2009 Phillip Island Classic

The wettest in years

March 13-15 2009

Under 3 Litre, Over 3 Litre, Group A & C

Pics James Smith and www.sdpic.com. Words Darren Knight & Chris Ralph

Under 3-Litres – Three different winners, three different makes

Race One:
Russell Pilven (Datsun 1600) revelled in the wet to win the opener after fending off Island debutant Jason Black (RS 1600 Escort) with the two RX-2s of Kirk Davis and pole winner Jason Humble next. Pilven grabbed the lead with an audacious move around the outside exiting MG. Mark Johnson qualified fourth fastest but lost many places after two very uncharacteristic half spins at MG. Ben Read (RX-2) finished sixth just behind Wayne Seabrook (Porsche) in the Read teams first race back after their original Mazda was destroyed in a shocking start line incident at this meeting last year.

Race Two:
Humble was soon into the lead in a much drier Race Two and he too held out Black to take a win. Seabrook was third with Rotary pair Read and Bob Sudall almost hitting the line together after a big dice. Behind them in sixth was Capri legend and ’65 Bathurst winner Bo Seton. Pilven retired after a rotor button let go. Chris Ralph put the frustration of having his BMW damaged by a flying marquee pole behind him with another solid run in the Alpina-liveried 2002.

Race Three:
Changeable weather leading up to the final race meant tyre selection became a real guessing game. Humble rolled the dice with wets but a change in the programme meant the track had almost dried by the time the cars lined up. Seabrook made a good start to grab the lead while Humble had little choice other than to park it and save the expensive rubber. Black nipped under Seabrook and went on to claim the Rockwell Automation Cup for U3L. Read almost caught the Porsche for second but a lurid slide at Honda kept him in third by a tiny margin, Read just edging out Sudall and Seton after a frantic last lap. UK engine tuner and former tintop champ Ric Wood (Capri) narrowly beat Johnson for sixth.

Toranas triumph in the wet

Group N Over 3Lt

Race One:
Friday’s dry qualifying conditions gave way to a wet race one on Saturday. Pole man Darren Pearce (Mustang) and fellow front rower Ron Moller (Camaro) found themselves quickly under attack from Torana men Alf Bargwanna and Andrew Williams. Both got through with Williams grabbing the win after some fantastic racing. Moller was third from Michael Hibbert (Charger) followed by Pearce and Angelo Taranto (Torana). Andrew Cannon took out Nb honours from fellow Mustang punter Jervis Ward. Doug Westwood (Falcon) had more gearbox issues which would rule him out for the weekend.

Race Two:
Pearce was on the charge early in the dry second race and drove a very controlled race to beat the sometimes spectacularly sideways Moller. Williams was third and Michael Miceli (Falcon) fourth narrowly in front of Bargwanna after some huge dicing. Rob Burns (Charger), Scott Slater (Torana) and Hibbert finished inches apart in an entertaining battle for sixth.

Race Three:
The rain returned for the final but Moller suddenly vacated the grid with seconds to the start after the thermostat jammed in the Chev.

More drama came shortly after when Mark Brewsters excellent meeting came to an end when his Torana threw a rod half way down the straight. A small fire under the bonnet prompted the Safety Car into action during which Slater retired after a fan belt flew off.

After the restart Williams came under attack from Taranto who was utilising a set of wets to excellent effect. The former Dylan Innes/Les Walmsley XU-1 clawed into the lead and gave its rapidly improving driver a momentous debut win in the Rockwell Automation Cup for O3L .

Williams was third then Pearce, Bargs and Ben Wilkinson (HQ Monaro). Several more drivers looked exceptional in the wet, including Graham Jarrett (Camaro) and Roger Oliver in the on-the-market Falcon Sprint. But none more so than Sandgroper Mark Jewell (Torana) who finished an incredible sixth after starting 23rd if you don`t mind!

Bimmers blow ‘em away

Group A & C

Race One:
It was the DTM spec 2.5 litre BMW M3 of Robert Ingram piloted by Glenn Seton that tore away from the start and opened up a huge lead in the wet opener, which he held to the end. Meanwhile the battle of the Grp A 2.3 litre cars between Sydney’s David Towe in the black ex-Richards JPS machine and our own Bill Cutler in the ex Oestreich / Ratzenberger car started for the weekend and saw them filling positions 2 and 3. Next was Norman Mogg in the Walkinshaw, Steve Perrott in the A9X and Sydney Anglia and 1300 Escort punter Chris Dubois in Robert Ingram’s other car, the ANZ Ford Sierra Cosworth.

Race Two:
In the dry the podium results were the same but Bill battled closely with Towe, grabbing second spot on lap 3 only to have it retaken and to finish just a second astern.

This time it was Craig Markland in the Nissan Skyline HR31 who filled 4th just pipping Mogg with Dubois a second behind. Mike Roddy’s XJS Jag which had struggled in the wet came up the order into 9th from 23rd and Justin Matthews in the 1600cc Toyota overcame capacity lack with driving skill to claim 12th ahead of some hefty iron. Checking the times of this race against those of the Group N punters, even the Under 3-litre front runners, would not have seen the older cars disgraced.

Race Three:
With Glenn Seton a non-starter in the greasy final the win fell to David Towe, this time ahead of Markland in the Skyline who grabbed second on the opening lap and held it to finish 2 secs behind Towe and just half a second ahead of Bill Cutler. Then it was a 20 second gap back to Mogg in the Walkinshaw, Perrott in the A9X and then Adrian Brady in the immaculate BMW 635 Csi, Sawford in another A9X, Dubois in the Sierra and Roddy in the XJS.

It was excellent to see these cars being used as they were intended, even though many of the owner-drivers are very conscious of their value. The lap charts show that were six passing moves made by the whole field and down at the rear one driver actually passed two cars…