Laucke ignites title challenge

Mark Laucke has shifted his challenge for the 2017 Australian Prototype Series into high gear, storming to victory in the opening race of round three today at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The South Australian qualified fourth in his West WX10 however stormed to second on the opening lap to put himself into contention early in the 9-lap affair.

Polesitter Jason Makris led early, however dropped back through the field when his car developed gearshift issues – stuck in sixth gear with a broken gear selector.

Laucke then assumed a short-lived race lead, Radical SR3 racer Michael Shaw passing him for the lead on the third lap.

Shaw led for the next three tours before Laucke was able to work his way back past and into a lead he would ultimately never lose; hanging on to take the victory by just under one second.

The result, coupled with low scores for nearest title rivals Phil Hughes and Terry Peovitis, sees Laucke draw to within 30 points of the series lead as it reaches the half-way point of 2017.

Shaw dropped behind Laucke once relegated to second, however drew close on the final lap in what turned out to be a tense battle between the pair. He ultimately finished second, while Gerrit Ruff was an outstanding third in his West WR1000.

Peter Paddon and Chris Sutton brought their Radical SR3s home in fourth and fifth, respectively, while John-Paul Drake was sixth in his West – just in front of Mark Short’s Prince LSR. a

After a difficult qualifying session where he struggled with engine issues in his RFR1000 FL1 car, Terry Peovitis was one of the race’s biggest movers as he stormed from last to eighth – setting similar lap times to the top three in the field.

After a front-running performance at Winton last time out, the West Aussie will be keen to continue that charge back to the front of the grid in tomorrow’s two races.

Championship leader Phil Hughes rebounded from dramas on the second lap – he dropped from eighth to last – to storm back through the field to ultimately finish ninth.

Jonathan Stoeckel rounded out the top-10, with Scott Mackay, Aaron Lewis, Sue Hughes and Jason Makris rounding out the finishers.

Kim Burke’s Radical SR3 failed to finish after enduring engine issues and retiring after three laps.

After the first of three races this weekend, Hughes continues to lead the APS standings, now just 15 points ahead of Peovitis.

Laucke has closed to just 27 points behind the leader and sits third – with 38 points available for a race victory.

Makris has stopped to fifth in the championship behind John-Paul Drake.

Two races will complete the half-way point of the 2017 Australian Prototype Series tomorrow, both to be streamed live on Nationals TV, available through the APS website.