2015 Winton Festival of Speed

Good weather, great racing

V8s vs Mazdas all weekend

Report by Darren Knight. Pics courtesy Phil Wisewould. (more pics available from www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com)

August 8-9

Phil Woodbury looked set to be a real threat after bagging pole in his indecently quick Mazda RX2 ahead of Darryl Hansen’s ’68 Mustang and NSW’s Michael Anderson in the Ford Falcon XY, who in turn slotted in ahead of Harry Bargwanna’s 64 Mustang, Jason Humble’s RX2 and Rob Burns’ Alfa, the fastest of the Under 2-Litre cars. But his weekend ended on lap one of Race 1 when he tangled with the `68 Mustang of Daryl Hansen and retired with bent steering and panel damage, after the Mustang spun around. Michael Anderson (Falcon) assumed the lead while Rob Burns held out the big cars for a few laps with his rapid Alfa in third. Tony Gilfuis (Capri) ended up in the sand as Anderson went on to win from Harry Bargwanna (Mustang) and Darren Smith (Falcon). Jason Humble (Mazda) was next then John Harrison (Mustang), “Blu” Cannon (Falcon), Burns, Jason Foley (Falcon), Alan McKelvie (Torana) and debutant Gabriel Digenis rounding out the top ten in his very neat, Nick Cascone-prepared BMW 2002.

Race 2 saw Tony Hubbard starting from the back after feeling unwell the day before. It was a Falcon one–two in the early stages after Smith slotted in behind Anderson, with Bargwanna making a slow start before retiring with an errant plug lead, which surely must rank second behind running out of juice as the most annoying reason for recording a DNF. Cannon, Harrison and Foley had a great battle until Cannon found himself squeezed onto the grass entering turn two. He gathered the big Ford back up and continued. Hansen and Hubbard clawed their way up the order after starting from the rear with Burns making them work hard to find a way past, the sweet handling 105 well-suited to Winton’s twists and turns. Nathan Gordon holed a block in “Grumpy” the Torana and stopped immediately on the exit of the esses, leaving the Recovery Crew to effect one of the fastest dead car recoveries in the history of motor sport (slick work chaps) thus negating the need for a Safety Car. Meanwhile Humble harassed Smith at every corner, the RX-2 entertaining the crowd with some lurid sideways cornering and eventually grabbed second place behind an untroubled Anderson. Foley was fourth from Harrison who just beat home Hubbard followed by Cannon, Burns, Hansen (with a dying alternator) and McKelvie.

Race 3 and several competitors, including Anderson, elected not to run this final event at the very end of the programme, some being interstaters who had to work on Monday while others were reportedly not impressed the longer pit stop race was withdrawn and replaced with a normal length event. Humble got the initial jump but Smith soon blasted into the lead and set about trying to build a cushion for when the big Henry’s tyres and brakes inevitably started to wane later in the race. Burns and Bargwanna had a spirited scrap as Hansen moved into the lead with Humble overcoming Smith and then closing up on the Mustang as the laps ticked over. The final lap was gripping in the gloom with the Mazda all over the Mustang which seemed to be struggling somewhat out of corners, the result of – incredibly – another alternator crying enough. At the flag the two cars hit the line side by side with Humble winning by the slimmest of margins after some great driving by both protagonists. Smith had another solid third from Hubbard then came Bargs, Burns, Gilfuis, Digenis, Steve Pillekers (Torana) and Chris Ralph (BMW).

Darren Knight