2017 Giti Super Truck Nationals
As the mercury plummeted, it was an icy start to the 2017 Giti Super Truck Nationals at Wakefield Park Raceway in Goulburn NSW for the opening round. Temperatures dropped to freezing point in the early mornings, but that didn’t hinder the teams, all eager to start the year. With heaters on and the morning barbeques fired up, the teams all thawed out and got into the business of final preparations for the warm up session.
During the warm up session for the Saturday morning , the track was still damp, and had the Kenworth T401 of SRZ Racing’s Steven Zammit post the quickest time of 1:35.9109. Most were treading carefully with new Giti tyres and after a 6 month hibernation, all trucks lowered their times one by one as the tyres showed some good grip in the wet conditions.
Conditions hadn’t improved much in time for the qualifying race. It seemed as if Zammit had the Kenworth set up correctly, posting the fastest time, and improving on the warm up by 4 seconds to post a 1m31s. The remaining larger trucks of Prillwitz, Amoroso, Butwell and Smith all clocking in times of only 2 seconds away. The two Isuzu’s of Schutz and Yardy could not keep up with the horsepower of the larger capacities, but still registering respectable times.
The Mack Superliner of Marcus Prillwitz and Zammit started from the front row for Race 1. Conditions had improved greatly by after lunch, and with a little sunshine drying the tarmac, the first race for the season had begun. The two trucks of Shannon Smith and Zammit were side by side up through to turn 3, when Zammit then took the turn a little to sharply in front of Smith and the two came together and the SRZ Racing Kenworth came off second best, being put through the spin cycle, getting turned around and darting straight across the track to the infield as the tyres gripped the track narrowly missing the field of trucks coming through the turn as some take evasive action across the grass. This left Zammit relegated down to 7th just in front of Amoroso. Robert Fern in the MLC Racing White GMC could not keep control on the fish-hook and oversteered causing a spin – meanwhile Smith & Butwell were battling it out until the penultimate lap, when Smith skewed off course at the final turn and handing the win to Barry Butwell. The red Mack showing amazing speeds to win by a clear 11seconds to Smith and Zammit moving up to third.
Saturday concluded with the Teams Race 1, which was good, clean straight forward racing. The two Macks gave a grid lock out with positions 1 & 2, Butwell was swamped early on after making some adjustments, and a tussle between the stalwart Frank Amoroso and Marcus Prillwitz ensued in the laps that followed. In the end it was the experience of FATE Racing’s Frank Amoroso that got him to pass the white Mack truck, and take the win by 6 seconds. New Zealander – Shane Gray racing in the SRZ Kenworth had to just hold off Shannon Smith both crossing the line as the latter missed by less than 1second.
Another chilly start to the final day had the trucks preparing for the second of the teams races. Mark Schutz in the Isuzu got off to a great start leading into the first lap and an unfortunate blown head gasket saw him sadly removed from the race with a mechanical black flag displayed forcing him to retire early, and head to the pits and parked it up for the remainder of the day. This left Butwell, Smith and Amoroso all sitting in each others slipstream. Amoroso taking advantage, heading down the main straight to pass both on the inside heading into turn one. Butwell pressuring Amoroso into the final turn, and found a gap down the inside, leaving Amoroso little room, and touched the dirt allowing Smith to skip ahead also, but that was short lived as Amoroso’s power got him back in front. Craig Park in the Isuzu of MLC Racing had a nail-biting spin out of turn two. As the three leaders came down the last sprint, it was Smith that got the power on a little earlier than Amoroso, and using the slipstream poked out at the right time and catapulted him into second place.
Race 2 began with Smith and Butwell on the front of the grid. Zammit snuck down into 2nd. Buwell then displayed the greater power and control, stretching his lead out to 11 sec at the line. Amoroso, Zammit and Smith all crossing together in under 1.5 seconds.
In what will have to be dubbed as “The Best Race Ever!”, and comments like “We have not seen a race like that since Oran Park” show that some brilliant racing can still be had today, even with trucks.
Prillwitz and Fern were side by side through the first half of the lap, and Fern succumbed to Zammit into the fishhook , then fell back through the field. Shannon Smith spins into the final turn of the opening lap and vainly holds back Zammit allowing the trucks of Amoroso and Butwell to join to the back of SRZ Racing Kenworth. Zammit takes a peek down the outside of the straight only for Prillwitz to regain the line, and both going at it for the entire lap. Amoroso behind took it a bit hard and locked up allowing Butwell to pass. It was effectively 3 different battles – Prillwitz and Zammit, Amoroso and Butwell along with Butwell v Amoroso v Zammit v Prillwitz. The entire race the lead changed 6 times between the four racers. Zammit took the lead on the 3rd lap, only for Prillwitz to lose 3 places dropping him to 4th by one turn. At the fishhook, Butwell attempted to pass on the outside of Zammit, only to find out Barry ran out of road, which rendered Frank Amoroso into 2nd place and on the bumper of Zammit – literally, giving him a friendly reminder he’s there. The red Mack then grabs first by taking Zammit and Amoroso under brakes and Frank moves to second place. The power of Amoroso’s Kenworth was too much for Butwell on the straight, and Butwell ran into the back of Amoroso into turn 1, with Barry losing a portion of his bumper, skipping across the track, coming to rest in the sand. This pushed Amoroso wide allowing Butwell back into the lead, and Zammit and Prillwitz both passing him also while he went Dakar. Now Shannon Smith in the GLE Racing Kenworth joined the back of the pack in 5th place behind Amoroso. Coming into the final turn of the race, Amoroso spins hard and pushes Prillwitz wide also which let Smith to sneak home in third place, just behind Butwell and Zammit.
The final race had Butwell, Amoroso and Zammit all being separated by only 3 points. Shannon Smith disappears behind the garages after shooting off the track. Zammit snatched the lead early and Amoroso and Butwell were both there ready for the smell of a mistake. It was Butwell’s mistake that nudged Amoroso off the track, and Zammit then finished unhindered.
Another great weekend of racing will be held at Winton Raceway on the 23rd & 24th of September. Winton is a track where the smaller category is more dominant with the tight & twisty layout.
Keep abreast of the details on www.truckracing .com.au and social media announcements in the lead up.
- Butwell 68pts
- Zammit 65pts
- Smith 53pts
- Amoroso 50pts
- Prillwitz 48pts
- Fern 32pts
- Yardy 30pts
- Schutz 16pts
- Fern 7pts