ROUND TWO of the Shannons Nationals presented by Hi-Tec Oils began on Friday the 13th – and it was instantly bad luck for seven-time Kerrick Sports Sedan champion Tony
His Iconic Alfa Romeo GTV caught fire in the second Sports Sedan practice session at Mallala this morning and was badly damaged, the fire tearing through much of the rear half of the bright red, Chevrolet-powered car.
However the West Australian drivers luck turned soon thereafter, when rival competitor Bob McLoughlin offered up his VS Commodore for his use for the remainder of the weekend.
Ricciardello was allowed several discretionary laps late this afternoon to become acclimatised to the car before practice tomorrow – his first experience in a left-hand-drive racing car after years of racing the Alfa and V8 Supercars.
The gesture of sportsmanship from McLaughlin will help Ricciardello score points this weekend in what is expected to be the most competitive Sports Sedan title fight in years.
Those expected to be Ricciardello’s key rivals for this title, Darren Hossack (Audi A4) and Kerry Bailey (Aston Martin DBR9), topped the time charts today with the pair ending the three practice sessions split by less than half a second.
The results will be especially pleasing for five-time champion bailey, who is making the debut of the stunning new Aston Martin and was instantly competitive from the first session this morning.
Adelaidian Chris Smerdon topped the practice times for the Kumho Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car series today, two-tenths faster than fellow Ford driver Mark Shepherd.
However the next ten cars were covered by less than one second as the Kumho Series field gets more competitive each time they hit the circuit.
Robert ‘Bobby’ Jane was third ahead of the first of the Holden pilots, Matt Hansen, in Fourth. Barossa Valley driver Michael Bartsch was fifth ahead of multiple Australian Saloon Car champion and fellow croweater Bruce Heinrich.
Round one winner Josh Hunter finished the day tenth on his first visit to the 2.6km Mallala circuit.
Old hands held off a group of newcomers in the Porsche Staff Solutions International GT3 Cup Challenge practice times, Victorian Jon Trende picking up where he left off in 2011 to top today’s order.
Newcomer Brent Odgers was second, Jeff Bobik third, Terry Lawler fourth and Rob Knight fifth.
The top thirteen cars were covered by just over one second, pointing the way to an incredibly close pack ahead of tomorrow’s first race of the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy to be held over 40-laps into the Mallala evening.
Holden driver Simon Tabinor topped the Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car series ranks, not much in front of reigning champion and local ace Matt Lovell’s Falcon. Andrew Nowland, Josh Keane and Sam Milton completed the top five.
After finishing on the podium at round one of the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series, Adam Brand has emerged quickest in practice for round two of the one-make series today.
Brand headed ‘Captain’ Rob Jarvis and son Allan in a competitive pack that also included a group of first-timers getting their first ever look at circuit competition.
Adding to the likes of ‘pro’ drifters Robbie Bolger and Fernando Wiehrl who now call the Swift series home, South Australian Drifters Hayden Buckhan and Dale Campaign were rewarded for their success in the first round of the Mallala G1 Drifting competition held recently.
Each driver got one practice session each to experience the 1.6 litre racers and both acquitted themselves well, lapping within just a few seconds of the established Swift runners by the end of each session.
The Southern Star Windows V8 Commodore Cup did not practice day but take to the track tomorrow morning for their practice and qualifying prior to three races on Sunday.
Sunday’s action will be streamed live on the internet via the Shannons Nationals website and ITV Live