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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
- “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.
(Actually) written by Greg Muddle.
2017 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 2
27 & 28 May 2017
Sydney Motorsport Park
Aaron McClinktock has shot to the top of the ladder after the second round of the 2017 NSW Motor Race Championship for Formula Cars, with two wins and a second place on a weekend where he showed consistent pace and was able to keep the ever-present Graeme Holmes at bay. With series leader not contesting this round, and a number of drivers unable to repair damage from round 1 within the tight turnaround, we were reduced to just 11 entries, our smallest field in a number of years. While the small field was disappointing, it didn’t stop the FRCA guys putting on some cracking racing across the weekend.
1. Graeme Holmes, Dallara Opel Spiess 1:30.99; 2. Aaron McClintock, Dallara Opel Spiess F301, 1:31.26;
3. Greg Muddle, Dallara Opel Spiess F399, 1:31.69
An early red flag for two stopped cars meant there was a shortened session in which to establish a qualifying lap, and it was McClintock who set the early pace with a series of laps in the 1:31’s. Holmes managed to better this only on the final lap of the session, and dragged Muddle along in his wake for a top 3 qualifying for the three Holmes powered cars. Fuel issues had put Andrew Wlodek (Dallara F307 Honda) out of contention, so it wasn’t any surprise to see Glenn Lynch (Dallara F397 Fiat) take advantage and slot into the remaining second row spot, the first of the Class B cars. Ron Bennet (Dallara F301 Opel Spiess) and Kevin Lewis (Dallara F396 Toyota) followed, only just shading Edward Gavin in the beautiful Cheetah Mk.8, the AF2 giving away plenty of horsepower to the F3 cars (a couple more AF2’s to play with would be nice!).
Phil Morrow (Reynard 923 VW) was the last of the qualifiers, with both Wlodek and Denis Lesslie (Ralt RT34 Honda) having troubles – in Denis’ case terminal engine problems that ended his weekend prematurely. Rod Anderson (Reynard 893 VW) was unable to compete having broken an upright during Friday practice.
1. Graeme Holmes, 2. Aaron McClintock, 3. Andrew Wlodek.
Race 1 on Saturday afternoon was a 9 lap race run in clear and sunny conditions, and the two cars on the front row got away to a good start, opening up a 3 second gap to the rest of the field on the opening lap and stretching that every lap thereafter. McClintock had to deal with the flying start of Bennet, who held second at the entry of turn 2, before McClintock muscled past. The large distance they put on the rest of the field was not reflected in the tussle between the two leaders, only separated by a few car-lengths throughout the journey and by a couple of tenths when they eventually crossed the line. McClintock was able to challenge several times, but unable to pass.
Behind the leaders, Bennet had the running from Lynch and Wlodek, charging through from the rear of the grid. Bennet was able to maintain third until lap 3, when Wlodek was able to get ahead with a fairly assertive move at turn 3 and open up a small gap. This left Bennet to in a race with Lynch for fourth, and the two drivers were at close quarters for the whole race. Muddle had stalled on the line, again, much to the consternation of his crew who were vocal in their criticism, and when he managed to get moving the rest of the field had long gone.
It was lap 4 before he managed to catch Gavin and Lewis, who were locked in a close battle, and soon after passing Lewis Gavin was also able to take advantage and move into 7th. It wasn’t until lap 6 that he was able to get on the tail of Lynch and Bennet, and by that stage any chance of bridging the gap to Wlodek was gone. Bennet followed home in 5th, ahead of Lynch, Gavin and Morrow, who completed the field, Lewis having retired on the last lap with ‘fuel management issues’ i.e. Management had not put enough fuel in the car.
1. Aaron McClintock, 2. Graeme Holmes, 3. Andrew Wlodek.
On Sunday conditions were again perfect for the morning’s 10 lap race. Unfortunately the event before was red-flagged with a serious incident that took quite some time to clear, and the initial “short delay, about 10 minutes” stretched to almost an hour in the cockpit before the cars rolled out of the dummy grid. When the lights finally went out the drivers were understandably eager to get away, but the cars on the front two rows suffered a lot of wheelspin.
Wlodek was the first to get traction, McClintock followed, Muddle was passed by Lynch and Holmes was nowhere by the time they reached turn 2. Wlodek, McClintock and eventually Muddle formed a 3 car train at the front, with Holmes 4 seconds behind at the end of the first lap. The front three put on a spectacular show for the first three laps, Wlodek defending impressively with McClintock keen to get past, aware that Muddle was right up his exhaust. That threat was realised into turn 9 on lap 3, when Muddle dive-bombed in an audacious move that he was able to make stick.
McClintock returned the favour at turn 1 on the following, then after several attempts was able to force his way alongside Wlodek into turn 3 on lap 5, giving him the inside line into turn 4. With Holmes closing Muddle needed to move quickly on Wlodek, and the following lap he successfully pulled off a late dive into turn 4, only to throw it away by out-braking himself into turn 6. By the time he rally-crossed back onto the black stuff Wlodek and Holmes were 200 metres down the road and weren’t going to be caught, so he backed off and settled for 4th place. Holmes passed Wlodek on the following lap, but was unable to bridge the gap to McClintock who won by about 3 seconds after allowing for a jump start penalty, with Wlodek chasing Holmes all the way to the line. Behind Muddle, Lynch ended what was a fairly lonely race with a late surge when he thought Muddle was catchable, and Morrow was the last of the finishers a lap down, but completing a second consecutive race with no major dramas even apart from needing a few more horsepower.
There were 3 DNF’s – Lewis’ race was finished early when the car refused to run cleanly, a rag subsequently being discovered in the air intake; Bennet had terminal engine issues; and Ed Gavin had sat in the cockpit so long that he had problems using his legs properly.
1. Aaron McClintock, 2. Graeme Holmes, 3. Greg Muddle.
The Trophy Race was reduced to 6 laps because of the delays earlier in the day, and perhaps just as well with only 7 cars making the grid. McClintock and Holmes got away from the line clearly and cleared away from the rest of the field. In what was almost the mirror image of race 1, McClintock led from start to finish, with Holmes harrying him all the way but unable to do anything to get ahead. On the second row we had synchronised stalling with Wlodek and Muddle both making a mess of the start, Muddle getting away slightly ahead of Wlodek in the end and Wlodek parking his car very early in the race.
Lewis passed both of them at the start, but he too was soon retired with a loose rear wheel. While the leaders put on a show the rest of the interest was in Muddle chasing down Lynch for third, a position he did not surrender without some Formula Ford style blocking moves down the main straight, which was entertaining for drivers and crowd alike. Lynch had to settle for 4th and Class B honours, ahead of Morrow who made it 3 finished from 3 starts, perhaps not at the pace he’d like but with thankfully a weekend without major headaches.
The points table can be found here.
SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH had successfully trialled the live streaming of images from the cars this round, enabling the crews to follow the racing from an in-car view. This will be helpful provided we don’t have too many “look mum, no hands!!” moments. Thankfully there is no audio being proposed at the moment.
Very rarely do we have anything to thank V8 SuperTaxis for, but we did have sector splits on our Natsoft timing this weekend, and it makes interesting reading. Our two standout drivers, Aaron McClintock and Graeme Holmes shared the quickest laps 2-2 over our four sessions, but all 4 sessions were split 2-1 in terms of quickest sectors (points decisions, no knockouts: 2 x 2-1 to Aaron, and 2 x 2-1 to Graeme). In terms of individual sectors, Holmes was quickest in the first sector in all 4 sessions, the second sector was shared 2 apiece, and McClintock was the quickest in the 3rd sector in all 4 sessions.
Written by Greg Muddles.
Race Report 2016 NSW Motor Race Championship
Round 1, Sydney Motorsport Park
1 & 2 April, 2017
The first round of the championship ended with the familiar sight of Graeme Holmes holding the trophy, but he got there via a long and eventful path on a weekend that saw Dennie Rumble take the points and Aaron McClintock keep him honest all the way.
1. Dennie Rumble, Dallara Mercedes F307 58.39; 2. Aaron McClintock, Dallara Opel Spiess F301, 59.51; 3. Greg Muddle, Dallara Opel Spiess F399, 1:01.01.
An early altercation between Graeme Holmes (Dallara Opel Spiess F304) and John Boothman (Dallara Fiat F301) saw the session red-flagged and drivers cooling their heels in pit lane while the cars were cleared away. When the car returned to the circuit the Alpine Motorsports car of Dennie Rumble set the pace as expected, the National Series driver claiming a well-deserved pole despite limited miles under his belt in recent times and no set up laps. Aaron McClintock was not too far behind and looked to be Rumble’s major threat, with Muddle struggling to find last year’s pace but ending up a respectable third. Rodney Brincat in the Glass Benders Dallara Opel Spiess F304 was hampered by an incorrect selection of gear ratios, but was still able to put the car on the second row of the grid.
Glenn Lynch, having made a late decision to run the Dallara Fiat F396 Class B car, managed to out-qualify a number of later model cars to end the session in 5th, ahead of the two Dallara F307’s of Canberran drivers Andrew Wlodek (Honda) and Ron Coath (Mercedes). Ron Bennet (lately of Bundaberg, now resident of Greater Western Sydney – not so attractive but a lot closer to race meetings) managed well from a last-minute preparation to put his Dallara F301 Opel Spiess on 8th, with the Class B cars of Kevin Lewis (Dallara F396 Toyota) and Rod Anderson (Reynard 893 VW) rounding out the top 10.
