Johnson's lead reduced as Gurton wins Winton opener

Posted on 19 November 2022
Johnson's lead reduced as Gurton wins Winton opener
TA2 Muscle Car Series leader Jett Johnson has had his points lead reduced to 87 points after Kyle Gurton won Race 1 of the final round at Winton Motor Raceway. Johnson’s weekend started on the back foot after suffering an engine failure during Friday’s practice, and receiving a ten championship point penalty for failing to attend the drivers briefing this morning. In qualifying, Jackson Rice, driving the Immix Ford Mustang, surprised the field by setting the fastest time early, only to be bumped by Dream Racing teammate Kyle Gurton later in the session with a 1.24.3.  Series frontrunner Mark Crutcher jumped into second overall, three-tenths slower from Rice, Nicholas Bates and Johnson’s NAPA Auto Parts Mustang. Graham Cheney, Zac Loscalpio, South Australia’s Brad Gartner, John Holinger and Michael Coulter all made the Top 10 Shootout, although Gartner was bumped back with a five spot grid penalty and Kubota Racing’s Matt Mackelden filled the spot, making a return to the sport following a large hit at Bathurst earlier in the year. The shootout was held on a wet track, with Rice turning the tables on team mate Gurton to take pole with a 1.44.6, eight-tenths faster to win the PWR Pole Award and $500 cash. Coulter’s Kobelco Mustang slotted into third from Bates and Johnson. Due to the conditions, Race 1 started under safety car with both Zac Loscialpo and Lee Stibbs going off at Turn 1, while John Holinger was up to fifth at the end of the first lap. Peter Robinson was the only driver to roll the dice and run Hoosier slicks on a drying track, but struggled early to stay in touch with the field. Brad Gartner passed Mark Crutcher under brakes into Turn 3, and Graham Cheney a lap later. Johnson was struggling with lower tyre pressures and was battling with Bates, Gartner and Holinger, with Gartner passing Johnson into Turn 9. Robinson in the Wagner Corp Dodge started to come alive mid race and ran side by side with Crutcher into Turn 11 before going on to set the fastest lap, while Gurton closed on Rice for the race lead going around the outside at Turn 1 on Lap 12. Rice, now running in second then went off at the Turn 6 sweeper, letting Gartner who had a strong drive from the back of the field into second, while Loscialpo slowed in the Tempest Solutions Camaro with a flat tyre. Robinson continued his charge forward into fourth, while Johnson now had improved tyre pressures and ran down Gartner right on the finish line for second by just one-tenth. Gurton’s Nuveau Mustang won by two and a half seconds from Johnson, Gartner, with Robinson and Coulter, Bates, Cheney, Rice, Stibbs and Crutcher rounding out the top 10. TA2 Northern Series champ Graham Cheney struggled to finish the 15 lap race in seventh after coming out of hospital earlier in the week, but remains 87 points of Johnson’s series lead. Only 38 points separate Bates and Mark Crutcher in the Circo Master Class with three more 12 lap races tomorrow to determine the 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series - framed by HYTEK winner. Tomorrow’s races will be live streamed on the TA2 and AMRS Facebook pages and replayed on 7MATE free to air on December 12.
QUOTESKyle Gurton #2 Micale Cabinets/Nuveau Group Ford Mustang  “I spent those last ten or nine laps just sitting behind Jackson [Rice] working out where he is strong. “I had an opportunity coming down the main straight, Jackson went a bit wide on the wet stuff. “I put my stuff up on the dash and went around the outside of turn one, it was a bit hairy out of one and two but I got the move done and got the win.”
 

TA2 champion to be crowned at Winton

Posted on 17 November 2022

The 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek has come down to the wire, with five racers in with a chance of glory heading into the final round this weekend, 18-20 November, headlining the Australian Motor Racing Series at Winton Motor Raceway.

14 cars are set to hit the track for the TA2 season finale, with the regional Victorian circuit to host its second round of the season after an action-packed round in June.

Heading into the season finale, NAPA Auto Parts Mustang driver Jett Johnson holds a healthy 91-point lead over IES Motorsport’s Graham Cheney.

The third-generation racer will be gunning for his first national title with his family-run Team Johnson outfit, and will compete at Winton with the assistance and support of both his Supercars round-winning father Steve Johnson, and five-time Touring Car Championship winning grandfather Dick Johnson. 

The first of the remaining contenders is Graham Cheney. The Bathurst-based racer has had a remarkable rise in motorsport after a transition to four-wheels from a successful background in off-road motorcycle racing. 

Cheney heads to Winton after a challenging build-up which included a stint in hospital with a lung infection, but the IES Camaro driver is ready to put his best foot forward at Winton.

