Talk about Déjà Vu!
September 26-27 2009
Pics courtesy David Apostol. Words Graham Slater.
The last two times we have raced at Phillip Island it has ended up very wet and horribly windy. With not so sweet memories for most of the Shannon’s Classic last race and the first round of the State series, the all-important final round would also end up another battle of pure luck in the choice of tyres, determined by weather which changed by the minute.
As luck would have it, qualifying was dry and optimistically many were hoping for a continued lack of precipitation for the mid-afternoon Group N eight-lap race.
A couple of old faces made a welcome return in cars that neither had driven prior to the event. Andrew Tickner had returned in his new Monaro HQ 350 as had Justin Brown in the red BMW 2002. Keven Stoopman had also jumped aboard Andrew Williams’ very quick XU1 in a return to the category, after a successful stint in HQ’s.
Scott Slater was on the mark in the XU1, setting the benchmark time with a pole winning 1:51.7. Showing great form in his new mount Tickner slotted into second fastest with a 1:53:5, Gary Edwards (Torana XU1) was third fastest with a 1:55:6, while Kevan Stoopman closed out row two with a 1:55:8. Angelo Taranto (Torana XU1), Andy Clempson’s Mustang, followed by Leo Tobin (XU1) and Geoff Taylor (Mustang) made up rows three and four, John Pillekers and Rod Hotchkin were in the top ten, while Justin Brown lead the four cylinder field ahead of Nick Cascone (Cortina GT), John Smallman’s RS1600 and Craig Miles’ well-presented E49 Charger.
Ian Watt, Gordon Cox, Dean Lindstrom in the Barbour RX2 and Gary Rowe’s Lotus Cortina rounded out what was again a quality field of Historic Touring Cars.
Wet and Wild!
As expected the weather closed in and the first race for Historic Touring Cars was very wet! Scott Slater took full advantage of pole leading the field into turn one, followed by Gary Edwards, Keven Stoopman, Angelo Taranto and Andy Clempson. Edwards came unstuck at Southern Loop and in the confusion behind, Slater took full advantage breaking away to lead by over four seconds at the end of the first lap.
Andrew Tickner didn’t have any wet tyres and his P2 grid position soon evaporated way back to eighth place. Keven Stoopman however was well on the pace and set about trying to catch the leading Torana, followed by XU1s of Angelo Taranto and Leo Tobin some seven seconds back in third and fourth respectively.
By the half way mark Edwards had recovered to eighth place, Nick Cascone was in sixth ahead of Paul Dobson’s XTGT Falcon, Craig Miles’ Charger, John Smallman, Karl Wittick’s XYGT and Geoff Taylor in the Mustang.
With no let up in the rain Scott Slater slowly edged away from the strong Stoopman challenge, opening out what appeared to be an unassailable eight second lead with one lap to go. As fate would have it, the Torana’s normally reliable differential decided to break just as Scott received the last lap board, the very frustrated driver rolling to a stop before Honda corner and watching as first Stoopman then Taranto and Tobin flashed past to take out the podium places.
Edwards had done a great job to climb back from his first lap spin and finish in fifth place behind Andy Clempson’s Mustang. Nick Cascone was the first of the four cylinder cars, in front of Dobson, Miles, Jon Pillekers’ XU1 with John Smallman in tenth.
Results: 1st Keven Stoopman (Torana GTR-XU1), 17.01.92. (2:04:07*), 2nd Angelo Taranto (Torana GTR-XU1), 17.19.68. (2.06.68), 3rd Leo Tobin (Torana GTR-XU1), 17.24.07. (2.06.65). * Fastest Lap. Keven Stoopman (Torana GTR-XU1) 2.04.07.
Wet and Dry!
Sunday was another day. Yes, and again it looked to be a wet one. No one was taking chances even though there had been some dry time; the general consensus was when we hit the hot mix for sure there would be precipitation.
Angelo Taranto had kindly lent Scotty Slater a replacement differential enabling a rear of grid start next to Andrew Tickner’s HQ Monaro. Andrew had replaced the faulty fuel pump that caused his new mount to DNF in the previous race but the big GTS still had no wets. Gary Edwards got a great start, heading Angelo Taranto, Keven Stoopman and Andy Clempson then Scott Slater who had blasted through from the rear of grid to fifth at the end of the first lap.
