Upcoming Round

NEXT RACE – Round 5 – 2019

Round 5
Track: Sydney Motorsport Park
Date: 26th October – 27th October, 2019
Length 4.9
Turns: 11
F3 Lap Record: 1.23″

2019 Formula Race Cars NSW CAMS Championship

Actually written by Greg Muddle.

2019 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 4 
7th-8th September, 2019
Wakefield Park

A Saturday set-back for series leader Aaron McClintock was just the opening his rivals needed to
set-up the series for a gripping finale at Sydney Motorsport Park in October, with Greg Muddle claiming three victories, and Phil Morrow banking a solid haul of points to narrow the gap to McClintock in the championship chase.

Those who chose to practice on the Friday had the best of the weather for the weekend, doing their laps in perfect conditions (bar the odd Radical doing what Radicals do). Lawrence Katsidis (Sydney Photo Booths Dallara Renault F304) was beset by fuel issues caused by deteriorating foam, but having cleaned that out by gate-close time 10 F3’s were tucked away neatly ready fire up in anger the following day.

When the following day rolled around it wasn’t all that pleasant to say the least – temperature barely in positive territory and wind gust of up to 50 kmh, and most of the cars weren’t that keen to fire up (they knew it wasn’t going to be any warmer on the track!).  The biggest issue was with Aaron McClintock’s championship-leading Dallara Opel Spiess F301, which ate a second starter-motor in two race meetings.  A spare was available – in Sydney – which meant McClintock would be missing from the grid for qualifying and race 1.


Muddle leading Morrow (6) and Rowe (4) at the start of the Trophy Race

Qualifying

1. Greg Muddle, Dallara Dallara Opel Spiess F399, 1:00.80
2. Phil Morrow, Dallara Ope Speiss F304, 1:01.50
3.Rob Rowe, Dallara Toyota F308, 1:02.50
4. Glenn Lynch, Eagle TRansport Dallara Fiat F397, 1:04.65

Occasional showers in the morning did nothing to improve conditions, but although there were plenty of wets brought out for an airing they were not required for this session.  The cold conditions meant grip was difficult to come by, and the wind played havoc at various points of the circuit, particularly braking into turn 2. 

For Muddle the upside of flat-spotting tyres at the previous round was new rubber for this session, and although they took most of the session to warm-up it did help him to his second pole position for the year, albeit not breaking the 60-second mark, the slowest qualifying session for several years.  Morrow and Muddle swapped quickest laps throughout the session, which put both the championship rivals on the front row.

Rob Rowe wasn’t far behind continuing his run of improving qualifying performances, but not quite enough to get on the front row.  Glenn Lynch’s F397 is impervious to conditions, and it saw the F397 elevated to 4th in qualifying. 

Behind the front 4 Ron Coath – back in the Dallara Mercedes F307 after a gearbox reconstruction – struggled to get any heat into his new rubber and had to settle for 5th, ahead of Katsidis who was having residual fuel problems which was easily repaired for Race 1.  Rob Sviderskas (Dallara Opel Spiess F304) and Denis Lesslie (Dallara Renault F304) completing the qualifiers, and Shane Morrow (Dallara VW F397) missing qualifying through an administrative error.


Shayne Morrow drove well all weekend, once he got his paperwork in order


Race 1
1:Greg Muddle
2: Phil Morrow
3: Rob Rowe

The conditions hadn’t really improved after lunch, perhaps it was slightly warmer, and so the drivers were granted an extra warm-up lap to try and find some grip.  Eight cars rolled out, with McClintock still retrieving the spare starter and Lesslie failing to leave the dummy grid due to a cantankerous car that didn’t want to fire. Katsidis was caught off-guard by a properly powering engine and spun the car at turn 4, doing some wing damage that forced him to retire early in the race.

At lights out Morrow got the jump on Muddle and led to Turn 2 where he made sure of it by closing the gate quite clearly.  Muddle had to settle in behind for the run up the hill, fending off Rowe and Lynch.  Morrow held the lead until Muddle passed under brakes at the end of the back straight (Turn 10). 

Muddle crossed the start line at lap 1 in the lead, and it stayed that way for the rest of the race, opening up a 5 second gap to Morrow which closed slightly in the middle of the race but was out to that by the end, with Muddle becoming the 5th race winner of the season.

There were two big battles going on behind the leader.  Morrow and Rowe were at it for all 16 laps, Rowe charging hard enough to set the fastest lap of the race – indeed the only car to break the minute – but Morrow with holding him at bay with race craft and a wide set of elbows.  At the chequered flag after 16 circuits there was only two-tenths of a second separating them.

Rob Sviderskas pressed on in the Dallara, with times improving from the morning and holding out Shayne Morrow, by a very narrow margin, to claim 6th place.


Race 2
1:Greg Muddle
2:Phil Morrow
3: Rob Rowe

Conditions improved overnight as the temperature threatened 6°C, but at least the wind died down.  With McClintock (Dallara Opel Spiess F301) and Lesslie both repaired the full field rolled out for the second race on Sunday morning.

Eventually the results would record the finishing order unchanged from Race 1 and Rowe again the fastest car on the circuit, but Race 2 was far from a carbon copy.  When the lights went out pole-sitter Muddle lurched then stalled, requiring some quick reaction from Rowe to avoid him.  Morrow led the field away, with Coath and Rowe jostling for second ahead of Lynch and Sviderskas, with a recovering Muddle making a lunge from far back to claim 5th place into Turn 2, aided by the fact Sviderskas had to content with a fogged up visor. 


The start of Race 2, Morrow gets the jump and Muddle goes…nowhere

Out the other side of the corner Rowe spun, leaving Morrow ahead of Coath and Lynch. Muddle was looking to make up lost ground and dived under Lynch into ‘the fish-hook’, only to notice yellow-flags on the way out, courtesy of a safety car that had been deployed when Lesslie’s car failed to get away from the line.  This also allowed Rowe to catch up to the back of the train for the re-start.

At the restart, Coath read Morrow’s start well and was looking to challenge early up the hill out of Turn 2, but he was a little bit too eager on the loud pedal and for the second time in the race we had a spinner at that corner, to be followed almost immediately by Lynch doing the same thing.  Coath’s spin gave Muddle a clear run at Morrow, and on lap 3 he was again able to execute an inside pass at Turn 10 to take the lead. 


Lynchy was briefly in 3rd after the restart, before spinning

Morrow was followed closely by Katsidis, with Sviderskas sitting in 4th ached of a cautious McClintock who was still feeling coming to grips (or should that be no grips?) with the conditions, not having had been out on Saturday.  Rowe was quickly back to 6th, courtesy of the two spinners, and continued his charge through the field passing Sviderskas and McClintock on consecutive laps to and then setting off after Katsidis. 

While Muddle was opening a comfortable gap Rowe was charging, passing Katsidis on lap 8 and setting up another duel with Morrow, which culminated in an unsuccessful last lap lunge into Turn 10, a bit of a tap, and another 0.2 second margin in Morrow’s favour.

Behind the front 3 Katsidis held 4th position for a well-deserved finish, ahead of a fast-closing McClintock. Lynch was the better of the recovering spinners in 6th, heading off Coath, Sviderskas and a fast-finishing Shayne Morrow, who came within a couple of seconds of catching the car ahead.

Rowe followed at some distance, ahead of Lynch, Mansell, Anderson and Coath the last of the finishers.


Race 3
1: Greg Muddle
2: Aaron McClintock
3: Rob Rowe

For Sunday afternoon’s Trophy Race it was still cold enough to demand the second warm-up lap but clear and sunny, the best conditions all weekend.

