The Yellow Express RX8 Cup Series is going from strength to strength, and it was no more obvious than at the Hi-Tec oils Round 5 at Sydney Motorsport Park. A large field of 23 Mazda RX8’s entered this event and provided great racing through the 2-day meet. A couple of practice sessions early Friday morning allowed the drivers the get to terms with the track conditions. Justin Lewis and Brock Paine set the early running posting fast time during these sessions. In qualifying it was Justin Lewis who took the honours from Paine. Jack Pennacchia and Terrence Lewis shared row 2 on the grid. Justin Barnes continued his great form qualifying 5th from Luke Webber. Tim Berryman was 7th from Ben Shaw, Tom Shaw. Jackson Noakes rounded out the top 10.
The 1st race started at nighttime; the cars looked great under lights. Credit to all the entrants on the presentation of the cars. Lewis made the best start and was closely followed by Paine, Barnes and Terence Lewis. The field negotiated the first couple of laps cleanly. Most drivers finding racing room as they settled in. Brock Paine was showing great speed, he was harassing the rear of J Lewis and trying to find a way through. These two drivers built a marginal gap to a quartet of cars that included Barnes, T Lewis, Berryman and Pennacchia. In the midfield a great battle was brewing between Maisie Place, Glen Gamble and David Grice. Up front Paine eventually went past J Lewis and proceeded to pull away. The former leader now found himself under pressure from Webber and Barnes. Paine claimed a well-deserved win. Webber went past J Lewis to finish 2nd. Barnes held onto 4th. Berryman finished 5th from Pennacchia.
The 2nd race was held Saturday morning in sunny conditions. Barnes made the best start and found himself in 2nd position just behind Paine. J Lewis, Pennacchia and T Lewis followed in close proximity. As the race evolved the leaders split into 2 groups of 3 cars. Paine, Barnes and J Lewis in the leading group. Pennacchia, T Lewis and Tom Shaw in the other. The unfortunate Berryman made multiple visits to the pits with car issues. He was not the only one having trouble, Webber retired and Matthew Powell and Aaron Hills also ran into trouble. Bailey Scott had a gentle spin at turn two, no major harm done, just some lost time. Barnes was speedy and eventually made it past Paine to claim the lead. Paine was slowly dropping back; J Lewis went past him as did Pennacchia. The result was Barnes 1st, J Lewis 2nd, Pennacchia 3rd. Paine finished 4th from T Lewis. Tom Shaw was 6th from Ben Shaw. A special mention to Ben Silvestro notching up his 50th race starts in RX8 Cup series.
Barnes made the best start in race 3, he immediately built up a lead form J Lewis and Pennacchia. As the race settled, Barnes was alone at the front, J Lewis and Pennacchia diced for 2nd. T Lewis and Tom Shaw diced for 4th with a gap to Thomas Derwent and Noakes. Behind the four mentioned, there was a 5 car pack consisting of: Ben Shaw, Silvestro, Jamie Canellis, Martin Lyall and Robert Scott. The surprise of the race was that Paine found him self in 19th position at the end of the first lap. Paine showed great speed driving his way back through the field. Barnes was in a class of his own in this race, he increased his gap to 2nd as the race wore on. Pennacchia hounded J Lewis and eventually went past him on the last lap. Tom Shaw put a lot a pressure on T Lewis and went past him during the last lap. The result was Barnes 1st from Pennacchia, J Lewis, Tom Shaw and T Lewis. Berryman and Webber finished 6th and 7th respectively. Unfortunately, Terence Lewis received a 5 second penalty dropping him down to 7th outright. Aaron Hills also receive a 15 second penalty. A special mention to Paine, finishing in 10th position after a great drive through the field.
Barnes repeated his great start in the final race, however this time he would not pull away as easily. The 6-way dice for the lead that evolved during this race was easily the best dice of all the race meet. The leaders traded lap times. Barnes held them at bay, but behind him there was lunges under brakes and great overtaking moves between Tom Shaw, Paine and Pennacchia. Battles formed throughout the field. Terry Lewis and Ben Shaw were going head-to-head. Canellis, Silvestro and Hills diced with vigour. Robert Scott and Mitch Brook raced in close quarters. The pack of 6 cars up front was reduced by 1, when the unlucky Webber retired during the 6th lap. At the end Barnes won again making a near perfect weekend. Paine was a brilliant 2nd from Tom Shaw. Pennacchia finished 4th from Berryman. Justin Lewis was 6th from Derwent and Noakes. Terrence Lewis was 9th and Ben Shaw rounded out the top 10.
Thanks to the Hi Tec Oils Super Series for holding a quality race meeting and a special thanks to the RX8 Cup major partners Yellow Express and the round 5 partners One Stop Carwash Equipment
Written by Riccardo Benvenuti