Australia's premier open wheel championship would return to Phillip Island for the second round of their 2023 championship. Everyone would be aiming to catch Joey Mawson, who took victory in the first three races of the season at Symmons Plains.
The new 'Push to Pass' system that was introduced at the Gold Coast round last year was expected to add an extra strategic element to the races due to the number of straights at the Phillip Island circuit. 'Push to Pass' increases the horsepower made by the engine for a period of time, and drivers would be allowed 45 seconds of 'Push to Pass' to use during each race, to help overtake or even defend their position.
Australian Formula Open rookie Mark Rosser and Formula Ford driver Winston Smith would join the S5000 grid at Phillip Island. Winston Smith would drive a lovely bare carbon machine, whilst Mark Rosser would ride in the very colourful and unique Exploding Kittens livery.
Supercars driver James Golding would not only go fastest in both practice sessions, ahead of championship leader Joey Mawson, but would also set a new lap record in Practice 1 with a 1:24.709, two tenths quicker than the previous record.
Joey Mawson would begin an eventful weekend for himself in Practice 2, by hitting a goose as he flew through turn 8. I felt bad for the officials who had to scrape the remnants of the bird off the track with a shovel.
Cooper Webster would claim pole position in the Saturday morning session, ahead of Joey Mawson and James Golding, the top three being split by a total of less than three tenths of a second.
Joey Mawson would grab the lead heading into Turn 1 as Aaron Cameron snatched third away from teammate James Golding. Mark Rosser would go off at turn 1 bringing out the safety car. On the restart, Webster hassled the rear of Mawson, but to no avail.
Joey Mawson would win, claiming four wins from four races in the championship. I'm not biased, but I when Mawson wins, as you're guaranteed a special celebration.
In Race 2 during Sunday morning, it would be a repeat of the previous race, this time with Joey Mawson who started on pole, getting overtaken by Cooper Webster around the outside of turn 1.
Winston Smith would bring out the safety car after spinning into the turn 2 gravel trap. This would set up Mawson's overtake on Webster at the restart. Could Mawson go for an unprecedented five wins in a row in the S5000s category?
The answer would be no, as Mawson would receive a 5-second penalty for being alongside Webster before the start/finish line, dropping him to third, handing Webster the victory and James Golding second. Aaron Cameron in the no.18 Valvoline GRM S5000 would also receive a 5-second penalty for the same reason dropping him from a potential third, down to seventh.
Cooper Webster would again be on pole, but this time would hold off Mawson into turn 1 and 2. Blake Purdie and James Golding would have a fierce battle for third, with Aaron Cameron waiting in the wings to see if he could snatch a position.
No one was stopping Cooper Webster, claiming his second victory of the weekend. Mawson would finish second and James Golding would brilliantly re-overtake Blake Purdie early on to grab another third-place finish.
Despite Cooper Webster winning the round at Phillip Island, Joey Mawson still leads the championship as they head to Winton for round 3. The gap has closed from 29 to now only eleven points, but it's going to take a bit more to catch the two-time champion.