The Saloon Car entry was smaller than usual for round one of the 2005 National Series. There were several reasons that a number of competitors couldn't make it including new cars not being ready in time and transport problems. Nevertheless the ...
The Saloon Car entry was smaller than usual for round one of the 2005 National Series. There were several reasons that a number of competitors couldn't make it including new cars not being ready in time and transport problems. Nevertheless the twenty-four runners put on a terrific display of what Saloon Car racing is all about -- close exciting racing. There were a few new faces and a few cars sporting new liveries. We welcome Michael Bartsch (SA-Commodore), Peter Gruber (VIC-Commodore) and Wayne Green (NSW-Falcon) to the Saloon Car National Series.
The Wakefield Park meeting was the first round of the "Australian Motor Racing Series" (AMRS), and although I didn't get to see much of the racing in other categories, from what I did see it was pretty good. I am confident that after the promoters sort out a few minor problems, and have the support of the categories, the AMRS will be a runaway success that will grow in prestige.
Qualifying (Saturday 1300)...Twenty Minutes...Weather-Hot.
Brad Fox (SA-Falcon) and Brett Carrington (VIC-Falcon) both suffered with mechanical problems in the Friday practice sessions (Brad's was terminal) and couldn't make it to qualifying.
Steve Kwiatkowski (SA-Falcon) was the only "major" casualty. The clutch exploded in the Westport Cars Falcon before he had set a qualifying time. Grant Johnson (WA-Commodore) only did five laps in the Permacoat Roof Restoration VN before an oil leak (valley cover gasket) caused a smoking problem; even so he set the 4th fastest time.
John Goodacre (SA-Commodore) in the Avery Scales VN topped the time sheet with a time of 1:10.0. Second fastest was Jake Camilleri (QLD-Falcon); Jake put the Castrol Falcon on the front row of the grid with a time of 1:10.3. Two-time National Series Champion was "veteran" Bruce Heinrich (SA-Falcon) posted a time of 1:10.4 in the Pacemaker Headers Ford, the top three were followed by Grant Johnson, and rounding out the top five was Peter Holmes (SA-Commodore) in the Complete Auto Dismantlers Holden. Around three seconds covered the field.
Race One (Saturday 1615)...Twelve Laps...Weather-Hot.
John Goodacre led the first lap from Jake Camilleri and Bruce Heinrich; Peter Holmes passed Grant Johnson to be in fourth spot after the lap one. Matt Lovell (SA-Falcon) and Lindsay Kearns (QLD-Falcon) moved up a couple of places and Daryl Coon (VIC-Falcon) and Luke Hansen (WA-Commodore) dropped a couple.
The racing throughout the field was very intense even though the field had spread out a bit, mid-pack and towards the tail there were groups going at it just as hard as the leaders. Goodacre was moving away at a steady pace and soon had a handy gap to the fierce battles behind him. Camilleri's tyres seemed to be "going off" at around lap four and he was struggling to keep Heinrich and Johnson behind him
Unfortunately Brett Carrington's XTC Engine Management Falcon couldn't be re-assembled in time and the team missed race one by around ten minutes, which a fantastic effort is considering what they had to do. John Ierardo (VIC-Commodore) had a transmission problem and retired the Woodstock Racing VN on lap five.
The race really got interesting on lap eleven when Holmes "lunched" an engine going up the hill whilst running sixth, most of the following sixteen cars speared off on the oil that the number nine car had spewed onto the track. The race was red flagged and finishing positions were as recorded as of lap eleven.
At the chequered flag it was Goodacre 1st, Heinrich 2nd, Lovell 3rd. then followed Johnson, and Camilleri.
Race Two (Sunday 0930)...Twelve Laps...Weather-Hot.
Race two resulted in the closest finish in the relatively short history of Saloon Car racing. At the finish line it was John Goodacre (VN) ahead of Bruce Heinrich (EA) by less than a 10th of a second! I watched the race from the mound at the kink before turn one, and when John and Bruce came onto the front straight for the last time, the crowd went "ape-droppings!" it was very exciting with less than half a car length in it at the finish.
Once again Goodacre led from the outset and actually led every lap; Heinrich had his work cut out trying to hold off the charging hoards behind him, but soon broke away to leave Matt Lovell, Grant Johnson, Jake Camilleri, and Luke Hansen to fight for the minor place. Lovell and Johnson were having a fantastic battle that all came to grief on lap eight when Matt dived down the inside of Grant at turn one, they both raced side by side to the top of the hill, unfortunately they had a touch and both cars spun, Matt recovered to finish 5th and Grant came home in 7th place. It was one of the best dices that we have seen, and it was unfortunate that it finished the way it did.
Steve Kwiatkowski showed just how much talent that he has by finishing 6th after starting race one from last place. Another creditable drive was that of John Ierardo who had a DNF in race one and finished 15th in race two. After qualifying down the field and improving to finish 18th in race one, Rick Pichut's Discount Adult Stuff Falcon suffered an oil pressure problem and retired on the penultimate lap. Peter Gruber (VIC-Commodore), having his first meeting in a Saloon Car finished a creditable 13th.
At the finish it was Goodacre 1st, Heinrich 2nd, Camilleri 3rd, Hansen 4th, and Lovell 5th.
Race Three (Sunday 1510)...Twelve Laps...Weather-Overcast/Hot.
Bruce Heinrich passed John Goodacre on the first lap and set sail into the sunset, but his moment in the sunshine was short lived when the transmission in the number two Falcons "chucked it in" and he coasted around and retired. Jake Camilleri inherited the lead and led for four laps before the handling on the Castrol Falcon started to go "pear shaped", he relinquished the lead to John Goodacre who showed his class by driving away from the field to eventually win by almost three seconds (a huge gap in a Saloon Car race).
Newcomers Michael Bartsch and Peter Gruber both had a consistent weekend in their first outings at National level. Daryl Coon and Mark Primmer (NSW-Falcon) had a coming together at the kink before turn one and pirouetted, Mark recovered but Daryl bogged down in the sand trap and retired. Saloon Car stalwart Lindsay Kearns recovered well after being called in for a repair to a leaking fuel cap on the Goldwell/KMS Haircare Falcon in race one (where he finished 21st) to finish 11th overall for the weekend.
The race was won by John Goodacre from Grant Johnson and Steve Kwiatkowski in third place, Matt Lovell came home fourth and Jake Camilleri took fifth. Paul Pennisi (Woodstock Racing) had a very consistent weekend by finishing in 10th place in all three races, not a bad effort considering the competition.
All in all it was a great weekend for Saloon Car racing and all of the competitors at the first round of our National Series did our category proud. Congratulations to John Goodacre for taking out the round and congratulations to all competitors for putting on such a good show. I must make mention of the standards that our competitors/teams have set. All teams from the solo driver to the multi personnel teams were attired in their uniforms and behaved themselves in the manner that is expected from a successful category.
It was also very pleasing to see the amount of multi and single car teams and their transporters. I feel that we are setting a standard that is going to be hard for some to emulate. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing everybody at Mallala on April 16/17.
Don't forget to log onto the website www.tascco.com.au for the latest info, or to have your say on the chat forum and to check the complete points table.