12 March 2012Neale Muston has won a thrilling first round of the 2012 Radical Australia Cup presented by MPA Projects at Eastern Creek Raceway at the weekend.
The Excalibur Racing driver won both heat races on Saturday however it was a thrilling 50-minute feature race held on Sunday afternoon that quickly became the biggest talking point of perhaps the entire Shannons Nationals round.
Muston and defending series winner Ed Singleton fiercely battled for the lead in the final 10-minutes of the 50-minute mini-enduro, crossing the line with just 0.1 seconds between the pair.
It was a dramatic conclusion to an outstanding weekend of racing that saw 23 cars take the starter, in the first of 7 rounds to be staged around Australia this year.
"It is probably the best race I have ever been involved in," Muston said.
"I had a gearshift issue throughout the second half of the race that made things interesting - but you can make these cars pretty wide so I did what I needed to do to keep Ed behind me. It was great fun and thanks to the Corse Motorsport team for their efforts.
"It’s a great start to our season!"
Singleton was similarly enthusiastic, pleased with his run to second place in the race after a day of drama.
The MPA Projects driver was involved in a mid-race spin as he diced for position with the then-second placed Glyn Edis and other lapped vehicles at the new turn 6-7 complex.
He quickly recovered from the incident and a lengthy mid-race safety car allowed him to remain in contention and into a position to challenge for the win.
"I gave it everything and was so close to Neale I didn't even see the checkered flag at the end," Singleton said.
"It’s one of the better races I have been involved in and makes for a really good start to our season. I almost had him on what turned out to be the final lap - I might have had a bigger go if I actually knew the race was about to finish!"
Whilst Singleton was second in the race - he was beaten to the overall round podium by DEPUTY.COM driver Steve Shelley, who scored consistently in Saturday's two sprint races and scored a strong third in the feature to score three more points than the defending series winner.
It marked the first time that Shelley had stood on a Radical Australia Cup podium, having had several near misses in the 2011 season.
Greg Smith took his Radical Australia, chrome and orange SR3 to the Masters Class win and a strong top six finish overall in the feature race, just behind fourth-placed Peter Johnston (PJS Air Radical SR3) and fifth placed tie Simon Haggarty and Glyn Edis.
Andrew Macpherson, Tony Palmer, Nick Kelly followed in seventh, eighth and ninth spots. With a tie completing the top ten, Nathan Brumby with co-driver Daniel Reinhardt, Richard Kimber and Tony Haggarty.
Radical Events supported driver Tony Palmer was perhaps the unlucky story of the round, having performed strongly in the sprint races and the early stages of the mini enduro before mechanical gremlins forced him out, having run fourth for a majority of the first half of the race.
His stranded car brought out the safety car for an extended period, right in the middle of the compulsory 10-minute Pitstop window - forcing the Radical Australia pit lane team to work extra hard to service 23 cars almost all at once.
Earlier in the weekend Neale Muston had won both sprint races, Tony Palmer and Glyn Edis filling the podium on both occasions.
The next round of the Radical Australia Cup presented by MPA Projects will be staged at the stunning Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, on April 28-29.
Action from Eastern Creek will be broadcast on SBS Speedweek on March 25th and on SPEED TV Australia on Friday, April 4th.
Article produced by Richard Craill - Race Torque Media