It’s not often that you see Mick Ritter this excited.
But then this is no ordinary moment.
When the third round of Porsche Carrera Cup Australia was announced as a Pro-Am event at the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit and scheduled for later this month it set about a reunion of sorts and three performance pairings that has the Sonic boss in a whirl.
“Coming home” to his Sonic roots is established V8 Supercar star Tim Slade as he pairs up with Elite Class racer and comeback kid Adrian Mastronardo for the one-off affair.
“We’re really excited that Sladey’s back,” grins Ritter, “it’s one of those situations that you never rule out but you don’t give much though to either when drivers move on to full-time V8 Supercar drives. The Pro-Am is a great concept and it gives Tim the opportunity to return to our team and drive these great cars.”
Surprisingly the now Supercheap Auto Racing driver never raced Carrera Cup in his formative years having skipped from his Sonic Formula Ford drive to Development Series before then moving into the main game.
“Ironically he was one of our Carrera Cup pit crew in 2005 but he never drove the cars,” recalls Ritter, “I guess almost ten years down the track he now gets that chance.”
“I did the Pro-Am race with Marc Cini last year and I really enjoyed it,” Slade explains, “I had some frustrations in my Supercar world at that point so it was good to do a one-make series event. When I found out that Mick (Ritter) was re-entering Carrera Cup this year I immediately asked him about the Pro-Am and if we could put a deal together. So here we are.”
Slade will have tested twice at Phillip Island and once at Winton by the time the May 23-25 event is conducted and believes that by then he and co-driver Mastronardo will be on the money.
“I’m pleased to be paired with Adrian because I think he’ll learn a lot from having another driver in his car,” Slade says, “with his return to competition after a lengthy layoff it’s always good to get someone else’s perspective on what the racecar is doing. I think the Pro-Am will be really beneficial to someone like Adrian in particular.”
The other two pairings for Sonic are mouthwatering prospects.
Carrera Cup debutant Nick McBride will be joined by the vastly experienced Rodney Jane.
“Nick’s already showing enormous potential,” explains Ritter, “so to pair him with someone as experienced as Rodney will be a huge plus for Nick. And to be honest, Nick’s car speed and his energy will no doubt bring the best out in Rodney as well. I see this pairing as very exciting for our team and for the event.”
Livewire Nick Foster will be paired with someone with less experience than he but that’s not something that will slow this combination down as talented Sydneysider Ryan Simpson saddles up.
Simpson, a former Sonic Formula Ford and now V8 Touring Car Series frontrunner recently showed his considerable potential at the Mallala round by posting pole position, breaking the lap record and recording three race wins in the process.
“Ryan’s a very handy racer,” Ritter points out, “and he’s in prime form after Mallala. The pairing of Ryan and Nick will be a real handful for our rivals. Nick’s only a young guy but he has a very wise head on his shoulders and he’ll bring Ryan up to speed very quickly in the Porsche. I couldn’t be happier with all three of our pairings and I can’t wait to get started.”
Sonic Motor Racing Services Pro-Am combinations:
Tim Slade (Pro) – Adrian Mastronardo (Elite) Veritas #39
Nick Foster (Pro) – Ryan Simpson (Elite) Bob Jane T-Marts #777
Nick McBride (Pro) – Rodney Jane (Elite) Bob Jane T-Marts #77