A DOUBLE victory in the Workhorse Radical Cup Australia Series has delivered teenager Alex Gardner the series lead at the half-way point of 2023.
The Volante Rosso driver charged to a pair of commanding wins in the twin, 50-minute encounters at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit to leap to the top of the standings with just two championship rounds remaining.
Gardner claimed his second successive round victory in a row at Phillip Island with Elliott Schutte second and Jordan Oon / Adam Lisle third overall.
Though he narrowly missed pole - that went to Jordan Oon and Adam Lisle by the tiny margin of 0.0031 seconds, with Gardner fourth - he wasted no time charging to the front in Race 1, assuming the lead over the #14 Arise Racing car on the opening lap.
Gardner pitted early - among the first of the outright contenders - in race one and resumed in the lead when the stops had been completed by lap 13, powering home from there.
He claimed the opening race by 17 seconds following 26 laps of racing at the high speed Victorian circuit.
The ever-consistent Elliott Schutte enjoyed a strong run to finish second for Arise Racing, continuing his impressive run of top-three finishes this year.
Behind him was the Oon / Lisle Arise combo with the West Aussie team sweeping the second and third steps on the podium.
Simon Arthur enjoyed one of his best ever Workhorse Radical Cup Australia runs to fourth position, also claiming the Am class, while Peter Clare and Josh Hunt combined to see Volante Rosso bookend the top five.
Barton Mawer and Terry Knowles, home-town hero Zig Fuhrmeister, Greg Kenny and Melinda Price, Stephen Champion and Sue Hughes completed the top-10 in race one.
Four cars failed to finish the race including Ash Samadi and Cooper Cutts, who failed to make it beyond the start.
Race 2 was a different affair with Gardner forced to race his way to the front before he was able to claim victory.
The early running was led by Cooper Cutts, who bounced back from his race one disappointment to lead the first eight laps of the race before he headed in for his compulsory pit stop.
That handed the lead for one lap to the #68 Aus Nets Bart Mawer / Terry Knowles entry before they stopped a lap later, the Jordan Oon / Arise Racing car then assuming the lead for six laps before they stopped.
Gardner had again stopped early - on lap nine - and had quietly made his way to the front so he could be in a position to claim the race lead when his teammates - Peter Clare and Josh Hunt - stopped from the lead on lap 18.
Gardner had stopped on the same lap as early leader Cutts however passed the West Aussie for position on lap 16 before he assumed the race lead at the completion of the pit stop cycle.
He then led the remaining laps to record a win by just over eight seconds, with Cutts' best ever race seeing him second and quiet race two achiever Elliott Schutte a strong third once again.
Jordan Oon and Adam Lisle were fourth while Zig Fuhrmeister posted one of his best drives to finish fifth, in front of Simon Arthur.
Greg Kenny and Melinda Price, Peter Clare and Josh Hunt, Stephen Champion and Radical Cup Australia rookie Adam Naccarata completed the top-10 in race two.
With three rounds complete Gardner now takes a narrow eight-point lead over Schutte heading into the fourth round of the series at The Bend Motorsport Park this October.
Jordan Oon sits third in the championship with Rookie leader Cutts just behind in fourth.
Peter Clare leads the Masters Cup points while Alex Gardner also leads the Pro and Rookie championships with two rounds to go.
The next round of the championship will see the series return to The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia on October 13-15.