This weekend’s opening Motorsport Australia state championship round includes a mixture of old and new cars and categories.
At the oldest end of the scale, the Historic Touring Cars will stage the opening round of their 2020 championship as part of the event. The Wakefield Park track lends itself well to entertainment, with the relatively short main straight allowing the smaller and less powerful, but more nimble cars to challenge the high-capacity, high-horsepower V8 machines.
Driving his Ford Mustang, experienced production car and historic racer David Stone will come into the weekend as the driver to beat; also entered in a Mustang is Ben Wilkinson, while Kumho V8 Touring Car regular Jason Foley is entered in an XY GT Falcon, as is Chris O’Brien.
Flying the flag for the smaller cars are Jerry Lenstra (Ford Cortina) and David Gray (Mini Cooper S).
At the opposite end of the scale to the Historic Touring Car Series is the Mazda RX8 Cup, which makes its first appearance as a on the Motorsport Australia State Championship program.
With last year’s champion Aaron Prosser not defending his title, the field of potential contenders is wide open, with two of last year’s big improvers – Jake Lougher and Lachlan O’Hara – among the favourites.
Other contenders are likely to include speedy Victorian Matt Butters and the consistent Ben Silvestro, while Jackson Noakes makes his debut in the category after a high level of success in the Excel Racing Series.
Other debutants in the category include Jack Pennacchia, Ryan Gorton and Mark Alder, while Andrew O’Keeffe, Aidan Riley, brothers Lachlan and Alex Cook return to the series, as does female racer Maisie Place after a crash at Sydney Motorsport Park last year.
The Improved Production field has been divided into categories for Over and Under 2 Litre cars; the Over 2 Litre division includes some familiar faces like David Worrell (Commodore) and Stig Richards (Mazda RX7) but also a number of newcomers.
The main contenders in the Under 2 Litre field include Kurt Macready (Nissan Silvia) and the experienced Justin McClintock (Honda Civic), while former champion Ryan Jagger should also be fast in his Holden Barina. Long-time Improved Production racing brothers Mark (Renault Clio) and Phil (Honda Integra) Larmour are on the grid, as are Craig Wildridge (Ford Escort) and Graham Bohm (Honda Civic).
While the Holden brand may depart the Australian marketplace at the end of the year, a quality field of 20 HQ Holdens shows there is plenty of life left in the long-standing racing category yet.
Multiple champion Brett Osborn will enter the weekend as the favourite, but he will no doubt be seriously challenged by brothers Chris and Jason Molle, who were his closest rivals last year.
John Baxter and Scott Walker will both be fast, Luke Harrison has been a big improver in recent seasons, and another notable addition to the field is Layton Crambrook, a former series champion who achieved success in other categories including the V8 Utes Series.
The yellow Camaros of Steven Lacey and Birol Cetin will resume hostilities in the opening NSW Sports Sedans round; their closest challenger looks to be Grant Doulman in his Falcon while the Trans Am Corvette of Stuart Inwood will also be fast, as will the ex-HRT VZ Commodore V8 Supercar of Warren Millett.
In Superkarts, the outright front-runners will be the 250cc National Class entries of John Dunn and Tony Moit; in the 125cc Gearbox Class, Mark Robin and Aaron Cogger will be the primary contenders, while the 125cc Non-Gearbox Class is shaping up to be closely fought between Mark Vickers, Alan Dodge and Anthony Dykstra.