Round 2: Sydney Motorsport Park
(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.
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.