Of the 17 car entered we lost the SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH’s Dallara F304 Renault of Lawrence Katsidis on Friday with air issues (i.e. the piston decided it would aid circulation by punching a hole in the block); Rodney Baker’s debut in the Dallara F301 Opel Spiess ended with a broken clutch (despite the extraordinary efforts of Messrs Gardiner, Sparkes, Boothman and Holmes the car was beyond redemption, but nothing that some time and effort can’t fix for next round); and Phil Morrow successfully completed qualifying (Look! No oil leaks!!) only to have the ring-gear fail when starting the car for the first race. But there were 14 starters when the serious stuff got underway on Saturday afternoon.
1. Dennie Rumble, 2. Aaron McClintock, 3. Rodney Brincat.
Race 1 on Saturday afternoon was a 15 lap race run in clear and sunny conditions, and at the front Rumble led McClintock, with Muddle and Brincat struggling for 3rd all the way to turn 4 before the deal was settled in Brincat’s favour. Muddle was struggling in the cockpit with a displaced dash, and in pressing it back into place managed to flick off the ignition and coast to a halt (the car clearly got the irrits with the driver for this, because it didn’t want to start again all weekend!). Behind the leaders Holmes was making his way through the field, but on lap 2 attempted what could be best described as an ‘ambitious’ move on Glenn Lynch, leaving the two cars in Team Holmes colours in the kitty litter, resulting in a safety car being deployed for 4 laps.
On the restart, Rumble and McClintock took off and opened a big gap on the field. The two drivers put on an epic battle, with McClintock challenging on several occasions and having his nose in front as they crossed the stripe on lap 12 only for Rumble to regain the spot under brakes into turn 2. Despite being the quicker car, with a sizzling 57.96 lap, McClintock couldn’t manage to get past, and Rumble took the victory.
While Brincat had a lonely race in 3rd there was plenty of action behind him. Wlodek held 4th for a substantial part of the race until he retired with fuel issues. This elevated the other F307 of Ron Coath, who having lost a spot to Ron Bennet early in proceedings battled hard to get the spot back mid race and opened up a comfortable gap. Behind them, Rod Anderson held onto 6th ahead of a group of cars that included Rob Sviderskas (Dallara Opel Spiess F301), Kevin Lewis and Glenn Lynch – several laps down but still keen to enjoy a good dice nonetheless. Lynch worked hard to get ahead of Lewis and then had several attempts at Sviderskas, but all to no avail.
Anderson was given a couple of laps reprieve while all this was going on behind, but in the closing laps he was increasingly under pressure from Sviderskas and another lap might have seen a change of position. Denis Lesslie (Ralt RT34 Honda) finished behind them a lap down, with Lynch in 10th the last of the classified finishers.
1. Dennie Rumble, 2. Rodney Brincat, 3. Aaron McClintock.
On Sunday conditions were again perfect for the morning’s 12 lap race. Unfortunately McClintock did not get away cleanly from the line, and as a result there was a shake-up in the order. Brincat was able to slot into 2nd and Coath 3rd, with Rod Anderson and Rob Sviderskas moving up the order, but with Ron Bennet missing out and dropping several spots. Holmes was on the charge again, moving to 6th on the opening lap and making up a further position on lap 2; and McClintock was following him through the field to be 6th by lap 2 directly behind Holmes.
The 3rd lap saw Coath pressing hard to challenge Brincat, perhaps too hard, because he looped the car at the ‘Fishhook’ and, unable to get the car re-started, the safety car was deployed. The safety car, being deployed mid-field caused some confusion amongst the drivers and it took several laps to rectify the situation. As a result at the re-start there was a large gap between some of the cars, robbing spectators of the chance to see Holmes (now 3rd) and McClintock (now 5th) challenge the lead cars. It didn’t trouble Rumble, and at the re-start he moved clear to comfortably complete his second win of the weekend. Brincat was never seriously challenged for 2nd, although McClintock managed to close within a few seconds, recording the fastest lap of the race in the process.
Holmes brought his car home in 4th, ahead of fellow rear-of-grid starter Wlodek, who was still struggling with heat stress from the previous evening (see Short Bursts below). Anderson, Lynch and Bennet were in close pursuit, but it was Bennet who got the better of the other two on the penultimate lap. Sviderskas followed in 9th and Lewis, struggling with an electrical miss rounded out the top 10. Denis Lesslie was the only other finisher after Muddle’s car failed to start in the dummy grid.
1. Graeme Holmes, 2. Dennie Rumble, 3. Andrew Wlodek.
The 15 lap Trophy Race saw pole-sitter Rumble start favourite due to his two earlier victories, but McClintock’s race pace and Holmes’ record meant their chances could not be discounted. Of the cars on the front two rows Brincat might have been the outsider, but in the end he was the one who got the jump and led through the first lap – at least until turn 10 where he looped it in front of Rumble and brought both cars to a halt – undamaged but stopped in the middle of the track.
Add to this McClintock running off the road out of the Fishhook and it was Holmes who was left in front of the field as the safety car was deployed for the third time on the weekend (unfortunately that’s a FRCA record). As the cars circulated the order was Holmes, Wlodek, Lynch, having jumped 4 spots on the opening lap, Bennet and Sviderskas, with the two quickest cars of McClintock and Rumble in 9th and 11th respectively, and the early race leader Brincat out of contention having lost several laps in the proceedings.
At the restart the main interest was in the progress of McClintock and Rumble through the field: by lap 5 they were in 8th and 9th respectively, battling to get past Coath; on lap 7 they passed Coath and Rumble moved ahead of McClintock; on lap 8 Rumble was up to 5th but McClintock was back in 8th again behind Coath.
Holmes and Wlodek were opening up a gap, but Lynch was doing a good job hanging onto 3rd, with Bennet and Sviderskas close behind. Rumble passed Sviderskas on lap 8 to move into 5th, then passed Bennet on lap 9 to move into 4th, and passed Lynch on lap 11 to move into 3rd. At this stage the gap to Holmes was about 8 seconds, and on lap 12 Rumble set the fastest time of the weekend and that reduced it by half.
However between the two of them was Wlodek, and he wasn’t going to give up second lightly, making Rumble work hard for the spot. Another quick lap from Rumble on lap 15 closed the gap to Holmes considerably, but the veteran held on for what on Saturday, with a DNQ and a DNF, seemed like an unlikely conclusion to the weekend. Wlodek finished in a well-deserved 3rd, ahead of the fast closing McClintock ,and Lynch once again did an impressive job in an older car leading Class B in 5th outright. Bennet finished ahead of Coath with Anderson following closely behind. Sviderskas once again had little to show for his strong early lap efforts, eventually finishing in 9th, ahead of Lesslie in 10th. Lewis retired early with a recurrence of the electrical problems, Brincat completed only 8 laps and Muddle’s car once again failed to fire on all cylinders.
The points table can be found here.
Too Hot to Handle!
Saturday evening saw FRCA competitors dining at the Hibernian, home of The Hibo Hero Hot Burger Challenge. Enter the intrepid Andrew Wlodek, eager to take on the challenge, equipped with the standard precautions issued by the Hibernian (latex gloves and a tall glass of milk) but without the aid of a FIA approved on-board extinguisher. Technically Andrew did win the challenge, outside medical assistance only being required after he had left the hotel, but most spectators awarded a points decision to the burger.
A red flag in Qualifying and safety cars in all three races – for those of us who have raced Formula Ford is a case of ‘Been there, done that’ and as much as a mid-race break to get your breath back can be rather helpful it would be good if we can improve on this next round. Holmesy was involved in two of those incidents, and he was definitely not impressed. You can
check out the video at:
(Go straight to the 4 minute 30 second mark).
And we offer this picture for anyone who has an entry in our caption competition:
Race Report 2016 NSW Motor Race Championship
Round 5, Sydney Motorsport Park
17 & 18 September, 2016
The final round of the CAMS NSW Motor Race Championships for Formula Race Cars saw Graeme Holmes give a masterclass in how to drive a F3 in the rain. With the GKH Powdercoating Dallara F304 Opel Spiess untouchable in the wet condition he put 3 race wins on the board to finish the season in style and clinch 3rd place in the Outright Championship in the process.
Thirteen cars lined up on Saturday morning after Peter Warren’s beautiful March 82A BDA withdrew, having been rammed by a Radical on Saturday. 2016 Champion elect Nathan Gotch was an absentee and that opened-up the contest considerably, however it soon became apparent that pole would be a contest between Holmes and Rodney Brincat in the Glass Benders Dallara F304 Opel Spiess.
Holmes had the early running, and both cars steadily improved their times throughout the session until Brincat posted a 1:31.45 on his second last lap, a time that Holmes was unable to better, although the margin was only a tenth of a second. Behind these two, Andrew Wlodek (Dallara F307 Honda) got the better of Ron Coath (Dallara F307 Mercedes) in the battle for Class D honours, with Coath in turn holding off Ron Bennett in the ARB Bundaberg Dallara F301 Spiess by a very thin margin. The “Two Ronnies” put on an epic battle last time out at SMSP and it looked set to continue. Completing the 3rd row was Kevin Lewis in the ‘FOR SALE’ Dallara F395 Toyota. Given that he was just going to run in the motor this was a fairly pleasing effort and the car looked promisingly quick.