Muddle got the jump, finally, and led the field from lights to flag, able to open up a comfortable gap courtesy of the jockeying for position going on behind him, and getting the times down to a respectable 58.3 along the way, with grip levels significantly improved from the previous outings.

Morrow also got a good start, but was immediately under pressure from McClintock, with Rowe and slotting in behind.  Katsidis followed at a small gap, mirrors full of Lynch and Coath.

Lap 3 saw two key moves – McClintock displacing Morrow for 2nd, giving him the opportunity to chase Muddle; and Coath moving past Lynch to put pressure on Katsidis.  At the same time Lesslie retired his car, which was still running rough.

Muddle had the bit between his teeth and by mid-race was safe from McClintock.  McClintock also had a comfortable margin, but had a quick Row behind him, having finally managed to pass Morrow after 2-and-a-half races of trying to figure out a way around the red car.  Morrow had a lonely second half of the race but had a secure grip on 4th, and solid points in the championship.

Coath passed Katsidis for 5th, and then on lap 10 Katsidis spectacularly planted his car in the kitty litter at the end of the main straight courtesy of a brake failure.  This unexpectedly brought out the chequered flags 2 laps early, a victory for Muddle ahead of McClintock, Rowe, Morrow and Coath, with Lynch off the pace in 6th, Sviderskas a lap down having done his best times early in the race, and Shayne Morrow having had a couple of off-tar excursions trying to get the Dallara to go harder.

McClintock retains a lead in the Championship going into the final round to be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on the 26th and 27th of October, but it’s nowhere near as comfortable as it was, with Muddle and Morrow closing in and Rowe still a mathematical chance:

In the Class-based Championship it’s even closer, with 6 drivers in contention:

    
“With great power comes great responsibility”.  Spiderman or Voltaire?  Discuss.
Loz Katsidis finds his braking system unable to cope with the great amounts of power now being produced by the Renault.

 

Actually written by Greg Muddle.

2019 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 3 
3rd-4th August, 2019
Sydney Motorsport Park

Formula Race Cars put on another spectacular display in their third outing of the season at Sydney Motorsport Park.  Queenslander Shane Wilson, having his first run of the season in the immaculate Wiltec Dallara VW F310, took the honours on the Sunday, but behind him a number of other drivers signalled that they were ready to take the battle up to series leader Aaron McClintock.

An improved field of 13 cars took to the circuit, with the only casualty from Friday practice being Lawrence Katsidis in the SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH Dallara Renault F304, attacked by electrical gremlins. 

In the Classic Class, Rod Anderson (Reynard 893 Toyota) was having his first run of the season and newcomer Shayne Morrow was making his debut in the Dallara VW F397 Formula R car (old school, with carbies). 

Of the regulars, Rob Sviderskas parked the Elfin 622 in favour of the Dallara Opel Spiess F304 after a long engine rebuild; but Ron Coath was again in the old Dallara Toyota F396, the gearbox rebuild on the F307 not completed in time.  

In amongst all the F3 cars was youngster Christian Mansell in the AGI Sport prepared Mygale F4. The F4, powered by a 1600 cc Ford EcoBoost turbo engine, was a great addition to the field, giving up a bit in outright speed to the F3 cars but Christian was right in the thick of things all weekend.

Qualifying

1. Shane Wilson, Dallara VW F310, 1:26.17
2. Aaron McClintock, Dallara Opel Spiess F301, 1:27.70
3. Graeme Holmes, Dallara Opel Spiess F304, 1:28.88
4. Rob Rowe, Dallara Toyota F308, 1:30.24

Racing was delayed by 45 minutes as we waited for the fog to lift, but by the time the Formula Race Cars took to the circuit it was in near perfect conditions on a sunny winter day. Shane Wilson was expected to head the timesheet, and so it was, getting down to a very respectable time in the 1:26’s, a clear second and a half ahead of the rest of the field.

Championship leader Aaron McClintock was pushing close to his best times in putting the F301 on the front of row of the grid again – 3 from 3 – and getting the better of Round 1 winner Graeme Holmes.  Greg Muddle’s Dallara Opel Spiess F399 was slightly off the pace battling with front suspension issues, but he looked to have a spot on the second row of the grid locked up until Rob Rowe pulled out a flyer on the last lap of the session.  Phil Morrow completed the top 6 in his Dallara Opel Spiess F304, with Rowe, Muddle and Morrow covered by less than half a second.

Christian Mansell in the Mygale F4 had the better of the rest of the field, with a clear gap to the Classic Class cars, headed as usual by Glenn Lynch in the Eagle Transport Dallara Fiat F397.  Lynch headed Anderson, Coath and Shayne Morrow, ahead of Rob Sviderskas completing a successful first run in the Dallara Opel Spiess F304.

Ross McAlpine again had a difficult time with the tempestuous Mygale Mercedes M10, parking it for the weekend with an incurable engine miss.

Race 1

1: Phil Morrow
2: Graeme Holmes
3: Greg Muddle

A shortened race program on Saturday afternoon due to the morning’s fog delay saw the field set for a short sprint as they lined up for Race 1 in sunny but cooling conditions in the late afternoon.

At lights out Wilson stalled and Muddle missed the start completely, but McClintock got away well from 3rdto take the lead ahead of Morrow, who got an absolute flyer from 6thto run past Rowe and Holmes to claim 2ndposition. Wilson recovered quickly enough to take 4thback by turn 2, heading Rowe and Mansell, with Muddle recovering a place from Lynch.  Muddle passed Mansell into turn 6, but then the Safety Car was deployed as two cars – Andeson and Shayne Morrow, had failed to get away from the line.

With two more circuits behind the safety car this turned the race into a three lap screamer, and it was an action packed three laps. McClintock lead the pack away, but with Wilson eager to make places he tried a tight line out of turn 2 only to spin and relegate himself to the back of the field.  McClintock headed Morrow and Holmes through lap 4 and half of lap 5, but then dropped a wheel off the circuit coming into the braking area for turn 9, resulting in some air time and a big spin, in what is thankfully an area with generous run-off.  This elevated Morrow to the lead, ahead of Holmes and Muddle.


With President McAlpine sidelined, McClintock kindly took over his grass mowing contract.

The last lap and a half Morrow’s defence was a measure for everything Holmes threw at him, a lunge on the line leaving Holmes about a tenth of a second shy and giving Morrow a well-deserved first race win in the series.  Muddle followed in third, with insufficient time to bridge the gap to the front two, ahead of Rowe, arriving at the finish line with McClintock right up his exhaust.

Mansell finished 7thahead of Lynch, with a small gap to a strong battle for 9thfalling in favour of Sviderskas ahead of Coath.

Race 2

1: Shane Wilson
2: Graeme Holmes
3: 
Aaron McClintock

A busy night for competitors repairing some significant damage Phil Morrow and Rowe’s cars as well as repairs to the Anderson Reynard (axle) meant that we had a full field of cars front for race 2 on Sunday.

Holmes got away quickly, and Muddle made a better effort than in the previous race, able to pass Phil Morrow in the run into Turn 2.  McClintock was also able to make up places into 3rd, and by the end of the lap Wilson had also managed to makes his way from 10thto 4th, putting our newest race winner Morrow back to 5th.

Wilson was able to take 3rdfrom McClintock on lap 2 and 2ndfrom Muddle on lap 3, but Holmes proved to be a more difficult proposition, and the two settled into a battle for the lead over several laps.

Behind these two Muddle was suffering with more front end balance issues, and after the first couple of laps a series of lock-ups and a badly flat-spotted front left tyre left him vulnerable to McClintock and Morrow.

