Joey Mawson crowned Australian Drivers’ Champion in dramatic Sydney finale
Joey Mawson has been crowned the 59th winner of Australia’s premier racing award, surviving a dramatic VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship to win the Gold Star award.
Team Valvoline GRM driver James Golding won the final race of the championship but all eyes were on the championship leader as he battled several high-speed near misses before claiming the championship.
RESULTS: Round 4, Sandown
The Form 700 / ALABAR Team BRM driver needed only to finish the race to claim the title, however found himself off the road at high speed moments following the start of the race, his car snapping on cold tyres and sending him wide.
Remarkably, Mawson survived that 200km/hr trip into the grass – only to be forced into taking evasive action when another car crashed in front of him as he worked his way through the field.
He then survived a late-race restart and a two-lap dash to the flag to ultimately finish eighth – doing enough to claim a remarkable championship victory and celebrate with a massive burnout in front of friends and family watching at the circuit.
The 25-year-old from Hinchinbrook, in South-Western Sydney, added his name to an elite list of racing greats to have won the coveted Gold Star award, first awarded in 1957.
“I had a heart-stopping moment in turn one and I’m very relived!” Mawson said, after accepting the Gold Star trophy from Motorsport Australia President, Andrew Fraser.
“I couldn’t tell you what was going through my mind and for a while I thought it was going to be all over.
“I had a big snap and when I got on the grass it just wanted to pull the car towards the wall.
“Then (Ricky) Capo had a crash in front of me – luckily my engineer got on the radio and told me to back off. Thankfully we made it in the end and we did enough.
“I have to say a big thank you to Form 700 and ALABAR for their support and for giving me this opportunity, and to Team BRM who have given me a great car all season. I’ll enjoy this one.”
Mawson, who spent several years in Europe on the pathway to Formula 1 before returning to Australia earlier this year, said he was honoured to be listed among some of Australian motorsport’s greats.
His title came racing in front of his proud parents and a massive group of local supporters – some of them for the first time in several years.
“It means a massive lot to win this championship. I’ve got my name in history now: there’s a lot of drivers I’ve looked up to, who have been idols of mine and have won this championship.
“I can’t put into words how amazing this result is.”
While James Golding led home Luis Leeds and Nathan Herne in a Garry Rogers Motorsport 1-2-3 finish in the race, Mawson’s victory delivered Team BRM their seventh Gold Star title, the equal most of any team in the award’s history.
It was a 1-2 result for the Adelaide team with Thomas Randle second in the championship and former title winner Tim Macrow third.
The race saw Golding burst into an early lead from pole position, however the star of the show was Luis Leeds who stormed his way from the fourth row of the grid to second position thanks to a flying start.
He settled into second with Herne third and the trio were never headed, locking out the podium finish.
The win was Golding’s first in a feature race this season, and lifted the young Victorian to fourth position in the championship as well.
Macrow battled damage to his front wing after early contact, he and Thomas Randle spending much of the remainder of the race battling to see who would finish second in the championship – with whoever finished in front grabbing the best championship position.
Randle made a late move on Macrow to grab fourth and secure second overall, while Macrow finished fifth.
Cooper Webster was speedy on his way to sixth position, while Kaleb Ngatoa finished seventh but lost several spots after taking evasive action when Ricky Capo crashed at turn two.
The young Victorian had been running strongly in the top six but ran wide at turn one, spinning across the circuit and making contact with the inside wall – bringing out the Safety Car for the first time all weekend.
Joey Mawson and Braydan Willmington completed the runners in a race that ultimately finished after 11 laps.
A wildly successful first VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship saw four rounds contested, with season two to commence at Sandown Raceway, in Victoria, in September this year.
The championship will then contest a remarkable three-round triple crown with back-to-back-to-back events at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, Bathurst International and Gold Coast 5o0.