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The irony of Moffat versus Herne showdown

THE two kings of the Trico Trans Am Series will go head-to-head at Symmons Plains this weekend in what shapes to be a mouth-watering contest.

Nathan Herne was the driver to beat in seasons 2021 and ’22, winning both titles before jetting off to try his hand in the United States.

Filling the void was James Moffat, in Garry Rogers Motorsport’s ex-Herne Mustang, and he duly soared to the 2023 crown.

Moffat last month continued his sparkling form with a sweep of the Sandown season-opener in a brand-new car that was actually shaken down by Herne.

Now, Herne is back in action himself, racing for his own team aboard his 2021 Dodge Challenger, adding to a star-studded field that also includes Supercars full-timers Tim Slade, James Golding and Todd Hazelwood.

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Nathan Herne aboard his Dodge Challenger in 2021. Pic: Jack Martin Photography

“Sandown was one of those starts to the year that you dream of and never usually happens,” Moffat told V8 Sleuth.

“I was absolutely over the moon with how we were able to perform there.

“I probably didn’t have the most ideal lead-up to the event.

MORE: Full track and broadcast schedule for 2024 Race Tasmania

“I wasn’t able to do any pre-season testing; I actually had my cousin’s wedding the week before, which meant that ironically we got Nathan to shake down that car at Winton for us the previous Friday, because I wasn’t available to test.

“To be racing him this weekend down at Tassie in his own car, it’s going to be great, so I’m looking forward to that and I’m obviously looking forward to the challenge of the weekend that’s ahead of us.”

While relations between Herne and his last title rival Owen Kelly were less than friendly, that is not the case between he and Moffat.

“It will be interesting, more from the fact that over the last few years – probably more so in 2022 when he was more in the GRM fold – I had a little bit to do with him with some mentoring, when he was doing the S5000 stuff,” said Moffat.

James Moffat chats with Barry Rogers. Pic: Supplied/Race Project

“So through GRM we’ve had an involvement together and I have closely followed his career path up until now.

“I think he is a great talent but there is a lot of great talent up and down the Trans Am field.”

MORE: Long-awaited Superlicence in Herne’s sights

That quality of competition is making Moffat and his crew strive for new heights as Round 2 gets underway today at Race Tasmania.

“The depth of the field is super strong so that’s exciting and I know from a personal point of view that we’re going to have to be right on top of it to be somewhere near the front of the field. That’s obviously our aim,” said the Tickford Racing co-driver.

“We had good cars there last year and we’re obviously planning on having the same this year, but you never rest on your laurels.

“I guess the strength of the field is definitely making us look at areas that we haven’t before, which is a good thing, because we know we can’t afford to stand still. We have got to keep pushing.”

Opening Trans Am practice begins this morning at 10:30am AEDT.

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