The three drivers – Kerry Baily, Darren Hossack and Tony Ricciardello - rate amongst the best in the storied 36-year history of Australian Sports Sedan Racing. All have had seasons of contrasting fortunes in their pursuit of an additional title.
Of the three, five-time champion Kerry Baily has had the most consistent year and as such leads the standings after winning both the opening two rounds of the 2012 season.
Baily won the title in 1992, 93, 97, 2000 and 2003 - and despite the near 10-year gap since his last title remains as competitive as ever.
His stunning Aston Martin DBR9 has been one of the most talked about cars of the year and has lived up to its reputation – showing searing pace early in the year and plenty of consistency since that has maintained his point score ticking over.
Baily won all three races at Mallala’s season opener and continued his winning ways at Phillip Island, before his multiple-championship winning rivals began to re-find their form.
Darren Hossack – in his Chevrolet powered Audi A4 – destroyed the lap record at Phillip Island in a mighty comeback after being forced into a ‘loaned’ car at round one, when his Audi blew an engine in practice.
His return to form continued when he finished second Sydney Motorsport Park, before going on to win all three races at Queensland Raceway, the most recent round.
Hossack’s two titles came in 2004 and 2008; the latter in his current John Gourlay prepared Audi A4.
And then there is seven-time Sports Sedan champion Tony Ricciardello – the most successful driver in Sports Sedan racing history driving what is arguably the series’ most successful car.
Ricciardello’s Alfa Romeo GTV has taken the West Australian driver to all seven of his national titles and despite being one of the older cars in the field, continues to remain competitive against the later-built machinery.
Despite the car all but burning to the ground at Mallala in a freakish practice fire, Ricciardello’s small, family-run team rebuilt the car and it has since performed at its usual pace – including taking all three races at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Despite being third in the championship, the seven-time champ (1998-99, 2001-02, 05, 07 and 2011) remains a more than realistic shot at an incredible eighth championship.
The title is poised to go down to the wire at Wakefield Park with the three stars split by just 46 points – with 135 up for grabs across the three races scheduled for Sunday.
Hossack is the closest, however has Ricciardello just three points further back in his pursuit of series leader Baily.
Then driving his Nissan 300ZX, Baily won the most recent Sports Sedan visit to Wakefield Park in 2010 – winning one race and scoring strong podium finishes in the other two, to take the round and his Aston Martin is, in his own words, a ‘substantial step forward’ from his existing car.
Hossack holds the Wakefield Park Kerrick Series lap record, at 58.2238s.
Though the top three are justifiably hogging the limelight, there are others who have impressed this season and will look to end their season on a high this weekend.
Shane Bradford has been a model of consistency in his Chev Camaro Trans-Am racer and sits fourth in the standings as a result.
Victorian champion Michael Robinson (Monaro) has also had his best season to date whilst Phil Crompton’s stunning new Mustang Trans-Am racer made an impressive debut at Queensland Raceway in August, finishing fourth overall.
Also featuring this weekend will be the Holden V Ford, Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series, V8 Touring Cars Heritage Round, Hi-Tec Oils Swift Racing Cup and the Commodore Cup series.
Action commences Friday with private practice ahead of qualifying and racing on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s racing will be broadcast live via the Shannons Nationals website, www.thenationals.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|