November 7-8 2009
Pics courtesy Gary Cooper. Words Graham Slater.
In total contrast to the recent races at Phillip Island the only thunder was the sound of the mighty Group N sedans, and for a change precipitation was confined to the sweat dripping from the brows of the under and over 3 litre drivers, who after some great dicing entertained the crowd watching both categories.
Add in the bonus of the visiting Biante Touring Car Masters (featuring some of our local members), as well of the Group C and A touring cars and it was tin top heaven!
Under 3 Litres – Qualifying
Making a rare but welcome return to Group N in a Porsche 911, was former Mustang punter Mark Johnson. Shocking the established runners Mark stormed through to a front row spot alongside pole man Ben Read in the Mazda RX2.
Russell Pilven and John Smallman on row two was a preview of what was shaping up as a good battle while Chris Ralph (BMW 2002) was an impressive fifth fastest alongside Brendan Hare’s Capri V6.
Then came Mark Forgie (Porsche 911), David Noakes (Escort RS1600) with Darren Hill and Don Thallon both Porsche mounted sealing off the top ten. Anthony Ramage and Pete Melick were the first of the strong Cooper S contingent, just ahead of Mini legend Ted Brewster, the always dangerous Len Read, and the battling family duo of Mike and James Holloway.
With a total of 34 closely matched cars on the grid the races were looking good.
Both Ben Read and Mark Johnson made great starts as did Chris Ralph, Mark Forgie, Daren Hill, John Smallman and Russell Pilven. With such first lap intensity and a close bunched field, the inevitable happened as the group hurtled into Dandenong Rd Corner.
Pilven and Smallman came together and in the resulting confusion the leaders got a break leaving the rest of the field an impossible task to catch up.By lap four of what was an eight lap event Forgie’s Porsche dropped out leaving Chris Ralph well clear in third spot. Up front Johnson was resisting all of Read’s best efforts to hold the advantage while David Noakes (Escort RS1600) and Nick Cascone (Cortina GT), “Rule Britannia”, doing their best to break up the domination of the “blitzkrieg” from the “Farterland” and the house of the Rising Sun!
Justin Brown had made a quick and steady progression from the back of the grid and with one lap to go was challenging Brendan Hare for a spot in the top ten.
A last lap surge by Read was just off the mark as Johnson went through to a narrow win with Ralph’s BMW 2002 still well ahead in third. Then followed Darren Hill, David Noakes, and Nick Cascone, just ahead of the Cooper “S” trio of Ian Pringle, Anthony Ramage and Len Read. Justin Brown had taken the ailing Capri of Brendan Hare to finish in the top ten.
Results: 1st Mark Johnson (Porsche 911), 12.07.35. (1.28.64), 2nd Ben Read (Mazda RX2), 12.08.14. (1.28.60*), 3rd Chris Ralph (BMW2002), 12.23.89. (1.30.53).
*Fastest Lap. Ben Read. (MazdaRX2) 1.28.60.
Sunday was another “hot one” and the racing in Under 3 litres would again match the weather.Sunday’s opener was a six lap screamer and once again it was “game on” from lights out!
Ben Read got the start and just led over the line on lap one. Mark Johnson ramped up the pressure however and passed Read for the lead followed by Chris Ralph who was having the best weekend in the BMW, then came David Noakes, Nick Cascone, Darren Hill and Russell Pilven’s Datsun 1600.
Ian Pringle was the first of the Cooper S brigade, followed by Len Read’s similar car, John Smallman’s RS1600, Kirk Davis in the second RX2, Don Thallon’s Porsche 911, Anthony Ramage, Pete Melick, Ian Watt’s Triumph 2500 and Ted Brewster’s Cooper “S”.
Dean Bryant was having a ball in the famous ex-Graeme Blanchard FE Holden borrowed from a generous Eddie Dobbs, travelling just behind the entertaining battle between the Cortina GTs of John Luxmoore, Colin Doolan and Simon Browning, and ahead of the classic father and son battle between the Coopers of Mike and James Holloway.
With Read out of the event 2 laps from home and the hard charging BMW of Justin Brown retiring with a mechanical failure on the last lap, Mark Johnson went on to a four second win ahead of a clearly pleased Chris Ralph and Darren Hill another second down in third.
Results: 1st Mark Johnson (Porsche 911), 9.16.86. (1.29.08*), 2nd Chris Ralph (BMW2002), 9.20.30. (1.31.57), 3rd Darren Hill (Porsche 911), 9.21.49. (1.30.20).
*Fastest Lap. Mark Johnson (Porsche 911) 1.29.08.
With a DNF in the morning race Read would have an uphill battle to get to the front early in what was a tight well matched field.
Yet again Johnson got a great start and headed Ralph, Pilven, Hill, Davis, Smallman and Noakes over the lines for the first time.Read had was working quickly through the field and by two thirds race distance was up into fourth place and pressuring Pilven for a spot on the podium.
Brendan Hare in the Capri V6 was now in the top ten with a lap to go closely shadowed by Mark Forgie, Nick Cascone, Ian Pringle’s Cooper, Justin Brown and Len Read. Mark Johnson went on to his third win for the weekend in spite of a valiant effort from Chris Ralph and a fast finishing Ben Read who slipped past Darren Hill, Russell Pilven, and Kirk Davis for third.
John Smallman managed to hold off David Noake’s similar car followed by Brendon Hare, Mark Forgie and Nick Cascone. Ian Pringle was the first Cooper “S”, heading Justin Brown’s BMW, Len Read and Pete Melick followed by Ian Watt, Ted Brewster and Anthony Ramage.
