Published on February 6th, 2017 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Paddon Continues Perfect Bathurst Record and Takes Strong Points Lead
Peter Paddon’s dream run in a Radical SR3 continued in race two of the season opening event for the 2017 Radical Australia Cup, the Sydney-sider taking back-to-back wins across the Bathurst 12 Hour weekend, extending his winning streak to six races at the mountain, in the process claiming maximum championship points.
After an intriguing opening race on Friday afternoon with Paddon charging through from rear-of-field to battle with pole-sitter Oliver Smith, the scene was set for a tight battle into turn one, with the two rivals starting off the front row of the grid.
As it happened, there was plenty of action into Bathurst’s notorious first turn, but the action was behind Paddon and Smith.. five cars involved in contact on the exit after trying to enter the corner four wide!
Ultimately there was a two-lap Safety Car period as a result, but ultimately no-one could stop Paddon, with Smith second ahead of a charging Nick Stavropolous, Kim Burke and John Morriss.
Paddon controlled the field off the line and held position into turn one, but behind him it was bedlam, Simon Haggarty caught on the inside of four cars all trying to get to the apex together, forcing the #5 car over the inside kerb and into a spin on the exit. That triggered a chain reaction which saw Richard Bloomfield, the luckless Rowan Ross and Sue Hughes stopped on the circuit as a result. Fortunately all but Haggarty were able to return to pit lane and rejoin the race, but they weren’t the only opening lap casualties.
Peter Johnston had a fantastic start, locking into fourth place behind Paddon, Smith and John Morriss, but he too was eliminated after a spin coming up to Griffin’s immediately in front of Kim Burke who – like the drivers behind him – was forced hard on the brakes to avoid the spinning #17 car.
Race control were already considering a Safety Car, but Johnston’s spin, sealed the deal, the field brought under control as officials cleared debris and Johnston’s car.
Off the restart Oliver Smith did everything he could to challenge Paddon into turns one and two, but ultimately he could only watch as the #1 car first protected – then drove away again from the field to open up a commanding lead.
Whilst Paddon’s display – and string of 2:12 laps – was mesmerising, he was being upstaged by the returning Nick Stavropolous who had many questioning whether it was him behind the wheel. Making his second start at Bathurst – a circuit where his previous best finish was 21st in 2014 (ignoring the race one result) – he charged through the field from the sixth row of the grid to catch and pass many of the Cup veterans, including John Morriss and Kim Burke over the closing laps, the pair of them admitting they had nothing in reserve to keep him behind.
Ultimately he was third, and third fastest overall, only two tenths slower than Oliver Smith’s best lap, and a staggering nine seconds faster than his best from 2014..!
Kim Burke held on for fourth, crossing the line almost 30-seconds behind Paddon, with John Morriss fading to fifth, although his consistency across both races was good enough to give him third for the round.
Tony Haggarty was a solid sixth in his new SR3RSX, enjoying the extra torque the new car provided, whilst Simon Meade too was overjoyed to have finished inside the top ten on his Radical Cup Bathurst debut, and comfortably achieving his goal of lapping in the teens (his R2 best was an impressive 2:15.812).
David Crampton too was all smiles, having shaved a staggering eight seconds off his previous best at Bathurst, to claim his best ever result on the mountain, whilst Shane Barwood too was overjoyed with his maiden event at Bathurst to claim a top ten finish on debut.
Michael Whiting was classified tenth, a good recovery after a spin on the restart on the exit of turn one – he quickly gathered it back up and charged through the field to get past Chris and Bill Medland in the closing stages of the race. Peter Clare was 13th across the line after a great mid-race stoush with Whiting and Sue Hughes. Greg Kenny claimed 14th, whilst the unfortunate Richard Bloomfield was left to lament what could have been after recovering from the opening lap contact with Haggarty.
Sadly – despite returning to the pits under his own power to complete repairs after the opening corner incident – Rowan Ross was forced to retire at the end of lap one, joining Simon Haggarty, Greg Smith and Phil Anseline in the crowd to watch the race unfold, the group admitting post race what many commentators already know – that the Radical Australia Cup is a fantastic spectacle!
For the Radical Australia Cup, there is not too long to wait until round two, when the championship returns to Sandown in Melbourne on April 8 for the first of the endurance rounds for the year.