THE O’Brien family was in winning form at round two of the Australian Trans-Am series at Queensland Raceway with Australian Touring Car Championship veteran Charlie O’Brien recording a four race clean sweep and his nephew, Shannon O’Brien finishing third outright while they were split by John English.
Iwan Jones – May 2016
The 21 strong American muscle car grid was highlighted by the debut of Touring Car Masters convert Cameron Mason (Ford Mustang Shelby fastback), the return of 2012 Australian Trans-Am Division 2 champion Gareth Jones (Ford Mustang Coupe) and an appearance by three-time Australian Driver’ Championship winner Paul Stokell in a 1967 Ford Mustang coupe.
Charlie O’Brien (Chev Camaro) took pole position, with Ian Palmer impressing in his new-for-2016 Pontiac Firebird on the front row. Alwyn Bishop claimed pole position the Loaders ‘R’ Sportsman class in the Blake Machinery Group/Agilis Accountants Mustang, with Martin O’Kane (Camaro) and Steve Scales (Ford Falcon Sprint) biting at his heels. Rob Hackwood claimed his first pole position the Mulch Smart 5 Litre Classic Series with a 1:21.8 in his 1966 Ford Mustang, ahead of Mark Bowtell (Pontiac Firebird) and Sean English in the MPP Race Fabrication/Discount 4X4 Mustang.
O’Brien continued his flawless start to the year, securing his fifth consecutive race win for the year in an action-packed race one, and then nailed another three by the finish of the weekend.
He took the chequered flag ahead of Ian Palmer and a battle-hardened Russell Wright (Mustang), who finished third after holding off John English in the Logan Village Smash Repairs Firebird and Brett Curran in the Angliss Meats Toowoomba Mustang in an enthralling battle that went for the duration of the race. An action packed opening lap of the weekend saw Steve Scales fall victim to the spinning Martin O’Kane at turn 1, while Shannon O’Brien lost his brakes in the hard-braking zone to turn 3, ending his race in the gravel trap. Lakeside Park outright lap record holder Paul Stokell impressed in his Trans-Am debut to finish mid-pack after starting from the rear of the field in the Scott Griffin/Scott Barkley owned Ford Mustang.
Charlie O’Brien went back-to-back in race two, finishing ahead of his fired-up nephew Shannon O’Brien, who charged from the rear-of-the-grid to finish second with Curran in third. Bishop was first home in the Sportsman Class ahead of Colin Velt (Mustang), while Hackwood repeated the dose with a second consecutive win in the 5 Litre Series with Bowtell and Sean English completing the podium. A gearbox issue for Scales and a split axle casing for Harry Charalambous put an end to their weekend early.
Charlie O’Brien made it a hat-trick in a wet race three followed by Shannon O’Brien and John English. Curran served a driver-through penalty for aggressive driving in Race 1 and came back through the field to finish 13th. Bishop scored a hat-trick in the Loaders ‘R’ Us Sportsman class, while Bowtell scored his second win in the Mulch Smart 5 Litre Classics for the year with defending champion Sean English finishing runner-up and Mike Collins (Mustang) completing the podium. In tricky conditions, Hackwood and Velt made the brave decision to run the race on dry tyres on a damp track.
The O’Brien’s sealed the top two places in race four, followed by a gallant drive from Curran, recovering from his drive-through penalty in the previous race who made up ten positions in the field to finish third. Curran leaves round 2 tied for second in the Palmer Steel Industries Trophy Class with John English who claimed second overall for the weekend. A stellar drive from Ian Palmer in the finale, charging from the reat to finish sixth after he pitted early to replace an unmarked tyre. Bishop recorded a clean sweep in the Loaders ‘R’ Us Sportsman Class, while Hackwood scored his third race win and the round victory for the Mulch Smart 5 Litre Classics, with Sean English and Collins completing the round 2 podium.
The third round of the Australian Trans-Am series will be at Queensland Raceway on June 11 and 12 for the Shannons 2 Days of Thunder.