Cheney scored his first circuit racing title by claiming this year’s TA2 Northern Series, while fellow New South Welshman Zach Loscialpo wrapped up the Southern Series title at the last round at Sydney Motorsport Park and sits fourth in the points heading into the season finale.

The championship scenario currently sits if Cheney were to win all four races this weekend, Johnson would only have to finish each race in the 14-car grid to score enough points to secure the title. However, if Johnson were to DNF a single race, he would need to finish second in each subsequent race to ensure the title goes his way, providing Cheney wins all four races.

An additional consideration for the championship contenders will include the return to the grid of the two Dream Racing Australia Mustangs of Kyle Gurton and Jackson Rice. Gurton and Rice starred in the series’ last visit to Winton, as Gurton won Race 1 over Johnson and Rice threatened for podiums all weekend.

Nicholas Bates sits third in the points, and also leads the Circo Masters Class (for drivers over the age of 50) ahead of Mark Crutcher and Paul Hadley.

Bates, the younger-brother of Australian rally stars Neal and Rick, has been a shining star in his rookie motor racing season with no circuit racing experience this year outside of Time Attack events.

Bates is also in strong contention for the RaceTech Rookie of the Year Award, with the winner to take home a RaceTech Simulator Starter Pack valued at $1999.99. 

Fellow rookies Josh Haynes and Dylan Thomas are absent from the final round. After a sensational rookie year which netted one pole position and three race wins, Haynes is out of action for the final round after completing shoulder surgery following the last round in Sydney, however Haynes is primed for a series return in 2023.

A worthy return to the grid for the season finale will be Queenslander Matthew MacKelden. The Kubota Racing driver returns in a NASCAR-inspired livery on the #99 Mustang following a ground-up rebuild by Team Johnson after a high-impact accident at Mount Panorama almost 12 months ago at the Bathurst 1000, with a shakedown completed on Wednesday at Queensland Raceway before heading south to Winton.

The TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek will have four 12-lap races at Winton Motor Raceway. Track action kicks off on Friday for practice, before Qualifying on Saturday at 10:25am followed by a Top 10 Shootout and Race 1 in the afternoon.

The final three races on Sunday will be live-streamed on the TA2 Racing Australia and AMRS facebook pages, as well as the AMRS YouTube channel.

QUOTES

Jett Johnson, #117 NAPA Auto Parts Ford Mustang

“I’m just going to cruise around and minimise our mistakes. I don’t need to win every race, just got to keep it on track and make sure we have the points in the bank to seal the championship.

“Dad and the team have just told me not to push it. We don’t need to race anyone or fight anyone, we just need to finish each race. We may end up being too conservative just to make sure we don’t make any silly mistakes and we can come away from the weekend with the championship.”

Graham Cheney, #51 IES Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro

“I’m a little bit nervous, there’s a bit of pressure to hold that second and try and keep as close as we can to Jett to help us out in the championship.

“We’ll be doing pretty much what we’ve done all season, try and be competitive and make sure we finish every race, as a DNF costs you so many points in this class, so we’ll try and stay out of trouble and stay up the pointy end.

“This year has been unreal. This is my first full season after the COVID years and I’m really enjoying it, I didn’t think we would be in this position going into it but it shows how important it is to be consistent and finish every race.

“After Sydney I got an infection in my kidneys and it jumped to pretty much every organ in my body including my spline which didn’t help. While I was in hospital I got pneumonia and spent a week in ICU. 

“Every day I’m getting better but still got a long way to get back to 100%. Last week I didn’t even think I’d been capable of driving a car, I struggled to walk 100 metres but we won’t know how I go until we start pushing and see how it goes. 

“The IES Motorsport team have been amazing, I wouldn’t be in the position we are without the team we’ve got. I haven’t had to touch anything, they’ve got it all under control as they always do so we’re looking forward to the weekend and we’ll give it our best shot.”

Matthew MacKelden, driver #99 Kubota Racing Ford Mustang

“The accident was by far the biggest of my career and its physically taken me 12 months to get my shoulder right.

“There wasn’t much left of the old car, maybe the steering wheel, the dash and some other bits and pieces so this is practically a totally brand-new car.”

“It’s been a complete rebuild which is why it’s taken so long. Steve [Johnson], Jett [Johnson and Ben Leeds have poured hours and hours into the project and the outcome is a work of art.”

“There is plenty of DNA from the US in these cars, so I wanted to make sure we paid homage to that by running something you’d see on a NASCAR.” said MacKelden.

“It’s simple and clean but it’s still clearly a Kubota sponsored car - I also reckons it looks bloody tough.”

