Thomas Sargent takes slippery Sprint Challenge opener
THOMAS SARGENT has extended his lead in the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia series, edging out Ryan Wood in a tense opener at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, today.
Sargent led from lights-to-flag in the opening race at the Bathurst International, holding off Wood for the duration with Lachlan Bloxsom finishing third.
Sam Shahin claimed victory in the Morris Pro-Am battle over Brett Boulton, while Nathan Sticklen claimed Class B.
The 10-lap race commenced on a wet but drying circuit at Mount Panorama, though the record 26-strong field made a clean start and opening lap.
Sargent and Wood battled for the lead early before the former was able to edge away from Wood, who had earlier claimed pole position.
Behind the leading pair, Harrison Goodman worked his Bob Jane T-Marts Sonic car through the field, passing Aron Shields for fourth on lap five before climbing into the top three two laps later.
Unfortunately, he ran off the road at turn one a lap later, bringing out the Safety Car.
The race resumed for a one-lap dash to the line with Sargent again fending off Wood for the win.
With Bloxsom third, Shields finished fourth and Courtney Prince fifth.
Morris Pro-Am winner Sam Shahin finished sixth, one spot ahead of his nearest rival Brett Boulton – the class championship leader.
Tom Taplin was eighth, Daniel Stuttered ninth and third in Pro-Am while Jason Miller finished 10th.
Nathan Sticklen claimed the Class B honours over Lachlan Harburg and Jacob Li.
The Michelin Sprint Challenge field returns for two further races tomorrow at Mount Panorama.
Both races will be broadcast live on Stan Sport tomorrow as part of the bumper Supercheap Auto Bathurst International program.
Earlier, Ryan Wood rebounded from an earlier accident in practice to take the TAG Heuer pole award, thanks to a record 2m07.9652s lap.
He took pole from championship leader Thomas Sargent by the sizable margin of 0.9400s.
Sam Shahin qualified on pole in Morris Pro-Am and an outstanding third outright, ahead of Pro runner Aron Shields in fourth.
Lachlan Bloxsom, Jason Miller, Tom Taplin, Harrison Goodman, Daniel Stuttered – second in Morris Pro-Am – and Courtney Prince completed the 10.
The sole qualifying session was influenced by a rain shower mid way through its duration, meaning times banked early were the ones that delivered the best results.
Thomas Sargent, Pro: “The start was the secret and whoever was going to start in front was going to be making there life a bit easier. I got the jump, which was good and it was just about pioneering across the top on that first lap. It was a bit unfortunate that the safety car came out because the track was just getting better. After the restart that last lap was just hectic with Ryan (Wood), it was awesome racing, nice and clean, we didn’t touch each other. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, just hope it’s not as wet.”
Sam Shahin, Morris Pro-Am: “It was a wet track and fairly slippery at the start. I thought we might start behind the safety car, but the start was clean and everyone behaved. Some guys at the front were having some issues with the grip, I just had to keep it clean and bring the car home safely. The car felt amazing and I feel it was a good win, but I would have liked to have pushed a little more. I still have flashbacks of my crash here a few years ago, so wanted to get it home safely and very glad with the win.”
Nathan Sticklen, Class B winner: “To win my first ever race at Bathurst, was spicy, but I love driving in the wet and I had really good confidence. I didn’t overextend and just chipped away. I just couldn’t be happier to be honest, it really was as mint a race as it gets. The was a group of us and I just covered them off, I was a bit faster in some places, but they’re (Gen II cars) faster elsewhere, overall it was just a great race.”