2011 Phillip Island Classic – Groups C & A
Story Darren Knight
Pics courtesy sdpics.com, Matt Griffin and Jim Jones
In Race 1 pole winner Troy Stapleton (ex-Tim Slako Walkinshaw) spun the bags allowing Bill Cutler (Schnitzer M3) to grab an early lead. Troy Kelly (Re-Car VC Commodore) retired with a puncture as Carey McMahon (ex Skaife HR31 Skyline) lost a few spots after running wide at the hairpin.
Stapleton stalked Cutler and pounced on the last lap, taking a narrow win with Garry Kirwan (Jagparts Walky) third from David Towe (JPS M3), Jervis Ward (Brock M3) and the first Group C car home, Stephen Perrott (Roadways A9-X).
Stapleton made a better start in Race 2 as did Perrott who held third place initially before his five year old tyres started to count against him. Ed Singleton (STP VC) had a big dice with Perrott and Ward as Willie Van Wersch (MMM VC) retired at the hairpin.
Ford legend Murray Carter (guest steering his original XE Falcon at the invitation of owner Chad Parish) was slowed momentarily when the gear knob fell off and knocked the kill switch. Robert Ingram (Moffat Sierra) continued to be plagued by fuel pressure issues and came in. Stapleton won from Cutler, McMahon, Towe and Singleton.
Cutler rocketed off the line to grab the lead in Race 3 while Towe fell back to dead last after an off on the opening lap at turn one, with the chasing medical car getting a nice surprise (and a brakes test) after Towe was waved back onto the circuit.
Rod Hatfield (McRea Brothers L34) had a lose entering the front straight and just managed to keep it off the pit wall. Singleton wasn`t so lucky, the Commodore spearing across the track in the same place after getting out on the wet grass after running wide at turn 12. The Safety Car was despatched to retrieve the damaged Holden as Dean Howe (L34) sliced through the field on his way to 12th from R.O.G., just behind the recovering Towe.
The Escort RS2000s of Nev Butler and Greg Keam had a great battle not far behind the ex Bo Seton/Don Smith Capri of Carl Muller. Stapleton won from Cutler and McMahon with Ward next then the amazing Mitsubishi Starion of Craig Neilson.
Stapleton controlled the wheel spin in the final and led from virtually start to finish while Ward went out after a fan belt shredded. Cutler and Kirwan completed the podium with Towe fourth in the last race for the first Team JPS – built M3.
The black and gold machine is destined for static display and will be replaced by a later JPS M3 that finished fourth at Bathurst in 1987.