2022Competition ReportsNews

Sandown Statie Opens the Year

26-27 February 2022

Report by Chris Ralph. Pics by Chris Carter & Phil Wisewould www.philwisewould.zenfolio.com

With some JUST CARS racers saving themselves and their cars for the big Island Classic in two weeks’ time, a field of 15 Historic Touring Cars mixed it with 17 BMW E30s in a busy race grid. That produced a weekend of good battles and great camaraderie as old mates got back together for the first time in months.

Camaros conquer qualy

Darren Collins grabbed pole with a time of 1.20.9, a second quicker than fellow Camaro punter Trevor Talbot’s 1.22.1 with Andrew Lane’s black Mustang Fastback just over .2 sec behind him.

Dom Leo in the 68 Mustang was 2 secs further back in fourth – and then came the battling Nb 289 Mustang twins of reigning champ Pete Meuleman and his battle buddy Darren Jones, with the latter squeaking ahead in qualy by a mere hundredth of a second. This set the stage for very entertaining combat all weekend.

Further back David Crabtree in the ex-Lawrie Nelson Capri headed the sweet-sounding BMW of Rob van Stokrom, followed by a battling quartet of Quentin Ferry’s EH, newcomer Peter George’s ex-Mark Johnson Lotus Cortina, Tony Pejkovic’s EH and stalwart Simon Browning’s pushrod Cortina. Paul Dobson’s 289 XR Falcon, Michael Holloway’s Mini and Phil Pearmain’s Mk 1 Jaguar 3.4 rounded out the grid.

Nathan Gordon in his newly-acquired ex-WA blue HQ Monaro had fronted the dummy grid but without the full complement of tags and gaudy wrist bands required for both race and Covid acceptance was returned to the paddock, muttering more than darkly. But revenge was to be his, later in the weekend…

Race 1, Saturday afternoon

The fastest BMW E30 qualy times put them about mid field in the historic touring car grid and were started a full minute after the tourers had taken off. This fair calculation had not reckoned on the tail-end E30 being very slow off the mark and as the safety and medical vehicles followed it patiently down the main straight they were overwhelmed by an onslaught of bellowing V8s into Turn 1.

Darren Collins had not made the best of starts and was jumped by Talbot and Andrew Lane off the line. With performances so close and the Lap 1 confusion it was not a gap he could make up and they finished in that order.
Dom Leo had also had an iffy getaway and after eventually disposing of the 289 twins of Jones and Meuleman worked his way back into fourth, only to fade over the last few laps as the engine lost compression and the car was retired for the weekend. Behind the two Nb Mustangs was Nathan Gordon who had stopped cussing and started charging, grabbing sixth and a third row start for the next morning’s race.

Open wheeler driver David Crabtree had mastered getting the Capri off the line and his rocket starts had him well up with the V8s for the first few corners, while Tony Pejkovic in the EH just beat Peter George’s Lotus to the line by less than a second. Browning headed Holloway home, while Dobson and Pearmain were retirements, as had been Ferry’s EH before the event.

Race 2, Sunday morning

There was no mistaking Darren Collins’ intent from the third row and he blasted into the lead immediately, with Talbot and Lane scrapping behind him. But wait – not so easy!

Further back, Peter George’s Lotus had broken the output shaft of the gearbox and he was stranded with 17 BMW E30s behind him, waiting for their start. Out came the red flag and the historic touring cars weaved their way through the E 30s back on to their grid spots as the Lotus was towed off the battlefield.

Race 2, Start 2 saw Collins not repeat the ripper start and Talbot grabbed the lead, holding it for the first two laps while behind them Lane, who had been pinged for noise in R1, found the Fastback’s performance noticeably curbed after fitting a quieter muffler.

These three held station while another Crabtree rocket start saw him in fourth at the end of Lap 1 before being displaced by a charging Nathan Gordon, then by the duelling Nb Mustang twins of Jones and Meuleman ahead of the BMW of van Stokrom, on his way to a PB. Pejkovic, Browning, Holloway and Pearmain completed the order.

Race 3 Sunday afternoon

As the two Camaros and the black Fastback blasted off for the 10-lap final, little did they know that an E30 ploughing into the guardrail on the exit of T4 would halve the race distance with a red flag.

Poor Andrew Lane was cursing the throttled muffler performance, even having to go back to first gear at Dandenong Rd. Closely following, the hard-charging Nathan Gordon in the Monaro saw his chance and executed a great overtake down the inside into T1 to put himself into a podium position.

Pete Meuleman turned the tables to lead Darren Jones home ahead of Crabtree, van Stokrom, Pejkovic, Browning, Holloway in the Mini he’s owned forever and Pearmain in the gallant 3.4 Jag Mk1, which was noticeably quicker in this race.

Next stop, Phillip Island

It was good meeting to start the year and a great sorting-out for Island Classic contestants, giving them handy seat time and a shake down to face the 75-car, two-grid event. Peter George (no relation but friend of Michael George in his matching Lotus Cortina) has some serious last-minute prep with complex gearbox and A-frame rear end issues, but where there’s a will there’s a way…

Next issue, a complete race report on the Phillip Island Classic for the JUST CARS racers. Don’t miss it!