Kerry Baily is odds-on to beat arch rival Tony Ricciardello to a record fifth Australian Sports Sedan Championship. He needs just two points out of a possible 41 at this final round of the Rewards Insurance ASSC. "Anything can happen, the wheels...
Kerry Baily is odds-on to beat arch rival Tony Ricciardello to a record fifth Australian Sports Sedan Championship. He needs just two points out of a possible 41 at this final round of the Rewards Insurance ASSC.
"Anything can happen, the wheels could fall off," admits Bailey. "You can't be too conservative and by the same token you have to be cautious. I guess until I have those too points it will be a pretty nerve-racking weekend."
Baily must also take into calculation that he will have to negotiate the biggest field of the season. Some 33 cars are entered included seven former Future Tourers, indicates a strong reaction to criticism from some quarters.
Ricciardello had his challenge go off-song when his similarly powered Alfa Romeo failed to score a point at the opening round. An abbreviated second round with a heat cancelled due to a major rain downpour didn't help either.
At the third round at Mallala, the West Australian put in a powerhouse performance. From a qualifying performance that seen him under three seconds off the outright lap record, to winning each heat, Ricciardello stunned his adversaries.
He needed a repeat performance at the last round (Winton) but a touch from behind on the first lap, had him playing catch-up for the remainder of the day. Meanwhile Baily stayed near the front-runners, quietly amassing what has turned out to be a handy lead.
The Victorian Dean Randle in the silver and red Saab/Chev V8, has produced similar results apart from a couple of failed finishes, and is currently second in the title chase, 39 points behind Baily and would need several key competitors to have miserable weekends to reap dividends.
Fellow Saab driver Darren Hossack cannot win the championship this year. Arguably the second best combination this year, Hossack won round two, failing to strike a blow at the first, and suffered throttle jamming problems at the third.
In the fourth round it all came together for a another win. All too little, too late. However he did take the lead in the Trans Tasman Challenge, a series within a series pitting the Aussie Sports Sedans against the New Zealand Tranzam cars.
Sandown is round three for this dual-nationalistic rivalry, following on from Phillip Island and Winton with another two rounds across the Tasman in October at Ruapuna and Timaru.
The Kiwi cars have been awesome, particularly at round one, where, sight unseen, they picked off three of the top four grid spots. Kayne Scott put his Chev Corvette on pole with Bernie Gillon's Ford Mustang alongside, but it was fourth spot's Jonny McIntyre in another Corvette who stole the show.
With Scott opting for a United States program rather than Winton, McIntyre scored pole and won the first race. However engine damage on the last lap ruled him out of the second heat.
"If the championship decision is out of the way early, then it should be on for all and sundry," came a final warning from the champion elect Baily. <pre> ROUND FIVE SCHEDULE Friday September 12: Practice 11:55, Qualifying One 16:40. Saturday September 13: Qualifying Two 10:40, Race One 16:15. Sunday September 14: Race Two 8:45.
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after four round) 1-Kerry Baily (Nissan 300ZX/Chev V8) 119, 2-Dean Randle (Saab 9-3 Aero/Chev V8) 79, 2-Tony Ricciardello (Alfetta GTV/Chev V8) 79, 4-Darren Hossack (Saab 9-3 Aero/Chev V8) 52, 5-Graham Smith (Holden Calibra/Fiat Turbo V6) 46, 6-Des Wall (Toyota Supra/Chev V8) 42, 7-Phil Crompton (Ford Falcon EB/Ford V8) 41, 8-Mark Stinson (Holden Calibra/Chev V8) 39, 9-Rodney Woods (Commodore VS/Chev V8) 38, 10-Mark Duggan (Holden Calibra/Chev V8) 35.
TRANS TASMAN CHALLENGE POINTS (after two rounds) Darren Hossack 33, Jonny McIntyre 26, Dean Randle 20, Tony Ricciardello 18, Kerry Baily 19, Bernie Gillon 16, Kayne Scott 11, Mark Stinson 11.