The 2023 NSW Production Touring Cars Championship will kick off at Winton Motor Raceway this weekend, with the category making its first visit to the Victorian circuit in over six years.
In the past, the technical nature of the Winton circuit has suited the nimble handling of turbocharged, all-wheel-drive cars. Last time NSW PTC visited Winton in 2016, the race victories were taken by the Mitsubishi Evos of Jim Pollicina/Michael Caine and Dylan Thomas.
A total of 23 cars will take to the grid this weekend, with a healthy mix of entries across the different classes. As has become tradition, points are awarded based on each driver’s finishing position within their class rather than outright results; the championship will be determined by the driver who scores the most points within their class throughout the year.
The race format will consist of a pair of qualifying sessions and sprint races on Saturday, followed by two one-hour endurance races on Sunday, with the points from the two enduros counting towards the Quest Apartment Hotels Endurance Cup.
Another point of interest this weekend will be tyres – it will be the first round for NSW PTC on the new Yokohama control tyres, which have already proven popular with competitors in testing and could produce some rapid lap times throughout the weekend.
Class X – Ultimate Performance
Flying the Class X flag this weekend will be Simon Hodges in his BMW M4. While Hodges has previously been joined by Jayden Ojeda for some endurance races, he will fly solo at Winton. Hodges’ BMW should be one of the fastest cars at the event and definitely one of the main contenders for outright race victories.
Class A1 – High Performance Forced Induction
In Class A1, a trio of Mitsubishi Evos will battle against a sole Subaru WRX. The newest of the Mitsubishis will be the Evo X of Chris Sutton, who purchased the car last year from the Kavich brothers.
In slightly older, but no less rapid Evo IXs are young gun Jack Winter, who has demonstrated his talents on numerous occasions, and the father-and-son combination of Gerry and Leigh Burges.
The sole Subaru representative is Dimitri Agathos, who took home the coveted NSW PTC Driver’s Choice Award in 2022. Agathos’s WRX STi will be well suited to the Winton circuit.
Class A2 – High Performance Naturally Aspirated
Class A2 is the domain of V8 HSVs, with a trio of F Series Clubsports for Matt Holt and Chris Lillis to be joined by a slightly older car for Rob Coulthard, and an HSV GTO Coupe for Cary Morsink and Darren Herbert, who makes the transition to an Aussie muscle car after previously racing an Evo in the category.
Class B1 – Performance Forced Induction
The two cars in Class B1 have completely different engineering philosophies. On one hand, the rear-wheel-drive BMW 335i will be driven by John Fitzgerald, who steps up from the BMW 130i he has driven in previous seasons. The car is now approaching 16 years old, but is still a formidable package in production car racing.
At the other end of the spectrum, Adam Gosling’s Honda Civic Type R is one of the newest cars in the field and has proven to be a consistent and reliable package in Adam’s hands; the Winton circuit should work to the Civic’s strengths.
Class B2 – Performance Naturally Aspirated
Some class adjustments over the off-season have seen the E92 BMW M3s, previously Class A2 vehicles, slotting into Class B2. This weekend, there are two such BMW entries in the field, for Brent Howard and Gavin Clarke/Stuart Clarke.
Class C – Sports Touring
Another class ruled by German manufacturers, Class C will see Peter Johnston’s BMW 130i doing battle with a pair of VWs – a Golf GTI for Carl Climan and a Scirocco for Robert Bryden. Bryden will be joined by his son Alex, who moves across from his regular RAM Motorsport Mercedes A45 AMG to fill the co-driver slot.
Class D – Touring
Class D is where we find out reigning overall Champion, Liam Cade who returns to defend his title with his VW Golf GTI wearing the coveted #1 plate. At Winton, Liam will share driving duties with his dad Sean. Also in Class D are Matt Shylan’s Honda Integra, David Bailey in a Mini Cooper S, Andrew McMaster/David Worrell in a BMW 125i, Nicholas Agar/Paul Currie in a Kia Proceed and Daniel/Geoff Tierney in a Toyota 86, in what is a diverse field of cars.
Class E – Small Capacity Touring
Aboard the RaceAway Track Time Mazda 3, experienced endurance racer Phil Alexander and Weekend Australian motoring journalist John Connolly will contest Class E.