Excels winner Johnston leads the way in SA championships

Wednesday 05 August, 2020
Photo: Bob Taylor
The Sporting Car Club of South Australia have successfully completed the first round of the Motorsport Australia SA Motor Racing Championships with nine categories beginning their seasons over the weekend.
More than 120 entries featured in the race meeting at Mallala Raceway with a number of categories enjoying five races as part of busy weekend, as the Circuit Excel series once again had its time in the spotlight with six races.

One of the major acts over the weekend, the Circuit Excel series was split into two groups with every driver getting three opportunities to go up against every other competitor in qualifying races, before putting it all on the line in the Ryan Pannowitch Memorial Trophy.

At the end of the weekend though, there would be only one winner and it was former champion Asher Johnston who won all three of his qualifying races and took out the finale as well.
His biggest threat for top spot came through Danny Errigo, who won two of his three qualifying races, but couldn’t beat Johnston when they came up against each other in the weekend’s third heat and then again in the trophy race.
James Benford rounded out the podium after finishing behind Johnston and Errigo in each heat when coming up against them but was able to beat Jayden Wanze in their encounter to claim third.
The result didn’t change in the final race though, as Benford crossed the finish line ahead of Wanze, who comfortably beat Andrew Hobby to fourth place.

Remarkably, Hobby was the only driver in the top five to change positions throughout the 15-lap finale after starting the race in 14th place and charging up the field one lap at a time.

It was a similar story in the Improved Production Cars as Christopher Brown dominated the 22-car field in all five races, including the Michael Rooke Memorial.
Like Johnston, Brown had one driver as his toughest competition, but never let up as Scott Cook ended the weekend with four runners-up and a DNF.
Other clean sweeps across the weekend saw Adam Newton beat Joel Oliver and every other driver in Formula Vee’s five races, as did Shawn Jamieson in the Saloon Cars.

Sharing the grid with Jamieson and Saloon Cars were the HQ Holdens, which was led by Aussie Racing Cars star Joel Henrich.

Throughout the five races, Henrich showed why he is revered in the national series with four wins out five, while Bruce Henrich enjoyed a win of his own.
There were some other national category regulars competing across the Sports categories with former Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia Pro-Am class winner Samer Shahin winning every race he took part of in Sports Cars.
When Shahin wasn’t racing, the honours were shared with Ian Wilson and Nicholas Paul each enjoying a victory, while Paul Mitolo was the only driver to finish every race on podium.

Shahin’s brother Yasser also took had success over the weekend with two wins as part of Australian Sports Cars, where a number of Australian Prototype Series (APS) regulars also raced. 

APS driver Phil Andrawos secured the two final wins of the weekend, while Ian Eldridge won the category’s third race.
In Racing Cars, where like HQ Holdens, only two drivers got to taste victory. Matthew Roesler won two of the first three races, while Andrew Ford ended the weekend with three wins.
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