Champions Chat: Tony Ricciardello

When it comes to the Nationals Sports Sedan Series, there isn’t a name or a car more iconic than that of Tony Ricciardello.

In 2019, the West Australian secured his eleventh series title after losing the crown to Steve Tamasi last year. After a number of round wins and a thrilling season finale saw Ricciardello claim the title, the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships had a chat with the series winner.

Congratulations on winning the series for 2019. How does it feel to add another trophy to the cabinet?

TR: It was a great feeling to win the title. I’d consider it one of the harder ones to win because we had a lot of mechanical dramas during the year. It was definitely challenging but it was good to get to the end of the year and lock another title away.

Were you confident you would win despite it going all the way to the final round?

TR: Winning at the end of the year was definitely more of a relief than anything. I just felt with the points system and having to drop a round, it kept trying to slip away from us. I felt we had the pace and the set up though so it was pretty important to keep the results ticking over and pick up points at each round. The only race where I managed to really enjoy was the last race of the year.

Where does this one stack up in your 11 titles?

TR: It’s hard to say; I feel it definitely was the toughest. I guess some of the results throughout the year were really good. I also enjoyed going to some new tracks, which was fun and added to the title.

This year, we faced a lot of challenges instead of stacking it up from a series point of view. We had some great competition throughout the year from the likes of Tom Randle but I am just glad to have gotten to the end of the year with the title.

Were there any highlights?

TR: We had a problem during the lead-up week to the Sandown round and worked tirelessly to get the car ready for the round. We worked really hard to overcome the issue and by Saturday had fixed the car. We managed to secure a pole for the first race so that was nice.

What about any lowlights from 2019?

TR: Probably the Sandown and Tailem Bend weekends were the hardest to be honest. We had a fuel leak at Tailem Bend with two laps to go. To do two laps in such difficult conditions was probably the lowest light of the year. We managed to get it over the line though.

Also that Wednesday leading into the Sandown round when we were doing the inspection and identifying an issue where we saw a piece missing. It was definitely a kick in the guts.

Anyone you would like to thank for the title?

TR: Without my crew, I wouldn’t have made it through those weekends. My mum and dad of course as well as my partner Carla and the kids. They are always there to pick me up when I am getting a bit down.

There are a few different guys around WA and Melbourne who know my feelings towards how they helped us out, including Jamie Guard, who was always helping us work on the car, while Glen Baker was always on the phone each weekend when we needed him. Also a big thanks to Ben Grice who lent me his helmet at the last round when mine didn’t fit, which proved pretty important as I was able to race and get valuable points. Finally, a big shout out to all the usual people who helped along the way.