Bitter Sweet The Magic Island
Words Graham Slater. Pictures none!
While Alistair Maclean had the sweet taste of success when he qualified on pole and set an all but short lived new outright lap record in his recently purchased ex-Steve Mason Camaro, some yet to be analysed internal engine problem was a bitter pill to swallow when looking good for at least two out of two wins. Michael Miceli fulfilled his long term goal by lowering record on the very same lap as Alistair Maclean had claimed the record formerly held by Robert Braune’s Charger.
There was lots of optimism on the Island as a solid field of 26 Historic touring cars fronted for the last blast of the 2005 season. With the prediction of fair weather the early morning qualifier saw most of the field trouble free and fired up for the afternoon’s 5 lap preliminary event. Tony Hubbard’s Camaro had a high speed miss (later traced to the rev limiter settings), newcomer Geoff Taylor ended his session early with a flat tyre in the ex Barbour Torana, Len Read’s Cooper ‘S’ had fuel pump problems while the Fords of Wayne Purdon & Mike Miceli suffered no “spark” and cracked front discs respectively.
When the final times were posted the top four qualifiers were:
1 Alistair. Maclean. (Chevrolet Camaro), 1.50.30
2 Trevor. Talbot. (Torana GTR- XU1), 1.51.95
3 Tony. Hubbard. (Chevrolet Camaro), 1.52.08
Race 1 – The General Rules
Taking full advantage of the extra two cylinders he hasn’t had for the last couple of years Alistair rocketed off the line with Tony Hubbard’s similar car in close company. Tony Hunter dropped back to third when a great inside pass at turn one executed by Trevor Talbot succeeded dropping Scott Slater’s XU1 back to a close fifth. Miceli cut a swath through the field and by the lap four had dropped the Slater Torana down to sixth. Wayne Purdon had expired with a broken distributor shaft as had Jervis Ward’s Mustang with a broken gearbox. Mark Brewster’s XU1 leading the closely matched quartet of Rod Evans in the Jill Hergt entered Chev Nova, NSW competitor Chris Wilson’s XU1, super fast optical genius Bill Cutler’s BMW 2002 and Paul Zazryn in the MK11 Jaguar. Newcomer Marty Lambert was quickly adapting to his Len Read prepared XU1 while the legendary Teddy Brewster’s Cooper ‘S’ was showing the way to Mark Shatz, John Bendall, Len Read, John Luxmoore,Dean Bryant, Gary Burton and Simon Browning’s Cortina
Maclean took a confident first up win from a threatening Tony Hubbard, Trevor Talbot, Tony Hunter Mike Miceli, Scott Slater and Lyndon Punshon’s ex Ralph Mustang.
1st.Alistair Maclean (Camaro) 1.50.87.
2nd Tony Hubbard (Camaro) 1.51.92.
3rd Trevor Talbot (Torana XU1) 1.52.6.
Race 2 – Elation & Anguish
Bouyed by a great result in the first outing for his new mount Maclean was in confident form for the Sunday morning pipeopener.
Miceli on the other hand had other ideas and still had a new lap record on the agenda.
Hubbard had repaired the distributor drive in the Camaro as had Wayne Purdon in the 351 Falcon GT. Ward had replaced the errant gearbox in the Nb Mustang and would start in grid position eight alongside Punshon’s similar car. A spectacular start from all the first three rows saw Hunter , Slater and Miceli three abreast centimetres apart under the bridge and on to turn one close behind Maclean Hubbard and Talbot. Miceli was soon challenging for the lead as Maclean popped the record books on lap three lowering the mark to 1.49.73 only to be outgunned on the same lap by Miceli who left the new bench mark lap at 1.49.71, whew!! Ward’s Mustang was again outed by a mystery electrical fault which would sideline the normally front running Nb driver yet again and action some anxious fault finding activity before the all important 11lap final.
Punshon had slipped past the Slater XU1 to take up 4th place a couple of seconds down on Hunter’s 308 HQ, while just a little further back Mark Brewster was again leading the snarling pack of Evans, Wilson, Zazryn, Cutler and Paul Dobson.
An unfortunate race incident at Honda corner saw both Hubbard and Talbot come together both cars doing some gardening allowing both Lyndon Punshon & Scott Slater to slip through and finish in fourth and fifth respectively behind Tony Hunter, Alister Maclean’s mortally wounded Camaro and an elated Mike Miceli now holder of both the Group Nb and the Group Nc lap records. Bill Cutler (BMW) and Paul Dobson’s ailing Falcon GT led home the tiddlers headed by Richard Fairlam’s misfiring EH, the XU1’s of Geoff Taylor and Martyn Lambert, Ted Brewster, Mark Shatz, Len Read, John Bendal and Dean Bryant’s Peter Backouse prepared Escort 1300GT. In total the first five cars all finished with tight lap times in the mid to high 1.52 second bracket, just tenths of seconds apart, great crowd pleasing racing all through the field.
1st. Michael Miceli (Mustang Boss 302) 1.49.71*
2nd Alistair Maclean (Camaro) 1.49.73.
3rd Tony Hunter ( Holden HQ) 1.52.77.
Race 3 – The General’s Revenge
Tony Hubbard had broken the Camaro’s distributor plate and a desparate drive to a Dandenong speed shop unfortunately only produced a new unit that would not fit in the allocated space, scratch one leading contender. With Maclean’s similar car out with engine damage the GM challenge was left up to the XU1’s of Talbot and Slater
With Miceli looking to improve on his new lap record, and Punshon getting a handle on his new car the V8 Fo Mo Co product was looking strong. Paul Dobson was a non starter with a damaged clutch in his Falcon GT, while John Luxmoore had replaced a blown radiator hose in the Cortina GT keen to give both Bendall, Bryant and Browning lots of curry and Rod Evans fitted yet another set of what was discovered to be some very old rubber (15 years) in a valiant effort to hang tough in the 11 lap decider.
Miceli smoked off the line with yet another set of discs on the front of Mustang, the lowering of the record yet again well in the mind set. Trevor Talbot, Tony Hunter and Scott Slater were again in very close company behind the Boss 302 followed by Mark Brewster, Chris Wilson, Rod Evans, Geoff Taylor and the twin BMW’s of Bill Cutler and Mark Shatz.
Jervis Wards worst fears manifested yet again as the Mustang rolled to a stop sans electrical motivation, as did Wayne Purdon’s GT Falcon, and Tony Hunter’s HQ308 with a broken diff.
Punshon was under intense pressure from Slater as corner after corner the green Torana would pull alongside the Mustang only to be just outgunned on the long Island straights. A safety car lap or two would see the rapid South Australian’s brakes and tyres come back up just enough to hold out the XU1 and when the Miceli Mustang did a quick exit with a potential blown head gasket just two laps from home, Trevor Talbot went on to win by just a second from Lyndon Punshon, who in turn was just one second ahead of Scott Slater’s XU1. A couple of uncharacteristic “offs”, saw Mark Brewster drop to sixth behind Paul Zazryn, and Chris Wilson. Then came Taylor, Cutler, Ted Brewster, Shatz, Read, Lambert and fast Johnny Luxmoore heading up the Ford four brigade of Bryant, Browning and Bendall.
Results: 1st Trevor Talbot ( Torana XU1) 1.52.49.
2nd Lyndon Punshon (Mustang) 1.53.15.
3rd Scott Slater (Torana XU1) 1.53.35.
4th Paul Zazryn (Jaguar Mk11) 1.57.94.
5th Chris Wilson ( Torana) 1.56.15.
A great race and a fantastic finish to the 2005 season for Historic Touring Cars, and a fabulous effort once again by the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club.