Behind the front 5 cars Glenn Lynch was able to keep Rob Rowe at bay for the first half of the race before conceding 6th, and he had built sufficient gap to hold off Mansell in the F4.  A good scrap was developing between Sviderskas, Anderson and Coath, with Sviderskas holding the advantage early before giving up the place to Anderson and then pitting mid-race with an engine miss. Shayne Morrow was making progress with his new car until clutch problems forced him to park it mid-race.

At the front, Wilson was still harassing Holmes but needed to get past as McClintock was closing the gap rapidly, and after a little ‘love tap’ into Turn 2 finally managed to force the issue into Turn 4 on lap 8 of the 9 lap race, opening up a small but safe gap to Holmes, who held off McClintock by a few tenths at the chequered flag. Morrow, Muddle (with the front right now down to the canvas) and Rowe followed at some distance, ahead of Lynch, Mansell, Anderson and Coath the last of the finishers.

Race 3

1: Shane Wilson
2: Aron McClintock
3: 
Graeme Holmes

Sunday afternoon’s Trophy Race was a 12 lapper and this time it was Wilson who got the best of the start, with Morrow again getting a flyer from the second row, to head McClintock, a slow to get away Holmes and Muddle into Turn 2. Rowe managed to pass the fast starting F4 of Mansell as the 6 F3’s settled into a familiar pattern.

McClintock was keen to get onto the back of Wilson and managed to pass Morrow on lap 2, but Morrow had other ideas about Holmes and Muddle joining him, holding them both out until lap 4. Muddle and Holmes were hard at it (there were plenty of lock-ups) with Muddle somehow passing Holmes around the outside at Turn 2 only to give up the hard fought place by Turn 4 on the same lap. 

Wilson had opened up a small gap on McClintock, but the F301 driver wasn’t giving up much to the newer cars. Holmes was hot in pursuit but there was a fairly stable gap of a few car lengths, and the two of them were slowly pulling away from Muddle lap by lap.

Morrow had lost ground with the lead cars and soon found himself under attack from Rowe, who managed to pull himself up into 5thon lap 7.  Morrow was able to return the favour the following lap, and set out after Muddle, closing the gap to only a few seconds by the chequered flag.

Row may have lost the place, but he didn’t lose interest and laid down a number of personal best laps in the closing stages of the race, times that were more than competitive with the lead cars which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Mansell had the better of Lynch this time, and Coath and Anderson were at it again, this time Coath having the better of the battle early, before Anderson passed on lap 5 and Coath parked the car after a spin on lap 8.

A recurrence of the engine issue saw Sviderskas miss the race, and the earlier clutch issue meant that Shayne Morrow was also a non-starter.

 A gripping round meant that none of the championship contenders – which at this stage looks like McClintock, Morrow, Muddle and Holmes – were able to press an advantage, but McClintock retains a handy lead in the Championship going into round 3, which will be held at Wakefield Parkon the 7rdand 8thof September.

For all the 2019 Championship points tables click here.


After detailed investigations, the FRCA Technical Committee reported no irregularities for the weekend.

 

Actually written by Greg Muddle.

2019 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 2 
25-26th May, 2019
Wakefield Park

Formula Race Cars had their second outing of the 2019 NSW State Championship at Wakefield Park, as the Goulburn circuit celebrated 25 years of racing, and it proved to be a perfect weekend for Aaron McClintock, scoring three wins from three starts and surging to the lead in the Championship.

With Round 1 winner Graeme Holmes sitting this one out we were deprived a reprise of the intense battle we saw at Eastern Creek, but McClintock put on a faultless display all weekend and capped it off with a flag to flag victory in the Trophy Race.

Out in front – like he was all weekend. Round winner Aaron McClintock in his Dallara F301.

Qualifying

1. Aaron McClintock, Dallara Opel Spiess F301, 57.34
2. Greg Muddle, Dallara Opel Spiess F399, 58.15
3. Lawrence Katsidis, Dallara Renault F304, 59.12
4 Rob Rowe, Dallara Toyota F308, 1:00.71

Saturday saw sunshine, but not a great deal of heat in the track, as a small field of 7 cars took to the circuit for qualifying.  Disappointingly Jeff Senior had pulled the plug on his Dallara-debut earlier in the week due to mechanical problems, and Rob Sviderkas had packed away the Elfin on Friday with water issues.  Ross McAlpine’s Mygale Mercedes M11 was parked, Ross and Paul Nagle continuing what was a marathon effort to get the Mygale to drink its fuel properly, still hopeful of hitting the track but as the other cars rolled out most of the Mygale was up on stands.

On the track it was Aaron McClintock who set the pace, some AGI Sport magic with the set-up clearly doing the trick, and a pole position never looking in doubt, Aaron eventually getting down to a very impressive 57.3 second lap time.  That was enough to see him clear of Greg Muddle by 0.8 seconds, the reverse of round 1 where Muddle had a 0.8 second gap on McClintock.  For the second round in a row it was an ’01 front row lock-out.

Behind the two ‘old school’ cars Lawrence Katsidis was shaping up as a threat in the SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH Dallara F304, bringing the times down steadily throughout the session and looking capable of dipping into the 58’s.  Rob Rowe was building on his solid debut at the previous round and had the Genesis Offices Dallara F308 Toyota much closer to the action, joining Katsidis on the second row.

Phil Morrow’s Dallara Opel Spiess F304 qualified 5th.  Having made a late gear ratio change before qualifying Phil seemed to have found the right set-up.  He needed to, because the two ‘Classic Class’ cars of Glenn Lynch and Ron Coath were both pushing hard and ended up within a couple of tenths of Morrow’s times. Lynch, in the Eagle Transport Dallara Fiat F397, managed 6thahead of Coath, who was running the Dallara Toyota F396 for the first time in several years while his F307 underwent repairs, “just to make up the numbers” but looking pretty competitive regardless.

The local fun police snuck in cows fitted with noise meters.  Muddle quietly ascends to Turn 3.

Race 1
1. Aaron McClintock, 2. Greg Muddle, 3. Lawrence Katsidis

With the afternoon warming up fractionally, conditions for race 1 were probably the best our cars saw all weekend.  Seven cars fronted for the 12-lapper, McAlpine’s Mygale still stranded as repairs continued.

The cars gridded with Muddle incorrectly on the inside, a gift from McClintock that he was not able to take advantage of as McClintock got a perfect start and led the field away. Katsidis pulled a great ‘dive-bomb’ into turn 2 to briefly steal 2ndfrom Muddle, but was unable to hold the position in the run up the hill and settled into 3rdahead of Rowe, Morrow and Coath. Coming back down the hill the cars were greeted with the ‘SC’ board designating a safety car, as Lynch was still stranded on the grid, with what turned out to be broken axle bolts.

Lynch’s car was cleared quickly, and at the restart McClintock got a good jump only to be baulked by a re-appearance of the ‘SC’ board at the start line, which momentarily caused some confusion for the front cars about they were meant to be racing or not. That was quickly sorted, and McClintock got back on the gas, steadily opening the gap to Muddle by a half a second a lap.  Katsidis continued to give Muddle some hurry-up, but that gap also started to open up mid race.

No wonder he can’t see out if his right mirror, there are two fingers in the way. 
Rob Rowe is quickly getting the hang of the Genesis Offices F308 Dallara.

Behind Katsidis, both Rowe and Morrow were pushing each other, and by mid-race both had managed to dip their times into the low 59-second mark.  This saw them close the gap to Katsidis quite rapidly, and by the time the flag appear the three cars were covered by only half a second, Katsidis leading Rowe and then Morrow across the line, but with Morrow the quickest of the three.  Coath completed the race as last car home in 6th.

