Friendship powers Sinclair, O’Keefe to formula 500 national titles

BEST mates Ash Sinclair and Jye O’Keefe stick close, working and playing together.

The pair are among a contingent of five south-west drivers who have made the 3500-kilometre trek across the Nullarbor for the start of tonight’s formula 500 national title in Perth.

Sinclair, 23, is excited about his third tilt at the Australian championship. But a couple of weeks ago he was doubting if he was even going to make it to the start line.

The Warrnambool mechanic spent two nights in hospital on a drip after picking up an infection in his right knee.

“I don’t know how it got infected,” he said.

He suspects it might have been a result of a crash at Swan Hill a few weeks earlier.

It set back his plan to prepare an alternative car, as well as the car he had identified for Perth’s half-mile track.

He raced from hospital after being discharged and into the workshop, then within a couple of days was back behind the wheel at Laang.

Sinclair said yesterday he had put the drama behind him and was upbeat at doing well on an unfamiliar track.

“It’s like any new track you go to, they are all different but they are all sort of similar after a while,” he said.

He tested his set-up during practice last night, unveiling a fresh engine, tweaked for the long straights at the Motorplex.

Sinclair is driving for Perth-based car owner Jason Ryan under the Diablos Motorsport team.

“There are 70-something cars here,” he said.

“We are here to win but you can’t get too confident. There are probably 35 cars who can win. You are going to need a lot of luck.”

Regardless of the result, he will have fun, especially with mate and fellow West Coast Service Centre mechanic O’Keefe in the field.

“We were best mates coming up through go-karts and we both still race 500s. It’s great. You are racing with your best mate and you go to work on Monday and you are working with your best mate.”

O’Keefe, Sinclair’s brother Dale, Dylan Willsher, Steve Van Ginneken and Rob Trewartha are also in Perth for the title. Racing starts tonight with three heats, followed by a heat each and a series of mains tomorrow night.

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