2009 Bathurst

Frolicking with FOSC

Fun at Easter Bathurst

April 10-12 2009

Pics MARSTA Photography – www.marsta.com. Wordds RalphE

For Darren and myself this was our first experience of Bathurst and Mt Panorama as competitors. What an amazing race circuit and a challenge for any racing driver.

We arrived Thursday afternoon in time for scrutineering, which essentially was to obtain the scrutiny label for the car. A drivers briefing was held on Thursday evening at 5:30 pm; the only driver briefing for the weekend. We were one of only three Victorians and five Club members entered in the over 2 litre touring car category comprising a total of 50 cars. Our race program was to consist of the Masters session on Friday followed by qualifying, two races Saturday and two races Sunday. On the Friday we learnt that there was also an ‘unofficial’ practice session available but you had to nominate for this.

Our start to the meeting did not go to plan as we had to miss both the Masters sessions and unofficial practice due to a leaking clutch master cylinder which was replaced and we were able to complete 3 laps of qualifying before the clutch failed and gear selection was not possible. The three Victorians qualified together in 15th, 16th and 17th in the order Garry Edwards, Bill Trengrove and Darren.

Friday night we removed the gearbox and clutch to discover the problem was with the ‘floating’ plates in the triple plate clutch. Saturday morning was spent repairing the clutch problem which meant that we missed race 1: results Bill Trengrove 6th and Garry Edwards 15th.

Race 2 was the 13th event of the day of an 18-race program and we found ourselves still on the dummy grid at 4:45 pm with racing for the day due to stop at 5:00 pm. We were informed that we would not be racing and that our race would be first race of the day Sunday, so we returned to our garage. No sooner had we returned to our garage we were informed (not sure how; word of mouth from fellow competitors) that we would be racing, so we returned to the dummy grid and shortly afterwards were called up to pit lane to line up. As Darren lined up in pit lane I was alerted by Daryl Hansen’s mechanics that Darren’s left front tyre (Dunlop D93J) was deflating. We attempted to complete a tyre change before the start of the race so that we could start from pit lane but were unable to do this and were advised by an official that we could not start the race. The race was ‘red flagged’ after 1 lap.

It continued to rain on Saturday night so that on Sunday morning we had a wet track and fog on Mt Panorama. So a rerun of Race 2 was the first event Sunday morning. Race was run for 7 laps with Gary Edwards finishing 7th and Darren 8th with Bill a DNF due to a carburettor problem.

Race 3 was postponed as a change to the program saw events 19 – 26 rescheduled to the end of the program (these events eventually were not run).

Race 4 of 4 laps was held mid afternoon, again in wet conditions with Gary finishing 3rd and Darren 6th, with Bill a DNS due to the carburetor problem. Unfortunately for us we were involved in a first corner incident following the start when Darren turning into turn one was hit in the LH rear quarter and then hit again along the drivers door (LHD) and front guard. After all the pre meeting warnings of ‘no contact allowed’ it was most disappointing that no action was taken.

Some observations and comments on the meeting:

I have never experienced at any race meeting the number of delays that occurred due to ‘red’ flag incidents. The wet weather obviously contributed to this but you would have to question the driving standard of some of the competitors. The first time I have seen a regularity event ‘red’ flagged on lap one. Due to the red flag incidents there were numerous delays where drivers where held in pit lane and were not advised by officials of the anticipated delay in the start time.

In view of the nature of the track and the potential for ‘serious’ incidents to occur I found it unusual that there were not driver briefings on each day. The PA system is not that effective when cars are running on the circuit or when in the garages working on the car so it is difficult to always be aware of important announcements and changes to the program.

I was very surprised at the small number of Victorian competitors at the meeting. I would have expected that the chance to run at a track considered tobe the most challenging in Australia would have attracted more interest. It was noted that the meeting got very little coverage in our club newsletter or competition schedule. Not sure if this is may be due to the marketing strategy of the promoter.

Although the Masters sessions have value for newcomers to Bathurst it is not a concept that is used at any other circuit. The sessions allow you to familiarize yourself with the track but it all changes when you are at race speed. Perhaps the normal format for a race meeting of a practice session, qualifying session day one and three races over the next two days would be a better format and allow each competitor equal track time.

Despite all the negatives we plan to return to the mountain again and hopefully have a great trouble free weekend (and dry weather conditions).

In the meantime I would encourage anyone who has not made the trip (easy 10 hours towing a trailer) to mark it in your diary and make it one of your ‘must do’ racing experiences.

Jim Collins

Thanks to Marcel Stawiczny for his top shots of the boys at Bathurst. Check his website for more www.marsta.com

HTCAV wins at Bathurst!

Two interstate members also kept the HTCAV flag flying – with victory! ACT member John Harrison in the red Torana topped qualifying and went on to score a fifth and two fantastic wins over the weekend – what a great result for a consistently quick and gentlemanly competitor – congratulations from your fellow Club members. Former Geelong boy, ex Perth dude and now Sydney resident Andrew Whiteside in the Charger qualified 10th and scored an 11th and a 6th plus a DNF with a dud battery. Andrew’s car has been getting faster and to score so well on his first visit to the Mount was a great achievement. Well done to both.