Trans Am title leader fearing ‘spanner in the works’

There’s a surprising curveball that could spice up this year’s Trans Am title fight at Melbourne’s historic Sandown circuit.

Rain is forecast to hit the iconic venue across the three-day SpeedSeries event on September 16-18, which could make for a slippery conclusion.

Complicating matters is the fact the series hasn’t previously raced at Sandown, adding an unknown to the mix.

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The series has enjoyed pleasant weather throughout 2022 as well. At no point this year has the series had to race in the rain.

For series leader Nathan Herne, it’s a hurdle he’s confidant he can overcome.

“It’s meant to be wet, which I haven’t done too much wet driving in Trans Am,” the Garry Rogers Motorsport driver told Wide World of Sports.

“A wet track and a track that no one has really been to, it’s going to spice it all up. It’s probably going to throw a big spanner in the works.

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“What I’ve found with these Trans Am cars is there’s not really a big difference in the set-up in the wet. It’s a bit like going back to go karts where everyone is in the same boat and it comes down to who’s the best driver on the day.

“I think it’s going to be a bit of a different weekend. If it’s wet the whole weekend like it’s meant to be, I’m keen to see how I shape up against the rest of the field.”

Herne won last year’s Trans Am title under the Dream Racing Australia banner.

After switching to Garry Rogers Motorsport, he finds himself locked in a head-to-head battle with teammate Owen Kelly for the title.

From the 15 races to date, just four of them have seen Herne off the podium.

While the top seven remain mathematically in contention for the title, Herne says he has the confidence to seal the title come Sunday.

“Last year I really did rattle myself and put a lot of pressure on myself the last couple of rounds of the championship to try to wrap it up,” he explained.

“This year, I know I’ve done enough of a job. Deep down, I know I deserve to be in the position I am.

“I’m not too stressed on it all really. As long as I go out there and nothing silly happens, I reckon we’ll be in a pretty good seat to wrap it up.

“I’m going into it with a fresh slate, just another round, and we’ll just wait and see what happens.”

While the weather hasn’t really rattled Herne, the threat of a mechanical failure does hang over his head.

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Earlier this year, he suffered an engine belt failure while at the pointy end of the field, resulting in his only DNF of the season to date.

“I’ve had a pretty good finishing history lately,” said Herne.

“The only thing I’ve really had to worry about is mechanical failures. The drive belt going in Sydney gave me a bit of a wake-up call.

“Sometimes it’s not always the best driver on the day that wins, sometimes you can have things out of your control take you out of the race.

“I think that’s probably the biggest thing I’m worried about is the mechanical aspect, but I’ve got some of the best mechanics in the country on my car so I’m pretty confident it’ll be all right – it’ll be dumb luck if anything does go wrong.

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“For me, if something like that happens, I’ve just got to take it on the chin and move on. This weekend I’m just gonna go out there, drive laps, and hope it all works out in my favor in the end.”

Trans Am concludes its season at Sandown this weekend but will be back in action at the Bathurst International on November 11-13.

The TCR Australia Series headlined proceedings at Sandown alongside GT World Challenge Australia, Australian Production Cars, and Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia.

Stan Sport will carry live action ad-free and on-demand across Saturday and Sunday, with coverage commencing at 11am on each day.

Free-to-air coverage will also be carried on 9Gem from 3pm on Saturday.

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