Mawson defeats Randle in S5000 record-breaker
Joey Mawson has edged out Thomas Randle to win the first race of the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers Championship in a lap-record breaking fight to the flag at Symmons Plains.
The Team BRM teammates traded blows in an intense season opener that finally commenced a new era for the storied history of the Australian Drivers Championship for the Motorsport Australia Gold Star award.
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Ultimately the pair of 24-year-old young guns finished 1-2, with Valvoline Team GRM’s James Golding completing the podium in the first heat.
Mawson’s victory came as the New South Wales driver only got his first taste of S5000 machinery in opening practice on Sunday morning.
“It was a fantastic race. I didn’t expect to get such a good start given it was my first race in the category,” Mawson said.
“Tommy I knew would be quick. It was really good to hold him off and I couldn’t ask for a better way to start.”
The victory for Adelaide-based Team BRM also came more than six years following victory in the most recent Gold Star race contested prior top today – Sydney Motorsport Park in 2014 – before the award was put on hiatus.
Mawson started from the outside of the front row but beat polesitter Randle into turn one, the pair then setting about an intense inter-team battle for the lead that lasted the duration of the race and left the remainder of the field behind.
Never split by more than half-a-second, the pair traded lap records in an intense scrap that finally saw open-wheel great Alfie Costanzo’s 41-year-old Symmons Plains outright lap record consigned to the history books.
Mawson had claimed the new record for much of the race before Randle lowered it further on the 22nd of 23 laps completed – the new benchmark standing at 49.8644s: The top three drivers all lapped beneath the existing 50.16-second benchmark.
Golding finished four seconds behind Randle, but held out Ricky Capo in a fight for the final step on the podium.
Tim Macrow was one of the big improvers in the opening heat, climbing two spots to finish fifth.
The two-time Gold Star champion had only started seventh after being caught out by a red flag in qualifying that stopped any chance of late improvement in the session.
Luis Leeds was sixth, Tommy Smith seventh and Cooper Webster eighth, while Antonio Astuti and Brayden Willmington completed the top-10.
Nathan Hearne was the race’s only non-finisher after his Valvoline Team GRM entry found the gravel trap at turn one at the start of the second lap.
Hearne had started fourth and was battling with teammate Golding on the opening lap before he spun the car into the gravel on the start of lap two – officials unable to re-fire the car once it had been recovered.
The off saw the Safety Car called for a brief intervention before racing resumed.
A second sprint race tomorrow afternoon (12:50pm local time) will see the top eight positions from qualifying reversed; Cooper Webster and Tim Macrow to start from the front row.
The feature race will then conclude the weekend at 2:45pm, to be broadcast live on the screens of Seven, Sky Sports NZ and Motorsport.Tv internationally.