AUSTRALIAN MOTOR RACING SERIES -- REIGNING ACTION The Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS) travelled north to the impressive Queensland Raceway circuit for Round Five of the new National Series but in the days before the event the clouds ...
AUSTRALIAN MOTOR RACING SERIES -- REIGNING ACTION
The Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS) travelled north to the impressive Queensland Raceway circuit for Round Five of the new National Series but in the days before the event the clouds opened and a once in a hundred year flood hit South East Queensland and a large part of Northern NSW.
Luckily the circuit was spared the torrent but many teams were delayed by the big flood and although some of the category numbers were down the racing was some of the best this year.
Australia's two fastest open wheeler categories went head to head searching for the fastest driver of the weekend and Michael Trimble provided a blistering lap of 1:06.1159 to take the honours on Sunday.
Australia's fastest sedans -- the Kerrick TranZam Sports Sedans again set scorching times with Tony Ricciardello comfortably notching up a 1:08.9671. There were also the most expensive cars in Australia with the Le Mans winning Porsche as well as Ferraris, the Lamborghini and many other exotic machines all fighting for National points but it was Peter Hackett who again proved he was up to the challenge of an F4000 driver and a Team Lamborghini drive with success on the weekend. Hat's off to you Hollywood and your lovely entourage!
The One hour Sports Car race provided excellent racing through the entire pack but it was VIP Pet Foods entrepreneur Tony Quinn who lit up the track with a dominate performance putting one paw after another around the 3.12km circuit for the win. A total of 42 drivers took part in the one hour enduro with Falloon and Watson winning the battle of the MX5's, Savage and Bryson were home for third just beaten across the line by Grant and Taplin in second. Youlden and Francis finish well down the order with problems with their VIP Pet Foods Porsche but came away with the fastest lap of the afternoon albeit four laps down.
Some of the best racing this year has been seen at Queensland Raceway and here is a wrap up of all the action:
TranZam Sports Sedans -- A Perfect Day for a Kerrick clean up
The 2005 TranZam Sports Sedan Series has been bolstered with the announcement of Kerrick as the major backer for the remainder of the year.
It follows a toe-in-the-water exercise at the opening Phillip Island round and an ongoing support of Victorian Dean Randle and his Chev V8 powered Saab Sports Sedan.
Kerrick Industrial Equipment is one of Australia's leading cleaning equipment supply companies, having one of the countries largest range of commercial and industrial pressure cleaner and vacuum cleaner ranges with an extensive range of high-pressure pumps.
With over 65 years of quality sales and service to the industry, and a network of branches in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, Kerrick is committed to supporting these specialist products with technical expertise and spare parts back up.
West Australia's Tony Ricciardello had no opposition in race one of the Kerrick TranZam Sports Sedan Championship, scoring a resounding flag-to-flag victory aboard the Chev-powered Alfa Romeo. It was the first of three races at round two on the Australian Motor Racing Series program at Queensland Raceway.
His winning margin was a massive 16.3 seconds, enhanced as his major opposition struck problems. Firstly it was Darren Hossack with overheating dramas in the Saab/Chev during the warm up and off the rolling start. It turned out that the computer-controlled water pump was not turned on and that was rectified at a hasty opening lap pit stop -- he would finish ninth, a lap down.
Bernie Gillon quickly jumped to second place however was deemed to have overlapped at the start and was thus given a drive through penalty. The New Zealand Ford Mustang fought back through a thinning field to place fifth.
Second was inherited by the Holden Calibra/Chev of Daniel Tamasi, under pressure from Dean Randle's Saab/Chev which ultimately won out. Similarly Trent Young made an excellent start in his newly acquired triple rotor Mazda RX7 but couldn't hold off Kerry Baily's Nissan/Chev which passed at half distance.
Chris Donnelly brought his Ford Falcon home seventh ahead of Charlie Senese recently purchased Honda Prelude/Chev V8 while Luke Marinelli was the last of the finishers in his rotary Anglia.
Phil Crompton's Mustang retired early with a collapsed battery as did Lawrence Smith with an oil leak in his rotary Alfa while Geoff Gillespie (BMW M3 Turbo) and the Pontiac of Geoff Barnes failed to complete a lap because of an oil leak and engine dramas respectively.
While Tony Ricciardello (Alfa Romeo/Chev) continued on his merry way at the head of the second race in the second round of the Kerrick TranZam Sports Sedan Series, there was a great ten lap scrap for second and several other minor positions at Queensland Raceway.
