who got caught behind Perini on the run up ‘Mountain Straight’.


Paddon was focused on hunting down his ninth Bathurst win, whilst behind him it took a couple of laps for Shiels to get around Perini, ultimately doing so on the run into the braking zone for ‘The Chase’ on lap 13, but then he got delayed slightly behind his team-mate - who had emerged strongly from his pit stop in second - the two faster cars intent on moving back into podium positions.


Behind them the big mover was Neale Muston who by virtue of his significantly longer pit stop was charging back through the field from P9 and quickly onto the tail of the battle for second.


His move forward was made easier after Perini spun the car at ‘Murray’s Corner’ pushing to stay with Shiels, that moved the SR8 pilot to within striking distance and over the final laps he claimed both Perini and Pohorukov to claim third outright behind Paddon and Shiels who ultimately closed to within a second of Paddon at the flag, Muston’s pace also improving his Saturday lap record to a stunning 2:065982 on the final lap.


Sadly for Pohorukov a post-race penalty gave the ‘Tilton Racing’ team boss a five second addition to his race time, ultimately handing Perini back third for the SR3 CUP cars and third outright for the weekend.


Peter Clare turned the tables on team-mate Greg Kenny with sixth, Zig Fuhrmeister again charging off the rear to be eighth ahead of Sebastien Lip, Phil Anseline, Bill Medland, Warwick Morris and Jim Hernandez.


The 2021 RA CUP Australia continues at Sydney Motorsport Park over the May 1-2 weekend, whilst for the NSW SuperSport regulars - they will contest the first round of their season at Sydney Motorsport Park on April 10.

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What the drivers had to say..

1. 31. Peter Paddon

“I don’t know what happened at the start. There was no red light out, no green flag, nothing, so everyone just assumed an abandoned start, but then I got the call from the pits - no, no, the timing has started, the race has started, and then the green flags came out, so I went, Shiels went, but Muston didn’t, so I took Muston at two and Shiels got caught behind him. Then I blocked Muston into three because I knew he’d be a little bit slow over the top on the first lap on cold tyres, pulled a gap on Shiels and we were off and running, so you take them where you find them, and I was a little bit lucky! It’s such a weird track because it’s such a long lap. Pit stop strategy is key - probably half the races we’ve been here there’s been a Safety Car and that plays massively into the strategy. This race we didn’t pit straight after the Safety Car because we knew we had 15-seconds extra [penalty stop time] on most of the field, so I wanted to get 15-seconds gap on them, and I wasn’t going to do it in one lap, so I wanted to do a couple more, but Safety Cars breed Safety Cars so it was a calculated risk.”


2. 333. Brad Shiels

“I don’t know what happened at the start. At the line there was nothing, and then when we got Griffin’s [Bend] they just threw the green and I got boxed in by Muston, and Paddon smashed both of us. The new tyres didn’t come good until the closing laps which is when I set my fastest laps, but the race start completely stuffed me and I lost the race because of that.”


3. 1. Chris Perini

“We made a change to iron out some of the issues we saw on the data from yesterday, and I couldn’t make it work. In theory it was supposed to give me my top speed back, but that led to other weaknesses around the track and that was pretty evident. It was still a pretty solid weekend given all things, a bit disappointed in the spin I had late in the race, I just over-rotated into the final corner and that dropped us a couple of positions, but overall, good points so we’re pretty happy.”


Rnd#1 2021 RA CUP Australia

Mount Panorama, Bathurst, NSW

02-04 April, 2021

Race#2 (4 April):

1. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) - 15-laps

2. 333. Brad Shiels (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) +0.820

3. 41. Neale Muston (Excalibur Racing Radical SR8)* +3.6728

4. 1. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) +10.901

5. 22. Kostinken Pohorukov (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) +15.502

6. 47. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS) +49.572

7. 56. Greg Kenny (Bluegate Radical SR3RSX) +50.502

8. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Pacific Components Radical SR3RS) +57.824

9. 7. Sebastian Lip (The Bend Motorsport Park Radical SR3RSX)* +1:35.444

10. 16. Phil Anseline (WT Partnerships Radical SR3RSX) +2:06.365

11. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) +2:07.579

12. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 14-laps

13. 23. Jim Hernandez (82One Radical SR3RSX) - 13-laps


DNF. 9. Chris Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) - 4-laps

DNS. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntelligence Radical SR3RS)

DNS. 34. Stephen Champion (Champions Business Solutions Radical SR3RS)


Race#1 (3 April):

1. 333. Brad Shiels (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 16-laps

2. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) +0.321

3. 1. Chris Perini (Bing Radical SR3RSX) +1.844

4. 41. Neale Muston (Excalibur Racing Radical SR8)* +1:23.456

5. 56. Greg Kenny (Bluegate Radical SR3RSX) +1:40.445

6. 47. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS) +1:48.458

7. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Pacific Components Radical SR3RS) +1:54.702

8. 9. Chris Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) +2:04.527

9. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 15-laps

10. 7. Sebastian Lip (The Bend Motorsport Park Radical SR3RSX)*

11. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX)

12. 22. Kostinken Pohorukov (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX)

13. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntelligence Radical SR3RS) - 14-laps

14. 23. Jim Hernandez (82One Radical SR3RSX)


DNF. 34. Stephen Champion (Champions Business Solutions Radical SR3RS) - 7-laps

DNF. 16. Phil Anseline (WT Partnerships Radical SR3RSX) - 6-laps


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Race#2 Grid (2 April):

1. 41. Neale Muston (Excalibur Racing Radical SR8)* - 2:08.4783

2. 333. Brad Shiels (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:12.9497

3. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) - 2:13.0774

4. 1. Chris Perini (Bing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:15.1524

5. 34. Stephen Champion (Champions Business Solutions Radical SR3RS) - 2:18.2534

6. 22. Kostinken Pohorukov (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:19.0388

7. 7. Sebastian Lip (The Bend Motorsport Park Radical SR3RSX)* - 2:19.6532

8. 47. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS) - 2:21.3256

9. 56. Greg Kenny (Bluegate Radical SR3RSX) - 2:22.0403

10. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 2:22.2393

11. 16. Phil Anseline (WT Partnerships Radical SR3RSX) - 2:23.3750

12. 9. Chris Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) - 2:23.9906

13. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:25.9138

14. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntelligence Radical SR3RS) - 2:27.8311

15. 23. Jim Hernandez (82One Radical SR3RSX) - 2:30.6814

16. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Pacific Components Radical SR3RS)

Race#1 Grid (2 April):

1. 41. Neale Muston (Excalibur Racing Radical SR8)* - 2:07.8017

2. 333. Brad Shiels (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:12.9349

3. 31. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RSX) - 2:12.9562

4. 1. Chris Perini (Bing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:13.9631

5. 34. Stephen Champion (Champions Business Solutions Radical SR3RS) - 2:18.0188

6. 7. Sebastian Lip (The Bend Motorsport Park Radical SR3RSX)* - 2:18.9326

7. 22. Kostinken Pohorukov (Tilton Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:19.0072

8. 47. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Volante Rosso Radical SR3RS) - 2:20.9957

9. 56. Greg Kenny (Bluegate Radical SR3RSX) - 2:21.2706

10. 52. Bill Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RSX) - 2:21.8800

11. 16. Phil Anseline (WT Partnerships Radical SR3RSX) - 2:22.9743

12. 9. Chris Medland (RA Motorsports Radical SR3RS) - 2:23.3554

13. 4. Warwick Morris (Underdog Racing Radical SR3RSX) - 2:24.8055

14. 51. Jon Grant (RaceIntelligence Radical SR3RS) - 2:27.0974

15. 27. Zig Fuhrmeister (Pacific Components Radical SR3RS) - 2:27.4682

16. 23. Jim Hernandez (82One Radical SR3RSX) - 2:28.6116

* Invitational Class


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SR3 CUP Championship Points (after one round of five)

1. Peter Paddon (75-points), 1. Brad Shiels (75), 3. Chris Perini (60), 4. Greg Kenny (49), 5. Peter Clare (48), 6. Zig Fuhrmeister (42), 7. Kostinken Pohorukov (41), 8. Bill Medland (32), 8. Warwick Morris (32), 10. Jim Hernandez (22), 11. Chris Medland (20), 12. Phil Anseline (18), 13. Jon Grant (12), 14. Stephen Champion (0)

‘Invitational’ Championship Points (after one round of five)

1. Neale Muston (84-points), 2. Sebastian Lip (70)


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2021 RA CUP Australia

Rnd#1 - 02-04 April - Mount Panorama, Bathurst, New South Wales

Rnd#2 - 01-02 May - Sydney Motorsport Park, New South Wales

Rnd#3 - 03-05 September - Sydney Motorsport Park, New South Wales

Rnd#4 - 17-19 September - Sandown, Melbourne, Victoria

Rnd#5 - 15-17 October - The Bend Motorsport Park, South Australia


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