QLD Sports Sedan Championship
February 24/25
Queensland Raceway

Entry and Qualifying

A strong 22 car field of cars was entered for an unbearably hot weekend's racing at Queensland Raceway for the first round of the State Championship. One of the notable entries was Chris Fing, in his trusty Chev Monza, and after a layoff of over 2 years was wearing a P plate. Matthew Gillespie made his debut aboard the ex-Seagrove Escort. Stephen Taylor made a return after one appearance in 2000 aboard his ex-Higgs, ex-Paterson Datsun 1600. Danny Meneguzzo handed over the keys of his pride and joy (BMW) to his son Damien. Also returning to action was Anthony Cox in his Toyota Carina.

At a complex that usually suits the big V8s, their advantage was somewhat lost with the announcement that Short Circuit 'B' was to be used for all racing. This reflected in the grid sheet, with Gary Hamilton (Datsun 1000) on pole from Ian Woodward by 1.4356sec with a lap time of 56.3027 seconds. In third was the Rover of Jeff Haley, followed by Fing, Bryce Francis (Honda Civic), Wayne Parmenter (PRD Supra), Mark Thomas (Mazda RX3), and Chris Donnelly (Falcon) which suffered gearbox dramas and only completed 3 laps.

In ninth was Scott Hunter (Toyota Corolla), followed by Tim Pettitt (Ford Escort), Gillespie, Simon Thompson (Mazda RX3), Meneguzzo, Cox, Andrew Forsdick and Gary Clarkson (Ford Escort).

Race 1, 2:10pm Saturday Afternoon, 5 Laps.

Fing made a good start and went for the lead around the outside at the first turn, however it was Hamilton that came out in the lead. While Donnelly went for a pass on Parmenter, Fing went straight on at the cross over, and Francis spun. By the time Fing had gotten back by Haley at turn 6, Hamilton had established a good lead.

In turn one on the second lap, Woodward covered the lovely Gemini with sand as he wound up bogged in it. Both Hunter and Pettitt made it past Cox, but Pettitt was on a charge, also trying to get by Hunter. Meneguzzo got sideways in the cross over, which allowed Taylor to get past. Parmenter was putting a gap on Donnelly, until on the 5th lap, when Donnelly pulled up in the middle of the track with a heavily smoking engine. Francis was coming back; having passed Pettitt his next target was Hunter.

At the finish it was Hamilton, from Fing, Haley, Thomas, Parmenter, Thompson, Francis, Hunter (first U2L), Pettitt, Gillespie who managed to get by Cox in the dying stages. In 12th was Taylor, closely followed by Meneguzzo and Forsdick.

Race 2, 3:30pm Saturday Afternoon, 6 Laps.

With Hamilton a non-starter, the race was left wide open. From the second row, Fing got the best start to go around the outside of Woodward before the first turn. He nearly dragged Parmenter with him, who was unable to complete the pass around the outside of the crossover. Hunter became the first visitor to the pits, answering a stop-go penalty.

The top 3 by this stage had made a gap over Jeff Haley and the chasing pack. Further down the leader board, Meneguzzo, Taylor and Forsdick were running in close company. After a couple of laps, Parmenter sarted to drop off the tail of Woodward and back to Haley. Gillespie, Cox and Pettitt were all involved in a tight battle for seventh position, with Pettitt finally able to get by at the cross over.

Meneguzzo suddenly slowed, dropping back to the rear of the field. During the last lap, Woodward closed in on Fing, getting very close on the last hairpin, but unable to get past on the drag to the finish line. Parmenter came third, followed by Haley, Thompson, Thomas, Gillespie, Pettitt, Cox, Hunter, Forsdick, Taylor and Meneguzzo, who pitted 2 laps from the finish.

Race 3, 9:30am Sunday Morning, 6 Laps.

Hamilton returned for the third race, and made the best of the start, leading into the first turn. Parmenter made a ripper start to challenge Woodward around the outside of turn 1, but the Gemini made up ground under brakes to the cross over to retake 2nd place. Fing, who started in pit lane was carving through the field, while Parmenter finally had the Supra going like a train, as it blew by Woodward down the straight. Francis was all over Thomas, and made it past after several laps. Meneguzzo, Pettitt and Taylor restarted their earlier battle, this time for 10th position, and they soon hauled in Cox. But the battle between the young guns was just getting started- Pettitt ducked under Meneguzzo at the crossover, only for Meneguzzo to blast back past on the run up to the final turn. Positions were once again reversed coming down the front straight. The finishing positions were only finalised when Meneguzzo got past both Pettitt, and Cox.

Fing was now up behind Francis for 5th position. Hunter and Gillespie were in close company for 9th position, a little way behind Thompson, who in turn was about 2 seconds behind Thomas. At the finish Hamilton was the victor by 2.5 seconds from Parmenter, Woodward and Haley. Fing was still not by Francis on the last lap, and in fact it took until the final blast up the main straight for him to claim 5th place. In 7th was Thomas, followed by Thompson, with Hunter just holding off Gillespie, the pair went side by side through the final turn, and only half a second separated them at the finish line. In 11th was Meneguzzo, followed by Cox, Pettitt, Taylor and Forsdick.

Championship Race, 11:10am Sunday Morning, 10 Laps.

After another even jump, it was Hamilton out in front. Fing, Haley and Woodward were having a big dice into the first turn, running three abreast, but things settled somewhat after Woodward went around the outside of Haley into the cross over. Parmenter lost ground with an off to the inside of turn 6. Francis ran wide coming onto the straight, while Woodward received a black flag for creeping at the start.

Parmenter wasted no time in getting by Thomas into the cross over for the second time, but Thomas, never giving up was back past on the exit. Thompson and Hunter were also having a top battle, while Taylor made it past Forsdick in turn 6, and Pettitt dropped from the race. After a few laps, Parmenter had shaken off Thomas, and set sail for the leaders. Francis had a quick spin at the cross over, while Taylor made another successful pass, this time on Cox.

Woodward, on a charge from the back, used the superior braking ability of his Gemini to pass Thompson and Meneguzzo in one go at the entrance to the cross over. Francis, also bouncing back passed Thomas down the front straight, but the Mazda had an edge over the Honda through the infield. Meneguzzo was learning quickly, catching and passing Hunter at turn 6, as Woordward was rapidly closing in on their battle for 7th.

At the end it was Hamilton, who had eased off over the closing stages to take victory from Fing by only 3 seconds. Haley came in third, followed by Parmenter, Francis, Thomas, Meneguzzo, Woodward, who passed Hunter at the final turn. In 10th was Thompson, followed by Forsdick, Cox, who slowed up in the late stages, with Taylor a non-finisher.

Race 5, 1:25pm Sunday Afternoon, 5 Laps.

Fing and Haley got the best of the start, and Hamilton was back into second place after a couple of corners. Parmenter made it past Woodward, and Meneguzzo made it past Gillespie, while the RX3s of Thomas and Thompson ran in close company.

Hamilton was still all over Fing, but after being untidy at turn 6, he dropped back to Haley, who in turn had Parmenter on his tail. Thomas ended his race on lap three in the sand on the outside of turn 2. Fing went on to take victory by 4 seconds from Hamilton, Haley, Parmenter, Woodward, Francis, Thompson, Meneguzzo, Gillespie, Hunter, Cox and Forsdick, who were close at the finish.

A sixth race was a late edition to the program, and was taken out by Hamilton, from Francis, Thompson and Forsdick.

-Mark Walker