JANUARY-APRIL 2013 NEWS

 

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April 27-28: 'Gulliver' travels to Goulburn

March 29-31: Bathurst success for Ash and Iain, but Neale crashes out

March 22-24: Wining run continues at SMP

March 8-10: Corse trifecta in Radical series opener!

March 8-10: Terry beats touring car legend at The Island!

March 4: 20 years on, famous Ford to race again

January 24: V8 Radicals hit the track!

 

Return to Corse News archive


 'Gulliver' travels to Goulburn

DATE: April 27-28

EVENT: NSW Production Sports Car Championship, round 2
VENUE: Wakefield Park Raceway (2.2km) - Goulburn, NSW
VEHICLE (OWNER): Mosler MT900S (Ash Samadi)

 

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Ash Samadi acquitted himself admirably on a circuit that didn?t favour his Mosler. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Ash Samadi's Corse-prepared Mosler MT900S was like Gulliver among the Lilliputians in the second round of the NSW Production Sports Car Championship at Wakefield Park Raceway.


The 7-litre Chevrolet-powered British supercar is more at home on high-speed circuits like Mt Panorama and Phillip Island than the tight confines of the 2.2km Goulburn circuit. Nevertheless Ash acquitted himself admirably against some quick drivers with agile small cars.


Having previously driven Porsches but not the Mosler at Wakefield, which had been revised since his last visit, he used Saturday's single practice session to familiarise himself with the layout. He then qualified on the front row for the first of the afternoon's two 10-lap races, beaten only by Ben Porter's Lotus Exige.

 

But the Mosler had to be withdrawn from both sprints, as well as the first of the weekend's two hour-long enduros, after the Corse crew discovered that a rear suspension mounting point had pulled out of the chassis. Rapid work had the mighty Mosler ready to race again on Sunday, though.

 

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Rapid work by the Corse crew had the Mosler ready to race again on Sunday. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Ash again qualified on the front row for the first sprint race, then topped that with pole position for the second sprint.


A slow start in the first sprint race put him back to fourth place, but he recovered two positions by the finish.

 

In the second sprint race Porter and Ross Lilley (Viper) outjumped the Mosler. But Ash set off after them, clocking the fastest lap in his pursuit. On lap eight Porter tangled with a backmarker, and then Lillee put in a slow lap, handing Ash the win!


Ash made a better start in the day's third race, the enduro, and took up station in second place behind Porter for the opening four laps. On lap five he blasted past the Lotus into the lead, which he maintained during the compulsory pit stops by leaving his stop until after the other frontrunners had made theirs.


Just when he was looking set for victory, though, he skated off the track on lap 38. That was enough to let Porter sneak through into the lead, and despite Ash setting the fastest lap more than half a second better than anyone else's, he had another lose on lap 55.


That ended any hope he might have had of catching Porter, and he crossed the Finish line 12 seconds in arrears.


"Ash was always going to battle to beat the small cars with the Mosler at Wakefield, so his results were better than we expected," said Corse owner Mick Mitchell. "When the rear suspension broke on Saturday, we made running repairs because Wakefield is 200km from Sydney.

 

"But it held together without any problems on Sunday."

 

 

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Bathurst success for Ash and Iain, but Neale crashes out

DATE: March 29-31, 2013

EVENT: NSW Production Sports Car Championship, round 1
VENUE: Mt Panorama - Bathurst, NSW
VEHICLES (OWNERS): Mosler MT900 (Ash Samadi), Porsche 997 Cup (Neale Muston), Roaring Forties GT40 (Iain Pretty)

 

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Ash Samadi qualified on pole position and won the first race in his Corse-prepared Mosler. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Corse had a weekend of highs and one low at the Bathurst Motor Festival on March 29-31.


Three Corse-prepared cars - Ash Samadi's Mosler MT900, Neale Muston's Porsche 997 Cup and Iain Pretty's Roaring Forties GT40) - contested the second round of the NSW Production Sports Car Championship on the famous 6.3km Mt Panorama circuit.


