Joey Mawson hangs on to win Albert Park Race 1 thriller
Joey Mawson fended off Aaron Cameron in a thrilling final lap battle to win the long-awaited maiden Nulon S5000 Australian Drivers Championship race at Albert Park.
Two years after their first visit to the venue was cut short by the pandemic, a 16-car field put on an entertaining nine-lap sprint on the revised Melbourne street circuit.
After claiming the Supercheap Auto pole position, reigning S5000 champion Mawson led away from the top spot and appeared to have the race under control, leading by as much as three seconds before Cameron closed the gap.
Mawson then locked up and ran wide at Turn 3 on the last lap as Cameron applied the pressure to the ALABAR Form700 Team BRM entry.
Cameron had several looks at an overtake but could not find a way by and eventually finished 0.4584s adrift after the pair almost collided at the penultimate corner.
Mawson said that a broken element on the front wing caused him to lose time, and almost lose the lead.
“It was good to finally put on a show for S5000. It was a bit in tense from my seat, but it was a good, clean fight,” said Mawson.
“The front wing flag and element came off on the second last lap, and to be honest, I didn’t know how much to push in the medium to high speed corners.
“On the last lap, Aaron was on me and it was super intense to defend my position and keep the lead without risk.
“But full credit to him, it was clean and fair fight and it’s great to come away within the win.”
Mawson also heaped praise on the category, noting the fast but clean driving standards.
“It’s great fo the category to finally be in front of the F1 show,” he said.
“There’s quite a bit of emphasis on us because we are the only other single seater category. We are the most comparable to F1, so there’s lots of eyes on our show.
“And everyone has been behaving. There’s been no safety cars, no red flags and it’s been really good for everyone so far.
“The new track layout is really well suited for these cars too. Really fun. You can really tell how capable these cars on on the new sections of track. It’s great.”
Zane Goddard was less than two seconds further adrift in third ahead of Nathan Herne, Tim Macrow, Cooper Webster, Kaleb Ngatoa and James Golding, who had a wild race.
From third on the grid Golding went around the outside of Cameron to take second at the first corner, but then ran wide at Turn 3 and lost several positions.
Golding then dropped to 12th with a big spin in the Turn 9/10 complex while trying to regain ground before eventually recovering to eighth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Ben Bargwanna and Shae Davies; the latter’s race having included an early Turn 3 collision with Blake Purdie that sent Purdie’s machine into a spin.
James Davison was the race’s only retirement, his charge through from 15th on the grid into the top 10 eventually coming to naught on the penultimate lap.
The Nulon S5000 Australian Drivers Championship will return to the track on Friday for Race 2 at 1715.