SCHEDULE 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Northern Series, Round 5 - Sydney Motorsport Park, Sept 30 - Oct 2 Local time: AEDT

Friday Practice 1 - 9:55am (20 minutes) Practice 2 - 11:35am (20 minutes) Practice 3 - 1:20pm (20 minutes) Practice 4 - 3:25pm (20 minutes)

Saturday Qualifying - 10:25am (20 minutes) Top 10 Shootout - 12:10pm Race 1 - 2:25pm (12 laps)

Sunday Race 2 - 9:25am (12 laps) Race 3 - 11:10am (12 laps) Race 4 - 1:05pm (12 laps)

ENTRY LIST 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Round 5 - Sydney Motorsport Park, Sept 30 - Oct 2

PRO, #2 Kyle Gurton (QLD), Ford Mustang - Micale Cabinets/Nuveau Group MASTERS, #4 Mark Crutcher (NSW), Ford Mustang - Crutcher Developments MASTERS, #10 Peter Robinson (QLD), Dodge Challenger - Wagner Corporation PRO, #11 Michael Coulter (NSW), Ford Mustang - Kobelco/Sydney Truck & Machinery PRO, #21 Zach Loscialpo (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Tempest Solutions PRO, #22 Brad Gartner (SA), Ford Mustang - Castec Rural Supplies MASTERS, #23 John Holinger (VIC), Chevrolet Camaro - Holinger Racing MASTERS, #24 Nicholas Bates (NSW), Ford Mustang - Nicholas Bates Motorsport PRO, #28 Lee Stibbs (SA), Ford Mustang - MVA Racing/Arrow Car Sales PRO, #37 Jackson Rice (VIC), Ford Mustang - Immix MASTERS, #50 Paul Hadley (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Illawarra Engineering Services PRO, #51 Graham Cheney (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Illawarra Engineering Services PRO, #99 Matthew Mackelden (QLD), Ford Mustang - Kubota PRO, #117 Jett Johnson (QLD), Ford Mustang - NAPA Auto Parts

 

TA2 Championship Ring returns for 2022

Posted on 10 November 2022
TA2 Championship Ring returns for 2022

One of the most unique prizes in Australian motorsport has returned, with the TA2 Championship Ring set to be awarded to the victor of the 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek after their final round at Winton on 18-20 November.

The TA2 Championship Ring continues an arrangement between the TA2 Muscle Car Series and leading Australian jewellery retailer Wallace Bishop, who have designed the ring for every championship winner since the series’ inception.

The ring itself is an Australian-made, hand-crafted 18ct Yellow and 18ct White Gold piece designed by Stuart Bishop. The centrepiece of the ring is a wheel drawn to replicate the actual wheels used by the TA2 series and valued at over $5000.

Bishop himself is a renowned drag racer in a supercharged V8 Camaro Pro Slammer, and the jeweller has previously worked on the trophies for the Supercars Championship amongst their motorsport association.

The display ring pictured will be presented to the series champion at Winton, before the ring is returned for the driver’s name and year to be engraved on the ring.

Previous recipients of the TA2 Championship Ring include the inaugural series winner Russell Wright in 2017, Ashley Jarvis in 2018 and Aaron Seton in 2019.

Heading into the final round of the series next weekend, third-generation racer Jett Johnson holds a 91-point lead in the NAPA Auto Parts Mustang over IES Motorsport’s Graham Cheney, with Nicholas Bates a further 31-points behind. 

With 220 points available for the final round, five drivers are within a mathematical chance for the title, with this year’s newly crowned TA2 Southern series champ Zac Loscialpo and 2021 Southern series winner Mark Crutcher also a chance to wear the TA2 Championship ring.

“In the style of the Indianapolis 500 trophy ring, the TA2 Muscle Car series design is a beautiful piece of jewellery, well crafted by Wallace Bishop,” said Category Manager Craig Denyer.

“Whoever takes it home will have earnt the prize, it’s a testament to how tough and competitive the TA2 Muscle Car Series is, a fitting reward and great memento for years to come and a constant reminder of being the best of the best in 2022.”

The championship trophy, ring and a host of other awards will be presented at the TA2 Awards Night held in Benalla on the Sunday night following the completion of the final round at Winton.

 

Herne fourth in US TA2 debut

Posted on 7 November 2022
Herne fourth in US TA2 debut

TA2 young-gun Nathan Herne made Australia proud on his international racing debut with a fourth place finish in the final round of the 2022 American Trans-Am Series at the Circuit of the Americas.

Despite limited seat time in the build-up, Herne qualified 12th out of 54 TA2 cars in an incident-filled session which was called five minutes early.

