OOSTHUIZEN COMPLETES PERFECT START TO CHAMPIONSHIP CAMPAIGN

JACQUES OOSTHUIZEN SCORES TWO RACE WINS ON SUNDAY TO CEMENT A CLEAN-SWEEP AT WAKEFIELD PARK.
Wakefield Park, Round 1, 2 April 2017

REPORT BY ZAK CABAN | PHOTOS FROM RICCARDO BENVENUTI.

Last August at Wakefield Park, CXC Global Racing’s Oosthuizen Motorsport stable scored 1-2 finishes in all three races, and Daniel Oosthuizen was victorious in all three outings.

As luck would have it, Jacques would only have to wait for his very next visit to the Southern NSW venue to enjoy the same kind of success.

After a sensational, and comprehensive victory in Race 1 on Saturday, and backed up and finished the weekend the way he started on Day 2.

In both of Sunday’s races, Oosthuizen was never challenged en-route to victory. He did it comfortably over 12 and 15 laps respectively, and took Class A1 honours in the process – ending the weekend with a full bag of points.

For Jacques, it took him a while to get into the winners circle in this series, but now he’s there, he has no intention of leaving. He grabbed two race wins at SMP in September, and we’re not out of April yet, and he already has three wins to his name in 2017 – proving that he just had to get that first one, before the floodgates opened for him.

Elsewhere in the field – action aplenty, with some great battles and racing throughout.

Defending champion, Matthew Holt and Rodney Thorpe resumed their duel from Saturday.

Thorpe got the better of Holt in the opening race, but was unable to back that up in Race 2, as Holt squared the ledger, and claimed Class A2 honours for the first time this season.

Further afield, Trevor Symonds and Robert Coulthard were separated by no more than a car length for the duration of the 12-lap affair, with Coulthard prevailing. That was for seventh outright and fourth in Class A2. Mark Caine was third in A2, as he was in Race 1.

Barry Graham lost out at the start, falling behind Holt and Thorpe, but he did enough to hold onto fourth outright and second in Class A1.

Stephen Thompson and Mark Caine ran their own race for the most part – finishing fifth and sixth respectively, but all eyes were on Jacques Oosthuizen at the front of the field, as he cruised to his second win in as many starts.

Tom Muller continued his strong start to the season, coming home first in Class B1, two positions ahead of Adam Gosling, who was the first Class B2 car across the line.

Dan Smith made it two from two in Class D, ahead of Jimmy Vernon, as the Integra driver continued his exceptional start to season 2017, and Kirt Metcalf again got the better of Finley Hills in Class E.

Unfortunately for Jonathon Fishburn, Race 2 ended in retirement, and it was a retirement that ended his weekend. Mechanical failure in the form of a power steering failure forced him out of the final race later in the day.

Speaking of that race, the story was much the same when the lights turned to green in the Trophy Race, as Jacques Oosthuizen shot to the lead on the run to the first corner. Stephen Thompson, as track commentator Brian Van De Wakker put it, “vaulted up trough the field”, getting by Barry Graham and Rodney Thorpe, to be challenging for second on the run to one, but Matthew Holt was able to hold that position on the outside, leaving Thompson to settle into third position.

While Jacques Oosthuizen didn’t quite disappear into the sunset as he did in Races 1 and 2, he built up a small, yet unassailable lead in the opening laps, and then consolidated the lead for the duration.

Rodney Thorpe and Matthew Holt again went door-to-door in the battle for Class A2 honours – swapping the lead on several occasions along the way, while also holding off the likes of Thompson, Graham and Caine, who were close by.

David Baker made a solid start in the Honda Integra, before losing second in class to Jimmy Vernon. By that time, Daniel Smith had already shot clear, and was well up the road.

Unfortunately, the race ended in retirement for Josh Muggleton’s new Volkswagen Golf.

Unfortunately, the retirement was mechanical related. The car is still relatively new, and they’re expecting gremlins as they continue with the development of that new production car for their 2017 campaign.

A late race spin for Adam Gosling saw Cary Morsink taking rather evasive action to avoid collecting the BMW. It also cost Gosling the Class B2 lead, as Geoff Kite took advantage of his misfortune.

In the end though, it was Oosthuizen claiming the clean-sweep, with a comfortable victory from Rodney Thorpe and Matthew Holt, who knows he’ll face a strong challenge from Thorpe across the season.

Class B1 honours were claimed by Thomas Muller, who finished in tenth outright, just ahead of Cary Morsink, and it was great to see him back on the grid, after sitting out the 2016 season.

Geoff Kite got his first win in Class B2 for 2017 – finishing 12th outright.

Further back, Daniel Smith completed a clean-sweep in Class D – taking the Honda Integra to a comfortable win, ahead of Jimmy Vernon and David Baker.

The emergence of Dan Smith has really livened up Class D. We leave Goulburn excited, and eagerly anticipating the rest of the season, and the battle for Class D supremacy, remembering that in the last three years, a Class D has finished on the outright podium at the end of the championship.

Kirt Metcalfe was again victorious in Class E – after a captivating battle with Finley Hills. The development in Finley Hill’s car and the improvement in Finley himself is not to be understated – his team have worked very hard across the off-season, to get him up to speed, running closer to his competition, and so far, it’s been successful, and has Finley’s confidence builds, expect further improvement from the teenager.

While attention now turns to the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour for some competitors, the rest of the PTC contingent is now preparing for the next sprint round of the series on the Brabham Circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park at the end of the month.

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