03 Nov VERNON READY FOR FINAL TITLE FIGHT AT BATHURST INTERNATIONAL
Jimmy Vernon may have a strong lead in the A1 title heading to the finale of the 2022 Australian Production Cars brought to you by LIQUI MOLY season next weekend, but he is also in the mix for the outright title.
Vernon is currently third in the outright standings on 291 points in the #50 Hunter Pacific Ceiling Fans Mitsubishi Evo X, behind Class X racers Wayne, Drew and Aaren Russell (415) and A2’s Chris Lillis (303), and ahead of the Sherrin brothers, Grant and Iain (287 – class X).
With 144 points on offer across four x 30-minute races, the outright championship fight could go down to the wire at the November 11-13 Bathurst International event with each member of the top four mathematically still a chance to take out the big trophy.
“To be heading to the final round with a chance at a strong outright position is not something we expected at the start of the year,” Vernon explained.
“Our little Evo X struggles with straight line speed compared to the X class cars and even a few of the A2 cars, but we have tried to maximise every possibility to gain as many points as possible when the opportunity arises. Whilst it will be a long shot, I would love to walk away from this year inside the top three outright.
“To take out an outright placing would be huge for our family team. Our focus this year was the class Championship, so to be in the hunt is beyond belief! We work hard on our program so this would definitely be a solid reward for the sacrifices we have made this year.”
When it comes to the A1 title fight, Vernon has a commanding lead, but one that could have been even larger if not for an exceptional show of sportsmanship at The Bend Motorsport Park.
“When Dean Campbell’s entry was forced to retire from practice one due to engine failure and a subsequent fire, I reached out to him and invited him to co-drive with me for the event,” Vernon explains.
“We are a category full of intense rivalries but at the end of the day we are all mates who are ready to look out for each other, so I was very pleased to welcome Dean to the team for the weekend.
“I would hate to see one of my closest rivals throw up the white flag due to a mechanical fault. This year has been close and hard fought and I wanted to keep it that way heading into the finale at Bathurst – and whilst our margin is quite healthy in the Championship, you never say never in Motorsport!”
As well as chasing a championship, Vernon and his team have been hard at work fundraising for the Kids with Cancer Foundation this year, with 20 percent of the team’s sponsorship pledged to the charity, a local child of each event featured on his helmet, and track visits for affected families at a number of the events. And in exciting news, Vernon will run a special livery on his Evo at Bathurst, featuring images of many of the children helped by the Charity.
“Working with the Kids with Cancer Foundation has been extremely rewarding this year and it has been a heavy focus of our campaign. So, to win a National Championship whilst representing them would be everything we have strived for this year,” Vernon said.
“We have been working hard to raise as much money and awareness as we can for the Foundation. As part of this we are excited also to run a very special livery at Bathurst, featuring the faces of many of the children and families that the Kids with Cancer Foundation work with. It is going to be really great, and I can’t wait to see it on the track.”
With four rounds of the 2022 title under his belt so far, Vernon has his share of highlights and lowlights to reflect upon ahead of the finale.
“The highlight for me this season would be crossing the line second outright in race two at The Bend. I had a strong race and mixed it up with quite a few X class cars and it was a huge adrenaline rush crossing the line second outright,” he said.
“The lowlight would probably be the gamble we took to run old tyres in race four at The Bend. I started on pole but struggled to keep the car on the road in diabolical conditions and we ended up missing out on the potential for some very valuable outright Championship points, settling for fourth.”
Vernon and his team have been hard at work developing his car all season long, and couldn’t be happier to be wrapping up the year at the infamous Mount Panorama.
“Bathurst is very special to me – it is a place that I hold a lot of respect for and love going to. The Evo should be strong across the top and through sector two, but along the big straights we find ourselves to be sitting ducks against the faster cars,” he said,
“Of course, you never have the perfect race car, so we have been working hard with the team at Dash Sport to find a balance of reliability, performance and tyre degradation across each round. We have continued developing our car and making it stronger each time out.
“We really can’t wait to get on-track at Bathurst – you can’t ask for a better place to wrap up the year! Bathurst is the pinnacle of Australian Motorsport, and it is also the location where I wrapped up the Toyota 86 Series in 2017.”
Vernon has a lot of people he would like to thank for the roles they have played in his season and racing career to date.
“Without the support of my sponsors, Hunter Pacific Ceiling Fans, State One Fire and Shockwave Signs, I simply wouldn’t be on the grid this year. They have enabled me to raise some much-needed awareness and funding for the Kids with Cancer Foundation, and gave me a shot at my second National title,” Vernon said.
“Another special shout out has to go out to my dad, John – he has sacrificed a lot this year to help us keep our program afloat and continues to push me to be my best each round.
“I also want to say a big thank you to my wife Mathilda for looking after our newborn son this year whilst I travel the country racing, I leave her at home with two kids whilst I go and have fun, so she is also worthy of a huge thank you for allowing me to chase my dream.”
The fifth and final round of the 2022 APC brought to you by LIQUI MOLY season will be held at the Bathurst International event at Mount Panorama across November 11-13, featuring four x 30-minute races. For more information, visit www.ausprodcars.com.au or contact Troy Williams on firstname.lastname@example.org