Published on September 30th, 2018 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Perini and Paddon Victorious in Sydney, but Burke is Champion
Despite a strong challenge from title rival and race one winner Chris Perini, and a setback in qualifying which forced the championship points leader to start both 50-minute races from the rear of the field, Kim Burke has prevailed to claim his maiden Radical Australia Cup title at Sydney Motorsport Park, as reigning champion Peter Paddon closed out his intermittent season just the way he had started it – with a race victory.
Burke came into his home round with a 62-point lead over 2018 RAC sensation Perini, a seemingly insurmountable advantage, but by the close of qualifying Perini and the GWR team could dare to dream after Burke suffered a technical setback with a sensor which allowed him to complete just one flying lap, sadly it was a lap that would see him start the penultimate race from last position.
Perini put in a flawless opening race to claim his second outright win of the year, with Burke a seemingly safe fifth, but a post-race penalty for contact with Peter Clare meant that Burke was still a solitary point clear of sealing the title.
The final event of the year saw another dominant win by outgoing champion Peter Paddon with Burke classified sixth, and with Perini striking trouble mid-race, the title was all Burkes, the local driver though rewarded for his speed, consistency and strategy across what had been a tough season.
Off the start of the opening race it was Perini who held the top spot under immense pressure from Paddon, whilst behind them Kim Burke was the big mover, the champion-elect up six places by the second lap and pushing hard. Sadly though his impressive pace ultimately cost him, after making contact with Peter Clare at turn two, Burke ultimately penalised post race for the incident.
Despite that he was up to fourth by the time he hit pit lane for his compulsory stop, and fifth across the line ahead of his post-race penalty which dropped him back to sixth behind Clare who was enjoying one of his best rounds of the year.
For John Beck – who was making his first start in Radical Australia Cup – the NSW SuperSports front runner was out after just five laps with a mechanical gremlin which necessitated an overnight engine change, he’d been holding down an impressive fourth at the time.
The returning JP Drake too was in the mix by the compulsory pit stops although sadly Aldous Mitchell’s stint would be hampered by a return to pit lane in the closing stages after a tyre failure due to some big lockups during his session. They would ultimately be classified last of the 11 finishers.
Sunday’s season finale again saw points leader Kim Burke starting rear of field where it was clear he was going to play things safe as he stared down the barrel of his maiden championship.
Up front though the battle between Chris Perini and Peter Paddon continued, the pair going toe-to-toe through the opening laps before Paddon took the advantage at turn 15 on lap seven to lead the field into the compulsory pit stops.
Behind them Mitch Neilson was hanging on strongly, whilst further back John Beck was fourth ahead of Simon Haggarty.
Paddon and Perini almost made contact on the run down pit road, the two stopping together, but Paddon was back out first due to his shorter stop time – Perini stopping longer by virtue of his race one win. Sadly for the round nine winner, his weekend came to a premature end not long after leaving pit lane, a technical fault leading to locked rear wheels and a spin at turn 15 – it was game over for the #81.
That ultimately brought out the Safety Car with the field bunched up behind runaway leader Mitch Neilson who was yet to stop. Unable to effect his stop during the Safety Car intervention, he lined up to come down pit lane immediately after the Safety Car pulled in and was set to lose his advantage, but a spin by Tony Haggarty as he tried to avoid son Simon at turn two on the first restart, saw the Safety Car intervene once more, dropping Brad Neilson to the tail of the pack.
The drama didn’t end there though, Simon Haggarty, Michael Whiting, Kim Burke and Brad Neilson making front-to-rear contact on the run into the final corner whilst still under Safety Car conditions after the former came to a stop, much to the instant surprise of his rivals.
Ultimately the field was let go with just over seven minutes on the clock, Peter Paddon going on to claim his second win of the year over RAC rookie John Beck, with Peter Clare an impressive third.
As a result of winning his maiden title, Burke will be awarded an all expenses paid entry into a round of the 2019 the Radical European Masters Championship, an award which has seen past RAC champions go on to build their reputations in Europe – Peter Paddon one of those who stunned the European regulars with his pace to win on debut in 2016.
So that’s it for Radical Australia Cup’s tenth season, the eleventh season will get underway once more at the Bathurst 12-Hour with a strong list of drivers already entered for the first round of the 2019 season. It’s not the end of Radical competition though, Mitch Neilson has a SuperSports title in the cross-hairs at Sydney Motorsport Park on Saturday, 17 November.