2005 Bathurst

Biante Series 2005. Round Five

Bathurst  6 -8 October

Words Darren Knight. Pics courtesy James Smith Photography

Ford drivers Chris Stillwell and Brad Tilley achieved what their V8 Supercar colleagues have failed to do in recent times at Mount Panorama – win a motor race! Stillwells `69 Mustang took out the first and last races while Tilleys XY Falcon GTHO won race two.

Despite the late withdrawal of points leader Paul Stubber, the 61-strong field (from all states bar the N.T.) that would vie for the 55 grid positions allocated was choc full of quality machinery that promised red hot racing right down the order. In the end, all reserves gained a start after a number of cars fell out. Steve Mason (`68 Camaro) completed just half a lap in practice before possibly running a bearing, urgent phone calls resulting in Mason borrowing an engine, which meant a drive to Sydney and back before race one early on Friday morning. Richard Fairlam (EH) lost an engine, Jim Hunter (Torana) suffered low oil pressure and Harry Bargwanna (Capri) also possibly ran a bearing. Brother Alf (Torana) blew a gearbox but had a replacement. Bill Meeke (Falcon Sprint) hit the wall at Griffins and would take no further part.

Tilleys time of 2:30.8675 grabbed pole in this his first drive of the XY at Bathurst, having previously steered Mustangs. Stillwell was next, then Garry Treloar (`68 Camaro), Jack Elsegood (XY), Steve Travica (Boss Mustang), Darrin Davies (HQ Monaro), Greg Toepfer (HQ Kingswood), Jervis Ward (Nb Mustang), Simon Phillips (Torana) and the brand new `67 Camaro of Tony Hubbard completed the first five rows. The field actually snaked back around Murrays Corner and onto Conrod Straight, just as it did when these cars ran here in the day.

Race One
(All races were scheduled to be eight laps but were reduced due to time constraints).
Mason would start from the back after a huge effort from his team whilst John Kingcott (MkII Cortina) pulled out with a diff problem. Stillwell made probably his best ever start in the Mustang to lead the similarly quick off the mark Elsegood and then Tilley. Tony Hunter (HQ Kingswood) was charging, up to tenth from 18th on the grid as Alf Bargwanna retired after throwing a fan belt, soon joined by Bernie Stack (Porsche 911) with a diff and Warren Bossie (Torana) with head gasket problems.

Tilley went through on Elsegood for second but had to work hard to stay there as Kev Moore (EH) and Stuart Barnes (Cortina) battled fiercely. Jason Foley (XY) clawed his way up after only a handful of laps in practice as a big dice raged between South Australians Roger Oliver (Falcon Sprint) and Lyndon Punchon (Mustang), and the Toranas of Alastair MacLean and Bruce Dummett. Hubbard finally passed Toepfer after a fantastic contest as Paul Truelove led the Lotus Cortina battle over Scott Fleming, who struggled slightly with carburettor issues.

Barnes retired with oil pump problems, as did Steve Byes gorgeous new `68 Trans Am Mustang with fuelling issues. Ian Sawtells meeting ended with possible bearing failure whilst fellow Torana man Andrew Williams came in with excessive oil surge. Ward was comfortably leading Nb (pre `65), running as high as 11th outright until retiring with a broken accelerator pivot . Michael Miceli (Boss Mustang) went under Grant Wilson to hold 9th briefly before the Camaro got back in front, only to fall victim to another Camaro near the end as Masons charge from the back continued.

The flag fell at seven laps, Stillwell the winner from Tilley and Elsegood, who just beat Treloar, then Davies, Hubbard, Toepfer, Travica, Wilson and Mason. Oliver won Nb in 18th. Fastest lap: Stillwell 2:30.5073 (lap 3)

Race Two
Tony Hunter would not return after breaking a couple of rocker posts and damaging a head. Greg Luca did grid up after working until 3am that morning having rebuilt an engine from two damaged donks after problems in practice. Tilley hooked up better this time to lead into Hell Corner as Travica lost a couple of spots off the line. A little further back Punchon moved ahead of Oliver to continue their battles as a spectacular incident occurred at the Chase. Fleming came in very hot after battling the Chris Wilson Torana, getting at least two wheels onto the grass before cannoning into the Torana of the hapless Garry Kirwan who was turning in to the left hander. Both cars took to the sand, the Lotus almost rolling save for the Kirwan XU-1 alongside. The Safety Car was despatched as Moore retired with a carb problem and Warren Bossie (Torana) with a blocked radiator.