Ash and Neale shared the pole position honours, scoring one each for the two preliminary races on Saturday.

 

Ash trailed Ross Lilley (Dodge Viper) for most of the first race, but he grabbed the lead just before the Finish line on lap eight - which turned out to be the last one after a crash elsewhere on the circuit brought out the Safety Car!


Neale placed third, and Iain came home an excellent ninth after battling his way through from 16th on the first lap.


Ash made it two on the trot in the second race, overtaking Neale for the lead on lap three and then holding off the reigning Radical Australia Cup Champion by half a second in the dash to the chequered flag. Neale had the consolation of setting the fastest lap.


Iain started the race strongly, but after holding sixth place on the first lap he was passed by four faster cars before the finish.


In Sunday?s hour-long Feature race, which included a compulsory pit stop for all cars, Neale stormed into the lead ahead of Peter Lucas (Lotus Elise).

The Safety Car slowed the field on lap three while accident debris was cleared up, and when racing resumed on lap six Lucas and Lilley went by Neale, who crashed heavily on the next lap at The Esses.


He wasn't injured in the accident, but his Porsche was too badly damaged to continue.

 

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Neale Muston crashed in the second race while trying to regain the lead. Click on the video, above, to watch the incident.

 

 

Ash was running third after recovering from a slow start when Neale crashed out of the race. He drove back through the field following an early compulsory pit stop to finish second behind Lillee.


Iain had another solid race in his GT40 replica. From 13th on lap one, he grabbed two places before also making his pit stop early, which dropped him back to 25th.


As the drivers ahead made their stops he rose to eighth place before being overtaken by three cars, but a strong run in the closing laps put him back up to eighth!

 

?This was another successful race meeting, except for Neale?s accident of course,? said Corse owner Mick Mitchell.

 

?Ash drove some great races, especially the first one. We didn?t know when he took the lead that the race would end on that lap, but he picked the right time to do it!


?Iain did very well too, considering he doesn?t race as much as Neale and Ash. His car really belongs in the Historic class because it?s based on Ford?s 1968 Le Mans GT40.


?Iain?s fastest lap was close to 2min. 20sec., which is a very respectable time around Mt Panorama.?

 

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Iain Pretty scored solid placings and set respectable lap times at Mt Panorama. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

?From Neale's in-car video he missed The Esses apex completely, which is a very uncharacteristic error for him.

 

"After that he was a passenger. His car smacked the concrete wall on the right, and then bounced across the track and hit the left wall almost head-on.

 

"They were both hard hits, so the shell probably isn?t repairable, which is a shame."

 

 

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Winning run continues at SMP

DATE: March 22-24, 2013

EVENT: Radical Australia Cup, round 2
VENUE: Sydney Motorsport Park 'Grand Prix circuit - Eastern Creek, NSW
VEHICLES (OWNERS): 3 x Radical SR8 (Nick Kelly, Neale Muston, Ash Samadi)

 

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Ash Samadi and Nick Kelly outjumped a slow-starting Neale Muston in the first sprint race [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Corse Motorsport's winning run in the 2013 Radical Australia Cup series continued in the second round at Sydney Motorsport Park.


The three Corse-prepared Radical SR8s of defending champion Neale Muston, Ash Samadi and Nick Kelly dominated the round, which was held on SMP?s 3.93km 'Grand Prix' circuit.


Neale qualified on pole position for both 50-minute races, which he went on to win convincingly. He was outjumped Ash and Nick at the start of the first race, but it wasn?t long before the qualifying order was restored!


Ash, in only his second race meeting driving the potent V8-powered Le Mans-style sports car, shadowed Neale in practice and qualifying, and finished second in both races.


Nick was set to make it another Corse trifecta for the round after setting the third fastest laps in the two qualifying sessions and maintaining that spot for much of the first race. But having regained several lost positions following his compulsory pit stop he spun on the second-last lap, dropping him to 10th place at the finish.


Unfortunately a technical problem with his car prevented Nick from taking to the track for the second race.


