The Contenders: James Golding (Team Valvoline GRM)
THERE’S every chance James Golding and Team Valvoline GRM will look back at the Australian Grand Prix S5000 races as the reason why he wasn’t closer to Joey Mawson and Tim Macrow in the final battle for the 2022 S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship.
As ever, the Victorian has been one of the fastest drivers in S5000 but that one hugely challenging weekend in Melbourne proved a massive set back to his title hopes.
As a result he enters the title decider at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown next week 85 points behind the lead, with 110 up for grabs.
Golding qualified third in Melbourne and had the added support of strong teammates who had the potential to take points away from his nearest rivals – but it didn’t go to plan.
In the opening race, Golding went around the outside of teammate Aaron Cameron to take second at the first corner, but then ran wide at Turn 3 and lost several positions.
He then dropped to 12th with a big spin in the Turn 9/10 complex while trying to regain ground before eventually recovering to eighth.
The top 75% inversion of the grid then worked against Golding in Race two as he struggled to work his way through the field in what was ultimately a shortened race: he finished seventh before a solid fifth in the finale’ salvaged points.
However, out in front was S5000 arch-rival Mawson who scored pole and won two races to build a substantial title lead, while the ever consistent Macrow also out-scored the Valvoline driver.
Grand Prix aside, Golding’s 2022 season has been typically fast, with his pole position and race one victory at Phillip Island the undoubted highlight, while he chased Mawson all the way to the line in the finale’ at the fast Victorian circuit.
A strong recovery to third in the Sydney finale’ after a race one DNF was also a positive and while a maiden title looks a challenging prospect from that far back, Golding’s raw speed and experience in the S5000 platform will mean he’ll be trying until the final lap of the season to make it happen.
Standings: 3rd (-85 Points)
2022 Races: 12
2022 Wins: 1
2022 Podiums: 6
Best Qualifying: 1st (Symmons Plains, Phillip Island)