Sandown Just Cars Cup just great

The first of winter’s two Just Cars Cup events was won by a familiar silver Charger.

Report by Chris Ralph. Pics by Phil Wisewould

HTCAV Club President Les Walmsley made it a clean triple sweep at Sandown International Raceway on July 21 & 22, taking out the 9-lapper on Saturday afternoon, the 4-lap warm up and the major 50km Just Cars Cup ‘Enduro’ early on Sunday afternoon. Second in every race was HTCAV Gold Sponsor Andrew Whiteside in the ’68 Mustang while third in the Cup, after a weekend of everything going wrong, was Darren Collins in the ‘family’ Chev Camaro…

Saturday’s early morning qualy times were two seconds down, several balletic spins emphasized just how cold and slippery it was. Les Walmsley and Darren Collins claimed the front row with Danny Myers in the ex-Keven Stoopman Holden HQ 308 and Andrew Whiteside third and fourth. A rapidly improving Joe Calleja in the ’69 351ci fastback Mustang joined Mark Johnson on the third row in 5th and 6th. The Group Nb Mustangs of HTCAV Gold Sponsor Andrew Cannon and David Moran were paired on row four, while the Charger of Craig Miles and the beautiful blue ’69 302ci fastback Mustang of Michael Miceli closed out the top ten. At the back of the grid were Richard Fairlam’s 308 Holden HQ after a gearbox speedo plug spat oil and HTCAV Gold Sponsor Brent Trengrove’s new red Camaro, with a tiny grub screw falling from the accelerator linkage.

So good was Andrew Cannon’s start in Race 1 he wore a five second penalty. He ran third behind front-runners Les Walmsley and Andrew Whiteside, before being mowed down first by the rapid Myers, then by Calleja before gearbox woes and a long brake pedal saw the 351 Mustang retire. Myers re-inherited third before Miceli grabbed it. Darren Collins who had started from the back of the grid after an uncharacteristic warm-up lap spin had worked his way up to fourth by mid way, setting fastest lap, but gearbox gremlins grabbed him too. Similarly, Brent Trengrove reached fifth before a cutting-out engine led to a stalled car. Finally it was Walmsley, Whiteside, Miceli, Myers with a trio of Nb Mustangs in Cannon, Moran and Bill Trengrove next, ahead of Fairlam’s HQ, Stephen Pillekers’ Torana and the Miles Charger for the top ten.

Early the next day the warriors re-appeared in their ancient chariots for a frantic four lap Race 2 to get brains, bums and cars right for the 50km event, just a few hours hence. Walmsley and Whiteside held position while Miceli set fastest lap hauling the Mustang into third, ahead of the HQs of Myers and Fairlam and the Nb Mustangs of Cannon and Trengrove. Rocketing from the back of the grid the Collins Camaro reached eighth in four laps while Miles and Pillekers rounded the top ten. Overnight and early morning magic by MJR Motorsport had patched up been a gearbox for the Collins car – different enough for Darren to find himself in reverse off the line…

Then by 1pm it was time for the 50km Just Cars Cup. Fuel tanks had been filled to overflowing with several of the bigger engine cars possibly marginal over the distance. But a gridding lap mix up saw a pre-race retirement by David Moran; two extra pace car laps took the pressure off. The tight field roaring past the start line was a stirring sight. First on to the back straight was Walmsley, hotly pursued by Miceli who had jumped Whiteside, with Myers eager to join the fray. Behind him was Bill Trengrove, after a rocket start that won him a drive through, Collins, Cannon, Miles, Fairlam and Calleja. Miceli was challenging Walmsley and took the lead on lap five, but after hitting the rev limiter out of turn four thought he had a problem. He motored slowly to the pits, found it was OK and rejoined – a lap down and dead last!

By lap six Walmsley regained the lead he was never to lose. Collins was now looking hungry in second ahead of Whiteside, who was challenged by Myers in a tiger drive that won him the Makulu Vehicle Storage Driver of the Meeting. Myers took Whiteside on lap eight, holding it to lap 13 when a loose battery earth strap ended the run. Behind this battle Fairlam was holding station over Cannon, hounded by Calleja before he ran out of brakes, allowing Miles’ Charger into 7th and Mark Johnson’s Porsche into 8th.

As the 16th lap approached the podium looked set. But on the last lap a hard charging Collins collected a bird in the grille, overshot the Dandy Rd Turn 9, stalled, eventually restarted and crept across the line with starter engaged. Whiteside had already regained second; Fairlam and Miles were too far behind to catch him – but he still made the podium after all the dramas! Andrew Cannon, fifth on lap 14 dropped to seven cylinders and was caught by Miles and nemesis Bill Trengrove recovering from the drive through. Johnson’s Porsche was next ahead of Miceli who set another fastest lap in the chase. The torrid pace took its toll with five retirements but the two drum-braked pre-65 cars – Roddy Evans’ Chev Nova and Eddie Dobbs FE put in great lap times to the end. The Under 3 Litre trophies went to Mark Johnson’s Porsche and HTCAV Gold Sponsor Richard Hill’s Mini.