Lawrence Katsidis qualified the SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH F304 Renault in a ‘safe seventh’ focussing his weekend on the points finishes required to clinch the All Classes championship. He was joined on the 4th row by a surprised Ross McAlpine in the Power Plus Fuels Dallara F397 Toyota – surprised because he fully expected to be a DNQ as a late arrival, only to find as he drove into the pit area that our session had been delayed and the rest of the cars were still sitting in the dummy grid. After a quick ‘Clark Kent’ into his driving suit, he was strapped in and drove out for 4 laps, and did enough to advance 3 rows on where he had expected start the race, and lead Class B into the bargain.
Behind McAlpine was Rod Anderson (Reynard 893 VW), who was slightly off his normal pace but quick enough to qualify ahead of John English (Van Diemen FR97 FF2000) in the first of the Class A cars. Both the cars on the 6th row were struggling for pace, with Dave Morrow (Richards 201 VW AF2) edging out Phil Morrow in the Reynard 923 VW, who was hopeful the oil leaks that had plagued him in the previous round had been fixed, but Katrina had plenty of degreaser on hand just in case… and just as well. Rounding out the field for the weekend was Rob Sviderskas, who spent the session trying (in vain) to get his Dallara F304 Spiess to fire, and subsequently was forced to start from the rear of the grid.
Race 1 on Saturday afternoon was run in clear sunny conditions and produced some excellent close racing. At the start Brincat had the better of Holmes off the line, but Bennet had the best of the start and made a strong surge around the outside as they headed through Turn 1, bettering both Coath and Wlodek. Katsidis was slow away from the line but made up spots in the Turn 2 scuffle, only to lose 6th place to Lewis with a ‘moment’ at Turn 5.
As the started lap 2 it was Brincat leading with Holmes right up his exhaust, opening a gap to Coath, who had taken the spot from Bennet, who was pre-occupied with both Wlodek and Lewis up his pipes. Katsidis led Anderson, McAlpine and English to complete the top 10. Sviderskas was pressing hard and made it to 9th before retiring with what seemed like ‘death rattles’ in the motor but was later found to be a rather less costly exhaust issue. Holmes continued to hound Brincat and on lap 3 he managed to throw it down the inside at turn 2 as most people, including Brincat, expected – Holmes’ braking at that corner being both late and legendary.
Brincat was not easily shaken however, and remained within striking distance for the remainder of the race. He quickly enough to set the fastest lap, and almost profited from a small mistake and lapped traffic to close within a car length on the last lap, but Holmes had enough in store to take the chequered flag. Coath lapped consistently in 3rd building up a gap on the three cars behind who were locked in an epic battle before coasting through the last couple of laps. Behind Bennet and Wlodek, Lewis was fighting hard to stay with the later model cars, and doing a good job of pestering them until he threw it into the gravel at turn 2 on lap 8.
Lap after lap Bennet had his mirrors full of Wlodek, and when he wasn’t in the mirrors it was because he was alongside. On lap 6 the two cars were side by side through Turn 1 with Bennet holding the inside, and when they re-appeared in view through Turn 3 they were still side-by-side, a station they held all the way until they disappeared from view in the run up to Turn 6. Bennet held Wlodek for another 2 laps, but on lap 9 Wlodek again attempted a passing move at Turn 1 – this time on the inside.
Once again the cars were still side by side all the way to turn 4, and Bennet looked to have again held off the challenge until he ran wide at Turn 9, conceding the position to Wlodek. While Wlodek pushed hard chasing Coath he had to settle for 4th, some distance ahead of Rod Anderson, who had spent a good deal of the race chasing down Katsidis in a battle for 7th and making spots late in the race with Lewis’ spin and Bennet also throwing it around at Turn 6 on the last lap, eventually recovering to finish 7th ahead of McAlpine English and Dave Morrow rounding out the top 10. Phil Morrow brought the Reynard home to finish but it wasn’t operating at its optimum.
On Sunday morning the rain settled in quite decidedly, and the drivers prepared themselves for wet conditions. The field was reduced to 11 cars with Sviderskas’ car not repairable and Dave Morrow not having wets available. With all the ‘pit pundits’ in a upbeat mood (and why not? We didn’t have to go out in those conditions!!) the talk was the chance of an upset – the less power the better in these conditions and the two Reynards of Anderson and Morrow were highly fancied, along with the FF2000 of English on what looked like the newest and softest rubber in the field.
At the start Wlodek got a great jump from the second row as Brincat and Holmes struggled to get away. He led the field through the first turn with Holmes chasing and a magnificent start by Phil Morrow saw him surging around a large number of cars on the outside. As they came back into sight at turn 3 it was Holmes, Bennet, Wlodek, and Morrow, up from 11th. Morrow rounded up Wlodek through turn 4 and would have quickly accounted for Bennet if he hadn’t thrown it away at turn 9, sending him all the way back to the rear of the field again.
Over the line at the end of the first lap it was Holmes, already with a commanding lead, ahead of Bennet, Brincat and Wlodek, and then the not-at-all surprising pair of English and Anderson giving a good account of themselves in the wet. McAlpine led Coath, Katsidis and the recovering Morrow and Lewis pitted the F395 Dallara having decided his old tyres were not going to provide enough grip to keep it pointing in the right direction. With Holmes surging into the distance all the interest was in the minor places. Brincat followed Bennet around for a couple of laps before making his move, and after finding clear air he steadily opened a gap as he got familiar with how the F304 worked in the wet.
Behind Bennet, Anderson managed to move up into 4th and looked quick enough to challenge Bennet only to have a lose at the right-hander at the top of the circuit on. By this time Morrow was on a charge again, despite some hairy moments off the track at Turn 1, and was entertaining the crowd with a superb drive. Having moved back into 6th with a bold Turn 1 pass on Wlodek on lap 5 he chased down English on the following lap to claim 4th the final car on the lead lap at the end of the race. English finished 5th ahead of Wlodek, who was clearly finding the F307 a bit of a handful in the wet, ahead of McAlpine and Coath.
Katsidis was fighting the urge to go faster in the knowledge that he needed a mistake free outing to bank precious championship points, and drove into the pits with a finish that saw him just one point short of the championship. So he’d have to do it all over again later in the afternoon…
Rain again, and in fact more of it. By the end there were streams across the track so it clearly wasn’t great weather for racing and only half the field managed to get to the finish. Off the start Wlodek again got away well, as did Ron Bennet, and had brief claims to second place before Holmes got going, but it was Phil Morrow who once again looked quick and jumped to the lead. Brincat bogged down on the line and fell to the back, with all cars passing him except McAlpine who also failed to get away with the car suffering electrical problems.
In normal circumstances McAlpine’s effort in rolling the car to the safety of the tyre barriers at the turn 1 run-off would have been laudable, however in these conditions it might have been a favour to everyone had he parked the car on the start finish line and brought out the safety car. At the front it briefly looked like we might have a race, with Morrow looking very quick, albeit behind Holmes at the end of the first lap, but unfortunately the Reynard aqua-planed off the circuit in the run-up to Turn 6, knocking the nose off the car and ending a season that was beset with problems, but sprinkled with glimpses of what Phil can do.
With Morrow off, Holmes was left to an easy victory, completing a clean sweep for the weekend. Coath parked his car at the end of lap 1 with nothing to be gained in the conditions, and Anderson did likewise at the end of lap 3, having had a large lose in the same vicinity as Morrow’s car. Brincat made his way steadily through the field, eventually passing Bennet to move into 2nd on lap 5. The other mover was English, who was doing a splendid job in the less powerful Van Diemen and had passed Wlodek before moving into 3rd place when Bennet spun on the last lap. Completing the finishers in a slow and lonely run was Lawrence Katsidis, who did everything that he needed to do to secure the All Classes Championship for 2016. Congratulations Lawrence!
Graeme Holmes 60
Rodney Brincat 48
Andrew Wlodek 36
Lawrence Katsidis 26
Ron Coath 22
Class Based points:
Graeme Holmes 60
Rodney Brincat 48
Andrew Wlodek 41
Lawrence Katsidis 40
Ron Bennet 26
Outright Championship for the year:
Nathan Gotch 220 (champion)
Andrew Wlodek 178
Graeme Holmes 138
Lawrence Katsidis 129
Rodney Brincat 102
Ron Bennet 94
Greg Muddle 92
Ron Coath 85
Glenn Lynch 67
Ross McAlpine 66
Class Championship for the year:
Lawrence Katsidis 185 (champion)
Nathan Gotch 171
Andrew Wlodek 166
Graeme Holmes 160
Ross McAlpine 131
Ron Bennet 130
Al Palmer 127
Greg Muddle 118
Glenn Lynch 116
Rodney Brincat 112
Ross McAlpine 109
Class D Winner: Nathan Gotch;
Class C Winner: Lawrence Katsidis
Class B Winner: Ross McAlpine
For the full tables see the website: www.frca.org.au
With 5 kills required to be an ‘Ace’ there must be a few new names going up on the Radical Roll of Honour this year. FRCA will be working closely in the off season with Ron Bennet to test the ARB Bundaberg prototype F3 bull bar kit to put us on a more level playing field, but until we can roll that out the best way to avoid Radicals is to make sure we put MORE CARS ON THE GRID each race meeting so that we don’t get lumped in with them in the future.
