Report by Darren Knight and Chris Ralph. Pics by Pics by Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com
The final fling for JUST CARS Historic Touring Cars in 2019 brought tight racing as championship fortunes came down to the wire at the magnificent Phillip Island track.
Pole position went to Darren Collins in the Camaro with Andy Clempson’s superbly presented tribute to Alan Moffat’s Union Shipping 351 Fastback Mustang in second, the Boss 302 Fastback of Michael Miceli in third and John Mann’s Camaro rounding out the first two rows. The stage was set…
Race One, Saturday afternoon – Collins takes the win, sort of.
Andy Clempson rocketed to the lead with Darren Collins hot on his heels, looking for a way through, which he found on Lap 3 under brakes into the Turn 4 hairpin. But Clempson tigered away at the back of the Camaro, while fending off the advances of Michael Miceli’s Mustang. With rear end issues, John Mann’s Camaro couldn’t show its best, but kept up with the front group in fourth.
A three-way stoush between Brent Trengrove in his father Bill’s Nb 289 Mustang, Alan McKelvie’s ’68 302 Mustang and Harry Bargwanna’s Nc 289 Mustang battle saw them finish only seconds apart. Another trio of Stephen Pillekers (Torana) NSW’s Alex Bland (Capri) and WA’s Stuart Young (Torana) were in close company.
Behind them was Harrison Draper in the Datsun 1600, his rapid pace more or less determining the final Championship outcome. From then on it was his to lose over the hard-charging Rob van Stokrom (BMW) who consistently lowered his PB in a frantic pursuit. Simon Browning won the four-way Cortina chase, Mick Stupka rounded out the field.
But later an erroneous technical infringement was levelled at the Collins Camaro and official results show a DSQ in qualifying and Race 1 and 2, although his points remain unaffected in the Club count. Honour was restored!
Race Two, Sunday morning – Clempson and Miceli finish .2 secs apart
Relegated to the rear of the grid Collins had plenty of work to do in order to catch the front runners in only five laps and a start mishap saw him finish back in 12th. Miceli spun the tyres off the line, allowing Clempson and Mann through. Bill Trengrove went out immediately after an axle let go in the EH (“the one time I didn’t bring the spare!” Bill quipped ruefully post-race).
A fierce battle for Cortina honours raged between Don Knight and John Luxmoore as fellow small Ford punter Simon Browning retired with overheating issues. Miceli went through on Mann and began harrying Clempson at the front as a little further back Stephen Pillekers (Torana) had Alex Bland (Capri) right on his tail as the two six cylinder machines pursued the Mustang of Alan McKelvie.
Collins pushed hard but could climb no higher than 12th in the shorter 5-lap race distance with Clempson hanging on for the win by the narrowest of margins with Miceli almost alongside at the flag. Mann had a relatively lonely run into third in front of the Mustangs of Brent Trengrove, Harry Bargwanna and Alan McKelvie. West Aussie Ray Hepburn (Mustang) chased the Falcon of Rod Hotchkin all the way and bagged 13th after a first race DNF. Knight won the Cortina battle while just up ahead Stephen Watt (Triumph) almost caught newcomer Darren Jones (Mustang) on the line.
Race Three, Sunday afternoon – the Trophy race
The ten lap Isola Di Capri Trophy would round out the year and right from the get go it turned out to be a cracker. Clempson and Miceli fought hammer and tong for the lead in a spectacular display of hard but fair racing. It all came to nothing for Clempson though on lap seven when a puncture (on a brand new tyre) forced him out. Meanwhile Collins had rocketed up the order and slotted into fourth by the end of the second lap.
Knight parked the Cortina with a blown head gasket as McKelvie dropped a few spots mid race having ran as high as fourth in the early going. Having his first run in 12 months Jervis Ward had his Falcon Sprint well and truly firing, the 289 cubic inch powered machine all over the rear of Rod Hotchkin’s big XY, eventually getting past and into fourth. It wasn’t to last as he was out on the very last lap, suspecting gearbox issue which luckily turned out to be a small leak from the filler plug.
With his rear tyres having seen better days, Collins could not catch Miceli who took out the Trophy for the second time, having first won it many years ago in his first Fastback Mustang that went on to become a TCM racer in the hands of Gavin Bullas. Mann took another third with Rod Hotchkin next closely followed by Pillekers. WA’s Hepburn was next then Harry Draper (Datsun) who collected more valuable points in seventh ahead of another West Australian, Stuart Young (Torana).
This end-of-year meeting always has a special feel about it, with JUST CARS competitors leaving in the knowledge that their first meeting next year will again be at this magical track. Don’t miss them at the Phillip Island Classic, March 5-8th.