2012 Phillip Island Classic – Groups A & C
Pics courtesy Phil Wisewould, Jim Jones, SDpics & Rob Lang. Words Darren Knight.
A Grand Prix appearance beckoning the following week did not prevent a massive grid lining up at the Island. Yet again more “new” cars were making their category debut proper with Steve Tate aboard the ex Bob Jones Ampol Walkinshaw Commodore, Nev Butler in Garry Willmington’s second XD and Ian Ross in the gleaming ex Mike Imrie XD that briefly appeared at Sandowns V8 round last year.
Carey McMahon (HR31 Skyline) started from pole and built an unassailable lead. Troy Stapleton (ex Slako Walkie) and Bill Cutler (Schnitzer M3) were second and third after going past Gary Collins (HRT Walkie) who ran wide on oil at Honda and had the car briefly jumping out of gear. The Escorts of Greg and Russell Keam and Bob Holden had a great scrap all race as did Craig Bowring (ReCar Commodore) who just beat Mike Roddy (TWR XJ-S) and Hugh Harrison (ex Bond Alfa).
McMahon went off early in race two and pitted to check a tyre as Jim Richards pushed the converted Group C 635CSi (in Group A trim) hard in his pursuit of Roddy. Jamie McDonald lost an engine in the Masterton Homes VK and Rod Markland (GIO GTR) came in after a hose fitting came loose. Stapleton won from Collins and Cutler.
Collins made a great start in race three but Stapleton grabbed the lead with an audacious move around the outside at Honda, a pass Cutler had used earlier to good effect. This time Cutler found himself in a big battle with Eddie Sansil (Seton Sierra) and Craig Neilson (Starion). David Patterson retired the ex Bob Holden Sprinter with a head gasket issue as Markland came in again after a brake line let go. Ford legend Murray Carter also posted a DNF in the ex Rusty French XC Hardtop although it was great to see to see him back behind the wheel of one of the big coupes. The podium was a repeat of race two with Stapleton winning from Collins and Cutler.
The final saw McMahon climb to the lead and post the fastest lap of the weekend on his way to the win. Stapleton and Collins completed the podium with Neilson fourth after a big dice with Cutler who was right behind in sixth.