That might require some people to show a bit more commitment, like not going skiing in the middle of motor race season if you can’t manage to do it without breaking a leg. Lynchy was there on Sunday to drum up some sympathy but after his brilliant wet quali on slicks at Goulburn it would have been better to see him on the right side of the pit wall.
We need also need him back next year as our sole remaining active ’97 Dallara (plural, if he’d put Chris back in the other one) since the McAlpine car was sold not long after its Class B winning performance. Unfortunately it was sold interstate – unlike most recent departures its heading south rather than north but we’re unlikely to see it in our ranks any time soon.
We are however expecting to see at least one new car next year, with a certain successful driver likely to appear in a Dallara F3 two-seater. The ‘Driving Miss Daisy F3 Champion Experience’ will be taking passengers on ‘hot’ laps laps at each of our rounds next year with a faithful replication of the 2:56.000 lap that sealed the deal. Just jealous, well done mate!
Race Report 2016 NSW Motor Race Championship
Round 4, Wakefield Park
27 & 28 August 2016
Wakefield Park The fourth round of the CAMS NSW Motor Race Championships for Formula Race Cars saw the cars back at Wakefield Park, where Nathan Gotch wrapped up this year’s championship and won the prestigious City of Goulburn Cup in the process.
The Cup, inaugurated by F3 Management in 2015 when it was fought out in an intense battle between Ricky Capo and Jon Collins, was run in 2016 under the FRCA banner as Wakefield Park was not on the National Series calendar. Despite the small field – the result of a large number of regulars nursing broken cars, broken bodies, or both! – the racing was as exciting as always and Goulburn turned on its winter best to spice things up on the Saturday. Tim Berryman in the Dallara F308 Qualifying Saturday morning’s weather cycled repeatedly through the two available options: ‘cold’; or ‘cold and wet’.
An early morning free practice session in the ‘cold and wet’ part of the cycle saw Tim Berryman (Ellery Motorsport Dallara F308 Mercedes) post the best time. The F308 was competing as an invited car for the Cup, but ineligible for championship points. Championship leader Nathan Gotch (AGI Sport Dallara F307 Renault) managed to park the car in the kitty litter before posting a competitive time, and that opened the opportunity for Phil Morrow (Reynard 923 VW) to show his credentials as best-of-the-rest in the rain and post the 2nd fastest time of the morning. When qualifying came around later in the day the weather looked to be clearing, before producing another shower as the cars sat up in the dummy grid.
The two professional teams were always going to be well placed to make a last minute change but the rest of the field needed to make a call. So at the start of the session it was 50/50: Berryman, Gotch, Morrow, Shane Wilson (Wiltec Industries Dallara F304 Opel) and Rodney Baker, on debut in a Ralt RT30 VW AF2 car, all on the ‘option’ (i.e. wets); and the rest of the field on the ‘prime’, or in some cases on the ‘no option’ (i.e. slicks) as the cars sat on the dummy grid.
As it turned out the session ended up having three red flags, so several competitors were able to arrange a mid-session change of tyres, but it was a session where almost everyone had an off, somewhere, with Lawrence Katsidis (Sydney Photo Booths Dallara F304 Renault) opening the proceedings on slicks spinning out of the fish hook and partly contributing to the first red flag; Berryman looping it an the top of the hill, ultimately bump-starting it in reverse but not before the second red flag; and Phil Morrow looping it at the final turn and parking it oh-so-close to the Berryman (again!) who had done the same thing moments earlier. At the end of a very entertaining session (if you were on the other side of the pit wall), Berryman had done enough between spins to edge out Gotch to claim pole by a tenth of a second. There was a fair gap to the rest of the field, with Wilson claiming third marginally ahead of Morrow. There was another sizeable gap back to Glenn Lynch (Eagle transport Dallara F397 Fiat), who had incredibly done the whole session on slicks, ahead of Baker, the under-powered Ralt seemingly more driveable in the wet than many of the F3’s. He may even have achieved 5th if the gaps between red flags had been a bit kinder. Katsidis, Ross McAlpine (Dallara F397 Toyota) and Ron Coath (Dallara F307 Mercedes) all changed to wets to at least post some sort of time and Andrew Wlodek (Dallara F307 Honda) battled through the session on slicks to round out the field.
Although the rain had stopped the circuit was cold and slow to dry and this was reflected in the lap times, nobody finding any confidence-inspiring grip and only Gotch’s lap times breaking the minute. But although Gotch had the pace it was Berryman who had the better of the race, jumping to the lead and taking advantage of a poor-starting Gotch, with Wilson, Morrow and Lynch all passing him as the cars left the line. Baker held 6th briefly before McAlpine and Katsidis both fired down the inside into turn 2. By the end of the first lap Gotch had made his way back to 3rd behind Wilson, with Morrow, taking the strategic approach and starting on wets, being shuffled back behind Katsidis and Wlodek.
By this time both McAlpine and Coath had spun, and the safety car was deployed. When things got underway again it was Berryman getting a jump on the field while Gotch took a lap to pass Wilson, and although Gotch closed the margin to under half a second in the closing stages Berryman looked in control for the win. Wilson led the rest of the pack for a couple of laps, with Lynch, Katsidis and Wlodek in a tight battle behind him and Morrow, who had managed to make a couple of places on the quiet at the deployment of the safety car, falling away on his wet tyres. Wilson looped it entering the main straight on lap 7, and that allowed several cars to move ahead of him, the Lynch-Katsidis-Wlodek battle as well as Morrow and Baker in the Ralt moving up to 7th. The battle for 3rd was the most interesting action on the track but Lynch had that in control to the flag ahead of Katsidis and Wlodek, with Morrow and Baker in the distance, the last car on the lead lap as both Wilson and McAlpine( with a late race spin) dropped a lap. Coath restarted but with only 6 completed laps was not classified.
Race 2 – 2016 City of Goulburn Cup
Better conditions greeted competitors in the middle of the day on Sunday, but it was still miserably cold for our feature race, the City of Goulburn Cup, over 18 laps. Somewhat controversially Berryman arrived at the dummy grid sporting ‘new boots’ and the Cup looked to be destined to continue its short but colourful history of litigation. Thankfully things were sorted out on the track.
Berryman made another great start and Gotch, battling clutch problems, was again slow away from the line, dropping spots to Wlodek, Lynch and Katsidis. Wilson jumped up to 6th, ahead of Morrow, McAlpine and Baker, with Coath also having clutch problems again having difficulty getting away despite being penalised for jumping the start. Gotch needed to move early to have any hope of catching Berryman but was not having an easy time with the cars ahead, managing only to pick them off at a rate of one place per lap into the braking zone at turn 10. By the time he moved into 2nd place on lap 3 he was ten seconds behind Berryman and he set out determinedly to reduce the gap. Behind these two, Wlodek was busy defending his 3rd place, with Lynch, Katsidis and an increasingly frustrated Wilson all looking for a way around. Further back, Coath was the third quickest car on the track and quickly made up places passing Baker, McAlpine and Morrow, but possibly trying a bit too hard to make up lost ground managed to spin the car coming down the hill on lap 5, which brought out the safety car.
The restart saw Berryman and Gotch closed up in the contest for the lead, and allowed the four cars battling for 3rd a bit of a breather. Baker was in 7th thanks to some problems with the Morrow car and a spin from McAlpine, and Coath was restarted but two laps down. When the safety car pulled away there was still 10 laps to go, and Berryman had the advantage of a lapped car between himself and Gotch. He used this, and some great defensive lines to hold out Gotch for four laps, before Gotch managed to go past the long way around on the outside at Turn 10. Gotch then proceeded to peel off a couple of 56 second laps to open a comfortable lead, before managing the traffic over the last couple of laps to take the flag with a margin of around a second.
The battle for third was equally absorbing, with Wilson inspired to action at the restart and picking up a place a lap to move into third, posting some quick laps and opening up a sizeable gap. With the last lap board shown and Wilson being the last unlapped car he looked to have the minor place all but in the bag, but a momentary lapse of concentration at the ‘fish hook’ saw him turn the car around and, unable to get it moving again, gave up the place. This was all to the benefit of Wlodek, who had used every bit of that very wide Dallara (if you’ve ever been behind it you’ll know how wide it is!) to his advantage, driving a strong race to leave Lynch nowhere to go. Katsidis didn’t seem to have the same pace in the second half of the race, and despite hanging in there for a while trailed off behind Lynch in the closing stages. He was followed home in a respectable 7th by Baker who seemed to be coming to grips with the Ralt and put in some consistent laps despite a lack of company in the closing stages.
Morrow had to pit when he was ‘meat-balled’ for some oil over-flow, having struggled with oil pressure issues most of the weekend, a disappointing result after a promising qualifying. McAlpine finished behind Baker a lap down as a result of his spin, and Coath retired before the completion with a slipping clutch.
The final race of the day was a 10-lapper, and this time Berryman led start to finish. Gotch was again slow off the line giving up 4 seconds on the first lap. Despite posting the fastest lap of the race and closing to within half a second pressing for the win was secondary – the main assignment for Gotch was finishing, needing only a finish to secure the Championship with a round in hand – and so it was a very satisfied Gotch who crossed in second and sealing the Championship.
