Top weather, top racing
Pics courtesy Phil Wisewould. Words Darren Knight
Great weather and more than 270 entrants enlivened the third edition of the Festival, to be run on the long track with the 20-lap Rose City Trophy for Historic Tourers again the feature. Group C&A tourers returned to Winton for the first time (in an official race capacity at least) since their heyday.
Qualifying was cut short very early after the Camaro of Tony Hubbard expired in a major way having set second fastest time behind Fraser Ross (Mustang) who then broke a gearbox housing.
A second session was held a few hours later with Ross electing to stand on his earlier time and not venture out. The two sessions were combined to produce the runners for the Top Five shootout held immediately after qualifying. Ross again proved fastest followed by Michael Hibbert (Charger), Leo Tobin (Mustang), Cam Worner (Falcon) and Steve Coad (Torana).
Ross led the field away in the opening race but suddenly retired billowing smoke. Another gearbox had let go, a major driveline vibration putting him out for the weekend. Worner and Tobin battled hard as did John Luxmoore (Cortina) and Ian Cuss (Triumph) who staged their own Battle of Britain (well, the battle of the 1960s pommy rep mobiles anyway).
Hibbert continued his recent Historic Winton form and took the win from Tobin and Worner with Angelo Taranto (Torana) fourth. Rod Hotchkin (Falcon) just beat home fellow Ford man Rob Marshall for fifth. Coad was next after falling from a strong fourth on the last lap (having broken an axle) followed by Glen Miles (Charger), the returning Alastair MacLean (guest steering his old Torana) and Sandgroper Stuart Young (Torana).
Hibbert led after the rolling start for The Rose City Trophy with Tobin moving into second. Stu Young and Denis O`Brien (in Mick Moylan’s Galaxie) were out early, the 427 Gal dislodging a flywheel after having a great run into fourth. The compulsory pit stop window opened after five laps with most competitors getting their stops completed in the next few laps. Coad however had a different plan and stayed out putting down some consistently fast laps to build a buffer over Hibbert who had stopped early. The laps wore down with Coad finally coming in just before the window closed. The Torana came out still several lengths ahead of Hibbert who had charged back up to second. MacLean retired within sight of the flag after getting up to fourth. Coad greeted the chequer first but then copped a penalty for exceeding the 40km/h limit in pit lane.
Hibbert was awarded the win with Taranto grabbing second after Tobin (third at the flag) also copped a penalty for pitting outside his pit box. Worner was third then Tobin, Marshall, Hotchkin, a disappointed Coad, Russell Pilven (Datsun 1600), Mark Johnson (Porsche) and Stephen Pillekers (Torana) rounding out the top ten.
Several competitors including Coad (who had to return the borrowed axle) elected not to contest the final with Hibbert untroubled to win race three from the Fords of Tobin and Hotchkin.
Event organiser Ian Ross copped some of his son Fraser’s shocking luck with his ex Mike Imrie XD Falcon forced out early in race one with a power steering issue. Justin Nilsson was having a stunning run in the ex Christine Gibson EXA Turbo, mixing it up with the bigger cars until a driveline issue forced him out. Pole man Luke Ellery (in Carolyn Kruger’s Skyline) went on to win from Mike Roddy in the ’85 Bathurst-winning Jag and David Towe in the last of the BMW M3s built by Team JPS. Milton Seferis (ex Janson Commodore) was next after narrowly defeating Steve Perrott (A9-X) for Group C honours.
Race two saw Ross again out early with the same problem with Roddy taking the win after Ellery slowed momentarily with gearbox issues. Seferis was third. Roddy also took out the final with Ellery retiring thanks to that gearbox issue and Towe losing an engine. Perrott and Seferis completed the podium.