Big grid, fast times at Island Magic

November 26-27 2016

Report by Chris Ralph. Pics by Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com

It may not have been a sponsored-up historic meeting but Island Magic, always a great event, saw almost every car proudly wearing its Just Cars windscreen banner. With seven interstate entrants and a good spread among the 35-car Hornet Press Historic Touring Car Trophy grid, the stage was set for the last hurrah of 2016.

Ulladulla NSW builder Dean Neville predictably lead the way for pole, his black Camaro amusingly out of shape here and there. But not far behind were the red 289 Mustang of NSW’s Harry Bargwanna, and the battling Toranas of Daniel van Stokrom and Qld’s Craig Allan (potential new HTCAV member), with Les Walmsley’s Charger in 5th.

Fastest among the small cars was David Brown’s Datsun 1600 SSS, while fellow former Club Champ Russ Pilven had brought his own highly tuned Datsun 1600 out of mothballs for a canter. By the end of the weekend it had become something of a gallop. Quickest Mini was Richard Hill.

Race One, 8 laps:

With pole sitter Dean Neville a non-starter with diff problems it was Harry Bargwanna’s win, with Les Walmsley and Craig Allan two seconds behind and only two hundredths apart. Daniel van Stokrom netted fourth ahead of Rod Hotchkin’s Falcon XY and Richard Fairlam’s HQ for the first six.

Russ Pilven was getting the muscle memory in his race bum warmed up in the chase of David Brown, Richard Hill retained Mini honours, Gabriel Digenis (BMW) was right behind him and closing fast, while battling Cortina cronies Simon Browning and Johnny Luxmoore fought with Qld’s Ian Mewett’s Jaguar Mk 11, the trio finishing .6 second apart.

Race Two, 4 laps:

This quick early morning sprint was a warm up for the midday Trophy Race, but it was all Dean Neville needed to fly into fourth behind Bargwanna, Walmsley and Allan. Behind him were Hotchkin, Peter McNiven (Torana), Fairlam and Bill Trengrove (Mustang), just one second ahead of the remarkable David Brown Datsun.

The other Datsun of Pilven now had the Digenis BMW for close company, Tony Gilfuis had the edge over Lawrie Nelson  in Capri land, Richard Hill continued to dominate the Minis, with points leader suffering the DNF that would cruel his chances for the championship win. Familiarity had lifted the Mewett Jag out of the ruck and onto to the tail of Rob van Stokrom’s BMW, while James Holloway’s Mini crossed the line .2 sec behind Eddie’s Dobbs’ Holden FE.

The Hornet Press Trophy Race, 6 laps:

There are occasions when track temperature, rubber, and cool air come together to hand competitors braggable lap times, and especially so at Phillip Island. This race was one of them.

Dean Neville won by two seconds over Harry Bargwanna, but third-place man Craig Allan set fastest lap with an amazing 1.49.8, setting a clear class record for Toranas. Les Walmsley was right on his tail with the big V8s of Leo Tobin (Mustang) and Hotchkin filling out the first half dozen places.

Right through the field the racing was hot with records and PBs scored. David Brown set a new class record of 1.53.5, Pilven and Digenis finished one tenth apart locked in identical lap times of 1.56.5, Richard Hill cracked a 1.58.7 in the Mini, Rob van Stokrom set a new PB dropping two seconds to a 2.00.0, Luxy also set a PB of 2.04.6 beat Cortina twin Simon by one hundredth after racing side by side for the second half of the circuit and Mick Stupka in the new Volvo also cribbed two seconds to log a 2.06.6.

It was that sort of day, that sort of weekend, that sort of year. And we look forward to topping it in 2017.