Leo Tobin was sixth just ahead of Paul Dobson’s XTGT. Then came Craig Miles, Jon Pillekers, Nick Cascone, John Smallman, Justin Brown’s BMW, Geoff Taylor and Andrew Tickner. By mid race Slater had pushed through to third behind Stoopman but Edwards had established a good lead and looked solid in first place.
Like a “flash forward”, moment or a tale straight out of a Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”, yes, the rain stopped. And with a strong wind doing a quick dry job on the black stuff Tickner flashed from a struggling for grip eighth place, to a hard charging sixth.
Cars on the “good in the wet” Dunlops were burning rubber faster than a hooker who’d forgotten the baby oil, (don’t know what that means but heard the expression somewhere!). So if the point score race later that afternoon was to be wet, there would be some lumpy bumpy doughnuts fronting the starter.
Even though the lead cars were struggling for grip on the near dry track Gary Edwards went on to a strong win seven seconds clear of Keven Stoopman with Scott Slater just ahead of Angelo Taranto in third place.
Results: 1st Gary Edwards (Torana GTR-XU1), 12.12.13. (1.59.54*), 2nd Keven Stoopman (Torana GTR-XU1), 12.19.65. (1.59.88), 3rd Scott Slater (Torana GTR-XU1), 12.29.27. (2.01.08). *Fastest Lap: Gary Edwards (Torana GTR-XU1) 1.59.54.
It’s a Toss Up!!
With 10 minutes to go before the point score race there were more coins tossing in the air than a Two Up convention. Conditions were literally varying by the minute, but the majority ruled and dry tyres were the choice.
Those who had destroyed tyres in the previous race didn’t have a choice, among them Keven Stoopman who decided not to participate at all, while Taranto’s XU1 and Taylor’s Mustang (brand new Dunlop D84s) opted to go with wets.
With the track conditions still just a little wet, both Scott Slater and Gary Edwards got great starts closely followed by Geoff Taylor, Angelo Taranto and with Andrew Tickner close behind.
Slater led Edwards for the first three laps but as the weather quickly went feral both Toranas were fast coming under pressure from the “wets” equipped cars of Taranto and Taylor. Tickner was just hanging on and as with the majority of the field, as the conditions deteriorated the degree of difficulty increased.
Andy Clempson was in sixth just ahead of Justin Brown, Karl Wittick’s XYGT and Jon Pillekers. With both Leo Tobin and Paul Dobson out at the half way mark it was left to Dean Lindstrom’s RX2, Ian Watt (Triumph 2.5 PI), John Smallman’s RS1600 and the immaculate Torana GTR of Gordon Cox to round out the gradually slowing field.
In now very wet conditions Edwards made a bold move and slipped past Slater to temporarily take first place until Taranto then Taylor comfortably moved past as their choice to go “wets” was now bearing fruit in a big way.
Gary Edwards and Scott Slater were very close and a half lose at Southern loop allowed Scott to slip back into third producing a great battle to the flag over the last two laps.
Angelo Taranto went away to a great win from Geoff Taylor, then came Scott Slater in third, barely a car length clear of Gary Edwards. A fast-inishing Justin Brown put the BMW in a brilliant fifth place ahead of Andy Clempson, Karl Wittick, Jon Pillekers, Nick Cascone with a grateful Andrew Tickner rounding out the top ten finishers.
Results: 1st Angelo Taranto (Torana GTR-XU1), 15.03.55. (2.06.23), 2nd Geoff Taylor (Ford Mustang), 15.11.96. (2.05.76), 3rd Scott Slater (Torana GTR-XU1), 15.17.06. (2.02.99). * Fastest Lap: Gary Edwards (Torana GTR-XU1) 2.02.39.
Yet again a well-run event by the well drilled Victorian Mini Club. In spite of the at times horrendous conditions races, were kept on schedule with sensible shortening of events as the conditions demanded. Let’s all hope that Island Magic is dry, sure we need the water but three wet ones in a row “Give us a break!”