NATHAN Herne has sealed the 2021 Trans Am championship after winning Race 1 of the final round at Mount Panorama on Wednesday afternoon.
Herne has enough points over second placed Edan Thornburrow to be crowned champion with two races left in the round and in the season.
Starting second off the grid, the Valvoline Dodge Challenger got the best start off the line and led from start to finish, crossing the line just over six seconds in front of runner-up Tim Brook.
Herne exploded with emotion crossing the finish line at the end of the 16 lap race, and said after the race that he is glad to have it sealed before the end of the weekend.
“The weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders really,” said the newly crowned champion.
“I have over-pressurised the last two rounds just mentally and I have finally got it over and done with.
“I am more than wrapped, and I am glad that I can go back enjoying motorsport for what it is and not thinking every five seconds that I am ruining my own championship.
“It will be good to relax again and good to have it wrapped up before the weekend is finished.”
The 2021 season was a successful one having won five races out of a possible 15 before heading to Bathurst.
Despite those victories, Herne stated that there is room for improvement heading into next year.
“In terms of results, it has been a pretty good year but there have been plenty of mistakes as well.
“I have lost myself a lot of race wins and a lot of pole positions, so I reckon out of 10, it’s probably a seven.
“It has definitely been a good year, the team have given me everything but I have just let everyone down at some point.
“We have the championship at the end of the day, it’s something I’ve got to take pride in and take it in my stride and we will wait to see what happens in the future.”
Despite this win for the team, Herne will wait to fully celebrate the achievement and will continue to focus on the races to come this week.
“I have committed to doing both cars (Trans Am & S5000) and making sure that I am in peak condition for when I head out on track.
“The boys might have a few beers and celebrate a little bit, I might follow up with a lemonade but for me, it’s early to bed and wake up in the morning to go at it again and go even better tomorrow.”
While first in the championship has been sealed, Edan Thornburrow and Tim Brook are battling it out for the runner-up spot in the standings.
Brook, who qualified on pole, would finish second while Thornburrow would finish in fifth, highlighted by a daring dive at Forrest’s Elbow to get past Dylan Thomas for the position.
“We got off to a good start but we let Dylan through and it was sort of a game of just following him to try and pick the right point and here it is hard to overtake,” Thornburrow said.
“We have been lacking a little straight-line speed this weekend which isn’t ideal and I tried a couple of times down into Forrest’s Elbow and the run into Conrod.
“I just knew I had to fully commit, go a bit wider, get a good run and once I got past and I got through Conrod, I knew I could carry the speed down Pit Straight, Mountain Straight and especially up and around the hill.
“From what I have heard, it looked pretty cool on TV but I tell you what, it was pretty wild in the car, it was a bit hairy but I knew I had to fully commit and that’s probably one of the only spots that I know I can properly commit.”
Thornburrow (802 points) leads Brook (795 points) by only seven points, but he will not be focusing on that, rather how he can get his Ford Mustang to go quicker.
“Look, it’s the typical racing driver answer, but I can’t think about it, you know.
“Over the break, we have been trying to get quicker and close the gap to the fast guys which we have, and on the track I am just focusing on times.
“The championship and points, they will come.”