 

Race 2
1. Aaron McClintock, 2. Greg Muddle, 3. Lawrence Katsidis

Sunday morning brought a dip in temperature and although the sun was out it wasn’t doing much by way of heat.  Conditions would prove slippery for the first couple of laps in the 14 lap race.  Eight cars rolled onto the circuit for the first time in the weekend McAlpine’s Mygale having been pieced back together and the broken bits on Lynch’s car easily repaired.

McClintock took advantage of starting on the correct side of the grid this time, and led again toward turn 2, with Muddle careful to block any inside dive from Katsidis.  Morrow had started well and had an inside run, but found himself running out of room as Rowe turned in – unable to avoid a light contact, both cars were turned around.  So at this stage of the race there were 2 separate incidents for the officials to deal with: two cars turned around at turn two, and McAlpine’s Mygale on the main straight having stalled.

Somewhat surprisingly both incidents cleared without needing a safety car, although as the leader came down the back straight the safety car (which is positioned on the back straight during race starts) was still clearing the circuit.  McClintock was somewhat distracted by this, leaving an opportunity for Muddle to pass into turn 10 and take the lead.  Across the line for the first time it was Muddle, McClintock, Katsidis, Lynch and Coath, with a large gap back to Morrow and a further gap to Rowe, both of them recovering from their earlier mishap.

Muddle led for a couple of laps before out-braking himself into the ‘Fishhook’ trying too hard to pull an early gap on McClintock.  He recovered quickly enough to hold second place, but had lost touch with McClintock who, as he had in race one, maintained and then opened a comfortable gap.

Gate wide shut.  Morrow worked hard to find a way past Coath in Race 2.

While Muddle and Katsidis followed in a somewhat processional manner, the battle was heating up behind them. Lynch was under threat from Coath, and both were being steadily hunted down by the two quicker cars of Morrow and Rowe behind them. Morrow was first to arrive, but Coath adopted an ‘elbow’s out’ approach that kept Morrow at bay. Morrow eventually got through at turn 10 on lap 11, then repeated the same move on Lynch the following lap.  But far from having an easy time of it, both Coath and Lynch hung onto his tail as Rowe also joined to make it a 4-car train. 

It looked as if this would be the finishing order until Lynch had a gear selection problem on the last lap, giving away the two hard-fought spots to Coath (5th) and Rowe (6th) on the final corner.

Rowe stalking Coath to the finish line, with race winner McClintock watching the fun in the background.

Race 3
1. Aaron McClintock, 2. Greg Muddle, 3. Phil Morrow

With two relatively comfortable wins for McClintock in the preliminaries the result in the Trophy Race looked rather predictable, and although the result turned out that way Muddle was determined to make him earn it.  For the first 13 laps the two cars were never more than a half second apart. The two drivers swapping quickest lap repeatedly and were still pushing hard deep into the race, Muddle setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 12 and McClintock responding with his own quickest time on lap 13. It looked set to go down to the wire until McClintock had a better run with lapped cars on the final lap to record the win.

The final podium spot was also tightly contested, Morrow had opened a seven second gap on Rowe over the first 4 laps, Rowe still coming to terms with what a Dallara can do on cold tyres. From there Rowe steadily closed the gap, to the point where there was a very close last lap and Morrow took the podium place by two-tenths of a second.

McAlpine finished in 5th, having had no track time all weekend the car was nowhere near where Ross would have wanted it but the times came down steadily across the course of the race, finishing ahead of Lynch who was the last car still running.

Katsidis retired early in the race with a ‘fluffy’ engine, which had first materialised toward the end of race 2 and was no better at the start of race 3.  Coath had a large ‘lose’ on cold tyres coming down the hill on lap 1 and also retired.

A late but welcome arrival, McAlpine was finally on the track in Race 3.

So with a clean sweep of round 2 Aaron McClintock moves into the Championship lead going into round 3, which will be held at Sydney Motorsport Parkon the 3rdand 4thof August.

For a full list fo the 2019 Championship standings go to: http://frca.net.au/standings/

A moment of quiet reflection: Glenn Lynch thinks about adding a set of CV bolts to his 20,000km warranty claim.

Special thanks (as always) for the fantastic images to Riccardo Benvenuti at www.pricelessimages.ifp3.com

 

Actually written by Greg Muddle.

2019 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 1 
6 – 7th April, 2019
Sydney Motorsport Park

The 2019 NSW State Championship kicked off at Sydney Motorsport Park with the inaugural running of the David Choon Memorial Trophy, in honour of our late friend.  David won the first ever state series event under the FRCA banner, and the trophy race is a fitting memorial to a keen competitor.

With a valued prize, perfect conditions, and a new season ahead of us, it was disappointing that there wasn’t a larger field of cars, but what the grid lacked in quantity was well made up with quality.  Class certainly won through: Graeme Holmes made a welcome return to the winners circle with three race victories; but he had to work hard most of the weekend.  In what augurs well for the 2019 season there were several drivers in the mix, making for close and exciting racing. With 2018 Champion Nathan Gotch, and the might of the AGI Sport team, not competing the full season in 2019 it presents a golden opportunity for a number of drivers to challenge for the championship.

Round 1 winner: Graeme Holmes

Qualifying

1: Greg Muddle, Dallara Opel Spiess F399, 1:29.06
2. Aaron McClintock, Dallara Opel Spiess F301, 1:29.90
3. Graeme Holmes, Dallara Opel Spiess F304, 1:30.25
4 Ross McAlpine, Mygale Mercedes M11, 1:30.77

Warm and sunny conditions greeted the drivers, however the newly re-surfaced Sydney Motorsport Park had all the rubber washed away with a wet Friday and overnight storms, so the track produced some relatively slow times.

Greg Muddle made the best of the session by putting the old F399 on pole – a nice symmetry in a meeting where we were celebrating our maiden round winner that our maiden pole-sitter returned to the top of the timesheets, with what proved to be the fastest time of the weekend.  It should also be noted that this was Greg’s 100th race start with FRCA – his pole position a fitting way to celebrate this significant milestone.

Aaron McClintock made it an ‘All-01’ front row, proving that you don’t always need the latest kit to be competitive (note to those thinking about going wings ‘n’ slicks racing – there are some cheap 01’s for sale at the moment, so this could be you).

Graeme Holmes wasn’t far behind, making it a 1-2-3 for cars with Opel ‘Holmes-power’ – certainly the best engine around.  He was joined on the second-row by Ross McAlpine having a nudie run in the Mygale – an un-liveried car that is, not an un-apparelled driver.  At this stage of the weekend Ross was looking a threat.

Third row was fought out between the two Dallara ‘04s of Phil Morrow and Lawrence Katsidis, with Phil’s Opel powered car shading the SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH Renault powered car by the slightest of margins.  They were well clear of a slightly disappointed Ron Coath in the Dallara Mercedes F307. Ron having struggled throughout Friday practice with gearbox issues – being unable to get down to the sort of times which he and his car are capable of during this session.  Ron was joined on the 4throw by Glenn Lynch in the Dallara Fiat F397.

The field was rounded out by our newest competitor, Rob Rowe in the Genesis Offices Dallara Toyota F310. Rob was well short of valuable seat-time but had a respectable first outing and looked good in the car.  He was joined at the back of the field by Rob Sviderskas, exercising amazing patience in the wait for new pistons for his Dallara and in the meantime running the Elfin 622 Toyota – which makes very nice noise but it old enough to be a grand-father to some of the other cars in the field.

Race 1

1: Graeme Holmes,
2: Aaron McClintock
3: Phil Morrow

A late afternoon start but still in warm and sunny conditions which were perfect for the spectators. And good for racing too… except for the major engine detonation in the previous race that saw an oil trail from half way down the main straight through to the braking zone for turn 2!

