Rnd#1 – Radical Australia Cup
Mount Panorama, Bathurst
2 February, 2017
After six straight victories across three consecutive years, you could argue that three-time Radical Australia Cup champion Peter Paddon is the likely favourite for the 2018 title, but anyone that witnessed the opening round of the season unfold at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama, might not be so sure that anything is a ‘done deal’ despite the fact that Paddon went on to claim his seventh consecutive victory on the mountain.
The undeniable star of the race though wasn’t Paddon, rather the performance of Bathurst ‘rookie’ and new RAC recruit, Chris Perini, who qualified his SR3SRX second and finished within metres of Paddon’s car at the line after having led the race at the conclusion of the compulsory pit stops.
Perini had started the day strongly, qualifying second to Paddon in the hotly contested 30-minute combined practice and qualifying session, Paddon forced to get within four tenths of a second of his SR3 lap record to fend off the youngster, Kim Burke too taking a big step forward in the session to be classified third a mere seven one hundredths slower than Perini – all three within a second.
With practice and qualifying combined in one session this year, there were no second chances for teams to make any changes to the car, or their approach with just 30-minutes to get the job done. Sadly that meant anyone with a problem would also suffer. Bill Medland was sadly the first casualty with a bolt holding on the exhaust system failing, the team unable to effect repairs inside the allocated time, forcing Medland to start both races from rear of field.
Qualifying order for the opening race would be set by the fastest time of the session, whilst qualifying order for race two would be set by the second fastest lap time in the session, applying greater pressure to the drivers to put in not one, but two solid laps to gain any advantage for the two 45-minute races ahead.
Using his tyres from Highlands Motorsport Park from the end of season 2017, Paddon was in great form, although he admitted afterwards that the cooler conditions meant he wasn’t able to extract maximum performance from them until after the fourth lap, but once at temperature, he was quickly down to lap record pace, but whilst comfortable, he was also aware he was under attack.
Perini – who was one of the strong performers in the NSW SuperSport Series in 2017 – was immediately impressive, the GWR recruit quickly up to speed and second on the timesheets. He and Kim Burke – from whom Perini purchased his 2016 SR3RSX – locked in an epic battle over the final ten minutes that see-sawed between them as they got progressively quicker.
In the end Perini held Burke out, the two of them getting to within a second of Paddon, whilst behind them the returning Peter White – who won the 2015 Bathurst RAC round in an SR8 – was an impressive fourth after three years out of the saddle.
Michael Whiting too was impressive, putting in his best performance at Bathurst to be fifth, separating White from his 2015 nemesis Nick Kelly who was also back behind the wheel of an SR3 Radical having spent much of the time since his last Bathurst appearance behind the wheel of his SR8 in a variety of events around the country.
Behind the lead pack came a number of drivers who had made significant steps forward on their prior visits to the mountain, using personal best times to move up the field and take advantage for the two approaching compulsory pit stop events.
With race one only hours after the qualifying session, teams had little time to effect ‘radical’ change to their cars, one of those looking for a little more pace though was Paddon, who felt that despite falling just four tenths of a second shy of his own lap record, that there was more to come from the #1 First Focus machine.
1. Peter Paddon (First Focus Radical SR3RS) – 18-laps
2. Chris Perini (GWR Radical SR3RSX) +0.5418
3. Kim Burke (Radical Australia Radical SR3RSX) +14.5216
4. Peter White (First Neon Radical SR3RS) +44.051
5. Nick Kelly (Industries Radical SR3RS) +49.8981
6. Michael Whiting (Taylor Collison Radical SR3RS) +2:09.4961
7. Chris Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RS)
8. Peter Clare (Shared Runway Radical SR3RS) – 17-laps
9. Phil Anseline (WT Partnership Radical SR3RS)
10. Tony Haggarty (Axiom Wealth Radical SR3RSX)
11. Nicholas Stavropolous Radical SR3RS)
12. Greg Kenny (Radical Australia Radical SR3RS)
13. Bill Medland (Radical Australia Radical SR3RSX)
14. Sue Hughes (Hughes Motorsport Radical SR3RS)
15. Crampton/Davis (Vantage Freight Radical SR3RSX)
DNF. Rowan Ross (Radical Australia Radical SR3RSX)