Canberra racer Josh Haynes is fully primed for the second half of the 2023 motorsport season, after launching himself into title contention for the TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek with the overall round victory at Morgan Park on the weekend.
Haynes started the season on the back foot in the season opener at Winton in March, a mechanical problem ruling him out of the weekend’s opening race. However, he demonstrated his speed by fighting through the field, ultimately winning the fourth and final race.
The second round was a twin-driver endurance event at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, in which Haynes teamed up with fellow Canberra racer Nicholas Bates. Haynes qualified fastest in a star-studded field that included American TA2 star Nathan Herne, and while the race results were mixed, a strong second-place finish in the final 35-lap feature race was enough for Haynes to move from eighth to fourth on the points table.
In the third round at Queensland Raceway, Haynes finished second in all four races to entrench himself inside the championship top three, before finally breaking through for the round win at Morgan Park to close within 13 points of the series lead.
The final two rounds of the season will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park and Calder Park, with Haynes expecting those venue venues to work to his advantage.
While the TA2 Muscle Car Series has been Haynes’ focus, he has also dabbled in some other categories. He drove Tony Barton’s Nissan 300ZX in a round of the NSW Sports Sedan Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park, before slotting into the Phil Crompton-owned Mustang for the first round of the National Sports Sedan Series at Winton.
Despite it being his first time driving the car, Haynes took the category by storm, racing wheel-to-wheel with Sports Sedan legend Tony Ricciardello and established front-runner Jordan Caruso and scoring a win in Race 2. A fairytale round win was on the cards before an unfortunate engine failure sidelined the Mustang in Race 3.
Haynes will also compete in this weekend’s Sydney 300, teaming up with Michael Ricketts in a Nissan Pulsar. The duo will aim to defend their Division D victory from last year, racing in a mammoth 53-car field.
Josh Haynes #37 - Beaches Sea Doo Ford Mustang
"We’ve had good speed all year, but the DNF at Winton put us on the back foot,” Haynes said.
“Since then, we’ve had to work hard to fight back into title contention, but Morgan Park was definitely a breakthrough round.
“I finished second in the first three races, but in the final race I was able to take the lead around the outside in the first corner and had the pace to drive away from the field."
“SMP is a track where I’ve had a lot of experience, not just in TA2 but in the Pulsar Series, Sports Sedans and Sydney 300, so I’m hoping for a home ground advantage there,” he said.
“The season finale at Calder Park will be a big unknown for everyone, because it’s been so long since it’s hosted national-level events. It’s going to be an exciting finish to the championship, that’s for sure.”
“My main priority is TA2, but it’s very cool to have these opportunities in other categories and I’m thankful to the people who have made them happen,” Haynes said.
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Three wins out of four at Morgan Park has stamped Dream Racing Australia driver Jackson Rice’s TA2 Muscle Car Series title aspirations in a successful debut at the venue.
Entering the weekend 23-points behind the series leader, Rice has cut the margin back to 13 despite a disappointing end to the event when he was spun in the final race, which prevented a round clean-sweep.
Qualifying second entering the Top Eight Shootout, Rice maintained this position as he missed pole by a mere 0.162s. However, Rice flipped the script in the opening race to take his first win since the Winton round held earlier this season.
Making his first appearance at Morgan Park failed to worry Rice as he added further victories in Races 2 and 3 to be on course for a rare round clean-sweep in the TA2 Muscle Car Series.
It wasn’t to be as contact at the opening corner of the first lap ended his chances as Rice minimised the damage to finish ninth and fall seven-points short of the round victory.
Despite the final race spin, Rice closed the margin at the top of the standings to be equal second heading to Sydney Motorsport Park on October 13-14. In between, Rice is planning to keep match fit by entering select National Trans Am Series rounds.
Jackson Rice #7 - Radio Industries Ford Mustang
“We were having a really good weekend, we started off the front row after the shootout and took three wins,” said Rice.