When the lights went out Holmes got the jump from the second row, and although Muddle gave up position to McClintock off the line he was able to hold the line into turn 2 to retain second place. From there the three drivers put on 8 laps of pure entertainment, rarely being gapped by more than a few car lengths.  Muddle was under serious threat from McClintock, and they changes places several times.  Holmes wasn’t getting much respite from this – when Muddle was in second he was challenging down the front straight; when it was McClintock’s turn he was asking questions up the back straight.  But Holmes had all the answers.

Muddle had the best pace at that stage, but unfortunately the spectacle was interrupted on lap 8 when Muddle was pushing a little hard through turn 5 and ran out of talent – looping the car in front of McClintock who was able to take avoiding action but it cost him a bit of time on Holmes.  McClintock managed to narrow the gap lap by lap, but the race was perhaps a lap too short – Holmes holding a winning margin at the flag of less than a tenth of a second.

Behind the front cars Morrow made a good start to head McAlpine with Katsidis in close quarters for the first section of the race.  McAlpine was expecting the car to ‘come on’ after the first few laps, but unfortunately that never eventuated, later discovering some set-up issues with the rear ride-height which were something of a handicap to performance. So while Morrow pumped out consistent laps a gap opened to McAlpine, who fell into the clutches of Katsidis, the later making his move into 4thplace on lap 10.

Coath had a consistent but lonely run in 6thplace, with Rowe not far behind until he had a spin at turn 6 late in the race, eventually finishing a lap down.

Sviderskas parked the Elfin early, having issues with getting the car to rev to the required rate; and Lynch failed to get the car off the line (it’s difficult in 3rdgear) and parked himself in the grandstand receiving refreshments from the crowd.

Race 2

1: Graeme Holmes,
2: Aaron McClintock
3: Greg Muddle

Sunday morning saw very similar conditions and we were ready for a repeat of the previous day’s spectacle, albeit with Muddle having to come through the pack to do so.

Holmes had the best of the early stages, establishing a lead from McClintock, Katsidis (later penalised for a jump start) and Morrow.  The joker in the pack was Rowe who was up to 5th, with Coath following and Lynch giving up a place to Muddle mid-way through the lap.  McAlpine had experienced difficulties getting the car away from the dummy grid and consequently was forced to start rear of grid.

With Holmes opening a small gap on McClintock the action was further back.  Muddle and Coath swapped places twice between turns 14 and 15 on the first lap, before Muddle finally made the move stick on the entry to turn 1.  He then rounded up Rowe; followed by was a series of similar turn 1 moves to pass Katsidis and Morrow on the subsequent laps.  Coath was not being left behind however – it took a couple of laps but he too passed Rowe, and then Katsidis, before running down Morrow on lap 8.

What a difference a day makes – Ron Coath in fine form on Sunday

At the front Holmes held a small but comfortable gap on McClintock all the way to the finish, with Muddle unable to make any headway in 3rd. Coath finished strongly in 4th, finding 3 seconds improvement in lap times over Saturday. Morrow was having clutch difficulties and slipped back, allowing Katsidis to move up to 5thin the closing stages. Lynch followed behind Morrow, benefitting from Rowe having had another mishap at turn 6.

Sviderskas finished a lap down, still struggling with the Elfin’s rev-range, and McAlpine parked the non-performing Mygale in frustration half-way through the race.

Race 3

1: Graeme Holmes,
2: Ron Coath
3:Aaron McClintock

Rob Rowe being stalked by Lawrence Katsidis (Race 3)

Having won the first two races, Holmes was looking for a trifecta in the Trophy Race but McClintock and Muddle again loomed as serious threats.

Unfortunately that only lasted as far as the second corner:  McClintock having a spin mid-corner and Muddle, already with his hands full down the inside of the corner trying to regain position from Coath, looping his car in avoidance. By the time both of them re-joined their chances were gone. McClintock was able to recover to charge through the field to 3rd but Muddle unfortunately succumbed to a broken rear wing, which was pretty unlucky given there was no contact whatsoever in the incident.

While Holmes pedalled away somewhat surprised at his good fortune, there was plenty of action behind him. Coath had the best run though the turn 2 parking lot and established himself ahead of the fast-starting Rowe, with Morrow, Katsidis and Lynch following, and Muddle and McClintock tailing the field at the end of lap 1.

Rowe held Katsidis at bay for 5 laps, with Morrow in attendance but increasingly struggling with to get power down due to the continuing clutch issue. On lap 6 Katsidis passed Rowe, and McCintock also started his assault on the mid-field pack, passing Morrow.  He gained a further place on the following lap with Rowe having his now customary ‘off’ at turn 6.

Holmes cruised to the win with a big margin, with Coath holding onto 2ndby a couple of tenths over the fast finishing McClintock, who had rounded up Katsidis on the final lap. The consistent Lynch finished in 5th, ahead of Rowe and Morrow, who nursed his car to the line.  Muddle finished a weekend that had started with some promised with a black flag one lap from home having pitted earlier in the race.

So at the conclusion of round 1 Graeme Holmesis the inaugural winner of the David Choon Memorial Trophy, and holds the series lead going into round 2, which will be held at Wakefield Parkon the
25thand 26thof May– celebrating 25 years of racing at Wakefield Park.

For all the 2019 Championship points tables click here.

In memory of David Choon.

 

 

Actually written by Greg Muddle.

2018 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 2 
26 – 27th May, 2018
Wakefield Park

Wakefield Park was the venue for Formula Race Cars’ second appearance of the season in the 2018 NSW State Championship, and Nathan Gotch in the AGI Sport Dallara Renault F307 was able to master the cool conditions to produce another maximum points performance and extend his championship lead. While Gotch was a class above the rest of the Championship field, it was his battle with the non-championship Dallara Honda F311 of Spike Goddard that put some heat in the weekend – a cracker of a race on Saturday afternoon going to Gotch, before Goddard cleaned up on Sunday, with the two trading quickest laps across the weekend.


Goddard leading the pack in the Trophy Race

Qualifying

1: Nathan Gotch, Dallara Renault F307, 55.77
2: Spike Goddard, Dallara Honda F308, 58.04
3: Ross McAlpine, Mygale Mercedes M-11, 58.71; 4

Shane Wilson, Dallara Opel Spiess F305, 58.91 The mid-morning qualifying allowed the temperatures to creep up to around 12 degrees, but with the sun out and the track clean the conditions were right for some quick times provided you could find some grip. Gotch had the best of the early part of the session, from Goddard, Shane Wilson
(Wiltec Dallara Opel Spiess F305), Greg Muddle (Dallara Opel Spiess F399) and Ross McAlpine debuting his new ride, the ex-Harvest Mygale Mercedes M-11. Ten minutes in, and we all got the chance to cool down again courtesy of a red flag when Graeme Holmes (GKH Powdercoating Dallara Opel Spiess F304) found the Turn 2 sand trap, a result of continued brake problems.

With some confusing signals in pit-lane leading several competitors back to their carports and quitting the session at that point, those who were actually paying attention had an ideal opportunity to put in three quick laps after the re-start. Gotch’s existing time was already good enough for pole, but he managed to lower that by a further 2 seconds, getting down to the 55.7’s. McAlpine also benefited, diving down into the 58’s and leap-frogging Wilson into third.

Behind Wilson, Muddle headed up Andrew Wlodek (Dallara Honda F307) and Lawrence Katsidis (SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH Dallara Renault F304) who, having put his troubles of the last round behind him, was looking quick. Ron Coath (Dallara Mercedes F307), had brake troubles in the first part of the session, but managed to drive around that and pull out a respectable time in the closing part of the session, which put him ahead of Holmes on the grid.

