Davison followed race one victory on Saturday with second in Sunday’s race two, and finished the weekend with victory in the final race, securing his place on the top step of the outright round podium. The win was Davison’s sixth at Hidden Valley in the one-make series and, importantly, reduced his points deficit to series leader Matt Campbell, who himself endured a difficult weekend, to just 4.5 points.
“I’ve very happy. I made a couple of mistakes this weekend that I wasn’t happy about. It was great that we had good pace to fight back from those two driver errors from qualifying and race two. The car had a clean sweep in it this weekend but I threw that away in race two,” said Davison.
“A big thanks to the team because we had the quickest car here this weekend. It was fantastic to close the gap in the championship and we’re back in the fight now for our next round at Sydney Motorsport Park.”
David Wall placed second for the round following a strong weekend-long performance: the Sydneysider placed second in the opening race before taking his second ever Carrera Cup race win in race two. Wall then trailed Davison to the chequered flag in race three in second place to take second for the round.
Steven Richards rounded out the outright Carrera Cup podium in Darwin following a consistent weekend of fifth, fourth and third place finishes, while series rookie Dylan O’Keeffe continued his impressive run in Darwin in just his fourth Carrera Cup event, placing fourth for the round after placing fourth, fifth and ninth in Darwin.
Other drivers, including Campbell, Nick McBride, Dean Fiore, Ash Walsh and James Abela all showed glimpses of strong performances, though inconsistency dropped them down the round order.
Smollen was the star performer in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge; the reigning class champion took a clean sweep of race wins to secure the round victory and claw back crucial championship points from Challenge leader Tony Bates.
“I’m very happy; happy and hot. It probably looked easier than what it was; a clean sweep of all sessions, but we had to work for it. I was really happy about today; it was mistake-free and we kept our pace up. Yesterday was pretty patchy; I was lucky to win after penalties and I took pole position after two mechanical errors in a row,” said Smollen.
“As it turns out there’s been a fairly big move in the standings with different incidents with different drivers. We’re half way through and it’s going to be a great second half to the season.”
Bates placed second for the round in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge from a consistent Adrian Mastronardo, who placed fifth in each race.
Campbell enters the championship’s mid-point with a 4.5 point lead in the standings from Davison, with McBride a further 33 points adrift.
Meanwhile Bates holds a 28.5 point lead in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge standings from Smollen, with James Bergmuller 67.5 points behind in third.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia returns for round five at Sydney Motorsport Park, where it shares the venue with his nearest Porsche one-make series, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
Race 2 Results
1. #38 David Wall (Outright) Wilson Security, 18 laps – 21:36.3044s
2. #25 Alex Davison (Outright) Wilson Parking, 18 laps – 21:39.2402s
3. #77 Nick McBride (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts, 18 laps – 21:39.7737s
4. #12 Steven Richards (Outright) Laser Plumbing and Electrical, 18 laps – 21:40.6118s
5. #88 Dylan O’Keeffe (Outright) All Star Equipment/Dexion Supply Centre, 18 laps – 21:40.9448s
6. #54 James Abela (Outright) Horsley Park Gun Shop, 18 laps – 21:42.3844s
7. #8 Dean Fiore (Outright) Saint/Porsche Centre Melbourne, 18 laps – 21:43.5952s
8. #26 Michael Almond (Outright) Stone’s Original, 18 laps – 21:44.2190s
9. #777 Ash Walsh (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts/Infants Friend, 18 laps – 21:44.4353s
10. #21 Garth Walden (Outright) CIP/GWR, 18 laps – 21:47.6181s
11. #56 Shane Smollen (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) McGrath Estate Agents, 18 laps – 21:55.5040s
12. #24 Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Moveitnet/A.F.S, 18 laps – 21:58.5562s
13. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Outright) Darrell Lea STIX, 18 laps – 21:59.0693s
14. #4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Hire, 18 laps – 22:10.7615s
15. #360 Fraser Ross (Outright) Preston Hire, 18 laps – 22:13.5042s
16. #7 Matt Campbell (Outright) Nuveau Constructions/Phase 8, 17 laps – 21:36.7414s
17. #13 James Bergmuller (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) pricepressure.com.au, 17 laps – 22:13.7269s
18. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Veritas Property Group, 17 laps – 22:22.6203s
DNF #222 Scott Taylor (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Scott Taylor Motorsport, 8 laps – 10:22.0427s
DNF #9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc, 8 laps – 10:22.0432s
Race 3 Results
1. #25 Alex Davison (Outright) Wilson Parking, 14 laps – 19:23.7019s
2. #38 David Wall (Outright) Wilson Security, 14 laps – 19:24.7944s
3. #12 Steven Richards (Outright) Laser Plumbing and Electrical, 14 laps – 19:26.5851s
4. #8 Dean Fiore (Outright) Saint/Porsche Centre Melbourne, 14 laps – 19:26.9959s
5. #777 Ash Walsh (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts/Infants Friend, 14 laps – 19:27.2218s
6. #7 Matt Campbell (Outright) Nuveau Constructions/Phase 8, 14 laps – 19:27.7851s
7. #54 James Abela (Outright) Horsley Park Gun Shop, 14 laps – 19:30.3445s
8. #21 Garth Walden (Outright) CIP/GWR, 14 laps – 19:31.8804s