The podium placings were only resolved with less than two of the ten laps remaining. Initially it was Dean Randle in his Saab/Chev which went off the track briefly on lap five. He was fending off defending champion and similarly mounted Darren Hossack at the time.
Hossack almost immediately had an off-road encounter of his own, thus elevating the Ford Mustang of NZ's Bernie Gillon into second ahead of the Saabs. It looked as though Gillon would retain the spot for the rest of the race, but he had a lose on lap nine.
Hossack crossed the line in second spot, ahead of Randle while Jeff Barnes, who started at the rear of the grid, brought his Pontiac Trans Am up to fourth position at the end. Gillon was next, recovering from his spin and not allowing former champion Kerry Baily (Nissan 300ZX/Chev) any chance of getting by.
The Holden Calibra/Chev of Daniel Tamasi was as high as third in the early laps, but lost a couple of spots when getting lose, exiting the last corner of lap two. A spin later dropped him to seventh overall.
Tamasi still clear of Chris Donnelley's Falcon and Trent Young's Mazda RX7 which made a pit stop to rectify a sticking throttle, quick enough to return ahead of Charlie Senese's Honda Prelude/Chev. Phil Crompton's Mustang again had battery failure, joining Lawrence Smith's rotary Alfa on the sidelines.
The third and final race of the Kerrick TranZam Sports Sedan Series was another Tony Ricciardello benefit with the Alfa Romeo/Chev driver posting his third win of the day and recording a perfect round result at Queensland Raceway.
He was able to weather the early onslaught from defending series champion Darren Hossack. But Hossack's Saab/Chev failed to go far past the fifth lap when its engine lost fuel pressure after the sudden jolt of putting two wheels off the track at turn two.
That put Dean Randle into second and he had his hands full fending off Bernie Gillon's Ford Mustang and the Pontiac Trans Am of Jeff Barnes which ended up third behind Randle after the Kiwi Gillon spun on lap nine.
Kerry Baily (Nissan 300ZX/Chev) and Phil Crompton's Ford Mustang were the next to finish, both benefiting from Daniel Tamasi spinning his Holden Calibra/Chev and ending up in seventh position ahead of the Honda Prelude of Charlie Senese.
Ricciardello won the round with a perfect score on the Australian Motor Racing Series program with Randle second and Gillon third overall.
Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship & Porsche Drivers Challenge
In a drama filled day of competition that had just about everything, Team Lamborghini Australia driver Peter Hackett has come away from the second round of the 2005 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship, Porsche drivers Challenge with an extended point's buffer at the top of the table after scoring two race wins at Queensland raceway today.
However, it was local ace Ian Palmer that took the overall round win, a consistent trio of results in the three races -- combined with some non finishes from series pace setters -- meaning that the Queenslander's Brabham Honda NSX scored enough points to come away from the meeting with the overall win, and a much improved championship position after a tough opening round a month ago.
Palmer was justifiably delighted with the result, coming after two years of hard work developing the car into a reliable front running package.
"Perhaps there is a god!" he joked afterwards. "This is a bit of poetic justice, I think. It's great to finally achieve what we set out to do with the car when we started the project."
Palmer's consistent weekend was capped off by a thoughtful drive in the finale, the 70kg success ballast imposed on the car thanks to its earlier race podiums meaning a Sunday afternoon cruise to collect points was the plan.
"The guys told me before the race that I needed to finish eighth in the final 20 lap race, so I drove pretty carefully to make sure I got home and got the win. Its really, really nice to have some luck on our side for once after all the bad luck we have had in the past. I was joking with Fitzy (Porsche expert Peter Fitzgerald) afterwards that now we have achieved what we set out to do with the car we can sell it and buy a Porsche!"
Hackett's weekend -- already compromised somewhat by a distinct lack of track time Friday -- was again set back today when the car failed to finish the opening race when an Intermediate shaft in the gearbox failed. A charge through the field netted a win in the second race despite a failing clutch towards the end of the 17 lap race. A strong victory in the finale' -- after the TLA Crew replaced the clutch between races -- was just reward for a tough weekend.
"That was probably one of the toughest days I have had at a race meeting," he said afterwards. "The team has done an incredible job to keep the car running and get it back out for every race and I was really happy with my driving as well. Two wins is just reward and an extended championship lead is a pleasant surprise considering the weekend we had."