?It was another top performance by all three drivers,? said Corse boss Mick Mitchell. ?Neale is the class of Radical field at the moment, but Ash and Nick drove very well too. They didn?t make any mistakes, and are quickly coming to grips with their SR8s.


?Nick probably would have been third overall if not for his spin in the first race and the car problem, but I?m sure he?ll bounce back at the next round.?


Round three of the Radical Australia Cup Series will be at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in Victoria on May 24-26.

 

 

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Corse trifecta in Radical Series opener!

DATE: March 8-10, 2013
VENUE: Sydney Motorsport Park 'Brabham' circuit (4.5km) - Eastern Creek, NSW
EVENT: Radical Australia Cup, round 1
VEHICLES (OWNERS): 3 x Radical SR8 (Nick Kelly, Neale Muston, Ash Samadi)

 

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Nick Kelly, Neale Muston and Ash Samadi celebrate their success. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Corse enjoyed its most successful race meeting on March 9-10, with a swag of race wins and placing at two race meetings in different states!

 

Neale Muston, Ash Samadi and Nick Kelly scored a trifecta in the Radical Australia Cup opening round at Sydney Motorsport Park, while at the Phillip Island Classic, Terry Lawlor held off former V8 Supercar ace Mark Skaife to win the last of four Group A & C touring car races (see separate story, below)!

 

Neale, Ash and Nick, driving their new SR8 Radicals, dominated the RAC round, which was part of the massive two-day Top Gear Festival Sydney. The series for the British-built Le Mans-style sports cars included the V8-powered model for the first time, alongside the familiar four-cylinder SR3 version.

 

As the defending SR3 champion, Neale predictably set the pace in Friday?s two first practice sessions, with Nick and Ash not far behind. But qualifying on Saturday morning was a lottery. Finding a clear lap on SMP?s full combined 4.5km ?Brabham? circuit was a tall order, compounded by the session being split into two consecutive 10-minute mini-sessions.

 

The first session was for starting positions in the first of two 15-minute sprint races, and the second session was for the 50-minute mini-enduro. Neale was continually held up by slower cars in the first portion, and had to settle for second fastest time, a half-second off pole position. But he blitzed the second stanza to score pole by a staggering 2.7 seconds!

 

Ash and Nick shared the Corse team?s qualifying runner-up bragging rights ? Ash in the first session, and Nick in the second. Both were still fine-tuning their cars? set-ups after limited testing, but Ash had a great excuse for his first session time: A delicate part of his anatomy was trapped between the crutch straps of his safety harness!

 

?It was agony every time I braked!? he joked.

 

Race 1 on Saturday afternoon began with Neal following pole-sitter Nathan Antunes from the rolling start. But that only lasted until Nathan slid wide at the hairpin, three-quarters of the way around the first lap, and the red Excalibur Racing SR8 took the lead.

 

Neale bolted away from the field to win by nearly 20 seconds, with Nathan second, Ash third and Nick fourth. He had another comfortable all-the-way victory in the second sprint race on Sunday morning, this time with Nick second and Ash third.

 

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 Ash Samadi just beats a fast-finishing Nick Kelly to the finish line in Race 3. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Sunday afternoon?s mini-enduro made it three out of three for Neale. The only time he lost the lead was when he pitted early during the compulsory one-minute pit stop ?window?, but he was back in charge after the other drivers had made theirs.

 

He crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of Ash, who just held off a fast-finishing Nick by a tenth of a second! The overall results put Neale first in the RAC pointscore, Ash second and Nick equal-third with Nathan Antunes and his co-driver John Corbett.

 

Corse owner Mick Mitchell was thrilled with the results from the opening round.

 

?This would have to be one of our most successful race meetings since Corse opened 20 years ago,? he said.  ?All three drivers all did a tremendous job. The SR3 is as quick as a V8 Supercar at most circuits, but the SR8 is another step up ? close to a Formula 3 openwheeler.