“Credit to Josh (Haynes), he kept me on my toes all weekend and we were looking like we were finally on for our first round win, but at Turn 1 of the last race I got turned around - got absolutely stoved in the rear. It’s pretty disappointing. To say I’m gutted is probably an understatement, some days you’re the bug, others you’re the windscreen.
“We got back out there, credit to the boys as they put a tyre on and raced a lap down. Made a couple of spots up, but we are going to have to look forward to the next event to recoup some championship points.
“A massive thank you to all our sponsors, we wouldn’t be without you. Massive thanks to Bob Selby-Wood at Radio Industries, Orafol, Pedders Brakes and Suspension, Snap On, Leed, Value Auto Group, Deloitte Ford, Bonnici and Associates, and Mudtamer.”
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Josh Haynes in the Beaches SeaDoo Mustang won today’s final race during Round 4 of the TA2 Muscle Car Series - framed by HYTEK Steel Framing, banking enough points to take the round win.
Jackson Rice, (Radio Industries Mustang) was on for a clean sweep of all races, but was turned around by Brad Gartner at Turn One in the final race, forcing a pit stop due to a bent rim before recovering to finish 9 th and a lap down.
Series leader Dylan Thomas wrapped up third for the round, although with a reduced margin to Haynes.
This morning’s second race was won by Rice, from Haynes after Haynes grabbed an early lead before going off at Turn 9 handing Rice the lead.
Gartner and Thomas traded places a number of times, before Gartner passed the CXC Racing Mustang on the line at the flag for third.
Race 3 was another benefit for the Dream Racing team with Rice again winning from Haynes while Thomas and Gartner again crossed the line barely apart.
2019 TA2 champ Russell Wright had a feisty battle with Mark Crutcher, both spinning while Matt Mackelden and Hayden Jackson both suffered tyre issues and fell back.
Zac Losciaplp in the Tempest Solutions Camaro and Graham Cheney finished 5 th and 6 th with best TA2 result for Gunnedahs Greg Keam in 7th Nicholas Bates was a non-starter for the final 20 lap feature race, and Haynes grabbed the advantage at the start and was never headed after Rice was taken out. Gartner was served a 30 second post race penalty for the incident. Mark Crutcher was the big benefactor, going on to finish 3 rd outright from his P9 start, earning the Hypercoils Hard Charger Award, and the Circo Master Class award.
Maitlands Hayden Jackson had a solid run to 4 th , just ahead of Russell Wright and Wilwood Big Braker Award winner Graham Cheney in the IES Camaro.
Keam also won the Bowden’s Best Presented and Racetech Rookie of the Round Award
Dylan Thomas continues to lead the series on 822 points from Rice on 809 and Haynes 808 points.
QUOTESJosh Haynes #37 Ford Mustang - Beaches Sea Doo
"Definitely not always the way you would like to win but at the same time we showed our pace all weekend. It would of been great to have a battle with Jackson at the end there but I am super happy to get the win.
The team did an unreal job all weekend and I would just like to thank my sponsors and everyone for sticking by me.
I am looking forward to Sydney Motorsport Park in October under lights."
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Wodonga’s Jackson Rice in the Radio Industries Mustang claimed today’s first race for Dream Racing at round four of the TA2 Muscle Car Series - framed by HYTEK Steel Framing at Morgan Park Raceway, Warwick today.
Rice made the winning move on pole sitter Josh Haynes on Lap 4 at Turn 7. Haynes was quickest in qualifying taking the PWR Pole Award in the Top 8 shootout by 1/10th of a second from Rice, series leader Dylan Thomas and Brad Gartner in the rebuilt Australian Tarmac Rally Mustang after the recent hit at Queensland Raceway.
Graham Cheney’s IES Camaro was the big improver in the shootout, finishing 5th while series frontrunner Nicholas Bates missed a gear on entry to the Turn 3 sweeper to be 6th fastest from Hayden Jackson, Zac Loscialpo. Russell Wright and Mark Crutcher.