A chaotic start saw Herne vault up to sixth by the end of the first lap, and then up to third by Lap 4.

Herne was in podium contention for the 90-minute long race, before contact on the final lap from another competitor resulted in damage to the front splitter of the Stevens-Miller Racing Mustang which dropped Herne to fourth at the chequered flag.

Herne, the 2019 TA2 Rookie of the Year and a two-time champion of the ARG-promoted National Trans-Am Series, was pleased with the end result in what was an eventful debut weekend in the US.

“Had the pace to win at the end there but punched a hole through the front end and lost a heap of front aero. Add into the mix a bunch of oil on track and I was hanging on! 

“All in all an awesome trip. P4 out of 55 cars is a pretty good result considering. Thanks to everyone for making it all possible. Enjoyed every minute of it. Hopefully this isn't the last time with Stevens-Miller Racing.”

Herne is already on his way back to Australia to compete at next weekend’s Bathurst International, before he heads to the Adelaide Street Circuit for the final round of the S5000 Tasman Series which he is leading heading into the final event on 1-4 December.

The final round of the 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek will be held at Winton Motor Raceway on November 18-20, where Jett Johnson leads by 91 points over Graham Cheney.

 

Trans-Am Champion to assist Herne's US Debut

Posted on 3 November 2022
Trans-Am Champion to assist Herne's US Debut
The colours of Nathan Herne’s #29 Stevens-Miller Racing Ford Mustang have been revealed ahead of his debut appearance in a 54-strong American Trans-Am Series field at Circuit of the Americas this weekend. Herne’s Mustang will sport a green livery carrying the colours of TA2 car constructor Howe Racing Enterprises, as well as a number of Australian features including the Australian flag behind his number 29 on the side, and the TA2 Australia logo on the bonnet. Fresh off a clean-sweep in the first round of the S5000 Tasman Series at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit last weekend, Herne will welcome assistance from a special guest with local knowledge in the form of two-time Trans-Am Champion and 2022 IMSA LMP3 Champion Gar Robinson. Robinson is a familiar name to Australian TA2 fans, having travelled down under twice previously to compete in the TA2 Class in the Combined Sedans Support Category at the Bathurst 12 Hour, which he won in 2018. Robinson this year won the LMP3 class in the Rolex Daytona 24 and the Six Hours at Wakins Glen on his way to his championship win for Riley Motorsports. Robinson is a proud Texan local and comes with TA2 race-winning experience at COTA after a last-corner, last-lap move for victory in 2019 as well as two podium finishes. Herne will join Stevens-Miller Racing who are one of the most renowned teams campaigning the Howe Racing Enterprises chassis in the Trans-Am Series. The final round of the American Trans-Am Series at COTA commences with a test ession on Friday (Saturday morning AEST), before practice and qualifying on Saturday (Sunday morning AEST). The TA2 Race will commence at 11:45am on Sunday morning in Texas, or 3:45am Monday morning for Australian viewers. The race will be live-streamed on www.speedtour.tv and the Speed Tour YouTube channel.
QUOTESGar Robinson, 2022 IMSA LMP3 Champion, 2015 & 2017 American TA2 Champion “I’m pumped to reunite with my Australian TA2 mates to help out their young-gun Nathan [Herne] at COTA this weekend,” said Robinson. “I have fond memories of my time at Bathurst with my Aussie mates in 2018 and 2019, and I’ve been itching to get there one day to race in the Bathurst 12 Hour!” “I first met Nathan when I raced at Bathurst in 2019 before he started in TA2, and it’s been great to see him progress to be a two-time Australian champion and hopefully he can take it to the yanks over here. “Track position will be critical with over 50 cars on track, so my role will be just to get him familiar with how to get the most of these cars around COTA so he can maximise his time on track to put him in the best position to race well on Sunday.”
Schedule Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour Trans Am Championship Presented by Pirelli Circuit of the Americas - November 4-6, 2022 --- Austin TX time: TA2 test session: Fri 4 November - 17:40pm TA2 Practice session: Sat 5 November - 11:55am - 30 minutes Qual (all TA categories): Sat 5 November - 16:20-17:45pm TA2 Race Grid: Sun 6 Nov - 11:15am TA2 RACE: SUN 6 NOV - 11:45AM-13:00PM --- Australian Eastern Standard Time: TA2 test session: Sat 5 November - 08:40am TA2 Practice session: Sun 6 November - 02:55am - 30 minutes Qual (all TA categories): Sun 6 November - 07:20-08:45am TA2 Race Grid: Mon 7 Nov - 03:15am TA2 RACE: MON 7 NOV - 03:45-05:00AM