 

?Neale was always going to be in with a good chance of winning, given his level of skill and experience in these cars. He drove very fast, as he always does, without putting a wheel wrong.
But Ash and Nick were just as impressive, considering Ash hadn?t raced a Radical before, and Nick only did a few rounds of last year?s series.

 

?It?s worth bearing in mind that none of them had driven Sydney Motorsport Park's new extension before either!?

 

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The bubbly sprays as the three placegetters celebrate. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Click on the video, below, to watch Neale Muston on his pole-winning qualifying lap.2013-03-09RadAusCup-2.JPG - large 

 

 

Go to Corse 2013 photo album to see more photos from this race meeting.

 

 

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Terry downs touring car legend at The Island!

DATE: March 8-10, 2013

EVENT: Heritage Touring Car Championship, round 1

VENUE: Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit (4.45km) - Cowes, Victoria

VEHICLE (OWNER): Historic Group A Ford Sierra RS500 (Terry Lawlor)

 

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Terry Lawlor beats Mark Skaife in a drag race to the finish. [Neil Winch photo]

 

 

Terry Lawlor has given his ex-Colin Bond Caltex Ford Cosworth Sierra RS500 a great return to racing at the Phillip Island Classic race meeting, following a comprehensive rebuild by Corse Motorsport.

 

Despite only having driven a handful of shakedown laps in the car at Sydney Motorsport Park the previous week (see March 4 news report, below), Terry qualified a promising fourth fastest on the majestic 4.5km Victorian circuit. At the head of the field was multiple Bathurst and Australian Touring Car Champion Mark Skaife, driving one of two Nissan HR31 Skyline turbos, and Bryan Sala in another Sierra RS500.

 

Four races - three over six laps, and the last over eight laps - were scheduled for the combined classic Group A (1985-92) and Group C (1972-84) cars.

 

Skaife won the first race, as expected, but Terry finished a galant second. From fourth starting position Terry advanced one place on the second lap when the other Skyline retired. He overtook Sala two laps later, but by then Skaife had established a comfortable lead that he held to the finish.

 

Terry's Sierra had developed an engine misfire near the end of the race, and it persisted at the start of the afternoon's second heat. Rather than risk damaging the rare Cosworth engine, Terry pulled into the pits after two laps.

 

Despite the power deficit he lowered his previous best lap time to less than three tenths of a second off Skaife's fastest lap!

 

Afterwards Peter Beninca, from Melbourne engine builders Beninca Motors, traced the problem to a faulty distributor sensor. He made a mercy dash to his workshop to get a replacement part, and by Sunday morning the Sierra was ready for the two remaining races.


Terry's race two DNF (did not finish) put him at the back of the 30-car field for the start of race three. He scythed through the tailenders and carved up the midfielders to finish an excellent fifth.

 

With Skaife relegated to the back of the field for the eight-lap finale after missing the third race, the question was whether the 'Pro' could catch the 'Ams'.

 

Terry had a great start from fifth grid position, and by the end of the first lap he was in second place behind Bryan Sala in another Sierra. He hit the lead on lap five after Sala spun off at Siberia corner.

 

While Skaife carved through the field like a hot knife through butter, Terry had to deal with the misfire that returned on the last lap. Skaife closed in as they rounded the final corner, but Terry held the Nissan ace at bay in a photo-finish!


Corse owner Mick Mitchell had nothing but praise for Terry's performances in the Sierra, which he described as one of the most difficult touring cars to drive.

 

"Having worked on this actual car in the 1990s when I was with Colin Bond's team, I can say from experience that the RS500 is a beast," he said. "It has a lot power that comes in with a rush, and only two-wheel drive, quite narrow tyres, and about two-thirds the weight of a Commodore.

 

"You need to be on your game or the car will get away from you very quickly.

 

"I'd have been satisfied if Terry finished in the top 10, but he did a lot better than that! He drove through the field really well in race three after starting from the back. Winning the last race was the icing on the cake!

