21 March 2022 | General

Title battle intensifies after tight Phillip Island fight

THE BATTLE for the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship lead sits on a knife’s edge following a combative and competitive second round of the championship at the weekend.

Round 1 winner Tim Macrow holds a tenuous one-point lead over a resurgent Joey Mawson, who completed one of the best overall weekends in S5000 history to charge up the leaderboard at Phillip Island.

STANDINGS: Gold Star points following Round 2 of 6

However it’s the fact that four drivers now all sit within three points of the title lead that sets the scene for an ongoing thriller in the battle for the Gold Star award this year.

Mawson became the first driver to finish on the podium in all three races in a single S5000 round, as he slammed home finishes of second, third and first across the three races, respectively.

The reversed-grid second race has traditionally jumbled the results enough to keep drivers from scoring trophies in all three races so far, Mawson breaking the trend at the weekend.

It means he now has 183 points to Macrow’s 184 as the field heads to the neutral ground of the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in three weeks time.

Double Gold Star champion Macrow was at his tenacious best at the weekend and though struggling for outright car speed, converted a second-row start into a race lead in the second race, claiming his second win of the year.

Macrow has now qualified fifth for the last four consecutive Australian Drivers’ Championship rounds (he scored pole for the Tasman Series opener in Sydney late last year, however).

A pair of fourths in the remaining two races showed his consistency and ability to accumulate across the season.

As if the battle wasn’t close enough, the top four drivers in the standings are now covered by just three points thanks to strong weekends’ from both Cooper Webster and James Golding.

Webster has been the breakout star of season 2022 and mirrored Mawson’s achievement of finishing inside the top three of all three races in a single weekend, thanks to a 3rd-2nd-3rd strike rate at the Island.

However, the youngster from Victoria has gone one further aboard his Versa Motorsport entry, becoming the first driver in S5000 history to score four successive podium finishes – his run of top threes stretching back to his runner-up finish in Tasmania.

Like Mawson, Golding was at his resurgent best at Phillip Island and converted pole position to a win for the first time in his S5000 career in race one.

Fifth in the reverse-grid race was enough to ensure the Valvoline GRM star would start Sunday’s feature race on pole position, while Second in that ensured he closed the margin on those in front of him following Symmons Plains.

He’s now tied with Webster for third in the standings heading to the Grand Prix.

Kaleb Ngatoa sits fifth in the standings, with Josh Fife still sixth following his outstanding Symmons Plains’ podium.

Blake Purdie, Adam Garwood, Zane Goddard and Tim Slade complete the top-10.