The second round of the Shannons Nationals has come to a close with Sandown Raceway playing host to five categories featuring a host of last lap deciders, heartbreaking retirements and fairy-tale finishes.
Spirits were dampened on the Friday after bleak weather caused chaos all day, but improvements on Saturday and sunshine on Sunday saw drivers put on a show for all those who attended.
The Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge provided the weekend’s most dramatic narrative as Cooper Murray bounced back from a disappointing 12th in the first race to put on two sensational drives in the second and third race to win the round outright and move to the top of the overall standings.
“Winning feels a lot different and feelings can’t describe it,” Murray said,
“After race one, I didn’t think I would be able to come away with the round win, my focus was just to fight my way back through the field.
“I had a bit of doubt, especially after race one, but my objective after race one was just to get points for the championship and hopefully get on the podium for the round.
“I would like to thank all my team, without them I wouldn’t be able to achieve this success.”
Another nail-biting finish took place in the CAMS Australian GT Championship as 2017 Champion Geoff Emery turned in two race victories to overcome a stubborn Fraser Ross and win his first round of the season.
“We have been have solid all weekend so it’s really good to get that pressure off our back with the win,” Emery said.
“There was a lot of pressure throughout the weekend, Fraser had some green tyres on his car and he was making some really good ground, but my car was just solid all the way through.
“The car is quick and I am really looking forward to Phillip Island.”
The weekend’s action continued in the Radical Australia Cup, as overall leader Kim Burke continued his brilliant start in the season, edging out Simon Haggarty by just two points after the pair traded wins – Burke’s second place in the second race, handing him the overall win.
“I had a really fun weekend and it was just awesome. It feels really good,” Burke said.
“Everyone drove really well. Times were really close and competitive.
“I had lots of doubt to be honest. I was a bit nervous going into the weekend but after Sunday’s race, it was all fine in the end.
“We will probably have a look at the car ahead of Phillip Island and see if we can make the car a little bit better otherwise there isn’t much I can do except for turn up and take as many points as I can.”
A clean sweep in the Australian Prototype Series (APS) presented by Hot Wheels by Jason Makris saw him fight off all challenges from teammate John Paul Drake early in the second race to secure the outright round victory and remove the top of the APS Standings.
“It was great to get the victory today to seal the round. The track conditions were far better than Saturday’s twist when dry became wet and the whole group on slicks,” Makris said.
“Drake brought on a great fight and eventually overtook me on lap five. I was determined to get back the lead and applied enough pressure for him to make a mistake and when he did, I eventually held enough pace for the remainder of the race to get the win.
“Sunday’s longer race was a great opportunity to uitlise the Italian made Enduro CN for the first time and it was a great machine.”
The final race of the weekend saw a solo Beric Lynton claim the victory in the four-race opening round of the Australian Production Car Series, backing up his three previous wins across the weekend.
“To come to Sandown and get four wins for four starts and is a great start for the boys that have built the car.,” Lynton said.
“I think four wins and the other guys having a few dramas gives a little bit of a points lead but every weekend is tough.
“I didn’t invite Tim Leahey (co-driver) because I wanted to be selfish and drive the car alone this weekend.”
The next round of the Shannons Nationals takes place on 1-3 June at the famous Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in Victoria.
Round 3 Categories
CAMS Australian GT Championship (feat. Australian GT Trophy Series)
Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia
CAMS Australian Formula 4 Championship
Radical Australia Cup