It may not have the crazy aero of Pro and Pro Am nor the horsepower of Open but Clubsprint is the fastest growing class at WTAC and year upon year proves that it can deliver just as much excitement as its high profile brethren.
With serious restrictions on aero, engine swaps and tyre limits this class relies heavily on clever and innovative engineering and of course driver skill. Being an entry level class the associated costs are also considerably lower than in any other WTAC class so it’s not hard to see why the popularity of Clubsprint is growing at such a rapid rate. Those restrictions also make for very close racing which can only be a good thing, but more on that later.
Much like Open, Clubsprint has never had a driver take the top spot more than once. Since 2010 each year a different team stood on the top spot of the Clubsprint podium. This year however, the reigning class champion was determined change this record and make history.
Daniel Meredith took everyone by surprise when he won Clubsprint last year in what many dismissed as an “almost road trim” Honda Civic. After a year of testing and improving his ride, Daniel was back to defend his title with a more refined and fine-tuned car.
Friday morning belonged to Ben Arnold and his beautifully finished Bathurst-winning replica R32 GTR. Despite driving a car with very limited aero (even by Clubsprint standards) Ben was the pace setter early on with a lap time of 1:40.15. Unofrtunately a fatal turbo failure ended Ben’s campaign prematurely with the car retiring on Friday afternoon.
Daniel Meredith took this opportunity to make his intentions known. With a lap time of 1:39.62 in the afternoon session he jumped straight to the top of the class leaving all other contenders in a “chase” mode.
Jason Naidoo pushed hard but was unable to better Arnold’s time and finished Day 1 in the third position with a time of 1:41.29.
Only 0.2sec behind him was David Dalrymple in the Zen Garage R32 GTR.
With Ben Arnold out, the battle for Clubsprint podium was on from the very first session on Day 2.
Jayleen Nader, who didn’t even register on our radar on Friday suddenly posted a 1:39.87 lap time in his Honda S2000, challenging Meredith for the class title.
Meredith responded with a 1:39.274 cementing his No.1 position heading into the Superlap Shootout.
Despite everyone’s best efforts during the shootout, nobody in the top five improved on their times with Nader running wide, Naidoo aborting half track and Meredith making small errors which cost him valuable seconds.
As the dust settled after the shootout the 2016 Clubsprint podium consisted of: 1st – Daniel Meredith, 2nd Jayleen Nader, 3rd Ben Arnold.
In 4th place was David Dalrymple in the Zen Garage R32GTR with 1:40.188.
In 5th place Jason Naidoo in the SuperPro Mitsubishi Evo with 1:40.711.
6th place: Daniel Burton in the Competition Friction Honda S2000 – 1:41.47.
7th place: Danny Buneta in the DB Racing Toyota Supra – 1:42.0830
8th place: Vel Tomic in the Insight Motorsport Honda Civic – 1:42.2450
9th place: Mitchell Lukasz in his Toyota – 86 1:42.259
And rounding up the Top 10 was Harry Zhao driving the Harrop Engineering Lotus Exige with a lap time of 1:42.699.
Our Japanese Clubsprint entry Hideki Maeda suffered from a lethal mixture of mechanical problems and plain bad luck.
Having hit a wall during practice, Maeda-san patched the car up only to be plagued by a series of mechanical issues.
He finished the event with a time of 1:54.248 which we suspect is neither the car’s nor the driver’s true potential.
Kenny Nguyen in the Insight Motorsport Honda Integra – 1:44.966.
Andrew Wegener in the Lone Wolf Racing Honda S2000 – 1:45.103.
Glen Samson in the BYP Nissan R34 GTR – 1:44.505.
Benjamin McLaren in the Cardiff Automotive Subaru WRX – 1:45.281.
Daniel Griffin in his Honda NSX – 1:48.447.
As we’ve mentioned at the beginning of this article, Clubsprint is changing, and it’s changing for the better, offering closer racing, more variety in the field and lifting the overall class profile. But don’t take our word for it, the numbers speak for themselves:
Clubsprint Fast Facts
1. Less than one second separates the Top 3 competitors.
2. There’s only 3.4 seconds separating the 1st and the 10th competitor.
3. In a class previously dominated by AWDs there are now seven 2WD cars in the Top 10.
4. There are four Hondas in the Top 10.
5. Daniel Meredith is the first Clubsprint champion to successfully defend his class title.
6. The class lap record (under current rules) is 1:39.24 – set by Jason Wright in 2013.
7. Clubsprint first lap record (in 2010) was 1:44.37 – good enough for 17th place in 2016.
8. With 47 entries, this year’s Clubsprint was numerically the largest class at WTAC.