Harro holds sway at the Island
Victorian State Race Championship Rd 1, April 30/May 1
Report by Simon Browning with Chris Ralph. Pics by Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com
The weather gods were smiling for Round 1 of the Victorian State Race Championship at Phillip Island. With the previous Phillip Island Classic having been a non-scoring event due to the Over 3 litres having a bye, this would be the first championship meeting of the year.
Very wet weather was predicted, Friday read the script but Saturday turned out to be a sunny day and the HTC had dry runs for qualifying and Race 1. Strong winds made cornering somewhat unpredictable particularly on Lukey Heights and the thunderstorm on Saturday night was spectacular but wrecked a few gazebos in the paddock.
In qualifying as it was over the weekend, John Harrison from NSW in the yellow Mustang was in control, taking pole with an excellent 1.50.9 ahead of four Toranas. Angelo Taranto wanted to check his for-sale green machine was still as quick, which it was and he logged a 1.52.8, just .15 quicker than ex-Club Champ and now Queensland resident Gary Edwards, who was just .9 sec ahead of Stephen Pillekers. Glenn Miles’ Charger split the Torana pack, slotting in just ahead of Mark Brewster’s Torana and Tony Gilfuis’ Capri and Chris Stern in the Mustang, whose new engine exploded comprehensively on Lap 3. Glenn Miles would also take no further part in the meeting, and Daniel van Stokrom had to nip home to effect some repairs.
Race 1 had Harrison in the Mustang out in front from Gary Edwards and Angelo Taranto in their XU1s followed by Tony Gilfuis who led the three-man WA contingent (himself, Martyn Piercey in the Alfa and Ian Wilks, Mini) in his Capri. David Brown’s Datsun was next followed by David Landry’s Torana, Piercey, and John Alessi in his Monaro, slowed by front suspension problems which sidelined him for the rest of the weekend. Newcomer Richard Hill surprised with the pace of his brand new Mini, clocking a 2.00 lap right out of the box, ahead of Adrian Read, Len Read, Wilks, first time racer Brett Hotchkin in brother Rod’s Falcon, John Eeles’ Mini, Simon Browning Cortina, Phil Pearmain Jaguar and Helen Lindner, Mini. Mark Brewster, XU1, broke an axle, and John Eeles holed the Mini’s block on the last lap but managed to finish.
Brett Hotchkin (nicknamed “Chips” to go with “Hot Chicken”, brother Rod) had been spectacular at the back of the grid for his first-ever standing start alongside Browning, Pearmain and Ms Lindner. With mega HP it made for exciting action as he came to grips with the power and the traffic.
Sunday was cooler but the track had dried for Race 2 and John Harrison again took the checker from Gary Edwards who was only two seconds behind. Angelo was 3rd and Daniel van Stokrom had returned with his XU1 to come 4th. Stephen Pillekers and David Landry were the next XU1s and followed Tony Gilfuis and David Brown in the Datsun. Adrian Read lead the Mini brigade of Richard Hill, Len Read, and Ian Wilks who had slowed with a front tyre rubbing on the guard. Again Mark Brewster broke an axle on the start line and decided to go home as he had run out of axles.
In the last race, a 10-lapper, John Harrison had withdrawn to get an early start for home leaving a quickening Gary Edwards to win by four seconds from Daniel van Stokrom with Tony Gilfuis in 3rd. ahead of Brown. Stephen Pillekers slowed with a deflating tyre and Adrian Read parked the car on the main straight after 7 laps. Phil Pearmain lost his clutch shortly after the start but managed to coax the car to the end for a finish.