Tony Ricciardello has rewritten the record books yet again by claiming an impressive tenth Kerrick Sports Sedan Series championship at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit today.
Courtesy of three second places, Ricciardello secured the points necessary to eliminate any chance of Daniel Tamasi or Jack Perkins (now tied for second place in the title) snatching away the lead, thanks to a 184 points buffer (a maximum of 180 points is on offer at the final round).
While Ricciardello took out the title, Perkins dominated the weekend – taking out the qualifying and race lap records, top qualifying, winning all three races and taking out the round victory. The Holden Racing Team Supercars driver was chasing the race lap record all weekend after running a blistering 1m 26.6s effort in qualifying, finally getting it done in the second-last race lap of the weekend after coming agonizingly close on a number of occasions.
The podium was rounded out by Daniel Tamasi, courtesy of two third places (race one and three) and a fourth (race two).
“It is an amazing feeling (to take 10 titles), it is pretty big,” said Ricciardello after hopping out of the car.
“It has been a big journey for us and I think the car has made its mark in the history books.
“The other thing too is that the car was built in 1992, so it has done a pretty good job! She is getting tired,” he laughed, before continuing “but it has done a good job. It has probably lost its teeth and got dentures now but it is still going and we are still at the head of the pack.
“At the same time though, we need to move forward. Jack Perkins and John Gourlay with the Audi have lifted the bar again so we want to get a direction sorted to aim for.”
Having the championship locked away with one round to go means some weight is lifted off Ricciardello’s shoulders, but he is already working on preparations for the final round at Sydney Motorsport Park across November 11-13.
“I don’t think (we have ever secured the title prior to the last round) across all of the championships, so I think we actually maybe enjoy Sydney!” laughed Ricciardello.
“It is a very fast and loaded kind of circuit like Phillip island and these cars are working their horses off with all the power and the load, so it is probably a bit of a relief (to have locked down the title), but we still want to keep moving forward.
“The track will probably suit us a little bit more too, so I am hoping the gap will get closer to the Audi in Sydney - we will keep working away.”
For Perkins, the weekend was as good as it can get.
“I guess I wasn’t going quick enough earlier in the weekend when the tyres were in better nick!” said Perkins when talking about his long chase to the record. “The risk versus reward at Phillip Island is pretty high - the margin for error when you are doing close to 300kmh is far more significant than a personal milestone.
“I think the car was good enough to do that though and it is a testament to everyone involved with the team for giving me a car that could do it. I was really happy to get there in the end. We did a qualifying lap record - a 1m 26.6s is incredibly fast - and we did 299.4kmh in race two. We are so close to the 300kmh bracket and I think with a few little changes to the car we probably could get into the ‘twenty-sixes’ in the race.
“We can’t be disappointed with the weekend – we took the qualifying lap record, race lap record, pole position and three race wins and a round win – it was a great weekend.
“With the championship, you need to finish races. We haven’t lost a race all year, the only races we haven’t won are the ones we have DNFed. We have had the fastest car, but we just haven’t had the reliability, but now we are pretty confident with the package we have and hopefully we can continue this winning streak at the last round.
“We will do our best to win every race there and if that means we finish second in the title then so be it, but congratulations to Tony for being able to put together a reliable package and win plenty of championships – that doesn’t come easy, so congratulations to those guys.”
The Kerrick Sports Sedan Series now looks ahead to its final round, to be held at Sydney Motorsport Park across November 11-13. For more information, visit www.sportssedans.com.au
|1. April 1-3 Sandown Motor Raceway|
|2. June 10-12 Winton Motor Raceway|
|3. July 29-31 Queensland Raceway|
|4. Sep. 9-11 Phillip Island GP Circuit|
|5. Nov. 11-13 Sydney Motorsport Park|