 

"We didn't come to Phillip Island expecting to beat Australia's top Group A and Group C cars, let alone a driver of Mark Skaife's calibre!  Mark's Skyline probably would have been running maximum turbo boost, or close to it, whereas the other Historic turbo cars, including ours, have the boost turned down to conserve their engines and drivetrains.

 

"I don't think Mark liked being beaten him in that last race though. After they crossed the finish line, Terry waved to him but he didn't wave back!"

 

Mick thanked Peter Beninca for going to the trouble of getting another sensor from Melbourne.

 

"I've known the Beninca family for a long time, and they're great people," he said. "We wouldn't have won on Sunday without their help."

 

 

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20 years on, famous Ford to race again

DATE: March 4, 2013

EVENT: Private practice

VENUE: Sydney Motorsport Park 'Grand Prix' circuit (3.9km) - Eastern Creek, NSW

VEHICLE (OWNER): Historic Group A Ford Sierra RS500 (Terry Lawlor)

 

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 Colin Bond (left) gives 'his' Sierra's new owner, Terry Lawlor, the benefit of his experience racing the car. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

It isn't often that a 20 year-old racing car with a septuagenarian driver attracts a crowd of admirers at a test day, but that's what happened at Sydney Motorsport Park last week.

 

The car was the Caltex Group A Sierra RS500, and behind the wheel was the man who raced it all those years ago ? Colin Bond.  Having just celebrated his 70th birthday, Colin was making a cameo appearance as a favour for the Sierra's new owner, Terry Lawlor, who was giving the car a shakedown run before the Phillip Island Classic on March 9-10.

 

Terry has contested the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Touring Car Masters and Group S Historics, winning his class in the latter category in 2008 and finishing runner-up in 2009-'10.  He'd had his eye on the famous Ford for a while, but it was only in 2012 that he acquired it - in rather unusual circumstances.

 

"The Caltex Sierra was put up for sale a few years ago, but I missed out and bought a BMW M3 instead,' he said. "Then at the Phillip Island Classic last year it put a con-rod through the block, and the owner agreed to swap it for my BMW!"

 

Having passed through several owners' hands since it retired from top-level racing at the end of 1992, the turbocharged RS500 was due for a thorough overhaul. Terry entrusted the job to Corse Motorsport, whose owner Mick Mitchell has a personal connection with the car.

 

"Mick was a mechanic in Colin Bond's Caltex CXT team that ran Sierras in the Australian Touring Car Championship and the long-distance races, which were separate events back then," Terry said. "Obviously he knows the car inside-out."

 

The born-again Sierra now looks exactly like it did at the 1992 Tooheys 1000, right down to the door decals and Bond-(John)Smith names on the windows. Terry will even race in replicas of Bond's race suit and helmet!

 

According to Mick Mitchell, the project involved more than getting the Sierra mechanically fit for racing.

 

"Historic racing cars have to be virtually identical to their original specifications, which is rarely straightforward,' he said. "Sometimes parts aren't made any more, and you can only substitute them with CAMS' permission.

 

"We consulted with Frank Lowndes (V8 Supercars star Craig's father), who was the chief scrutineer back in the Group A era and is now a CAMS Historic Eligibility Officer. It all turned out fine, but it wasn't a simple process."

 

Mick was amazed at the response the car received at the Sydney Motorsport Park test.

 

"People came from everywhere to have a look - we could hardly move!" he said. "The Group A cars still have a great following, and so does Colin Bond, who's a living legend in Australian motorsport.

 

"Terry hadn't driven a Sierra before, so Colin generously agreed to do a few laps first to make sure everything was okay. It must have brought back some great memories, judging from his grin when he got out of the car!"

 


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Radical V8s hit the track!

DATE: January 24, 2013

EVENT: Private practice

VENUE: Sydney Motorsport Park 'Grand Prix' circuit (3.9km) - Eastern Creek, NSW

VEHICLES (OWNERS): 3 x Radical SR8 (Nick Kelly, Neale Muston, Ash Samadi)

 

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Neale Muston (left) & Ash Samadi were impressed by their new Radical SR8s. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Three new Radical SR8s to be fielded by Corse Motorsport in the 2013 Radical Australia Cup have arrived in Australia - and drivers Neale Muston, Ash Samadi and Nick Kelly haven't wasted any time hitting the track in the V8-powered cars.

