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Saturday, May 25, 2024


NATHAN Herne will look to make Garry Rogers Motorsport’s roof saga a distant memory by wrapping up his second successive Turtle Wax Trans Am title this weekend.

Herne enters the season finale with just 19 points in hand over teammate and bitter rival Owen Kelly, with 200 still to play for.

Also in mathematical contention are Brett Holdsworth, Kyle Gurton, Jon McCorkindale and Hugh McAlister but realistically it’s a two-horse race between 20-year-old Herne and former Supercars and NASCAR driver Kelly, 45.

Herne, Kelly, Lochie Dalton and the entire GRM squad were last month put under the technical microscope following the penultimate round at Queensland Raceway.

Pictures released post-event by McCorkindale showed clear distortions in the GRM trio’s roof and rear window, and Herne later admitted it was a deliberate ploy.

The series’ technical regulations have since been tightened to ensure there is no repeat this weekend at Sandown.

Herne has spoken of forecast wet weather throwing “a big spanner in the works” but all in all is comfortable with his pursuit of the 2022 title.

“Last year I really did rattle myself and put a lot of pressure on myself the last couple of rounds of the championship to try to wrap it up,” he told Wide World of Sports.

“This year, I know I’ve done enough of a job. Deep down, I know I deserve to be in the position I am.

“I’m not too stressed on it all really. As long as I go out there and nothing silly happens, I reckon we’ll be in a pretty good seat to wrap it up.

“I’m going into it with a fresh slate, just another round, and we’ll just wait and see what happens.”

As for TCR Australia, the crown won’t be handed out until the Bathurst International in November, but Sandown will nevertheless be pivotal in the equation. Tony D’Alberto currently holds a 58-point lead over nearest rival Jordan Cox.

The big inclusion for the round is that of leading Repco Supercars Championship engineer Tony Woodward.

Luke King and Tony Woodward. Pic: Supplied

Fresh off guiding Brad Jones Racing’s Andre Heimgartner to a podium double at Pukekohe, Woodward will engineer Hyundai TCR driver Luke King.

“Tony Woodward’s name popped up when we knew Brighty (Jason Bright) wasn’t going to be around in Melbourne this weekend,” King explained.

“Tony was someone Brighty recommended and comes from the Wally Storey school of engineers as both worked at Brad Jones Racing.

“Having worked with both Brighty and Wally led us down this path, so Tony’s come out this weekend.”

Meanwhile in GT World Challenge Australia, Triple Eight protégé Declan Fraser will make his category debut aboard alongside Mark Griffith in a Mercedes-AMG GT4.

Declan Fraser. Pic: Supplied

“I’m pretty excited, Griffo invited me out last week and I got the late call up, jumped on a plane to come down,” said Fraser, who leads the 2022 Super2 standings.

“Practice 1 will be the first time driving a GT car, so I’m pretty excited.

“Just to keep my bum in a seat as much as possible is what I want to do, so when I got the call from Mark to come and have a run, I was champing at the bit to get in the car.

“Obviously, the main objective is to win every single time you get in the car and we’ll have some fun.”

Touring Car Masters, Porsche Sprint Challenge and Australian Production Cars are also in action today through Sunday at Sandown.

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