Doubly Important Weekend for Excels.
After a six-week break, two rounds, in the space of sixteen days, will determine the Track Attack Australia Excel Cup champion of 2018
This weekend, the Hyundai contingent headline the Ipswich Classic, at Queensland Raceway, as over 40 cars do battle in Round 7 of the 2018 Championship on Saturday, and their second annual 200km endurance race, now known as the Bushranger 200 – a 64-lap, two drivers per car affair – on Sunday.
Coming into the penultimate round of the season, Brett Parrish is the man to beat. The BPRO squad leader holds a 74-point advantage over his team-mate, Darren Whittington, and irrespective of what happens here, Parrish will still hold the points lead when we get to the season finale, at Lakeside Park, in a fortnight.
Due to the Bushranger 200 being a non-championship race, there are just fifty (50) points up for grabs this weekend, as Round 7 will be contested over just two 10-lap sprint races on Saturday afternoon.
Last time out, Parrish broke the trend that had been forming in the 2018 Excel Cup, where if you won a race on Saturday, you didn’t claim a victory on Sunday. Parrish not only claimed pole position, but won the opening three races of the weekend, and in doing that, he took his tally to six wins so far in 2018 – the most by any driver, surpassing Scott Green, who has won five.
Parrish was on-track for a clean-sweep, but an off-track excursion on the very last lap of the weekend saw him finish the fourth race in fifth position, as Darren Whittington claimed his fifth win of 2018, but that wasn’t enough to deprive the team boss of round honours.
On Sunday, attention will turn to long-distance racing – 200km, 64 laps, compulsory pit-stops and driver changes, as the hugely popular Bushranger 200 is staged once again.
As was the case last year, there are some big names joining the regulars for the annual showdown, most notably, the 2014 SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner, Paul Morris, who’ll team up with Tyrone Gautier in the APT Publications, ‘Lightning McQueen’ entry. At BPRO, Brett Parrish will team up with Ash Wright, Liam Talbot joins Simon Winters, Thomas Saunter-Chun will drive with Darren Whittington, and after racing against each other in the Toyota 86 Racing Series, young guns Broc Feeney and Jaylyn Robotham are pairing up as well.
The Phillips Wilson Racing squad will field several entries in the big one, including the defending Excel Cup series champion, Cam Wilson, who’ll team up with Ben Bargwanna this weekend.
After teaming up with Holly Espray in 2017, 3-time AFL Premiership superstar, Jason Akermanis is back for the 2018 event. This time, he’ll be sharing driving duties with Jasen Hannagan, while Holly Espray will team up with Ashley Izod, in the all-girl entry.
Elsewhere, Robert Buckley returns to the grid, after several months on the sideline. Sporting a Craig Lowndes tribute livery, ‘Buckets’ will team up with Peter Nankervis, as he did last year, for Sunday’s race.
Queensland Touring Car Championship regulars, Murray Kent, Gary Anger and Mark Giorgio will all be on double duty this weekend, as they will compete in the final QTCC round of 2018 before they jump in as co-drivers in the Bushranger 200.
Kent will team up with Chris Wilkins, Anger will join forces with Greg Robertson, while Giorgio will co-drive for Aaron Cameron – the latter two both from the O.C Motorsport stable, which will be one car short this weekend, as Cliff Sedgley has been forced out due to illness – he was originally scheduled to team-up with Sean English.
Dave Shinners, who finished inside the top ten, with TJ Hurford, here last year, will team up with Matt Wells for the 2018 race, and will enter this weekend full of confidence, after finishing fourth in the last race of the previous round.
The likable larrikin will be hopeful of building on the strong form he’s had at the Willowbank venue right throughout 2018.
Elsewhere, John McLaughlin will team up with Daniel Peasey this weekend. McLaughlin is a former series champion, and the defending champion of the Production Ute Racing Queensland Series, but will not feature in the remaining rounds of that championship, after selling the car, in favour of a Toyota 86.
McLaughlin is now preparing for a full campaign in the Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2019, and is looking to also compete in some Production Car events as well.
After so successfully tackling the Queensland Endurance Championship together, earlier in the season, John Sheridan and Jayden Faulkner will once again join forces in this Sunday’s 200, but unlike the QEC, they’re on an even playing field this weekend, as all of their opponents are also racing a Hyundai Excel.
No less than three entries are family squads, with Daniel and Adam Pearson, Kaden and Gary Olsen, and Trent and Seton-Connor Young teaming up for this event.
Last year, this race was taken out by Richard Peasey and Aaron Cameron, who have both featured prominently in national-level competition this season, most notably Aaron, who recently claimed a race win in the SuperUtes round on the Gold Coast.
While Cameron won’t line up this weekend, Peasey will - he’ll co-drive with Scott Kelly.
Saturday will be busy for the series regulars, as they’ll qualify early in the day, to set the grid for the seventh round of the championship, and then compete in the shortened two-race round that afternoon. On Sunday, co-drivers will be in control for a short and sharp qualifying session – one that will set the grid for the 64-lap race that afternoon.
While Cameron won’t line up this weekend, Peasey will - he’ll co-drive with Scott Kelly. Saturday will be busy for the series regulars, as they’ll qualify early in the day, to set the grid for the seventh round of the championship, and then compete in the shortened two-race round that afternoon. On Sunday, co-drivers will be in control for a short and sharp qualifying session – one that will set the grid for the 64-lap race that afternoon. The season so far:
The final round of the Track Attack Australia Excel Cup will be staged at Lakeside Park, on November 17 and 18. The Track Attack Australia Excel Cup is proudly supported by: Castrol, Dunlop and Disc Brakes Australia.