A packed field of 27 TA2 cars will take to Winton Motor Raceway for Round 1 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Steel Framing.
A strong field enters the first round of the year after the announcement of a new television deal with SBS Speedweek, with Sunday’s racing televised live on free-to-air channel SBS Viceland and SBS On Demand, and simulcast on Fox Sports and Kayo.
The series will welcome three debutants this weekend, including 18-year old Toyota 86 Series racer Hayden Hume in the Total Parts Plus Dodge Challenger, former Heritage Touring Cars racer Greg Keam in the ex Michael Coulter/Kobelco Motorsport Ford Mustang and former Superkarts racer Bernie Walsh in a Mustang.
The competition out front is set to be as fierce as ever, with race winners from last season including Jackson Rice, Josh Haynes and Brad Gartner all returning this season.
Haynes has made the switch from a Camaro to a Mustang with backing from Beaches Sea-Doo, while Rice returns with a new livery with major support from Pedders Suspension, and Gartner back in the Castec Rural Supplies Mustang after a breakthrough win at last year’s season finale at Winton.
While defending champion Jett Johnson has graduated to the Super3 Series, 2022 series runner-up Graham Cheney is back in action with IES Motorsport stablemate Paul Hadley, as well as Southern Series champion Zach Loscialpo in the Waltec Motorsport outfit alongside former Super2 and GT racer Aaron Tebb, and Chris Formosa in the #49 Dukes of Hazzard tribute Allgate Motorsport Dodge Challenger.
Regular frontrunner Michael Coulter has swapped from a Mustang to a Camaro for the Kobelco Motorsport team.
SEN The Drivers’ Seat radio show co-host host Matthew MacKelden returns to action for a full season campaign in the Kubota Racing Mustang, while former series regular Hugh McAlister makes his TA2 comeback this weekend following a stint in Trans-Am competition.
Former Toyota 86 Series racer Hayden Jackson, production car ace Dylan Thomas, South Australian excel graduate Lee Stibbs, and Queenslander Nick Lange are also ready to take on the outright class.
Former Northern Series round winner Chris Pappas is set to make a remarkable comeback to racing this weekend after suffering multiple injuries in a road accident, with Norwell Motorplex team mate Michael Rowell also returning to the series this year in his Mustang.
Defending Circo Masters Class Champion Nicholas Bates returns to defend his title, with Mark Crutcher, former touring car driver Dean Lindstrom, Peter Robinson, John Holinger and Rob Leonard also expected to fight for Masters honours.
Leonard will front up in a newly launched livery promoting the ‘Slow Down Workers Around’ campaign for roadwork safety awareness.
The weekend’s format will see three practice sessions on Friday, before the field will be split into two groups for Qualifying. The ten fastest drivers overall from Qualifying will progress through to a Top 10 Shootout. Four 12 lap sprint races will be held across the weekend, with Race 1 on Saturday and the remainder on Sunday.
Race 2 on Sunday morning will be streamed live via the Hi Tec Oils Super Series’ Facebook and YouTube channel, before Races 3 and 4 will be included as part of the series live broadcast on SBS Viceland and SBS On Demand, Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.
Brad Gartner, #22 Castec Rural Supplies Ford Mustang
“It was really good to get the win at Winton last year and I am super keen to get back there. We were fast there, the MVA Racing team went well, Lee [Stibbs] was fast as well and we are keen to get there to see how we go.
“If we can get ourselves at the pointy-end for qualifying we can pick them off one by one there will be a fair bit going on.
“I want to finish every race and back the points and towards the end of the year push a bit harder and try and get to the front of the championship.
“Castec Rural Supplies are our main partner for this year so the car is black and white and we have continued with the highlighted blue on the 22 for this year.”
Matthew MacKelden, #99 Kubota Ford Mustang
“I am looking forward to it, start of the new year and the start of a new era for TA2 as well. With the television package we have got and the drivers we are attracting I think its going to be a big year.
“There are lots of new drivers so I think it is going to be a busy weekend, I just hope everyone keeps their heads about themselves as it is a very long season ahead.
“I think if you looked at the results of a lot of the drivers last year, the key to having a result at the end of the series is to finish every single race. The young kids coming in have to be very carful they don’t loose it all on the first corner snd just take a long term view on the season so they are there at the end.
“This is my eighth year with Kubota and their loyalty is incredible and we continue on with the radio show, racing and all of that. I am excited to start our race season together, where it goes for next season I’m not entirely sure but at the end of the day I am excited for the start of the year.
“We are going to start this round with a level of conservatism with the view of the final round at Calder being in the mix.”
TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek
2023 Round 1 – Winton Motor Raceway
All times AEDT
Practice 1: 9:00am (20 minutes)
Practice 2: 10:40am (20 minutes)
Practice 3: 12:45pm (20 minutes)
Qualifying (Group 1): 10:00am (20 minutes)
Qualifying (Group 2): 10:25am (20 minutes)
Top 10 Shootout: 1:05pm
Race 1: 3:25pm (12 laps)
Race 2: 9:50am (12 laps)
Race 3: 1:10pm (12 laps)
Race 4: 3:25pm (12 laps)
Live stream: Sunday 9:45am to 12:45pm (Hi Tec Oils Super Series Facebook & YouTube)
Speedweek: Sunday 1pm (SBS Viceland, SBS On Demand, Fox Sports, Kayo Sports)
TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek
2023 Round 1 – Winton Motor Raceway
#4 Mark Crutcher (NSW), Ford Mustang – Crutcher Developments
#6 Hugh McAlister (NSW), Ford Mustang – McAlister Motors
#7 Jackson Rice (VIC), Ford Mustang – Pedders Suspension & Brakes
#8 Chris Pappas (QLD), Ford Mustang – WealthRite
#10 Peter Robinson (QLD), Dodge Challenger – Morgan’s Investments
#11 Michael Coulter (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro – Kobelco Motorsport
#13 Greg Keam (NSW), Ford Mustang – Debeers Refinish
#15 Michael Rowell (QLD), Ford Mustang – Norwell Racers
#20 Adam Hargraves (QLD), Chevrolet Camaro – localsearch.com.au
#21 Zach Loscialpo (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro – Tempest Solutions
#22 Brad Gartner (SA), Ford Mustang – Castec Rural Supplies/MVA Racing
#23 John Holinger (VIC), Chevrolet Camaro – Holinger Racing
#24 Nicholas Bates (NSW), Ford Mustang – Sullivans
#30 Dean Lindstrom (SA), Ford Mustang – TDP Mobile Services
#37 Josh Haynes (NSW), Ford Mustang – Beaches SEADOO
#40 Robert Leonard (QLD), Ford Mustang – Access Linemarking Equipment/Municipal Works Australia
#33 Nick Lange (QLD), Chevrolet Camaro – Tefol Group
#45 Hayden Hume (QLD), Dodge Challenger – Total Parts Plus
#49 Chris Formosa (NSW), Dodge Challenger – Allgate Motorsport
#50 Paul Hadley (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro – IES Motorsport
#51 Graham Cheney (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro – IES Motorsport
#52 Bernie Walsh (QLD), Ford Mustang – Red Point Racing
#66 Lee Stibbs (SA), Chevrolet Camaro – Arrow Financial Services/MVA Racing
#68 Dylan Thomas (NSW), Ford Mustang – CXC Racing
#81 Hayden Jackson (NSW), Dodge Challenger – MGW/Team RSG
#93 Aaron Tebb (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro – Waltec Motorsport
#99 Matthew MacKelden, Ford Mustang – Kubota Racing