The 2017 Motor Racing Australia season commenced at Wakefield Park on the last Sunday in January, with good fields providing some great entertainment and racing for those trackside.
Of the five categories racing, three boasted fields of over twenty entries, with close to 100 drivers competing across the day.
It was fine and sunny, but very hot at Wakefield Park. It was a challenging day at the office for all drivers, with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees in the afternoon session.
Short, sharp, sprint racing was the order of the day – for the Superkarts and Clubmans, it was a four race program, while the Super TT and APRA Series competitors enjoyed three slightly longer races.
Andrew MacPherson stole the show in Super TT qualifying – taking pole position from Steve Bugatto – but that was where his luck would run out, as mechanical dramas forced him to retire from Race 1, and with the issue unable to be resolved, he would miss the remaining two races.
MacPherson’s loss was Bugatto’s gain, and he cruised to three wins from three starts.
It was a race for second, with Mark Boudib, Jimmy Tran, Endree Saade and Daniel Kapetanovic all fighting for those final spots on the podium.
In Race 1, it was Boudib taking second position from Jimmy Tran.
Boudib ran out of luck in Race 2 – failing to finish – and that paved the way for Jimmy Tran to take second ahead of Saade and Kapetanovic.
Saade missed Race 3, and Tran lost out to Kapetanovic in the battle for second, as the BMW 328 finished the day strongly.
Parry Anastakis had an up and down day, and finished where he started. The Peugeot driver qualified in fourth, before slipping to sixth in the opening race, and from there, he gained a position in each of the remaining two races, to take fourth in the 15-lap finale.
In the Australian Pulsar Racing Association NSW series opener, Dan Smith grabbed a hat-trick of wins as well.
Smith, a former X3 NSW Series racer grabbed pole position, and held off Matt Boylan throughout the day, to start his championship campaign in the best way possible.
Boylan, who finished 2016 on a winning note, was a close second in all three races – failing to steal a victory off Smith, despite his best efforts to make a pass.
Craig Thornton finished the feature race in third position.
His return to the Pulsar series was far from straight forward. He was pinged for overlapping on a Safety Car restart in race 1, which saw him given a 40-second post-race penalty, which was a huge blow for him, after qualifying 7th, and crossing the line in fourth position, behind Joshua Heath, who also received a 5-second penalty in that opening race, that saw him relegated from 2nd to 5th.
Thornton charged from 25th to 8th in Race 2, before coming home strong with the podium finish in Race 3.
The brand new Clubman series debuted at the opening MRA of the season, and in a four-race program, James Dick dominated for the most part. Dick claimed Pole Position, and victory in Race 1 by a comfortable margin.
At the start of Race 2, Dick missed the jump, and went back through the field, but not far enough to prevent a comeback, as he charged back through the field, and claimed a 10-second victory, after early leader, Jos Kroon, surrendered the lead on lap five, and didn’t have the speed to stay with Dick.
Dick was again victorious in Race 3, but his weekend finished prematurely, as he was a non-starter in Race 4.
Dick’s absence saw Glen Coutinho, who finished third in the previous three races, come through and claim victory in the final race of the day, ahead of Anthony Parle, who was the only other driver to make it to the chequered flag.
Coutinho had finished behind Jos Kroon in all three of those races, but Kroon was also missing from the grid in the finale.
The hard luck story of the day was Brett Lansley, who started all four races, but failed to take the chequered flag once.
Superkarts were back in big numbers for the start of their 2017 season, and from the outset, it appeared as though it would be one-way traffic for John Pellicano, who claimed pole position by 1.4 seconds, and went onto win Race 1 by over two seconds from Mark Robin and and Aaron Cogger.
Back in the field, Wayne Horsewell set a new Class Lap Record for Rotax Heavy, with a 1:07.3733 around the 2.2km circuit.
Robin bounced back to win Race 2, after Pellicano made a mistake on lap five, which cost him the lead, and a chance at victory. Aaron Cogger continued his podium run, with third.
Pellicano bounced back to win race 3, as Aaron Cogger finally got the better of Mark Robin in the battle for the minors.
Sadly for Pellicano, he would settle for fourth in Race 4, after making a mistake in the early stages.
Mark Robin won that final race, ahead of Aaron Cogger and Laurie Fooks.
Regularity was well participated as per usual, and you can view the times and results on the NATSOFT website.
Round 2 of the 2017 season will take place up at SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK, on Sunday, April 2. The series won’t return to Wakefield Park until Round 4, on Sunday, July 2.
For more information on the Motor Racing Australia Series, visit the series Facebook page, or website.