Haynes and Rice took the green for the first 12 lap stoush from Thomas, Gartner and Cheney, while Nicholas Bates Mustang fired off at Turn 10 after a touch from Loscialpo.
Rice closed on Hayne’s Beaches Sea Doo Mustang and on lap four made the move cleanly for the race lead and was never headed. Mark Crutcher made the move on Russell Wrights Crew Commercial Mustang for 9th , to be re-passed a lap later while Gunnedah’s Greg Keam joined the party in his DeBeers Refinish Mustang only to spin late in the race at Turn 7 while running side by side with the Crutcher Developments Mustang.
Gartner had a lonely run in 4th, while Maitland’s Hayden Jackson closed on Cheney for 6 the with Crutcher, Loscialpo, Wright and Matt Mackelden’s Kubota Racing Mustang rounding out the 10.
Keam recovered to finish 11th from Bates, Rob Leonard in the Access Line Marking Equipment Mustang and Paul Hadley’s Camaro.
Tomorrow’s races will be live streamed from 9.30 am on the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series Facebook page and Speedcafe before going live on SBS Free to Air at 1 pm and simulcast on Fox Sports 505.
Race 2 will be at 10.23, Race 3 at 1.05 pm and the final 20 lapper wraps up the live telecast from 3.15 pm.
QUOTESJackson Rice, #7 Ford Mustang - Radio Industries
“Josh was really fast off the bat, we set our tyres up low to come on late and have good mid race pace and we did exactly that.
The car was good we took an opportunity when one presented and it was a good race.
I put the pass on Josh between turns 5 and 6.
We tried to conserve towards the end, we were obviously leading there was a bit of clean air trying to look after the rubber. We have a lot of laps to do tomorrow, we have a 20 lap race at the end of the day.”
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Dream Racing Australia’s Jackson Rice will race for the first time at Morgan Park this weekend for Round 4 of TA2 Muscle Car Series, which headlines the Hi Tec Oils Super Series.
Following a consistent event at Queensland Raceway last month and a confidence building appearance at Winton Motor Raceway contesting the National Trans Am Series where he finished inside the top 10, Rice is aiming to close the 23-point margin at the top of the standings.
Adding to Rice’s strong momentum was extra seat time courtesy of a test at Dream Racing Australia’s home track Calder Park as it built on the discoveries in terms of set-up and reliability at Winton.
This weekend marks Rice’s Morgan Park debut, but he has completed preparation in a simulator and studied onboard footage to make the first sessions on Friday that little bit easier.
Rice welcomes Radio Industries as his main supporter at Morgan Park, Mudtamer will continue in a minor role and is expected to come back to a major partner later in the season.
QUOTES Jackson Rice, #7 Ford Mustang - Radio Industries
“We had some really good success at Winton,” said Rice.
“We showed some real speed and we came away sorting problems we were having, so heading to Morgan Park with confidence in the car is something I’m looking forward to.
“The boys at Dream Racing Australia and myself have worked really hard behind the scenes to really get the car in tune with me as well as vice versa. We’ve worked hard on my personal development and making the car mechanically fast, so it’s good to see it coming together now.
“I think we saw at the start of the year it was going to be a really close title fight as both Dylan (Thomas) and Josh (Haynes) have been really competitive, but also consistent, which is the main thing. I’m aiming to close the gap to the top and hopefully extend it back to third.
“I haven’t been to Morgan Park before, but I’ve completed laps on a simulator to get a rough idea as it doesn’t provide the full exposure you need for a circuit. I’m looking forward to getting to a track we haven’t been to before and hoping from all the in-car videos I’ve watched I can get the jump on early.
“It was really exciting to test at Calder Park and get ahead of the game before the final round of the TA2 Muscle Car Series to be held there. I love that track and I’m super keen to be in a field of 25 or more TA2s around there.
“Mudtamer has come onboard for the year, those guys have been fantastic. We’re really lucky Bob Selby-Woods from Radio Industries has come onboard for the weekend as my main sponsor and Mudtamer will come back in that role later in the year."
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