2008 Phillip Island Classic

March 7-9 2008

By Darren Knight. Pics Neil Hammond

Greg Malaure (Cooper S) andDarren Pearce (Mustang) were the stand-out performers from a huge entry of historic tourers in this, the inaugural 3-day Phillip Island Historic meeting.

Practice and qualifying took place on Friday with four races for both Under and (mostly) Over Three Litre classes scheduled across Saturday and Sunday. Malaure and Pearce ended up with two and three victories respectively while Chris Smith (Alfa) and Ron Moller (Camaro) each chipped in with single race wins. The third Under 3L race was cancelled after a sickening collision at the start. Ben Read (Mazda RX-2) was stranded on the second row of the grid after something broke in the driveline and the car remained stationary. Somehow the bulk of the field avoided the stricken Rotary until cars further back were three wide at full noise and a collision became inevitable. Boxed in with cars either side of him, an unsighted Peter Martin (BMW 2002) tried to avoid Read at the last minute but slammed into the back corner of the Mazda and in turn was collected heavily in the driver’s side himself. The force of the impact lifted the BMW into the air and pushed the back corner of the Mazda to be almost in line with the B-pillar. Read climbed out by himself shaken but unharmed while some time was taken to extract Martin who had sustained four broken ribs and a punctured lung. Several other cars were damaged in the melee and once again Michael Holloway and his team of volunteers did a fantastic job to clear the track to enable racing to continue.

Under 3 Litres
Pole winner Malaure was quickly into the lead in the opening race and posting very fast times. He did receive a little assistance to stay there by some frantic dicing behind him for the minor placings. Smith locked a brake but still grabbed second from Read at MG as Jason Armstrong (Cooper S) and category returnee Mark Johnson (Porsche) had a big dice. Read had a big moment after running wide exiting turn 12 and getting all four wheels onto the grass at big speed but skilfully gathered it up and kept on truckin`. Malaure won from Smith and Read, with Paul Cruse (Twin Cam Escort) next then Kirk Davis (RX-2), Johnson, Armstrong, Garry Edwards (BMW 2002), Ian Pringle (Cooper S) and Grant Bingley (EH) completing the top ten. Fastest lap: Malaure 1:57.0640. Notable mentions to newcomer Nick Cascone (ex Lloyd Cleaver Cortina) who finished and Helen Lindner (Cooper S) who showed much improved pace in 18th – her Brick now resplendent with a pink engine, which encouraged much puerile (yet good natured) comments from fellow competitors that cannot not be repeated here!

Race two saw Malaure initially lead until Smith powered past. Davis fell off exiting Honda and dropped more places after an off at turn 12. Cruse, Johnson and Armstrong had a ripping dice until the latter faded towards the end with car problems. Brent Trengrove (EH) sliced through the order to be 13th after starting 20th while Pringle and Bingley had a ding dong Nb battle for lap after lap. Read grabbed second from Malaure on the front straight until the Mini regained it under brakes at Honda. Smith won by just under half a second from Malaure and Read (who were separated by .08 of a second) with Cruse fourth. Johnson was next then Edwards, Bingley, Pringle, Errol Stratford (BDA Escort) and John Nelson (Porsche). Fastest lap: Read 1:57.4229.

Smith’s bid for the Rockwell Automation trophy for the final ended on the opening lap with the Alfa struck down with ignition woes. Stratford had made a great start as Davis climbed back up the order after his race two dramas. Trengrove and Paul Atkins (Cortina) had an epic dice as did Nelson and fellow Porsche pilot Rory O`Neill. Malaure built a healthy lead and was never headed with Cruse second and Johnson an excellent third in his first meeting with the David Belford-built 911. Davis was next then Stratford, Armstrong, Pringle, Edwards, Nelson and O`Neill, to make it five South Australians in the top ten. Their water is yuk but they can build cars and drive them well… Fastest lap: Malaure 1:57.9085.

Mostly Over 3L
Pearce hooked up nicely to lead as the two Camaros of Moller and Darren Collins used all their power to displace front row starter Scott Slater (Torana). The ex-Ian Jones Torana of Stuart Young was out early as was fellow West Australian Daniel Dragojevich after his HQ Monaro developed a miss. Cam Worner (XW Falcon) and Michael Hibbert (Charger) diced hard as did Simon Phillips (Torana) and Harry Bargwanna in his Capri, one of five 3000cc Capris in the field that gave the grid its “mostly Over 3L” tag for this meeting. Pearce won from Collins who just beat Moller with Slater fourth and Daryl Hansen (Mustang) fifth. John Mann (Mustang) just beat a hard-charging Glenn Seton (Capri) for sixth after Seton started at the back having missed qualifying on Friday due to HRT duties in Sydney. The Toranas of Alf Bargwanna, Doug Growcott and John Harrison completed the top ten. Bill Trengrove (Mustang) was an excellent 11th outright and first Nb car home. Fastest lap: Collins 1:49.6484.

Seton made his intentions clear in race two with a big move under brakes at MG but spun and collected Mann and Growcott, the latter two retiring while the Capri continued. Pearce had no intentions of taking it easy at the front as evidenced by his drifting onto the grass entering the front straight and keeping the boot in as the Mustang rejoined the black stuff. Trengrove slowed with gearbox dramas as Hansen spun at MG and Ray Challis (Torana) harried Hibbert mercilessly on the last lap. Pearce won from Collins who again had an exciting contest with the sideways Moller in third. Slater was fourth then Phillips, Alf Bargwanna, Harrison, Hibbert, Challis and Harry Bargwanna. Fastest lap: Pearce 1:50.2942.

Race three saw Pearce again get the jump while Slater was briefly third until Moller blasted past running up to Honda. Geoff Taylor (Mustang) looped at MG as Seton carved through and then attacked Slater, who held out for a lap or so until the flying Capri got through. Pearce again showed the Chevs the way home with Moller edging out Collins for second. Seton was fourth then Slater, Phillips, Alf Bargwanna, Harrison, Challis and Worner in tenth with Hibbert almost alongside. Fastest lap: Moller1:50.3057.

In the final Collins made a great start to lead Moller and Pearce early until Pearce fought back with a big dive under brakes at MG. Slater and Phillips became immersed in a big dice as Hansen broke back into the top ten. Collins’ tyres looked on the way out and Seton pounced to grab third. Mann retired as Allen Boughen (Customline) entertained the crowd on the front straight by dropping a wheel off the track at full noise exiting turn 12 on successive laps. Moller had fitted fresh tyres for the final and they looked to be paying dividends when he grabbed the lead on the last lap. Pearce fought back to regain the lead at Honda and the two were locked together for the run home. Side by side they entered the front straight with nothing in it. They hit the line together with Moller getting the win and the Rockwell Automation trophy by .04 of a second! Seton was third then Collins and Phillips, who just beat home Slater by .05 of a second and in doing so scored a set of Sonic Lite racing wheels donated by Schnell Motorsport for the first Torana home in the final. Challis was seventh then Alf Bargs, Worner and Harry Bargs, who just beat Hibbert after a race long dice. Michael Bugelly (Mustang) was a standout, finishing 12th after starting 23rd. Fastest lap: Moller 1:50.0420.