Wilson again spent several laps trying to work out a way around Lynch and Wlodek, but had made his way through by mid race and opened up a sizeable gap. Lynch completed another 10 laps stuck to the exhaust of Wlodek’s car, but still could find no way around it and had to settle for 5th. Katsidis had an uncharacteristically poor start and after that couldn’t find the pace he’d had earlier in the weekend, eventually finishing 6th. McAlpine and Baker both had lonely races but Baker finished the weekend by improving lap times considerably. Coath again retired with clutch problems and Morrow decided to park the car while the engine was still in a state from which it could be rebuilt.
Nathan Gotch 60
Andrew Wlodek 42
Glenn Lynch 42
Lawrence Katsidis 36
Rodney Baker 25
Class Based points:
Nathan Gotch 45
Glenn Lynch 45
Rodney Baker 45
Lawrence Katsidis 41
Andrew Wlodek 33
Outright Championship after 4 Rounds:
Nathan Gotch 220 (champion)
Andrew Wlodek 142
Lawrence Katsidis 103
Greg Muddle 92
Graeme Holmes 78
Ron bennet 73
Glenn Lynch 67
Class Championship after 4 Rounds:
Nathan Gotch 171
Lawrence Katsidis 145
Al Palmer 127
Andrew Wlodek 125
Greg Muddle 118
Glenn Lynch 116
Ross McAlpine 109
Ron Bennet 104
Graeme Holmes 100
Plenty of interest in wings and slicks from some of the Formula Ford boys over the weekend, expect to see some new faces in 2017. One ‘Forder’ who stepped up was Rod Baker, doing pretty well in the under-powered, under-cooled and wrongly-geared Ralt. One thing it wasn’t was underweight, Rod having taken the precaution of loading up 25 kilos of kitty litter on Friday (and then topping it up on Saturday for good measure). Good thing Team Muddle knows a thing or two about cleaning.
With the Outright championship wrapped up, interest moves to the minor places. Andrew Wlodek has a tight grip on 2nd, and Lawrence Katsidis looks fairly comfortable for 3rd, although 3 wins for Holmes might make it interesting (that’s possible) as would another car magically appearing in Muddle’s garage (that’s unlikely).
In the Class Championship Lawrence has a strong chance of overhauling Gotch for the championship, but Gotch looks likely to hold at least second (unless there’s an influx of late model cars Andrew Wlodek is probably limited to a further 45 points, leaving him agonizingly short). Should anything untoward happen to Andrew there are several drivers with a mathematical chance of snatching 3rd place from Wlodek or Al Palmer.
2016 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 3
28 & 39 May 2016
Sydney Motor Sport Park
The third round of the CAMS NSW Motor Race Championships saw Formula Race Cars return to the traditional Brabham Circuit layout of Sydney Motorsport Park, and across an eventful weekend, where drivers had to overcome poor weather and misadventure, Nathan Gotch in the AGI Sport Dallara F307 extended his series lead with a convincing victory in the trophy race after starting at the rear of the grid.
A field of 15 cars were entered for the weekend, which included the return of Glenn Lynch after missing round 2 and the first appearance for some time of Peter Lucas (Ralt RT4 Formula Atlantic) and Edward Gavin (Cheetah Mk.8 AF2) both giving their cars a shakedown for the June historic meeting.
After months of unseasonably warm and sunny weather Saturday morning cold temperatures and ominous clouds, which produced drizzle on cue as the first cars rolled out for the opening practice session. By the time Formula Race Cars took to the track it was full wet conditions.
Gotch had taken pole with clear margins in both previous rounds but on this occasion he was soundly beaten for the honour by Lucas, using the big rubber and softer chassis of the Ralt to good effect, with a massive 8 second gap and the only driver to break the 2-minute mark. Gotch had to settle for 2nd ahead of Graeme Holmes (GKH Powdercoating Dallara F304 Opel Spiess) and noted rain master Ron Bennet (ARB Bundaberg Dallara F301 Opel Spiess).
Rod Anderson (Reynard 893 VW) was the first of the Cup Class drivers, with Rob Sviderskas, another driver who usually performs well in wet conditions completing the third row.
The remaining qualifiers in order were Glenn Lynch (Dallara F398 ‘the Gold Car’), Rodney Brincat (Glass Benders Dallara F304 Renault), Ross McAlpine (Power Plus Fuels Dallara F397 Toyota), Andrew Wlodek (Dallara F307 Honda) on borrowed rubber and Ron Coath (Dallara F307 Mercedes).
Lap times reflected a very tentative approach to difficult conditions, with only 11 cars qualifying, Greg Muddle (Dallara F301 Opel Spiess) having an altercation with the inside wall out of turn 18, Al Palmer (TOMS Toyota) and Edward Gavin choosing to sit the session out (is it a black car thing?) and Lawrence Katsidis (SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH Dallara F304 Renault) not having brought any wets to the circuit.
Although the rain had stopped the circuit was slow to dry and the ‘slicks or wets?’ decision was resolved for most only a matter of minutes before cars proceeded to the dummy grid. In the end everyone apart from Sviderskas and Katsidis elected to use slicks, and as the minutes passed on the dummy grid, under sunny skies, waiting for the previous race to be cleared, the dry tyre option seemed to be the right choice. The long wait also gave AGI the chance to address a very three-cylinder sounding Dallara before the cars rolled out.
The warm-up lap proved to be the most eventful of the race, with both F301’s not making it to the grid, and while it looked dry the conditions remained slippery. Muddle’s car, repaired from its morning misadventure, suffering electrical problems; and Bennet lighting up the rear tyres on a slippery track and finding the wall on the run out of turn 15. Cars were delayed on the grid and when they moved away for a further warm-up lap Sviderskas also parked his car with electrical problems.
Eventually the race started, and although most observers expected Lucas to use his big rubber to full advantage he managed to put too much power down and consequently both Gotch and Holmes were able to jump ahead off the line. Wlodek made a blinder of a start from the 5th row and as the lap unfolded found himself in 4th, ahead of Brincat, Anderson and Katsidis surging through from the rear of the grid, the soft tyres proving helpful at this stage.
Brincat passed Wlodek for 4th on lap 2, and from there the top 6 settled for the remainder of what was a shortened race – only 4 laps in total with the time lost recovering Bennet’s car. Gotch opened up a gap on Holmes, and the gaps between the following cars also extended across race distance. There was more interest in the back half of the field, with Katsidis on the back of Anderson in the early part of the race before starting to struggle with tyres, and Coath making steady progress through the field to pass Katsidis for 7th on the final lap. Lynch soldiered on to 9th with a car that was running on less than 4 cylinders at low revs, ahead of McAlpine and a very cautious Al Palmer who hadn’t had the opportunity to scrub in tyres earlier in the day. Edward Gavin retired from 10th position earlier in the race with gear selection issues.
All 15 cars left the dummy grid for race 2 on Sunday morning, in perfect conditions and, almost surprisingly given the previous days effort, all 15 made it to the start, although Katsidis and Lynch both tried hard with spins on the warm up lap. Repairs to Bennet’s car and a change of car for Lynch to ‘Old Faithful’ (or ‘the Yellow Car’) were the main overnight developments.
At lights out it was Holmes getting the jump on Gotch and leading into turn 2 where, unfortunately, all hell broke loose. Lucas in the RT4 was caught out by how early the cold-tyred Formula 3 cars were on the brakes, and ran into the back of Gotch, who in turn clipped the back of Holmes’ car. The big lose in all of this was Brincat, who had nowhere to go and launched off the wheel of Gotch’s car into the kitty litter.
While Holmes and Lucas were able to run their damaged cars back to the pit Gotch’s car was immobilised by the contact and Brincat’s had sustained heavy damage bringing out the safety car.
When the smoke cleared (and that wasn’t until most of the rest of the field were well past turn 2), it was Rod Anderson leading the pack, ahead of Coath, Bennet Palmer and Wlodek.
Racing recommenced on lap 5, and with Anderson baulked by the safety car he conceded places to Coath and Bennet. Wlodek quickly rounded up Palmer, and then moved into 3rd when Anderson spun out at Turn 16. Behind Palmer it was McAlpine running strongly in 5th until he experienced drive issues and parked the car.
At the front of the field the two Ronnies were engaged in an intense battle with Bennet gaining the lead at the end of lap 5 only to concede it on the following lap. Coath was able to hold him out for the victory in a race shortened to 7 laps by the safety car period, and Bennet maintained second ahead of Wlodek, who was the fastest car on the circuit by some margin, and may have challenged for the lead had the race been a lap longer. As it turned out the three cars were covered by three-quarters of a second as they crossed the line.
Behind the front runners, Muddle battled hard to find a way past Sviderskas and was finally able to do this on the last lap, before chasing down Palmer to claim 4th place. Palmer was able to hold out Sviderskas, Lynch, and Gavin in the Cheetah, all in close quarters. Katsidis had trouble coming to grips with tyres and rounded out the finishers in 9th place.
A reduced field took to the track for what promised to be an interesting feature race, with the two quickest cars starting at the rear of the grid. Brincat, Lucas and McAlpine were all missing with unrepairable issues from the morning’s race.
The front three cars goat away from the line well, but Muddle struggled and was locked in a battle for 4th in the run down to turn 2. Palmer made contact with the rear of Muddle’s car turning him around and parking him the wrong way around in the middle of the corner, which created difficulties for the rest of the pack and a disadvantage for those who had to go the long way around, including Sviderskas, who got a little bit of contact for his troubles.
