Wildcard upstages regulars in ARG Island double-header
Wildcard racer Cody Burcher made a strong debut in the carsales ARG eSport Cup at Phillip Island, taking the overall honours in the double header touring car and Formula 3 round.
With the round featuring a race each for the Audi RS 3 and the Dallara F3, Burcher finished second in the Audi before a dominant win in the F3 finale.
Burcher, a Formula Ford regular who recently tested a V8-powered S5000 race car at Winton, only qualified for the event through Wednesday night's wildcard race, but made his mark once part of the main show.
While Burcher was fast, he could only manage second in the Audi Race 1, won by former British Touring Car champion Ash Sutton.
That was saw a fantastic three-way, slipstreaming dice for the lead between Sutton, Burcher and New Zealander Jaden Ransley.
The dice at the front was intense, but it was a tough race for title leader Harley Haber. The V8 Touring Car driver was involved in early the incidents – one with front-row qualifier Garth Tander that resulted in a 30 second penalty, finishing with only 29th position to his name.
Sutton, who qualified sixth, was pleased with his Audi win.
"In qualifying we just didn't quite get the lap we needed, so had to fight our way back through," said Sutton.
"But after the melee at Turn 1 it was all good from there.”
Valvoline S5000 driver James Golding was fourth, while Ben Bargwanna fought his way from 17th on the grid all the way to a season-best fifth in the Burson Auto Parts entry.
In the F3 race, Burcher was unstoppable. He claimed pole and was untouchable throughout the second heat, quickly building a lead and never looking back. His final winning margin was a whopping 12.3s.
"That was good fun," said Burcher.
"It's a fun car, I love it. You've got to be on your game the whole time.
"I'm looking forward to getting back in the Formula Ford ion real life, hopefully we can get racing again soon.”
Trans-Am drivers Nic Carroll and Nathan Herne put on a brilliant battle for second, little separating the pair at any stage of the race.
Carroll managed to just hold on to second at the end, with Herne just 0.24s behind in third.
TCR Australia star Jordan Cox finished a distant fourth, with Haber making a strong comeback from another first-lap off to finish fifth.
Sutton, meanwhile, had been in touch with the leaders before an early excursion at Turn 1 dropped him down the field. He was only able to fight back as far as 15th.
Next Thursday's round of the carsales ARG eSport Cup will be held at the now-defunct Oran Park Raceway. Now a thriving township in the western suburbs of Sydney, the famous grand old track will be the virtual playground for 40-plus Audi RS 3s.