Coath and Holmes just shaded the time of Phil Morrow (Dallara Opel Spiess F303), rounding out the Top 10 but looking quite capable of competing with the cars a couple of rows ahead as they were in a closely bunched group. Glenn Lynch (Eagle Transport Dallara F397 Fiat) was again doing a stellar job in the oldest Dallara in the field, qualifying ahead of Denis Lesslie (Tru Blue Trailers Dallara F302 Renault), who was still coming to terms with the new car, and Rob Sviderskas (Elfin 622) rounding out the field.

The lovely Elfin hadn’t been on track for quite some time, and gave away quite a bit in sophistication and speed to the F3 cars, but it was great to have Rob there boosting the numbers – just a great pity that there weren’t a few other older cars out there running around with the Elfin.

Simple, elegant, and those pipes are a work of art – Rob Sviderskas in the Elfin 623

Race 1

1: Nathan Gotch,
2: Spike Goddard
3: Shane Wilson
4: Ross McAlpine
5: Lawrence Katsidis

When the lights went out Goddard got the jump on Gotch and led the field away, with plenty of jockeying for position into Turn 2. Katsidis had a blinder and had his car into 5th outside Muddle as they exited the turn together, which saw Muddle getting on the throttle a little bit earlier than the cold tyres liked, with the result that he turned the car around in the middle of the following pack. Fortunately everyone managed to scatter.

Behind Goddard, Gotch was pressing hard, and they were both gapping the following pack of McAlpine, Wilson, Katsidis and Wlodek. Holmes’ woes continued, dropping to the back of the pack, but Morrow’s fortunes were better, and after a steady start he gained a place passing Coath on the second lap. Out front of the pack Goddard and Gotch were steadily dropping their times, into the low 57’s by lap three and into the 56’s a couple of laps later, but they were never more than a few tenths apart. Unfortunately those times put them behind lapped traffic, and at the end of lap 8 Gotch made the most of Goddard’s misfortune, as Goddard was baulked in his run onto the main straight it allowed Gotch to run past into the lead, a position he was able to defend for the final lap to take victory.

Although the front two had sprinted away from the pack there was plenty of interest for 3rd, and while McAlpine was able to establish a bit of a gap early on Wilson was strong at the back end of the race, making the most of his opportunities to pass McAlpine on the last lap. Katsidis had chased the pair hard for most of the race, and was only a couple of seconds behind in 5th at the chequered flag. Wlodek had a fairly solitary race in 6th, but behind him Morrow, Coath and Lynch put on a good battle for the minor placings. Holmes couldn’t recover to anything better than 10th. 

Millimetre perfect – no wonder he’s quick! Nathan Gotch shows us how it’s supposed to be done.

Race 2

1: Spike Goddard
2: Nathan Gotch
3: Shane Wilson
4: Andrew Wlodek
5: Greg Muddle

Sunday morning’s conditions were again cool but clear, and all 13 cars lined up again for the second race. The first two rows were away clearly, with Goddard to the lead again ahead of Gotch, McAlpine and Wilson. Katsidis was away poorly, courtesy of a misfire that was to persist throughout the race, allowing the fast starting Coath to slingshot into 5th, ahead of Wlodek and Morrow. This trio were soon joined by two cars coming from further back – Holmes and Muddle, both eager to get somewhere nearer the back of Wilson’s car.

However it was Wlodek that made the first move, getting ahead of Coath on lap 2, leaving Coath to defend against Holmes, with Muddle closing on Morrow. That move was made easier when Morrow looped it in turn 2 on lap three. Half a lap later the field was under safety car condition courtesy of McAlpine slowing to a halt – very unfortunate for him as the he was showing impressive cold-tyre pace. Not everyone saw the safety car sign, and there was a little bit of mayhem in the process, Holmes managing to make up a place unnoticed and Lynch managing to avoid the wrath of the officials by not quite completing a passing manoeuvre (even though it was recorded that way on the lap chart).

At the restart it was Goddard Gotch and Wilson out in front, with Wlodek defending doggedly against Holmes, Coath holding position in front of Muddle and Lynch defending against Katsidis still firing on three cylinders. Lesslie, Morrow and Sviderskas were somewhere else, not quite on the back of the safety car train at the restart. Goddard managed the race well leading all the way to the flag, but the eventual gap was less than half a second, and Gotch again managed to get down into the 55’s to set the fastest lap. Wlodek managed to hold Holmes at bay for 5 laps, but was finally out-braked on the 11th of 12 laps to concede 4th place.

This should have seen Holmes comfortably home, except that on the final lap the car inexplicably drove off into the sand trap at the final corner on the last lap. Outside the car that might have looked like Graeme once again testing the limits of physics with his braking, but inside the cockpit it seemed more like a jammed throttle. Either way, Wlodek was gifted 4th place. Muddle crossed the line a second behind him, having passed Coath but not without some effort. A good braking duel into the Fish-hook gave Muddle the place, but Coath made a strong attempt to regain the place under brakes At Turn 10. His challenge persisted all the way through Turn 2 and on the run back up the hill before the position was truly decided.

This left Coath defending 6th from Lynch, which he managed to do, crossing the line a few tenths ahead. Katsidis held 8th from Morrow, recovering from his spin to finish 9th and the last car on the lead lap, with Lesslie improving his times by a few tenths in 10th and Sviderskas also making minor improvements in 11th.  

Race 3

1. Spike Goddard
2. Nathan Gotch
3. Shane Wilson
4. Greg Muddle
5. Graeme Holmes

The trophy race over 14 laps was in cooling conditions on Sunday afternoon with all 13 cars again lining up for the start. The early order was Goddard from Gotch, Wlodek jostling with Wilson for 3rd ahead of Muddle, with both Coath and Lynch – noted good starters – looking for an opportunity. Wilson settled the battle for 3rd early in the opening lap, before Muddle also seized the opportunity late under brakes at the end of the back straight moving into 4th. At the end of the first lap Goddard and Gotch had once again opened a sizeable lead, from Wilson, with a gap to Muddle, and a further gap to Wlodek, with Lynch on his tail.

Holmes was the best of the two rear-of-grid starters ahead of McAlpine, but no further progressed than 10h. While the front 4 cars were running steadily but with increasing gaps, there was plenty of action for 5th. Coath managed to take the place from Wlodek on lap 2, but Katsidis and Morrow were on a charge – both passing Lynch on lap 2, then both passing Wlodek on lap 3, before Katsidis took Coath for 5th on lap 4 with a deep dive under brakes at Turn 2. All this was frustrating the progress of Holmes and McAlpine who were still in 10th and 11th on lap 3, albeit having switched places.

McAlpine disposed of Lynch and Wlodek on the following lap with before and after moves at the Fish-hook, but Holmes wasn’t quite as successful found the back of Wlodek’s car on the next pass lap at Turn 2, leaving Wlodek with a damaged rear wing and Holmes in the gravel, eventually leading to the deployment of the safety car.  

Lawrence Katsidis and a slight trace of tyre smoke got past Ron Coath in Race 3.

When the safety car departed there was a 6 lap sprint to the chequered flag, with Goddard and Gotch going all out as they had all weekend. Goddard opened up a secure margin – a second – but they were both charging hard to the flag, setting their fastest times on the last lap and Gotch setting a PB and the quickest time of the race. Wilson and Muddle were close for most of the remainder, but each time Muddle closed the gap Wilson found something a little bit extra, and he pulled a comfortable gap over the last two laps to finish a well-deserved 3rd.

Behind Muddle, McAlpine had found speed after the restart and steadily worked his way into 5th, courtesy of a series of late-braking moves at Turn 10, to finish ahead of Katsidis, with Coath holding out for 7th from the closely pursuing Morrow, and Lynch trailing in 9th. Lesslie finished two laps down but ahead of Wlodek, who despite a very non-aerodynamic set-up at the back of his car managed to circulate for points. Sviderskas unfortunately parked the Elfin with some (hopefully) precautionary concerns about the motor.

