The Trans Am Australia visited the Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend – Three different drivers won the three races
Last weekend, the Trans Am Australia made its trip to the Sydney Motorsport Park for Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the 2021 season. Owen Kelly, championship contender Nathan Herne and his fierce rival Aaron Seton won the races on the 3.930-kilometer track, which consists of twelve turns.
A total of 30 cars were taken to the grid in Sydney. Seton secured the pole position in qualifying ahead of Kelly. Herne started from third place ahead of Kyle Gurton in the first race of the jam-packed race weekend in the southeast of the country and continent. After the rolling start to the eleven-lap race, Owen immediately took the lead ahead of Seton, who had to settle for second after the first couple of turns.
Herne also dropped back one position at the start. The youngster in the #29 Dodge Challenger lined up behind Gurton in fourth place. Nash Morris, another young talent in Trans Am Australia, completed the top-5 after the first few corners. At the front, Owen and Seton in their Mustangs pulled away from the rest of the field by about two car lengths and engaged in a hot duel for the lead.
Seton finds no way past
On lap three, Herne regained his third position from Gurton. The latter came out too far in a corner in his Mustang, which the 18-year-old Herne immediately exploited ice-cold to reclaim third place. Meanwhile, at the front, Seton gritted his teeth on Kelly. Kelly draws on a wealth of racing experience: the Australia native competed in the Supercars series between 2000 and 2012 and has five Xfinity and one NASCAR Cup race – in 2013 at Watkins Glen for Phoenix Racing – under his belt.
While Kelly and Seton were separated at the front by mere inches, Herne crept ever closer to the top duo from behind. The 18-year-old failed to close the gap after his overtaking maneuver against Gurton. As a reminder, just two points separated Seton and Herne in the overall standings before the race.
There are a total of three races on a race weekend. In the first two races, the winner gets 60 points, the runner-up 56 points, which continues in two-points-steps until fifth place. After that, there is one point less per position. In the third race, the winner receives 90 points, but the point gaps between the positions remain the same as in the first two races of an event.
In the closing stages, Kelly continued to pull away from Seton at the front, who had no arrows left in his quiver to attack the Mustang at the front. Herne finished third behind the leading duo, while Gurton and Morris rounded out the top-5. Brett Holdsworth was sixth, followed by Ben Grice and Dylan Thomas. Rounding out the top-10 were Tim Shaw and Hugh McAlister. Seton now led Herne by four points in the overall standings.
Herne tied for the lead
Race winner Kelly started the second race from the pole position. Seton followed in second ahead of Herne and Gurton. Herne got off to a top start and slipped past the front row on turn 1 to take the lead. Gurton and Kelly went off the track after a contact and lost numerous positions. Seton took over the second position.
Morris settled into third, with Grice and Holdsworth right on his back bumper. After the chaotic start, the field sorted itself out and there were many exciting battles for positions. Herne collected the first lead lap at the front in the second race, which also had a distance of eleven laps. Seton lurked behind for his chance to attack Herne.
The field was then slowed by the safety car, as Gurton had to park his damaged Mustang alongside the track. At the start, Gurton had first been caught on the inside by Herne and there had been further contact with Kelly, so both Gurton and Kelly were shuffled down the order. The restart of the race followed on the fourth lap with Herne leading.
Seton put pressure on Herne right away, but also had to look in the rearview mirror as Morris in third also showed ambitions for the race win. Herne did not allow himself to be pushed into a mistake in this three-way battle that raged at the front for more than half the race and secured the win by a razor-thin margin ahead of Seton and Morris. This left Herne and Seton tied on points going into the final race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Seton fights his way into the overall lead
Herne’s victory in the second race secured him the pole position for the final race at Sydney, which again went over eleven laps. Seton started ahead of Morris in second, followed by Grice and Holdsworth. Herne managed to hold off Seton at the start and defend his lead. Morris and Tim Brook followed in third and fourth. Holdsworth lined up behind them in fifth after the first few turns.
Herne was driving on a knife edge in lap two, which is why he nearly lost control of his Challenger. Seton tried to take advantage of the 18-year-old’s mistake, but was surprised himself by Morris, who made a spirited attack for the race lead. The three went three wide through the turns and Morris secured first place ahead of Herne and Seton.
But the fight at the top was far from over. Herne tried everything to regain the lead. Morris and he went off the track for a small moment in the duel, so Seton took advantage of the moment to at least leave Herne behind already. Morris, on the other hand, managed to defend the top position – it all happened on lap two!
On lap five, Seton drafted on the back bumper of Morris on the start-finish straight to knock the youngster out of first place. Herne, with Brook right on his tail, tried to close the gap on the two drivers at the front. In his Challenger, he, like Seton, quickly managed to leave Morris behind to take over second place. Morris lined up ahead of Brook in third.
Just one lap later, Kelly went off track after a contact with Gurton. The race remained green as he managed to maneuver his car back onto the track. At the front, Herne increased the pressure on Seton, whose win would put him back four points ahead of the youngster in the standings. Seton withstood the attacks and secured the win ahead of Herne and Brook.
Grice and Thomas followed in fourth and fifth, with Morris having to retire his car due to the defect. The next Trans Am Australia race weekend will be held at Morgan Park Raceway on June 25-27.