The 2016 Kerrick Sports Sedan Series, which opens off at Sandown this weekend, is shaping up as a three-way battle between sports sedan ‘king’ Tony Ricciardello and the two most likely challengers for his throne: Jack Perkins and David Wall.
At first glance, Ricciardello is favourite to win the 13th edition of Australia’s premier series for the wild silhouette-style tintops.
He’s the defending Kerrick champion, last year winning his ninth title with the Ricciardello Racing Alfa Romeo GTV-Chev.
But Victorian Perkins, who drives for the Holden Racing Team in long-distance V8 Supercars races, is entitled to equal favouritism.
He swept the final three rounds of last year’s series driving the Auto Union Motorsport Audi A4-Chevrolet.
New South Welshman Wall, driving the Chevrolet Corvette C5 with which his legendary late father, Des, won the 2009 Kerrick title, is sure to take the challenge up to Ricciardello and Perkins.
He’s no stranger to powerful race cars, having won the Australian GT Championship in 2009-’10 in a Porsche 997, and competed in the Australian Porsche Carrera Cup Championship, Australian Production Car Championship and V8 Supercars Championship, most recently last year with the GRM Volvo team.
Jack Perkins is equal-favourite for the 2016 Kerrick title.
Ricciardello is under no illusions about retaining his Kerrick crown.
“We’ve developed the car continually since we built it back in 1992, and we’ve done a few things during the off-season, so it should be a bit quicker this year,” he said.
“But Jack will definitely be a threat if his form continues from last year, and David’s a quick driver in a quick car so he should be up there too.”
Perkins’ car owner, John Gourlay, is hopeful that his team can have a smoother run than in 2015, when mechanical problems early in the series and an injury to long-time driver Darren Hossack put paid to any chance of winning the title.
“We didn’t have our act together at the first two rounds, and Darren unfortunately had a serious speedway crash before round two,“ he said.
“Jack won the last nine races, which was a magnificent effort, but it was too late to catch Tony by then.
“This year the series looks as competitive it’s ever been. Tony and David are very quick drivers, and their cars are well prepared, so there won’t be any easy race wins.
“I’ll be surprised if the championship is decided before the last race.”
David Wall will drive the Chevrolet Corvette in which his legendary late father, Des, won the 2009 Kerrick Series.
While Ricciardello, Perkins and Wall are likely to be the pace-setters, 2015 Kerrick Series runner-up Steven Tamasi will keep them honest in the Nissan 300ZX-Chev formerly driven by six-times champion Kerry Baily.
Meanwhile Daniel Tamasi will race the Holden Calibra-Chev that son Steven used to great effect last year.
Others to keep an eye on are: Colin Smith (MR Automotive Holden Monaro-Chev), Bruce Banks (BJ Banks Electrical Mazda RX7), Michael Robinson (Bell Real Estate Holden Monaro-Chev), Andrew Brown (Chevrolet Camaro), Shane Bradford (Aston Air Conditioning Chevrolet Camaro), Dean Camm (Five Star Fencing & Gates Chevrolet Corvette), Ken House (Ford Escort-Chev) and Stuart Inwood (Rural & Civil Earthworks Chevrolet Corvette C5).
Four identical Australian-designed MARC Focus V8 cars are also entered for the Sandown round, to be driven by Tony Alford, Michael Benton, Peter McLeod and Geoff Taunton.
What the diminutive 5-litre machines give away in top speed to the 6-litre cars down Sandown’s long straights, they could make up with in agility through the 3.2km circuit’s two chicanes.
An unknown factor this year will be the change of tyre brand to Hankook for competitors running 18-inch diameter wheels.
The new dry-weather slick is said to offer slightly less grip but more durability with less drop-off in lap times than the previous Dunlop, which can still be used on 17-inch rims.
How the new tyre affects different individual cars, and how quickly the teams adjust their set-ups for optimum performance during a race meeting, remains to be seen.
The Kerrick Sports Sedan Series’ Sandown program kicks off with three 20-minute practice sessions on Friday, followed by two 15-minute qualifying sessions and the first of three 12-lap/25-minute races on Saturday, and two more races on Sunday.
Circuit admission is free on Friday, free all weekend for CAMS members and children under 15, $15 for adults on Saturday, $25 on Sunday, and $35 for Saturday and Sunday.
2016 KERRICK SPORTS SEDAN SERIES SCHEDULE
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 Grand Prix Circuit
5. Nov. 11-13 Sydney Motorsport Park
|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|