With Goddard not racing for points, Gotch was able to secure full points for the second round in a row.

Outright Points:
Nathan Gotch 75
Shane Wilson 63
Lawrence Katsidis 44
Andrew Wlodek 43
Ross McAlpine 41
Greg Muddle 41
Ron Coath 40
Phil Morrow 36
Glenn Lynch 35
Denis Lesslie 29;
Rob Sviderskas 21
Graeme Holmes 20

Class Based Points
Nathan Gotch 75
Lawrence Katsidis 44
Shane Wilson 63
Glenn Lynch 63
Phil Morrow 59
Greg Muddle 55
Andrew Wlodek 51
Denis Lesslie 51
Ron Coath 49
Ross McAlpine 43 
Rob Sviderskas 19
Graeme Holmes 29

Full points details here.

Short Circuit

– A stellar debut for Ross McAlpine in ‘that French car’ (is it even a real F3 if it’s not a Dallara?Surely it can’t be), and the decision not to buy the mowing attachment with the rest of the spares was a good one.  Ross was really quick, really smooth and really, really happy!  About the only false move was inadvertently hitting the pit-lane speed limiter during Race 2, which brought that race to an early end, but everything else went smoothly.

Of course ‘new car, new tricks’, and it an attempt to keep prying eyes away from all the aero Ross was parked up on pit lane instead of roughing it with the uncouth masses in the carports.  A touch of l’arrogant frog? Certainly the injunction against any pictures of the car in this race report seems a step too far! (Actually we’d love to have some pictures of Ross’ car but our photographer has decided he only likes Dallaras – when your photographer is named Riccardo Benvenuti you can see how that might happen).
 
– He may be the principal of Team Mr Knuckle Head – although he claims that someone
“changed his entry” – but take a look at the table above: Phil Morrow is looking strong in the race for the Class Championship – six starts, six finishes, nothing to do between races but contemplate how quick he might be if only his crew remembered to bring the computer cable and he could access the data.
 
– Wakefield Park: some people love it, some people hate it. And then there’s a small group of people that the track seems to hate back. Which brings us to Graeme Holmes’ disappointing weekend. Holmesy and helpers had a miserable time of it on Friday, having to replace a broken input shaft (the bumps on the back straight at Wakey can’t help), but by Saturday morning the car was ready to go racing. At which point the mystery brake problem that has plagued the car in recent times put an early end to the qualifying session. Race 1 provided no solutions but at least the car made it all the way to the chequered flag, but not at the speed to which it is accustomed.
 
Several platefuls of very ordinary Chinese food and a troubled nights’ sleep is not usually a great cure-all, but Sunday morning arrived fresh with promise. Graeme was quick to carve a way through the field before arriving at the rear of Andrew Wlodek’s wide-track F307, but after a few laps even the riddle of how to pass this car was solved. It all looked to be going to plan until the car screamed past the braking markers at Turn 10 – courtesy of a small tool that had been left in the cockpit jamming the throttle. Several kilos of gravel later, Graeme was again ready to do battle with the track in the trophy race, only this time the solution to the riddle was not there, the door was not unlocked with a gentle tap, and the fairy tale ending vanished in a cloud of dust. The track has done this to Graeme before, but it may have finally broken him: 
 
In the cockpit, no one can hear you scream.

Flashback 2013

Sadly, only 4 of the cars in picture are still running with FRCA, a number of the drivers have upgraded to new equipment which is great, but what a pity we don’t have some of these cars still going around. Near the back (obscured) is Lynchy, and 2013 is probably the last time he was not the leading Pre-99 car in a pack (I think he was a rear-of-grid starter that day, he may have been unusually late to the circuit, there’s no other way he would be that far back). Garnet Patterson having set a sizzling pace in qualifying (56.14) cleared out that weekend to win the Trophy from the Darren Choon and Graeme Holmes (when the track loved him).
 
 

Actually written by Greg Muddle.

2018 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 1
17 & 18 March 2018
Sydney Motorsport Park

The 2018 NSW State Championship kicked off at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend with F3 Premier Series contender Cameron Shields putting on a master class in the Gilmour Racing Dallara Mercedes F311.  While the conditions were hotter than hot, Cameron barely raised a sweat in winning all three races, despite doubling up in the Formula Ford Championship (which he also won!).

However with Cameron not contesting the State Championship, the winner over the weekend was returning 2016 Champion Nathan Gotch in the AGI Sport Dallara Renault F307, who picked up where he left off and completed the weekend with a maximum points haul.

Nathan Gotch

Qualifying

1: Cameron Shields, Dallara Mercedes F311, 1:23.28
2. Nathan Gotch, Dallara Renault F307, 1:27.04
3. Spike Goddard, Dallara Honda F308, 1:27.39
4 Aaron McClintock, Dallara Opel Spiess F301, 1:27.41

The mid-morning qualifying session saw temperatures already in the mid-30’s, and it was no surprise that most competitors produced their best times early in the session before engines and tyres got too hot.  In less than ideal conditions Cameron Shields was within 0.3 seconds of Calan Williams ‘lap record’ (for State events) in the same car last July.  Not only was it impressive, it was good enough by more than three seconds over his rivals.

Nathan Gotch managed to secure a front row spot, narrowly ahead of Spike Goddard who was back in Australia from his international exploits and having his first run in a F3 car for several years, but clearly settling into the groove despite a lack of testing.  Close on his heels the 2017 Champion Aaron McClintock was also in hot form, also qualifying in the 1:27’s but with much older machinery.  Having seen the hot lap come up on the dash, Aaron parked the car knowing there was not too much more to be achieved.

The third row spots on the grid were filled by the usual suspects – Graeme Holmes (GKH Powdercoating Dallara Opel Spiess F304) and Greg Muddle (Dallara Opel Spiess F399) – who qualified ahead of a trio of F307’s:  Shane Wilson (Wiltec Dallara Opel Spiess F307), Andrew Wlodek (Dallara Honda F307) and Ron Coath (Dallara Mercedes F307).  Shane Wilson’s weekend appeared to be over on Friday afternoon when he was bumped off the circuit by a sports car in practice and the right rear of the car was heavily damaged, but an overnight delivery of parts from Queensland and a massive effort by his support crew saw the car repaired in time for qualifying.

Tenth place on the grid was the very familiar Eagle Transport Dallara Fiat F397 of Glenn Lynch, still motoring along rapidly with the longest continuous service engine in F3 history.

The remainder of the grid was made up of a cluster of Dallara F304’s:  Phil Morrow having his first outing in the ex-Gilmour Spiess powered car and Denis Lesslie having his first outing in the True Blue Trailers ex-McAlpine Renault powered car, both using this meeting to get familiar with the extra potential of their new kit; ahead of Lawrence Katsidis in the SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH Dallara Renault F304 having its first outing back from an engine rebuild, and Rob Sviderskas in the Opel Spiess powered car, both of whom had problems in qualifying that kept them from their best.

Race 1

1:Cameron Shields,
2: Spike Goddard,
3: Nathan Gotch,
4: Shane Wilson
5: Greg Muddle

Brake issues saw Graeme Holmes pull out on the dummy grid and left us with 13 cars lining up in hot conditions – 60+ degrees on the asphalt.

When the lights went out both Shields and Goddard got good jumps but Gotch bogged down slightly giving up 2ndplace.  Muddle also got a good jump (something that couldn’t be said in any race report from 2017), keeping him in 4thwith Holmes missing and McClintock pulling off the track with what was to be a weekend-ending diff failure.  McClintock’s departure was extremely disappointing as his practice times showed he was capable of mixing it with the later model cars ahead.

