Historic battle at May Winton
Pics courtesy Phil Wisewould and Martin Creely. Words Darren Knight
One of the bigger Nb grids seen in recent years ensured the racing would be fast and furious on the short circuit, particularly with an incredible twenty Minis entered.
Cooper S legend Henry Draper qualified fastest but would not line up in race one. The Minis of Lindsay Seibler, Jason Armstrong and Andrew Bergan (in the genuine ex Skinny Manton Neptune Racing machine) surged to the front with Armstrong taking the win from Seibler who copped a time penalty post race, dropping him to 16th.
Bergan was runner up from Robert Ford (Mini) and Cameron Shearer (Mustang) with Graham Gulson (Alfa) almost alongside at the finish.
A dramatic warm up lap in race two saw Ford blow a diff putting him out for the weekend and Len Read losing a wheel after the threads stripped. Read must have set some sort of Winton record with seven Minis running his customer engines at the meeting.
Bergan led early as a massive dice erupted between the Minis of Pete Melick, Anthony Ramadge and the Mustang of David Moran. South Aussie Mal Rutschack had a big lock up at turn one, giving spectators a glimpse of the borrowed Minis undersides.
Mal was driving a borrowed car after some scumbag stole his own car and trailer during the return journey home from Muscle Car Masters last year. Neither has been sighted since. Armstrong squeezed past for another win from Bergan and Seibler.
Draper carved his way through from the back of the grid to finish an amazing tenth, just behind Ian Pringle (Mini).
The close dicing continued in the final with Bergan just falling short at the end, the podium results the same as race two with Draper fourth and Ted Brewster claiming 14th having had to work hard to keep out another famous Mini name in Devlin – this time Linda.
Anthony Read (Mazda) beat pole man Michael Hibbert (Charger) off the line but had to concede the lead when the fine handling Mopar went around the outside (!) at the gumtree and then held out the RX-2 for the win. Russell Pilven (Datsun 1600) was third.
Read made another gun start in the Mazda (which is on the market) in race two to lead while Rod Hotchkin (Falcon) bagged `em up and lost a few spots. John Smallman (BDA Escort) ran wide at turn one and did the same.
The next few laps witnessed some of the best racing ever seen at Winton as Hibbert and Read duked it out at the front. At one point the two cars were side by side for almost half a lap with Hibbert finally grabbing the lead exiting turn one and going on to win by the barest of margins with Pilven again in third followed by Alan McKelvie (Torana) and Leo Tobin (Mustang) who crossed the line almost side by side. Dennis O`Brien (ex Hollywood Mustang) just held out Peter Van Summeren (BDA Escort) for sixth.
Hibbert again found himself chasing Read during the first few laps of the final as Brendon Hare (Capri) fell off at turn one and Pilven came under attack from the bigger engined cars. Hibbert had to find another place on the track to round up the rapid Read and grabbed the win. Tobin was third at the flag but later copped a time penalty, which elevated Hotchkin to the podium after he had his best run for the weekend, just holding out the improving McKelvie.