WITH three race wins to his name, touring car stalwart Ian Palmer secured his maiden series round win and taken the series lead at the fifth and penultimate round of the 2017 Performance Wheels Australian Trans-Am Series at the Lakeside Classic.
Iwan Jones – August 2017
The former series runner-up overtook Shannon O’Brien to lead the Trophy Series by three points heading into the final round, with O’Brien only able secure one race win to Palmer’s three.
O’Brien (Pontiac Firebird) set the early pace with a 58.2 second lap to claim pole position by a staggering 1.4 seconds ahead of Palmer (Pontiac Firebird) and Anthony Tenkate (Ford Mustang). He then streaked away to a lights-to-flag victory in race one, before an alternator issue resulted in a DNF in race two as Palmer took the win.
Palmer went on to win race three in a close battle with early race leader Tenkate, as O’Brien charged from the rear to finish third. Tenkate lead for the majority of the race, before Palmer got past Tenkate’s Mustang through the kink on the final lap.
Palmer and O’Brien were set for a race-long battle in race four, before the Firebird pair came together into the Carousel on lap two. O’Brien was sidelined as Palmer went on to win the race and the round comfortably.
Palmer now leads the Trophy Series with one round remaining, however the final points standings will be subject to change as per the ‘drop your worst round’ policy.
In the Sportsman Series, a consistent weekend with a string of podiums for Harry Charalambous (Ford Mustang) saw him take the round victory ahead of Michael Aldrick (Chevrolet Camaro) and Martin O’Kane (Chevrolet Camaro).
O’Kane won the opening two races, however he failed to start race three, recovering to finish fourth in race four. Aldrick went on to win races three and four, impressing with an outright third-place finish in the finale.
New Zealander Tony Rutherford (Ford Mustang) continues to hold a near-unbeatable lead in the Sportsman Series by 201 points ahead of Dan Fleming (Ford Mustang) and Charalambous heading into the final round.
It was a tight contest that lived up to the hype in the Five Litre Classics, as Ron Prefontaine (Ford Mustang) and Mark Bowtell (Pontiac Firebird) could only be split by one point after four races ahead of Tricia Chant (Ford Mustang).
Bowtell won three of the four races across the weekend, including an outright third-place in race two. However, a spin exiting Hungry corner in race three proved costly, with a fifth-place finish as a result denying Bowtell of the round victory and handing Prefontaine the round victory and the series lead.
Reflecting on his round win, Palmer was overjoyed to claim his maiden round win.
“We had a few things fall our way, but we’re very happy to take our first round win in Trans-Am,” said Palmer.
“We’ve always had a fair bit of pace, so thanks to a huge effort from the team to put it all together for the win this weekend.
“It’s a great series and it can only go from strength to strength.”
The 2017 Performance Wheels Australian Trans-Am Series is set for a thrilling finale at Lakeside Park over the September 30/October 1 weekend in support of the Lakeside 300 endurance race.