The big winner in all of this was Gotch, who found a clear way through the melee and was up to 3rd by the end of the first lap, making it an all-07 top 3 for the first time: Coath, Wlodek and Gotch as they went past the start/finish line for the first time. Bennet followed, then Palmer, who managed not to drop a spot from the turn 2 incident, Lynch, Holmes, Katsidis, Gavin and Anderson, who had dropped places on the first lap.
Gotch was comfortably in the lead by the end of lap 2 and working on opening up a big margin on the rest of the field and earning an ‘R’ next to his name in Natsoft (although my records indicate that he has done a quicker lap that that in the old ’04).
Behind Gotch however there was plenty of battling over places, with Holmes being the big mover through the field, passing Palmer and Bennet on lap 2 and then chasing down Coath on lap 7, before setting out after Wlodek. Wlodek and Coath had been locked in their own battle for 2nd for the first 5 laps, but once ahead Wlodek had set a strong pace and had opened up a sufficient margin to hold out Holmes at the finish, although at 0.3 seconds it was probably a good thing the race didn’t go a lap longer.
Coath finished in a lonely 4th, but behind him Bennet had his hands full defending 5th from Lynch. Both of them had been backed up behind Palmer for most of the race, who had defended 5th for the better part of 8 laps. At the end there was only half a second between Bennet and Lynch, and the gap had been barely more than a second for most of the race.
Behind Palmer, Katsidis rounded continued his disappointing form for the weekend but collected valuable points, and Sviderskas was unable to recover positions after the first lap incident. Gavin retired early in the race; Anderson also retired with some strange noises at the rear of the car; and Muddle, having chased down Sviderskas by mid-distance, retired soon after with a very cranky sounding Dallara that was tired of being treated so poorly.
So, in a weekend of upset results and DNF’s what happened with the points?
Nathan Gotch 40; Andrew Wlodek 40; Ron Coath 39; Graeme Holmes 30; Ron Bennet 26.
Class Based points:
Glenn Lynch 41; Al Palmer 41; Graeme Holmes 40; Lawrence Katsidis 40, Ron Bennet 36.
In terms of the Championship, Gotch has effectively extended his (unbeatable?) lead with Muddle having a poor round, and Wlodek has jumped up into 2nd place:
Outright Championship after 3 Rounds:
Nathan Gotch 160; Andrew Wlodek 100; Greg Muddle 92; Graeme Holmes 78; Ron Bennet 73.
And Al Palmer has nudged ahead of former leader Muddle in the Class-based championship:
Class Championship after 3 Rounds:
Al Palmer 127; Nathan Gotch 126; Greg Muddle 118; Ron Bennet 104; Lawrence Katsidis 104.
For the full tables click here: www.frca.org.au
On Sunday it was more a case of short outbursts, with the Race 2 mayhem leaving a few people out of sorts. Unfortunately most of the damage centred on Rod Brincat’s car, but it’s not in Rod’s nature to make a song and dance about things and he handled the disappointment in a way that’s a credit to him and a lesson to the rest of us. Hopefully it’s not too lengthy a stint on the sidelines and the FRCA competitors can lend assistance where able….
As they demonstrated across the weekend, with spare starter motors, suspension bits, tools, know-how, and magic bending skills shared freely across (cramped) garages in the interest of getting cars back on the track (where they could sustain even more damage… (sorry, that’s not the attitude!). Thanks to all who help out so regularly.
Re the reference in the above to cramped garages, it (sort of) worked out in the end, but it will be A WHOLE LOT EASIER if all drivers could put their entry in AS SOON AS ENTRIES OPEN to make sure we get the number of garages we need. The current approach to finding you all a space requires a master’s degree in logistics (or magic) and will not work if we get a proper-sized field of cars, and especially at the September SMSP round garages spaces will be at a premium.
Friday practice saw a new development in the professional side of FRCA: test drivers.
AGI Sport rested their contracted lead driver in favour of giving their designated test driver a seat (although they skimped on the actual ‘seat’, Nick having to modify his F4 seat mid-way through the day) and the boy ‘done good’ (despite occasionally buzzing the engine J). Rumour has it we’ll see Nick again in a F307 soon…..
It would be good to see other teams following the AGI example and giving some potential talent some seat time. Team Muddle is looking at options (if there’s anything left to break on the Dallara the Fabulous Baker Boy may as well break it, since the team principal has done enough damage already); Team Eagle Transportation probably needs some re-education (Testing: that’s a 2nd drivers in the car, not a 2nd car for the one driver) but it seems like Chris has been benched since he set better times than the lead driver at the Summer Shakedown; at Power Plus Fuels Team McAlpine they have the capacity to run a second car, and a lighter driver in the F398 might fix that ride-height issue they seemed to be having; and at SYDNEY PHOTO BOOTH, we know they’ve been advertising for an interstate driver (hence Rick’s relocation to Melbourne).
Next Round is at Wakefield Park in August, we promised some big news about this race meeting and hope to announce it soon. Stay Tuned.
2016 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 2
9 & 10 April, 2016 Wakefield Park
The second round of the CAMS NSW Motor Race Championships saw Formula Race Cars competing at Sydney Motorsport Park on the Gardner Circuit, and for the second successive round Nathan Gotch proved unbeatable in the AGI Sport Dallara F307 – taking pole position, scoring three race wins and setting a lap record – and in the process establishing a commanding lead in this year’s championship. Qualifying A field of 15 cars were entered for the weekend, including Rodney Brincat having his first championship run in the Glass Benders Dallara F304 and the Mexican Troika of Graeme Holmes, John Boothman and Rod Anderson making their first trip north for the year. From the previous round we were missing Glenn Lynch – can we have a FRCA round without Lynchy? I’ll have to check the constitution, it’s a totally unprecedented situation and frankly it unsettled the meeting and we hope the situation is restored to normal soon. Also missing was Richard Scarcella, still to complete the repairs on his F307, as well as Nick Fillipetto’s F304 which has been sold and will be travelling north to Queensland, hopefully not to a sunny retirement.
Qualifying was dominated by Gotch, who set a time of 1:47.75. That wasn’t to be bettered all weekend and was and almost a full 5 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Clearly we all have to lift our game to keep Nathan in sight! Behind Gotch things were more competitive, with Aaron McClintock setting a very respectable time in the 1:52’s to take the front row spot in his Dallara F301 ahead of some later model cars. Holmes and Brincat filled the second row in their F304’s setting times in the 1: 53’s and shading Greg Muddle (Dallara F301) and Andrew Wlodek (Dallara F307) who both had times in the low 1:54’s and filled 5th and 6th respectively. The 4th row was occupied by Boothman and Ron Bennet in a pair of red Dallara F301’s, ahead of the first of the Cup Class cars of Ross McAlpine (Dallara F307) and the slightly hot-under-the-collar Reynard 923 of Phil Morrow who started the weekend chasing water problems but managed to qualify 10th. Rod Anderson (Reynard 893) and Rob Sviderskas (Dallara F304) qualified 11th and 12th respectively, Sviderskas having to make the most of some inadequate gear ratios. Al Palmer had some rear wheel issues that hindered his qualifying efforts in the TOMS Toyota F036, whilst Ron Coath continued to endure the difficult task of coming to terms with his Dallara F307: immediately post qualifying you could have picked up a F307 quite cheaply, Ron having again battled gremlins on Thursday and Friday that robbed him of valuable seat-time.
Whilst the rest of the field was on track qualifying the Sydney Photo Booth Dallara F304 of Lawrence Katsidis sat forlornly in the garage with its gearbox strewn all over the floor with Rick performing major surgery and Lawrence undertaking the Herculean task of ensuring Rick put all the pieces back in the right order without getting distracted.
Hot and sunny conditions for the drivers in what would eventually be an 11-lapper (time certain races always leave us guessing) for a full field of 15 cars. McClintock had the jump off the start and managed to hold that lead all the way to turn 2 when Gotch restored order. Wlodek briefly pushed his way into third ahead of Holmes with Muddle (bad start) Brincat (worse start) and Anderson (sideways!) being the big losers off the line. Boothman made the most of this to briefly claim 5th, whilst Sviderskas moved from 13th to 9th, a position he’d hold throughout the race. Once the early jostling was out of the way the order was Gotch, McClintock, Holmes, Wlodek, Muddle, Boothman, Brincat, Bennet, Sviderskas and McAplie in tenth, leading the Cup Class. Lap 2 saw McClintock retire with a loss of power, which proved to be a blown head gasket and would sideline the car for the rest of the meeting. The following cars all moved up a position but while Gotch and Holmes started to open up margins that would grow over the length of the race there was a good battle between Wlodek and Muddle for 3rd and Brincat putting pressure on Boothman for 5th.
Muddle had several attempts to pass Wlodek and eventually was successful into turn 4 on lap 4. By that stage Brincat had passed Boothman and had latched onto the back of Wlodek and was also able to make his way through later on the same lap. With Wlodek’s car cleared he set about chasing down Muddle, and was able to move into 3rd place with a tow down the straight on lap 8. Wlodek and Boothman meanwhile had maintained good pace, and the gap to Muddle closed over the remaining laps such that there was very little between all three cars as they crossed the finish line. Rod Anderson followed in 10th, the first of the Cup Class cars, having a busy race after his poor start dropped him to the rear of the field.