Shields had already opened a sizeable gap on the first lap, a pattern that was to continue throughout the whole race.  Likewise Goddard had a small gap on Gotch which he continued to stretch.  Muddle led Wilson, Wlodek and Lynch, and behind them the order followed the fortunes of the start:  Katsidis, who had repaired the problem in the gearbox that had relegated him to the back of the grid in qualifying made a good start, ahead of Morrow (who had jumped), Sviderskas, then Coath and Lesslie who had both stalled when the lights went out.

Goddard ahead of the pack into turn 2, Shields has already cleared out

Unfortunately, not much was happening in terms of racing – people were chasing hard but unable to close gaps.  Morrow was the exception, taking a place from Katsidis on lap 2 and reeling in Lynch on lap 4.  Coath had also made up some ground and passed Sviderskas on the same lap, but by that stage he had lost contact with the cars further up the field.  Katsidis, after a slow start, was putting in some quick times and making up ground on Morrow, only to have the car stop on lap 7 as it ran out of fuel.  Morrow was running strongly but was being haunted by Lynch, who wouldn’t let him go.

Further up the field Muddle seemed to have a comfortable gap on Wilson, matching times lap after lap, but gave the spot away when he slowed with what was eventually found to be a loose air filter tube.

When the chequered flag came out on lap 13 there were large gaps between almost all car – Shields taking the flag ahead of Goddard, Gotch, Wilson, Muddle, Wlodek, Morrow (although with a 5 second penalty he was subsequently relegated a place), Lynch, Coath and a fast closing Sviderskas in 10th, with Lesslie rounding out the field.

Race 2

1:Cameron Shields
2: Spike Goddard
3: Nathan Gotch
4: Shane Wilson
5: Greg Muddle

Sunday morning saw no relief from the heat, if anything it was hotter, and 12 cars lined up for the first race.  Holmes had managed to sort his brake issue, but we were without McClintock (diff) and Sviderskas (oil seal).  Katsidis made a heroic effort to get to the dummy grid after replacing a flywheel, the second ‘car apart’ exercise of the weekend for the team.

The first two rows made good starts Wilson shading Gotch but settling into a familiar order of Shields, Goddard, Gotch, Wilson as they completed the first lap, a pattern that was to stay in place for the remainder of the race.

Muddle bogged down allowing the fast starting pair of Wlodek and Lynch to get ahead, and it wasn’t until he slipstreamed past Wlodek into turn 2 on lap 2 that he managed to get back to his starting position. Behind Lynch, Morrow settled into 8th, ahead of Holmes who was still checking out his brakes, then Coath ,who was again, uncharacteristically, slow away from the line and Lesslie. Unfortunately Katsidis pulled out early with clutch issues.

Holmes was providing most of the entertainment as he progressed through the field, accounting for Morrow and Lynch on lap 2, Wlodek on lap 3, and then passing Muddle on lap 5. At that point there was still some hope of chasing down Wilson, but a spin at turn 2 on lap 8 put paid to that and gifted 5thplace back to Muddle.  Wlodek, Lynch and Coath followed, with Morrow dropping a place due to fatigue (and having to deal with an unstrapped helmet!) and Lesslie completing the field.

Where did all these cars come from? Race 3 and Shields finally sees some other cars.

Race 3

1: Cameron Shields
2: Spike Goddard
3: Nathan Gotch
4: Shane Wilson
5: Graeme Holmes

Having won the first two races by a convincing margin expectations were that Shields would do the same again in the final race.  Eventually he did, but he made it slightly more difficult by stalling when the lights went out and falling to the back of the field.  Despite this, he’d made it back to 5thby mid-way through lap 1, driving around the battling pair of Wlodek and Muddle between turns 4 and 5, and had found his way to the front by the end of lap 3, before driving to a 15 second win.

With Goddard jumping to the early lead, Gotch edged ahead of Wilson and the fast starting Holmes, but Muddle again gave up places to Wlodek and Lynch off the line. He managed to reclaim these after passing Wlodek under brakes into Turn 15, enabling him to set out after Holmes.

Lynch was close behind, having also managed to find a way past Wlodek on lap 2. Behind them Lesslie had made the best of the starts, to be ahead of Morrow, Coath and Katsidis, who unfortunately had no reward for all the effort on the clutch between races and eventually withdrew after 2 laps.

With Shields clearing out there were several battles emerging:  Gotch was unable to shake Wilson; Muddle was closing on Holmes; Lynch and Wlodek were inseparable; and Coath was chasing down Morrow and Lesslie, who traded places several times in the early laps.

Behind Shields, Goddard had a relatively easy race to claim second.  Gotch held out Wilson to claim third, but there was only a couple of seconds in it at the flag.  Muddle was taking a few tenths a lap from Holmes until he tried to go a little bit too deep into Turn 2 and took an excursion onto the grass, after which he had to settle for a comfortable 6th.  Lynch held Wlodek all the way to the flag, but there was only 7 hundredths of a second in it.  Coath claimed 9th, and Morrow held on to 10thahead of Lesslie by just over a tenth of a second.

Muddle used Race 3 to check out the sign the ARDC installed for Holmes at Turn 2

With the two young guns Shields and Goddard not racing for points, Gotch was left our clear winner for the weekend:

Outright points: 

Nathan Gotch  75
Shane Wilson  63
Greg Muddle  55
Andrew Wlodek  45
Glenn Lynch  43
Graeme Holmes  36
Ron Coath 36
Phil Morrow  35
Denis Lesslie  30
Rob Sviderskas  11 
Lawrence Katsidis  10
McClintock  5

Class Based points:

Nathan Gotch  75
Greg Muddle  71
Shane Wilson  63
Glenn Lynch  63
Phil Morrow  59
Andrew Wlodek  57
Ron Coath  51
Denis Lesslie  51
Graeme Holmes  46
Rob Sviderskas  19
Lawrence Katsidis  10
McClintock  5

Short Bursts:

  • “If I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have had any luck”. A deeply philosophical Loz Katsidis contemplates the combined effects of clutch, flywheel, gearbox pinion, frustrating fuel and 12 months out of the seat, and looks forward to burning some hot laps at Wakefield next round, with some luck.
  • Despite all the conspiracy theories, 5 competitors survived targeted scrutineering without having their fuel bladders checked, and while the issue continues to hang there as a possible issue the early signs are encouraging: state scrutineers don’t appear to have had any instruction to enforce the rule.
  • Greg Muddle spent a fair amount of time in the Clerk of Course office for having the loudest car in the category. Having tried the crossed wires at the end of the exhaust (they make 0.6 dB difference at Eastern Creek on a hot and humid day, for those who are interested) more radical surgery was required on Saturday evening. A large amount of stainless steel wool and some Kevin Lewis supervised re-engineering saw the car quietened sufficiently to compete on Sunday.
  • As usual there were plenty of instances of FRCA members helping out their fellow competitors in their hour of need, but for simple brilliance in the “see problem, solve problem” department it is impossible to go past the appearance of Icy Poles after the first race on Sunday morning. Thanks Katrina, that was soooo good!
  • As usual, there was plenty of talk about potential new cars – from Asia, from Italy, even from Victoria – and hopefully we’ll see at least one of these emerge in the near future. If you’re aware of anyone looking for a car then the ex-Robert Choon 01 is back on the market again in SA at a sensible price; and President Ross is aware of most of the other possibilities and might give you the tip (at least for the ones he’s not contemplating for himself).
  • A big ‘Thank You’ from the Category Rep to all those competitors who booked garages as soon as entries opened, it was great having that settled so far in advance of the race meeting and not having anyone miss out.

    A successful first outing for Denis Lesslie, and putting it away in one piece is always good too.

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