Former AFL player and now NFL punter Saverio Rocca has scored a narrow victory in the opening Lexus Celebrity Challenge race.
Rocca’s strategy was akin to a seasoned professional, working himself into a nice rhythm in the early laps before eventually dislodging polesitter Corbin Harris to hit the front.
From there Rocca showed plenty of defensive flair, eventually recording a 0.2518-second victory over Harris, with a late burst by Luke Ricketson getting him up into third at the end of the five-lapper.
Ross Stevenson also came home with a wet sail to nail fourth, ahead of Andrew Scifleet and Shannon Eckstein.
“That was pretty exciting stuff,” said Rocca. “I took advantage of a small mistake by Corbin to hit the lead, and then three corners from home I was so busy looking in my rear vision mirror that I forgot to brake.
“Then it was a bit of the old ‘Fred Flintstone’ paddle to try and get the car back up to speed to hold off Corbin! Great fun.”
As usual, the celebrity race produced its fair share of ‘love taps’ with Bondi vet Dr Chris Brown the most obvious casualty after he was hit from behind by Ricketson, leaving the mudguard on his Lexus CT200h dragging on the circuit.
Brown soldiered on to finish ninth, behind Brian McFadden and Chris Mulvey in seventh and eighth.
Only one driver failed to finish, Kasia Z, while Lauren Phillips was the last CT200h to cross the finish line.
Race two will be held at 2:15pm on Sunday.