Tony Ricciardello has got his championship defence off to a great start in the #5 B&M Ricciardello Motors Alfa Romeo GTV, claiming two race wins this weekend including the coveted Des Wall Trophy for round victory at Sandown Raceway.
Second for the round was Steven Tamasi as he starts his second year in the category aboard the #9 Domain Prestige Homes Calibra with a third and second result across today’s two races, ahead of Tom Randle in the #93 Kerrick/CKAS SAAB (fifth and third).
This morning’s second race of the weekend saw two-time champion Darren Hossack look like he might have had better luck on his side following yesterday’s lead-ending car fire. The #4 Auto Union Deutsche Audi A4 carved through the field from the rear of the grid to be fourth by turn two and challenging Tamasi for second by the end of the first lap.
The pair kept the fans entertained for a number of laps, before Hossack was able to make his way through to take home second place behind Ricciardello, who had streaked away at the front. Fourth on the road was six-time champion Kerry Baily in the Rent Depot Aston Martin, while pole sitter Randle rounded out the top five after starting the race not from the front row, but instead the pit exit when a stuck throttle as he prepared for race two saw him miss the window to join the field on the track for the start.
The afternoon’s race three was not only the final race for the weekend but also the highly coveted Des Wall Trophy, which is awarded to the race three winner in honour of Series great the late Des Wall – a former National Sports Sedan Champion and a much admired competitor for many years, who passed away in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
The race started out with an intense battle between Ricciardello and Hossack, with the latter making a move on the outside through turn one on the opening lap. While Ricciardello held on to lead out of the corner, Hossack was never far behind. Meanwhile plenty of battles for position raged behind the hard-charging pair, until the action was slowed with a lap 4 safety car for an aflame Slick 50 Mazda RX7 of Peter McLeod – stranded off to the side of the start of the straight.
Just before the Safety Car was called, it was announced that Randle – third on the road at that time – would incur a five second time penalty for a starting infringement.
On the restart Hossack was able to get past Ricciardello four corners in to take the lead with three laps remaining, with his team watching intently in hope that their driver – who had earlier stated how important the Des Wall Trophy was to him, being an honour he would love to claim before he eventually retired – would emerge victorious.
For a moment it looked like he would achieve this goal, but with two laps to go the bad luck Hossack and the Audi team have seemingly been haunted by in recent times struck yet again. A flat tyre saw him forced to retire from the lead and the race, with the disappointed racer pulling up off track on Dandenong Corner from where he would applaud race winner Tony Ricciardello and the rest of the field in a great show of sportsmanship.
At the same time, Tamasi and Randle were having an intense battle in the closing laps, with Randle getting past Tamasi to cross the line in second position – later reclassified as third once the five second penalty was applied. From the restart, Tamasi was driving with a deflating rear tyre, making his hard-fought battle with Randle even more impressive. Baily crossed the line in fourth, while Paul Morris in the MARC Cars Australia machine rounded out the top five.
While the front place getters were punching out plenty to keep the fans entertained, the wow factor was not restricted to just the top four with plenty of dicing underway further back in the field. In particular, Andy Brown (Andrew Brown Motorsport Camaro), Colin Smith (MR Automotive Holden Monaro) and Bruce Banks (BJ Banks Electrical Mazda R7) putting on some great battles for much of both races.
The Kerrick Sports Sedan Series will now head to Winton Motor Raceway across May 13-15 for their second round of 2015, as a support category for the V8 Supercars event that weekend. For more information, please go towww.sportssedans.com.au