Sandown S5000: Points leader Mawson dominant in main race
Joey Mawson extended his points lead in the 2021 S5000 season with a dominant lights-to-flag victory in the main race at Sandown.
Having finished fifth and second in the two heats on Sunday morning, former European F3 and GP3 driver Mawson lined up on pole position for what was the first all-dry race of the weekend.
With fellow front-row starter Kaleb Ngatoa suffering a DNS after crashing on his way to the grid, Mawson was unchallenged at the start as he led the field into Turn 1.
Nathan Herne slotted into second while Luis Leeds made up two places to move up to third, carefully navigating his car between a slow-starting Tim Macrow and the BRM of Thomas Randle.
At the front, Mawson slowly started carving a gap for himself, his advantage over the rest of the field well over two seconds by the mid point of the race.
That gap only grew in the final laps of the race, the Australian driver securing his third victory of the season with a winning margin of 6.773s.
Herne was unable to keep up with Mawson’s pace but remained well clear of the chasing pack, bagging his second podium finish of the weekend after being pipped to the line in Heat 2 by Randle.
Leeds secured the final spot on the rostrum in third after holding off a charging James Golding in the latter stages of the race, the gap between the two less than a second at the flag.
Macrow was never able to recover from his slow launch at the start of the race, eventually finishing 13s down on race winner Mawson in fifth.
Erstwhile championship leader Randle spun for the third time in as many races at Sandown, slipping from fourth to last on the second lap.
He was able to recover to sixth by the time the chequered flag was waved on lap 20, passing Cooper Webster at the penultimate corner, but conceded even more ground to the in-form Mawson in their battle for the drivers’ title.
Antonio Astuti and Ricky Capo were classified eighth and ninth respectively, the former surviving a big lock up while defending from Randle, while Braydan Willmington finished a lap down on the leaders in 10th.