McAlpine had led the Cup Class in the early stages before being passed by Palmer and Morrow on lap 2, and then having a moment on lap 4 to put him out of contention. Anderson meanwhile plugged away with consistently quick times that enabled him to catch and pass Morrow on lap 7, and then chase down Palmer on the last lap to claim the honours. Morrow crossed the line in 12th behind Palmer nursing the overheating car home, and McAlpine followed with his car sounding like farm machinery. Coath completed the finishers, but with a significant improvement in lap times and a far happier driver than we’d seen earlier in the day.
Sunday morning brought warm and sunny conditions again, and 14 cars lined with McClintock the only car missing from the field. Holmes got the initial drop on Gotch – that didn’t stop the officials giving Gotch a false start penalty of 5 seconds – but the order was soon restored and Gotch again drove away from the rest of the field, albeit in marginally slower that the day before. Wlodek made a good start from 5th to move into 3rd, ahead of Brincat, Katsidis, Bennet, Boothman and Sviderskas, with Muddle dropping from 4th to 9th with another poor start, and Coath making a promising jump to 10th.
With the front two cars again clearing out, the early interest centred on Brincat trying to find a way around Wlodek for 3rd place, and Muddle trying to work his way back through the field. Brincat eventually made his way through with a tow down the main straight on lap 4, and although by that stage the gap to Holmes was too big to bridge he did manage to pump out faster lap times in the closing stages. Muddle had managed to pass Sviderskas on the opening lap, and was up to 6th at the end of lap 2, but then had to work his way past Katsidis and Wlodek to get back to the position he started from. By the time he was there he needed a telescope to see Brincat at the other end of the main straight. The cars behind Muddle were in close proximity – Wlodek, Katsidis, Bennet – and Bennet was able to make the best of Muddle moving through the field, passing Katsidis and Wlodek on the following lap in each case. Only a brief excursion to the grass exiting the new section of the track stopped him putting more pressure on Muddle in the closing stages of the race.
Wlodek kept pressure on Bennet to the end ahead of Katsidis, Boothman and Sviderskas, with gaps between each of these cars opening consistently over the closing stages of the race, and Sviderskas in 9th being the last of the cars to complete the full number of laps. Coath followed in 10th – or in 1st as by some strange reckoning he was the first car to be shown the chequered flag, exploiting the tactical advantage of having a blue F307 (they all look the same) –having held position throughout the race and having dropped his lap times by some further margin. Clearly the light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer (and it no longer looked so much like a locomotive).
In the Cup class McAlpine had again made a promising start and again had a mid-race moment, the F397 not offering the arm-room, leg-room or aero that Ross has become accustomed to. Anderson had moved into the class lead on lap 3, ahead of Palmer, his car improving but still not handling to his liking and Morrow rounding out the field.
The field was down to 11 cars for the Trophy Race, with McAlpine and Morrow both out with drive issues and Boothman jumping the start by so much that he was 100km down the Hume Highway by the time the cars rolled out (probably looking to get some secret test laps in at Wakefield Park while we were all otherwise ditracted). The race quickly settled into a familiar pattern – Gotch first daylight second; Holmes following; Wlodek getting out of the traps quickly (but not fast enough to jump Brincat this time); and the rest of the field engulfing a poor-starting Muddle.
By the end of the first lap the top 3 had settled with Brincat in 3rd and those three opend up consistent gaps for the remainder of the race, with only a brief moment for Brincat on the penultimate lap upsetting the pattern. Behind them, Wlodek led Bennet, Muddle and the fast-starting Coath ahead of Palmer, Katsidis and Sviderskas, with Anderson bringing up the rear. Muddle worked his way past bennet on lap 2 and then had a race-long struggle with Wlodek – which pretty much looked the same as the race-log struggles they had in the previous 4 races this season – with Wlodek able to hold out Muddle quite effectively to take 4th place. Bennet had good pace early in the race making this a three-way contest, but tailed off in the closing stages.
Coath had made a flying start off the line and was in 6th at one stage, but settled into a consistent run behind Bennet, but with sufficient pace to hold Katsidis behind him, the later having to spend the opening lap behind Palmer. Sviderskas also found himself back in the pack and under threat from Anderson who was able to take position on lap 2. The three cars – Palmer, Anderson and Sviderskas – provided the most interest in the race, never more than a second apart over the journey and only three tenths separating them as they crossed the line. The only car failing to finish was Katsidis, who managed to spin the Dallara coming out of the tight hairpin 2 laps from home and was beached on the ripple strip.
Nathan Gotch 60, Graeme Holmes 48, Rod Brincat 42, Greg Muddle 34, Andrew Wlodek 30.
Class Based points:
Graeme Holmes 60, Rod Brincat 48, Nathan Gotch 45, Al Palmer 43, Greg Muddle 42.
Outright Championship after 2 Rounds:
Nathan Gotch 120, Greg Muddle 80, Andrew Wlodek 60, Lawrence Katsidis 49
Graeme Holmes 48.
Class Championship after 2 Rounds:
Greg Muddle 102, Nathan Gotch 96, Al Plamer 86, Ron Bennet 68, Ross McAlpine 65.
Click here for points tables www.frca.org.au
2016 NSW Motor Race Championship Round 1
5 & 6 March 2016
AGI Sport driver Nathan Gotch in his Dallara F307 Renault has won our opening round in hot conditions at Wakefield Park. It was a dominant display: taking pole, all three race wins and setting a new championship lap record along the way with a hot lap of 56.33 seconds around the Goulburn circuit. Whilst none of the other drivers could match his pace, there was certainly plenty of hard racing behind him, with second place decided by less than half a second in all three races and plenty of action throughout the field.
Al checks his mirrors to see if Lynchy still has his race face on.
A field of 15 was boosted on Friday afternoon with news that reigning champion Nick Filipetto was making a late entry. Unfortunately by the time cars rolled out for qualifying on Saturday morning we were down to 14 cars: Nick’s effort being stymied by gearbox issues; and the eagerly awaited debut of Andrew Tendli in the ex- Andrew Wlodek Dallara F304 delayed due to other commitments.
Nevertheless there was plenty of interest in other ‘new’ entries – Ron Coath and Richie Scarcella both debuting F307 Dallaras, Rob Sviderskas having his first outing in the ex- Dennie Rumble F304, and Ron Bennet having his first drive in the ex- Garnet Patterson F301. Add in Lawrence Katsidis, having his first championship race in his new F304 Dallara, after a successful debut at the Summer Shakedown a fortnight earlier, and you felt a little bit left out if you didn’t have a new car.
Even something old was something new – Peter Warren’s March was the oldest car in the field, and he’s owned it for 35 years, but it was a welcome ‘new’ addition to the FRCA ranks.
Once things were under way a sense of familiar replaced the new: certainly there’s nothing new about AGI Sport heading the time sheet, and Nathan Gotch added to his long list of pole positions with a 57.19 second lap, almost as scorching as the track conditions. Aaron McClintock, back in the Dallara F301 for the first time in nearly a year, had the front row wrapped up with an impressive 58.16 lap, until Greg Muddle bettered that with a 57.99 – in the 57’s by the barest of margins but a ‘57’ non the less – placing F301 Dallaras in 2nd and 3rd. Lawrence Katsidis impressed by taking 4th position with a 59.05, ahead of Andrew Wlodek in the F307 Dallara also in the 59’s.
Ron Bennet qualified 6th with a 60.79 second lap, loving the new car and being the most impressive of the debutantes. Ron edged out Glenn Lynch and Peter Warren, the later having a difficult session with a spin that briefly brought out the red flags and later some contact damage. Still, the car looked and sounded great, and was quick enough to edge out Al Palmer in the TOMS Toyota and Ross McAlpine in his ‘spare car’, the F397, who completed the top 10. Outside the top 10 Phil Morrow struggled with timing issues and was off his expected pace, while Ron Coath and Rob Sviderskas were both working times down consistently in their new cars. Richie Scarcella failed to completed practice, the car coming to a halt with engine issues, which on closer inspection turned out to be a sheared flywheel bolt, which finished his weekend.
Peter Warren withdrew when a cracked oil cooler was discovered in the dummy grid, and that left 13 cars to roll out for the 14-lap first race in 30+ temperatures on Saturday afternoon.
When the lights went out Gotch led the field away, but on the other side of the grid Muddle stalled, causing some disruption to the cars behind. Wlodek made the most of this and was able to jump into second, with McClintock, Katsidis, Bennet, Palmer and Lynch following in the race to the first corner.
Gotch quickly got down to 58 second laps and then into the 57’s, opening a gap on Wlodek and McClintock, who stayed engaged a close encounter for 8 laps, the two cars never more than a second apart until McClintock found a way through at Turn 10.
Katsidis was desperately trying to hold onto this tussle, but by lap 5 had his mirrors full of Muddle, who had worked back through the field from 8th at the end of lap 1 to 5th on lap 3. Katsidis defended his position successfully, although Muddle was briefly through under brakes at the ‘Fish-hook’ on lap 7, but ran wide on the exit, returning the place.