Championship rival -- and series leader of the Australian Porsche Drivers Challenge heading into the round -- Bryce Washington was another to endure a difficult weekend and rebound strongly, an opening race win his first for the season. A peculiar DNF in the second race after his outside safety kill switch was hit by a piece of errant rubber and turned off meant that a charge through the field in the finale was needed. 2nd at the end of 20 laps was a strong effort from the South Australian who continues to lead the Porsche Drivers Challenge points chase.
Star of the meeting was arguably Phillip Holzberger, who was not only making the Australian race debut of his menacing ex Le Mans winning Porsche GT3 RS, but was making his first ever race start as well. After qualifying strongly, Holzberger scored top six results in each race today - including third place finishes in the second and third heats -- to cap off a remarkable debut weekend for the Queensland driver.
In the battle for the Australian Porsche Drivers challenge class positions, Washington and John Kaias topped the charts in the Open / outright class, Kaias having a particularly combative weekend in the GT3, scoring a sensational second in race two.
Simon Middleton was the class of a class for the weekend, despite the best attempts to challenge him from Malcolm Lynn and Russ Kempnich, both drivers both featuring strongly in the weekend's results.
Matt Humphries took out Class B ahead of segment leader Don Tryhorn, the class cut in numbers after Garth Rainsbury's Aqua 1 Water car broke an axle Saturday night and failed to start any of the races Sunday.
On provisional championship points, Hackett (196) continues to lead ahead of Washington (162) and John Teulan -- who had a consistent run in the Industry Central Ferrari to jump into 3rd overall in the series (146pts).
The series takes a three-week break before racing back into action at Sydney's Eastern Creek International Raceway on July 23 -- 24.
Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship
For the first time this season, and after three rounds with nothing in it at the top of the series point score, the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 championship chase for the CAMS Gold Star has a clear cut championship leader; Aaron Caratti leaping to a commanding series lead after dominating proceedings at Queensland Raceway's fourth round of the championship at the weekend.
Caratti's domination of the weekend was complete; two poles, two wins and one fastest lap giving him 43 points for the race weekend and the biggest lead in the championship to date. Only the best lap in the opening race -- a thriller -- eluded the 22 year old West Australian driver, who gave new team owner David Borg the best possible public debut for his newly christened 'Insight F3' team.
Race one was an absolute thriller, arguably the race of the season and surely a sign of the competition the series is set to deliver over its final four rounds. In what was a classic toe to toe battle, Caratti and Team BRM's Michael Trimble -- incidentally the two drivers within shouting distance in the series poinscore heading into the round -- staging a race long battle of pressure, passes and best laps.
Caratti made the best of the starts, whilst fellow front row sitter Tim Macrow made a poor getaway, loosing out to Trimble in the rush towards turn one as the blue car scythed its way forward from the second row. Surprise third place qualifier Sam Abay (Astuti Motorsport Dallara F304 Renault Sodemo) also struggled off the line; dropping to the bottom of the top six in what was just his sixth formula 3 race start.
From there, Caratti was able to eke out a one second lead over the next five laps, before Trimble's car came on song and the young Victorian began to close the gap.
The next ten laps were nothing short of breathtaking, Caratti and Trimble exchanging fastest laps blow for blow -- first lapping into the high 1m06 bracket and then edging below the lap record set back in 2003. Trimble would end the race the new record holder, his best of 1m06.1 a stunning time.
The decisive moment of the race came just four laps from home, when Caratti was forced to back out of the throttle when attempting to place Trophy Class contender Bill Maddocks (and, incidentally, team owner David Borg) a lap down running through turn two. Trimble gained the draft and the pair went side by side into, and through turn 3. Caratti held his nerve -- and the lead in the continuing attack from Trimble that lasted the remainder of the lap.
All the while Chris Alajajian had been setting a series of blisteringly quick times to draft his way up behind the leaders on the final lap, the Jack Hillerman's Smash Protechinca car gaining speed as the race evolved despite the teams admitted inexperience with Formula 3 set-up.
Caratti ended up taking what is probably the best win in his career to date, beating Trimble by under a second (BRM Deciding a lap from home that points were the aim) and a fast finishing Alajajian who just missed out on second by nine one hundredths of a second in a rush to the line.
Macrow was a quiet fourth, Queensland's hope Gilmour an unhappy fifth and Abay sixth in a solid debut drive in Astuti's new Dallara.
Marc Williams scored Trophy glory, racing Bevan Carrick along the way and setting his best lap for the weekend during the race itself, however the minor finishes were all completely overshadowed by the compelling battle for the lead at the front of the field.
