Big grids, big racing
Report by Darren Knight. Pics courtesy Phil Wisewould. (more pics available from www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com)
More than 60 cars represented Group N at 2015 Historic Sandown, possibly attracted by the VHRR raffle offering a full entry rebate to one competitor if entries reached that number. (David Forbes was the lucky winner, Shane Atwell, Rory O’Neill and Johnny Luxmoore won the $150 HTCAV fuel vouchers.)
An added attraction was a category split to suit the long straights of Sandown: Groups Nb (up to 4500cc)+ Nc (up to 2000cc) and Groups Nb (over 4500c)+ Nc (over 2000cc). This worked so well the VHRR have confirmed the same format will be used in 2016. Drizzling rain during Friday’s free practice gave way to sunny conditions for the rest of the weekend.
Race 1: The all-Alfa front row of pole man Spencer Rice and Rob Burns led the field and quickly established a handy break on the rest, led by the Twin Cam Escort of Peter Van Summeren. Reigning Club Champ David Brown (Datsun) harried the Ford and eventually got through, as the Minis of Len Read and Adrian Read went at it hammer and tong. The Cortinas of David Schofield (ex Rod Evans GT) and Ted Perkins (Lotus) retired with clutch and gearbox issues respectively. Burns pushed hard and set fastest lap but just could not find a way past Rice who took the win. Brown was third from Van Summeren with the two BMWs of Gabriel Digenis and Chris Ralph next.
Race 2: Rice`s task was made a bit easier when Burns did not grid up, having sustained possible valve damage in the previous race and ending his weekend. The Sydneysider made the most of it to scoot away to another win with Brown second and Digenis third narrowly over Van Summeren after a great battle.
Race 3: The final race saw Digenis lob his immaculate Bimmer into the Dandenong Rd sand trap, having been in third. After the Safety Car departed (and Digenis re-joined) no one could again get anywhere near Rice with Brown second and Van Summeren third in front of Ralph and the ultra rapid EH of Phil Shepherd.
Race 1: Darrin Davies (`64 Mustang) made the most of a slow start from pole sitter Brad Tilley to grab an early lead with Daryl Hansen (`68 Mustang) and Tillley (`64 Mustang) in hot pursuit. Perry Spiridis (`69 Mustang) was on the charge after qualifying 8th, pushing the big Fastback up to 4th in short order before losing places after an excursion. A clash at turn one saw Hansen retire with bent steering and Davies continue albeit with big damage to the side of the ex-John Mann `Stang.
Tony Hubbard fell out after running in the top ten with the Camaro stuck in third gear and South Aussie Roger Oliver was hampered by a lack of throttle travel in his Bob Jane livered `69 Camaro. On his first visit to Sandown in the ex-Bob Cox Mustang Tilley took the win from Davies with Michael “Blu” Cannon third in his brutish XY Falcon. Les Walmsley (Charger) beat Oliver home to fourth while Walmsley`s team mate Garry Treloar (making a welcome Group N return in his 396 powered Camaro) had a frustrating run mid pack after a plug lead jumped off.
Race 2: Tilley had the eyes on and shot away to a handy lead. Piloting brother Paul’s famous Camaro for the first time Ray Stubber was looking racier after a somewhat cautious race one, but it all came to nothing when the Chev went out at half distance. Cannon had a bizarre moment when he was black flagged whilst in third due to his brakes being reported as being on fire. Cannon duly came in but was then waved straight back out as no such fire existed…
Michael Hibbert (Charger) and Bill Trengrove (`64 Mustang) had a great dice as did the Toranas of Steven Pillekers and Mark Brewster. Treloar was back on full song with Andrew Whiteside (`68 Mustang) and Hubbard pushing him all the way. A clash between Hubbard and Whiteside at turn one saw the safety car come out and the race declared early under yellows with a number of cars including Whiteside trapped in the sand. Tilley was never headed prior to the yellows and was declared the winner from Oliver with Spiridis third after finally having an untroubled run in his stunning Ford. Davies was fourth with the Mustang clearly not 100% after the substantial hit it took in race one.
Race 3: Tilley again bolted with the 289-powered Mustang getting onto the straights with such speed and accuracy that it gave the larger engine machines little chance of challenging for the lead. Oliver gained a little bit of ground under brakes but could not quite catch the Mustang at the front. Davies had an untroubled run into third in front of Walmsley and Trengrove with Spiridis next, then Stubber and Hibbert.