9. #88 Dylan O’Keeffe (Outright) Allstar Equipment/Dexion Supply, 14 laps – 19:33.2255s
10. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Outright) Darrell Lea STIX, 14 laps – 19:34.0630s
11. #56 Shane Smollen (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) McGrath Estate Agents, 14 laps – 19:42.1494s
12. #24 Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Moveitnet/A.F.S, 14 laps – 19:46.3766s
13. #222 Scott Taylor (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Scott Taylor Motorsport, 14 laps – 19:48.2615s
14. #9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc, 14 laps – 19:57.5281s
15. #360 Fraser Ross (Outright) Preston Hire, 14 laps – 20:04.1318s
16. #26 Michael Almond (Outright) Stone’s Original, 14 laps – 20:04.6594s
17. #77 Nick McBride (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts, 14 laps – 20:06.1132s
18. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Veritas Property Group, 14 laps – 20:17.5282s
DNF #4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Hire
DNF #13 James Bergmuller (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) pricepressure.com.au
TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge Wrap: Challenge title fight intensifies in Top End heat
A dramatic fourth round of the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge will see the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia’s race within a race head into the season’s half-way break wide open.
Defending class champion Shane Smollen won the round at Hidden Valley Raceway in the Northern Territory, returning himself to championship calculations following a challenging start to the season.
The Sydney driver has now won five of the last six races this year, closing to just 28.5 points of class leader Tony Bates in the process.
Bates (second) and Adrian Mastronado (third) completed the Darwin TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge podium however it was Smollen who was all smiles after a comprehensive performance.
“It got better as the weekend went on,” Smollen said.
“We had a reasonable practice day on Friday but qualifying was just crazy. We had one problem after the other and got out with just minutes to go and managed to bank a pole lap.
“Race one was messy but we won it on penalties (to other drivers) but today was just outstanding. I had a really quick and mistake-free day, kept my head on in the heat and as it turns out it’s probably quite a reasonable re-order of the standings which has helped a lot.”
Smollen is ready for the title fight that now has five drivers covered by just 145.5 points – potentially less than one round victory.
“It’s always gloves off! We generally have very close racing and the best man wins,” Smollen said.
“Some people have bad luck but I’ve had my share this year for the year and caught up in other people’s DNFs. It’s still anybody’s championship and if this has happened after four rounds this and more can happen for the next four.”
TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge leader Tony Bates survived a challenging weekend with his points lead in-tact, though reduced from its earlier more comfortable margin.
The Victorian was penalised in race one following contact with erstwhile leader James Bergmuller, and then copped a five second penalty in the third race for a start line infringement – dropping him behind Smollen at the end of the race.
He still posted a fourth and two second-place efforts in the Top End to continue his strong form this year.
Adrian Mastronardo finished third, his consistent results ensuring he still sits a strong fourth in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge standings.
Round three winner James Bergmuller was another to endure a tough weekend in Darwin, though he retains third in the standings.
The Victorian driver led a majority of the opening race before contact from behind spun him out of the lead in the final corner of the first race. He then finished fourth in race two, however failed to finish race three when he and Stephen Grove made contact on the high-speed run through turns three and four on the opening lap of the race.
Both drivers emerged unscathed from the incident however were unable to continue.
Grove, the 2014 Challenge class champion, walked away with one finish from three races in Darwin however remains in championship calculations, just 145.5 points from the series lead.
A fast if unlucky weekend highlighted the efforts of Scott Taylor, making his first Porsche Carrera Cup Australia start of the season this weekend.
The Queenslander qualified fourth in class on Saturday and finished sixth in race one, however was ousted from race two after he and Marc Cini banged wheels at turn one.
Deemed a racing incident by the race officials, the contact saw Cini’s car launched into the air with both cars subsequently out of the race.
Both cars were quickly repaired and both finished the final race strongly – Taylor third in class and Cini fourth.
The next round of the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge will see the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia field combine with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at Sydney Motorsport Park in August.
Challenge leader Smollen said he was looking forward to racing against the best of the Asian series’ challenge runners.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Smollen enthused.
“I suggested the idea to separate the Pro and Challenge ranks (the respective classes will contest separate races) and I think it will work really well.
“Hopefully it will be damage free and I’m sure we’ll enjoy racing the Asia boys – hopefully it’s not the last time we do it.”