 

Neale, the reigning Radical Australia Cup champion, and Ash, a long-time GT racer, had their first test days in their British-built cars at Sydney Motorsport Park in December. Nick Kelly did likewise after his SR8 arrived in January.

 

Neale was impressed by the 320kW 2.7-litre SR8's extra power over the 155kW 1.5-litre SR3 he drove in 2011-12, although it required a slightly different driving technique.

 

"The SR8 is faster than the SR3 in a straight line, but the main difference is exiting corners,' he said. "The power has to be applied smoothly, otherwise wheelspin and loss of control become issues.

 

"Looking after the tyres will be important in next year's Radical series, especially in the longer races."

 

After just one day's testing, though, Neale couldn't predict how much faster the SR8 would be than the SR3.

 

"We didn't have ideal gearing at the test - I was topping out at 255km/h before Turn 1 - and there's some suspension and aero fine-tuning to be done," he said. 'I'll have a better idea of the SR8's potential after we do another test, but times in the order of 1min. 25sec. (four seconds quicker than the SR3) should be achievable on new tyres."

 

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Neale Muston lines up in the Sydney Motorsport Park pitlane for his first test session in his new Radical SR8.
[Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Ash, who will make his Radical debut this year after contesting the Australian GT Championship for the past few seasons, was also happy with his testing performance.

 

"I drove seven or eight laps in each of the four 20-minute sessions," he said. "It took me a couple of sessions to become familiar with the Radical's open cockpit and its high downforce through the fast corners, but by the end of the day I was close to the pace."

 

Ash found the SR8 quicker than his Mosler GT car at SMP.

 

"The SR8 was faster than the Mosler just about everywhere," he said. "It doesn't have as much power but it's lighter, so it accelerates just as quickly and it brakes better. I was going 20-25 metres deeper into Turn 2 than I would in the Mosler!

 

"The Radical's aerodynamics made a difference too. On new tyres you could probably take Turn 1 nearly flat!"

 

Ash explained the reasons behind his switch to the Radical Australia Cup for 2013.

 

"GT is a great category, but to be competitive you need to buy the latest model or upgrade your car every year," he said. "Instead of upgrading the Mosler for 2013, I decided to take a break from GTs and try V8 Radicals instead.

 

"I imagine that driving skill is more important with these cars, because everyone has basically the same equipment, and the cars stay the same from year to year.  Although Radicals are very different from the GTs I've driven over the years, I believe I can be competitive after more seat time in the car."

 

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GT racer Ash Samadi aclimatised quickly to his new Radical SR8. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

Corse owner Mick Mitchell was satisfied with the SMP testing results.

 

"Based on our experience with the SR3s we were expecting the SR8s to go fast straight out of the box, which is what happened," he said. "There?s a bit of set-up work to do, because 2013 is the first time the V8 model will run in the Australian Radical series. But it's been run in Radical series in other countries for a few years, so I'm not expecting any problems.

 

"With better gearing and a bit more sorting, we're probably looking at a top speed of around 260km/h, and carrying that speed through fast corners like Turn 1 here and at Phillip Island.

 

"As the Radical champion Neale is the benchmark, but his times have been even better than I was anticipating. Ash has plenty of racing experience, so he didn't take long to get up to speed either.

 

"Nick settled in quickly too, so all three SR8s should be at the pointy end of the field this year."

 

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Nick Kelly had his first test day in his new SR8 in January. [Good Publicity photo]

 

 

The six-round 2013 Radical Australia Cup series kicks off at the Top Gear Festival on March 9-10 at Sydney Motorsport Park.

 

Click on the video, below, to watch Neale Muston on a hot lap of Sydney Motorsport Park in his new Radical SR8.

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