A fitting finish to what had been a triple trio of treats in the 3 litre and under category.
Results: 1st Mark Johnson (Porsche 911), 9.09.44. (1.29.99), 2nd Chris Ralph (BMW2002), 9.11.35. (1.30.53), 3rd Ben Read (Mazda RX2), 9.11.40. (1.28.78*).
*Fastest Lap. Ben Read (Mazda RX2) 1.28.78.
Over 3 Litre – Qualifying
Although a little down on numbers this year there were plenty of heavy hitters amongst the local and interstate competitors. Tony Hubbard’s Camaro was back albeit with the old motor out of his long gone HQ350 Monaro. Darryl Hansen had brought the ex-Stillwell Mach 1 Mustang over from WA, Robert Braune had jumped in his now Les Walmsley-owned Charger, and James Frolley was back in the blue Mustang.
Paul Zazryn had dusted off the immaculate 3.8 Jaguar, old friend and Club member Tino Leo had resurrected his Nb Mustang, and Brian Potts was a welcome addition to the V8 ranks bringing his HT350 Monaro down from Sydney.
Hansen had the edge in a warm qualifying session and took pole in front of Robert Braune, Tony Hubbard and Brian Potts were on the second row in front the Mustangs of Bill Trengove and James Frolley. Dave Moran and Andy Clempson was a good match up with Andrew Cannon (Mustang), Michael Hibbert (Charger) with Steve Coad and Lawrie Nelson the first of Torana XU1s.
In spite his spare engine being a little down on power it was Hubbard who took the lead as Hansen was shuffled back to third behind Braune’s Charger. Potts was in form and quickly slotted into fourth in front of a terrific battle that was brewing between the Group Nb Mustangs of Trengrove, Clempson, Cannon, Moran and the lone Nc car of James Frolley.
Hibbert had a whole hoard of XU1s tapping on the Chargers rear bumper as Steve Coad, Lawrie Nelson, Angelo Taranto, Leo Tobin and Steve Pillekers battled for six supremacy.
Hubbard gradually drove away to a comfortable win, with Braune and Hansen unable to close the gap.
Results: 1st Tony Hubbard (Chev Camaro), 11.17.05. (1.22.89), 2nd Robert Braune (Charger E49), 11.27.06. (1.22.74*), 3rd Darryl Hansen (Mustang), 11.30.21. (1.22.76).
*Fastest Lap. Robert Braune (Charger E49). 1.22.74.
As the ambient temperature accelerated so did the bid to catch the dominant Hubbard Camaro. Braune got a good start but just couldn’t hold the Camaro under power.
Darryl Hansen slotted into what would be a short-lived third place just ahead of the Brian Potts Monaro.
Frolley asserted the Nc Mustang’s extra advantage just managing to keep Trengrove, Cannon, and Clempson at bay. Hibbert and Moran were constantly swapping places the whole group providing some great racing for the enthusiastic spectator.
Steve Coad was the clear leader in the Torana wars giving the XU1s of Nelson and Taranto, Tino Leo’s Mustang and Paul Zazryn’s Jaguar a fast disappearing target to catch.
All to no avail as Tony Hubbard again proved what a great handling and power loaded package his Camaro is by taking win number two by a little over eight seconds from Robert Braune and Brian Potts who had consolidated his place in third after a second lap “moment” had dropped Hansen’s Mach 1 Mustang way down the field.
Results: 1st Tony Hubbard (Chev Camaro), 8.28.00. (1.22.86), 2nd Robert Braune (Charger E49), 8.36.65. (1.22.83*), 3rd Brian Potts (Monaro HT-GTS350), 8.47.59. (1.25.76). *Fastest Lap. Robert Braune (Charger E49). 1.22.83.
Anxious get back on the podium Darryl Hansen made a good start and by lap two of the 6 lap final he had blasted through to shadow the Potts Monaro and on lap three moved past the Sebring Orange Monaro to set out after Hubbard and Braune.
This time Braune was really pushing the Camaro and for the first time all weekend the two were only a few lengths apart. Frolley was flying and began to pressure Potts for fourth place. Cannon, Trengrove and Moran were also pressuring the Monaro driver; yes it was another classic Ford versus General Motors confrontation and was great fodder for the spectators.
Angelo Taranto, Leo Tobin and Steve Pillekers battled for Torana honors, but it was Steve Coad who had the measure of the balance of the six cylinder field. In spite of a valiant (ouch) effort Braune was unable to bridge the gap to the Camaro, giving Tony Hubbard a clean sweep for the meeting.
Darryl Hansen held onto third with James Frolley a creditable fourth from Brian Potts, Andrew Cannon, Bill Trengrove, Andy Clempson, David Moran and Steve Coad in tenth place.
Results: 1st Tony Hubbard (Chev Camaro), 8.27.46. (1.23.00*), 2nd Robert Braune (Charger E49), 8.29.95. (1.23.48), 3rd Darryl Hansen (Mustang), 8.36.16. (1.23.48).
*Fastest Lap. Tony Hubbard (Chev Camaro). 1.23.00.
Well done to the MG car club and the VHRR! A big field of cars and for most of the meeting all went smoothly. Our cars proved yet again that we can entertain and provide good close racing without the need to consult the local panel beater after the meeting. The inclusion of the Biante Masters cars also worked well and the general comment from spectators I spoke with in the crowd was the whole Historic Touring car package was a key highlight of the event.
If the weather is kind let’s hope the upcoming Island Magic is equally entertaining!