Race two was almost anticlimactic as far as battles go, although it wasn't short of drama and events that could shape this seasons championship result.
Simply, Caratti Blitzed them, no other competitors able to have an answer to the silver, white and red Dallara as the West Australian skated off to a comfy win.
Behind him though, thing were happening. Trimble struggled from the outset despite making yet another strong start from the second row of the grid and passing Tim Macrow in the run down towards turn one. The BRM machine was obviously struggling and had no answer to Caratti, Trimble, Macrow, Alajajian and Gilmour entering into a freight train in the battle for the minors.
Then it all started to go horribly wrong for contender Trimble, who was passed by Chris Alajajian into turn one after the Protechinca car clearly out dragged the BRM machine in a straight line. It was a big move by Alajajian -- one of the better ones this season.
With Alajajian off chasing down the leader, Trimble was left to fend of the 01-model cars of Macrow and Gilmour, but the struggle was too much for the car and he slipped to fifth. Two laps from home it was all too much and a white plume of smoke from the rear of the Dallara signified an Opel engine that perhaps no longer had all of its pistons in the cylinder housings.
With his main rival for the series lead out, Caratti cruised to a victory ahead of Alajajian and a philosophical Macrow -- the former Formula Ford ace ruing a bad start that could have cost him a possible second, if not the win.
Gilmour was a contented fourth, lacking the clear pace of his rivals but again showing the consistency and reliability that almost won him the 04 championships. Abay was fifth, whilst F3 Rookie Nathan Caratti showed certain promise in the second of the Insight entries, sixth place a strong result after a workmanlike learning weekend for the younger Caratti.
Trophy went to Bill Maddocks, as a gearbox failure for the Marc Williams entry ended what was a horrid day for the BRM boys from Adelaide. Much soul searching will be done by that team before the trip to Sydney in three weeks time.
Caratti now leads the championship by close to 25 points over Trimble, but as proved at Queensland this weekend one non-finish can throw the whole thing up in the air once again.
Alajajian's return to form sees him sit in third place, well within the hunt given his new team's quick adaptation to the F3 weapon, whilst Tim Macrow jumps Gilmour and Caruso to sit fourth in the Gold Star standings.
If anything, Queensland Raceway proved that there is a new force to be reckoned with in Australian Formula 3 competition: Aaron Caratti and Insight F3.
Shannon's Australian Production Car Championship
Completing a trifecta, Honda S2000 driver 17-year-old Drew Russell has won the final race of the third round of the Shannon's Australian Production Car Championship at Queensland Raceway on Sunday, July 3. He is now creeping back into contention for the series after some poor luck in the opening couple of rounds.
Russell started the last race on the Australian Motor Race Series program, a handicap 16 lap affair some 45 seconds behind the scratch markers, the small engine Class C machines, and was lucky not to be taken out in a second corner that spelt the end of the race for the Ford Falcon V8 of John Houlder.
David Ryan was the other party and he would make a pit stop before resuming and finishing a couple of laps behind. Scott Anderson missed the action as he had shot ahead after a great start in his Holden Commodore SS.
In the meantime Daniel Natoli in his Donut Kings Proton Satria led the race but only narrowly from the Stubbies Citroen Xsara of Dane Rudolph which shadowed all the way to the finish.
Class B provided the best action of them all with the three protagonists Colin Osborne, his Toyota Celica team mate Trevor Keene and the Honda Integra of Allan Shephard swapping positions constantly and often running three abreast -- even with the bigger engine cars came upon them.
Shephard ultimately won the scrap and got through to lead, but Russell who had many laps trying to pass Anderson, finally getting past and going onto win. Anderson's Commodore, its brake rotors glowing red in the fading light, managed to take second.
The Integra held off a late charge from Osborne while Keene, Natoli and Rudolph ensued. Lauren Gray was next in her Toyota Echo Sportivo. That capped off a big weekend as she had her first races in Formula 3 as well -- and all under the duress of a migraine.
Australian Formula 4000 Championship
In football, it is said that there is such a thing as a home ground advantage. In practice for the second round of the 2005 Australian F4000 Championship at Queensland Raceway this weekend, this was certainly the case for Derek Pingel, the former Formula 2 hotshot topping the timesheets in every practice session on Friday and Saturday after spending last weekend gaining an edge on his rivals by contesting the most recent round of the Queensland Racing Car Championships at circuit affectionately known as the 'Paperclip'.