Racing resumed with Tilley leading Stillwell and Elsegood as Ben Tebbutt (Cooper S) and Paul Atkins (Cortina) ran in close company whilst Dummett retired with a broken split pin in the accelerator linkage – the proverbial 20c part if ever there was one. The dice of the race erupted between Hubbard, Davies, Treloar and Mason, all four cars battling hard for fourth before Treloars gearbox hoodoo returned, the Big Block Chev losing many places before its pilot found some gears again. Davies slipped into fourth as Hubbard battled brake issues (pad knock off) and Phillips stopped on the approach to the Cutting, an intake trumpet having dislodged and stuck against the engine.

The two Boss Mustangs of Miceli and Travica staged a spectacular battle for 9th, running side by side up Mountain Straight, Travicas car throwing out a shower of sparks as the Fastback bottomed out in places. Ward retired with an electrical issue, soon joined by David Paterson (Torana) with oil pump dramas and Anthony Frost (Torana), who came to a stop a few lengths behind Phillips XU – 1 after holing a block in fiery fashion. Toepfer made up for his cubic inch deficit on the straights by showing great speed across the top, getting past Grant Wilson who was one of the many to have brake issues. Miceli ran off at the Chase on what was to be the final lap but continued as Tilley took the win after six laps, next Stillwell a little over a second adrift then Elsegood in third. Davies was fourth then Mason, Hubbard, Toepfer, Grant Wilson, Travica and Miceli. Fastest lap: Stillwell went under Stubbers 2004 lap record of 2:29.5846 with a 2:29.3129 on lap five, but Tilley had gone even faster with a 2:29.2716 on lap four.

Race Three
Barnes retired in bizarre fashion on the warm up lap, a rock shattering the windscreen of the Cortina. No one can confirm if the rock had a General Motors part number attached to it, or was the offspring of the rock that halted Dick Johnsons Falcon in 1980. At the start Stillwell almost stalled, Hubbard and a few others doing a great job avoiding the slow starting `Stang as Elsegood bolted to lead Tilley and Hubbard. Grant Wilson got very sideways exiting Hell, losing places as a result. Mason gathered up Hubbard (who was battling pad "knock off") down Conrod to move into third as Stillwell began to climb back up the order. Toepfer and Hubbard exchanged paint across the top as Tilley closed right up on Elsegoods tail. Exiting Griffins Elsegood suddenly slowed with a gearbox problem, Tilley having no time to avoid hitting the rear of the big yellow Henry. Tilley continued but now with heavy damage to the front, including the bonnet. Moments later the worst fears were realised when suddenly air sucked under the Falcons bonnet down Conrod, shooting the Shaker scoop into the sky followed by the bonnet flying back and onto the windscreen, blocking Brads vision totally. Somehow he brought the car to a stop without incident as Mason took over the lead, setting the fastest lap on lap three.

Drama struck again on the very next lap as Mason thrust his hand out the window to signal his race was over, a broken tail shaft the cause. Incredibly Stillwell now found himself in front, with Davies right behind. The immaculate XW GTHO of Michael Kennedy came to grief at the Chase, clouting the wall heavily and bringing out the Safety Car, the driver thankfully unhurt. Meanwhile Punchon retired with clutch problems, joined by Luca and the Alfa of Greg Lamond.

Racing resumed with Travica again flying, hounding Toepfer who ran wide at the Cutting, hitting the outside wall but still managing to keep out the pursuing Travica and Miceli! Grant Wilson relieve Trevor Talbot (finally having a solid run in the Torana) of ninth as Stillwell took the chequer after six laps with Davies just beating home Hubbard for second. Treloar was fourth (having started 15th), then Toepfer, Travica, Miceli, Foley, Wilson and Talbot. Oliver again won Nb in 12th with Ward an excellent second in class (and 15th outright) off the back of the grid. Fastest lap: Mason 2:30.6815 (lap three).

The Biante Series heads to an exciting conclusion at Eastern Creek on October 30, with the running of the very first Australian Muscle Car Masters. Tilley now leads the points on 227, from Stubber 194, Mason 187, Stillwell 183 and Elsegood 140.