A great dice was going on behind these cars with Bennet Palmer and Lynch separated by less than 2 seconds through to the 6th lap. Lynch however was starting to experience brake issues, and on lap 7 he speared straight off at the end of the main straight, rears locked and fronts doing nothing, heading off towards the tyre barrier. Fortunately the gravel trap pulled him up a metre or so short.
Eventually this brought out the safety car and, not for the last time on the weekend, mayhem ensued. There are three fundamental problems with safety cars: deployment, restarts, and everything that happens in between. Other than that they might work well, but not this weekend.
Gringo and Ron searching for the ‘Go Faster’ button before Race 1.
Getting it out involves signalling to drivers that a safety car has been deployed, but unfortunately not all drivers saw the signal, Ron Bennet dropping from 6th to 8th on the road as a result. Laps 9 to 12 were conducted under ‘safety car conditions’ which involved toddling around at what’s supposed to be 80 kmh but resembled Driving Miss Daisy through a School Zone.
Then when racing was re-started on lap 13 there was the problem of 4 cars all eager to contest 2nd place but stuck behind lapped traffic, and that lapped traffic. The lapped cars were quite quick in a straight line and involved in their own argument for place, which made for an interesting time: McClintock struggled to find a way through to no avail; Katsidis lost a front wing plate in contact at Turn 1; at both Turn 2 and the ‘Fish-hook’ there were cars all over the place; and when an opportunity arose at Turn 10 McClintock got boxed out on the left and Wlodek, Katsidis and Muddle all made their way through.
In the battle behind, Morrow relinquished his place (to no avail, there is no recognition of ‘redressing’ and he still copped a 30 second penalty), while both Bennet and McAlpine bot managed to pass Palmer on the final lap.
Gotch was able to open a sizeable lead with the free-for-all going on behind, and he managed to win comfortably by 16 seconds from Wlodek. Muddle made a deep dive in the Turn 10 braking area to steal 3rd from Katsidis, with McClintock, Bennet, McAlpine, close behind and Palmer and Morrow trailing. Coath had been slow away from the line but had caught Sviderskas by mid-race, only to lose 10th spot to him on the final lap.
When the cars rolled out on Sunday morning it was “déjà vu all over again” – sunny and clear, hot track, Gotch eager to clear off and leave everyone else fighting over the minor placed. 12 cars rolled out for the 12 lap race, Peter Warren’s March unable to be repaired and Glenn Lynch running his ‘back-up car’ the newly painted gold Dallara F398. McAlpine was a late arrival as he had to be tow-started due to a starter motor failure.
This time the front row got away cleanly, Gotch leading Wlodek into the first turn. Muddle made much better start from third, followed by Bennet, who was the big mover jumping into 4th ahead of both McClintock and Katsidis who got a poor start. Morrow also made a cracking start, but undid the good work with a spin at the end of the lap. Behind Katsidis at the end of lap 1 there was a gap opening up to Palmer, Sviderskas, McAlpine, Lynch and Coath, who again had difficulty getting away.
The race settled into a familiar pattern, with Gotch skipping away pumping out ever faster times, getting down to a new Formula Cars state record of 56.33 second by mid-race, before winding back in the final stages.
Behind him there was an huge struggle developing between Wlodek and Muddle, and they maintained a gap of less than half a second for the majority of the race – Wlodek opening a small gap on the uphill straight, Muddle closing it on the chase down, and all passing spots resolutely shut at Turn’s 2, 8 and 10 and the drag down the straight. Wlodek’s efforts were nearly rewarded, but on the final lap his car was baulked by a back-marker and got loose on the exit which allowed Muddle to get through on the last turn and claim second.
McClintock had lost ground and position early in the race, and although in the closing stages he was dragging in Muddle and Wlodek at a rapid rate he ran out of laps and had to settle for 4th.
Katsidis, Bennet and Palmer had fairly lonely races in 5th to 7th respectively. Behind them, McAlpine and Lynch had capitalised on a Sviderskas error on lap 4. McAlpine held 8th place, but Lynch again suffered brake issues (despite the change of car) and trailed away in the later stages of the race. Sviderskas was able to recover 9th, ahead of Morrow, who recovered from his earlier excursion to post some good lap times and finish 10th, ahead of Coath and Lynch.
Out on his own – Nathan Gotch on his way to victory in Race 1 on Saturday
The same 12 cars lined up for the 16 lap Trophy Race (Lynchy not having a 3rd car to change into!) and once again the race was conducted in sunny conditions on a hot but clean track.
Gotch again got the start, but it was closely held lead from Muddle, with Wlodek thinking about an inside move for second on the run into Turn 2 but not being able to make it stick. Bennet again made the most of the start jumping from 6th to 5th. Behind him on the grid, Palmer dropped 4 places to 11th, but aside from that everyone held station on the first lap.
With Gotch setting the pace Muddle was able to open a bit of a gap on Wlodek and McClintock in the first couple of laps, but once the pattern of the race settled they slowly started to reel him in. Behind the lead cars, Bennet undid his good work with an ‘off’ at the top of the circuit on lap 2 that dropped him from 5th to 10th, before having a further moment a couple of laps later that put him to the rear of the field. This lifted Katsidis to 5th followed by McAlpine, Sviderskas and Morrow, with Morrow making up a further place on lap 6. Lynch followed, being slowly reeled in by Palmer, who was up to 9th by lap 7, and gained a further place by passing Sviderskas on lap 8.
Further up the road, Wlodek and McClintock had caught on Muddle; the gap was never much more than a second and a half but had closed to nothing by lap 5, Wlodek doing a good job of chasing considering he was busy defending McClintock off at the same time. Wlodek’s best opportunity was a good run through Turn 2 to use his advantage up the hill, but in the effort to achieve this he locked a brake and spun the car on the way into that corner on lap 9. He resumed racing, but must have broken something in the process because the car subsequently spun at turn 5, beaching itself on the inside ripple strip and giving us another opportunity to get the safety car right.
Unfortunately nobody made the most of the opportunity: McClintock missed the signal and took the opportunity to pass Muddle for 2nd, which would subsequently cost him a 30 second penalty; and the safety car initially deployed behind our race leader Gotch, necessitating some hasty re-organisation before the restart. To this, we had the added benefit of an intense struggle for 5th to 9th queued up in front the battle for 2nd and 3rd, so when the lights went out and the safety car went off it was action stations for the following two laps.
With Gotch again cruising to victory, Muddle passed McClintock in traffic at Turn 10 on the penultimate lap, but both drivers were still left with the McAlpine-Bennet-Palmer battle for 5th to negotiate on the last lap. This afforded an opportunity to watch Bennet attempt to undercut Palmer at Turn 9 (the right-hander onto the back straight), where unfortunately the ripple-strip is not very forgiving and launched Bennet sideways (with goo hang-time). Ron managed to regain control, of sorts, but not before Palmer had taken cross-country avoiding action. Muddle was defensive into Turn 10, allowing McClintock a traditional line to cut-back for a drag to the line, and there wasn’t a bee’s appendage in it, although it was rather academic once the officials added 30 seconds to McClintock’s time.
Katsidis followed in to claim 3rd, any chance of challenging Muddle and McClintock in the closing stages lost to a gearbox that was stuck in the one gear. A lap down McAlpine finished 5th and the leading ‘Cup Class’ car, ahead of Sviderskas and Coath who were beneficiaries of the Bennet-Palmer fracas. Lynch trailed in 10th, and Phil Morrow retired with not healthy noises coming from the engine after challenging McAlpine strongly for position in the middle of the race.
Nathan Gotch 60, Greg Muddle 46, Lawrence Katsidis 36, Aaron McClintock 34,
Andrew Wlodek 30, Ross McAlpine 23, Ron Bennet 22, Al Palmer 18, Rob Sviderskas 17,
Ron Coath 11, Phil Morrow 9, Glenn Lynch 6
Class Based points:
Greg Muddle 60, Nathan Gotch 51, Ross McAlpine 47, Lawrence Katsidis 46, Al Palmer 43, Aaron McClintock 44, Ron Coath 35, Ron Bennet 34, Rob Sviderskas 32, Glenn Lynch 30, Andrew Wlodek 26, Phil Morrow 22
- Is there any truth in the rumour that Lynchy only retired his yellow car to have a better shot at winning the ‘Best Presented’ award in his newly painted gold F398? Expect to see more interesting tactics appear as the battle for this prestigious award heats up.
- Seems that the thing to acquire in the off-season was a guru. While the Team Coath has set a consistently high benchmark by employing the invaluable services of Gringo, and both AGI and Team McAlpine have very professional looking team mangers to keep their drivers in check, for this round no fewer than three other competitors turned up with their ‘National Series’ mentors in tow.: Rob Sviderskas was sporting assistance from Alpine Motor Sports, in anything but alpine conditions; Ron Bennet had the Garnet Pattersons (Snr & Jnr) on hand; and Lawrence had Paul Scott in his corner.
- With all the data analysis going on – guru’s deep in though and more computers than you could poke a stick at – it was good to see that some old fashioned calculus, on the back of an envelope, with the assistance of beer, can still solve how the question of how many degrees advance is represented by one tooth on a flywheel. Too easy! Knowing which way is forward and which is back however….
- 0467 seconds – usually not a critical amount of time over 16 laps, but if you have a Dallara F301 you can make that up simply by moving your Dorian from the back of the sidepod to the front, as Greg and Aaron found when they crossed the line together. You never know when that might come in handy.