Qualifying on Saturday afternoon however saw a hotly contested 20-minute session between 2004 championship runner-up Ty Hanger and Ralt Australia driver Peter Hackett, with the New South Welshmen trading places at the top of the timesheets no less than five times throughout the session, ultimately ending in Hanger taking pole position with a time of 1:06.7970, a slight +0.1767s ahead of Hackett on the outside of the front row.
Hackett, also competing this weekend in a Lamborghini Diablo GT-R in the Australian GT Championship, was a late addition to the Ralt Australia line-up, taking over the seat vacated by reigning champion and opening round winner Neil McFadyen. Behind the 2001 Australian Formula 3 champion on the grid would be Pingel, the Queenslander lining up in the same car that Hackett himself campaigned in a part-season campaign with Greg Murphy Racing in 2002. Alongside Pingel was a very competitive Terry Clearihan who equalled his career best F4000 starting position with a strong 4th in the older model Reynard 92D.
With the first four cars on the grid covered by little over half a second, the scene was set for a closely fought day of racing on Sunday. Race 1 kicked off on Sunday morning with Ty Hanger taking an early lead and never looking headed throughout the 12-lap 'sprint' race to take his maiden F4000 victory, with Pingel throwing out a late race challenge to Terry Clearihan to take 2nd. Clearihan also yielded to the advances of Hackett who took 3rd after scything through the field following a moment on the opening lap.
Like Hackett in Race 1, Hanger would soon have to make up for lost ground in the 20-lap 'feature' race after a first lap excursion starting from pole position. Pingel assumed the lead early from a fast-starting Clearihan with Hackett in tow. Hackett made light work of dismissing the Canberra driver on the second lap, before throwing out a successful challenge to Pingel two laps later. With Hackett skipping away to a comfortable lead, Pingel was left to hold off Clearihan for 2nd, before the Queenslander had an off-track excursion on the seventh lap, falling back to 7th place and promoting Clearihan to 2nd in the process.
Behind Clearihan, local driver Bob Power was now running a brilliant 3rd in his aging Ralt RT23 following a battle with the second Ralt Australia entry of Ben Crighton. Crighton however would be quickly displaced by Hanger, who was clawing through the field after his first lap shenanigans, whilst Power's race ended before Hanger began to loom in the Queenslander's mirrors, the RT23 retiring after nine laps with mechanical dramas. Hanger's job was to be made easier four laps later when the same fate succumbed Clearihan, whose Reynard 92D expired from what would have been a career-best equalling 2nd place for Clearihan and a welcome swag of points after a disappointing opening round at Phillip Island.
Hackett continued to make progress at the front of the field and was never challenged throughout the remainder of the race to take the victory, whilst Hanger narrowly pipped a fast-finishing Pingel to 2nd to take the round win. Pingel however, amassed enough points from the weekend to take over the lead in the championship despite not winning a single race thus far.
Crighton took 4th ahead of Sam Dale who was an impressive 5th en route to his first F4000 race finish in the Mumbo Racing Reynard 94D. Chris Farrell marked an encouraging debut for Mantis Racing's first race with the new Holden HFV6 Alloytec engine finishing 6th, with wily old Ray Hanger rounding out the seven finishers after another leisurely performance.
With the focus now shifting towards the third round of the 2005 Australian Formula 4000 Championship at Eastern Creek in three weeks time, Pingel now leads the championship on 57 points from Hanger on 47, with McFadyen interloping in 3rd on 40 points unless a sponsor can be found to defend his championship campaign. Crighton now sits 4th after two unobtrusive drives at Phillip Island and Queensland with Hackett behind in 5th position on 32 points.
Queensland Raceway provided perfect weather for driver, spectator and official by living up to the catch phrase -- beautiful one day, perfect the next.
The meeting was professionally run by the team at Queensland Raceway with special thanks to John and Amanda Tetley, Keith Lewis, John and Margo Jones as well as all the other 160 officials that made the trek to Willowbank.
The AMRS has been set up by Rod, Garry and I with competitors and spectators in mind, so take the time to watch the racing on SBS/Fox Sports, come and walk around the paddock, talk to the teams and meet the drivers; ask them about their cars as they are as passionate about Motor Racing as you are and enjoy a family weekend of Motor Racing.
Next round will be held at Eastern Creek Raceway and with free entry on Saturday and only a $15 entry fee for Sunday - the 23rd and 24th of July 2005 will be great value for money for ALL Motor Racing spectators. All entry is via gate 7 -- Ferrers Road Eastern Creek with gates open at 6:30am all days and access to the Grandstand is free.