22 Jun Close action as circuit racing returns to Western Australia
The WA Sporting Car Club returned to racing after a three month break at the weekend and with six categories racing including Formula Ford, Formula Vee, Excel Cup, Historic Touring Cars, Time Challenge, Saloon Cars and Improved Production the expectation was always going to be for some close, entertaining racing.
Even with restrictions in place such as only one pit crew per competitor, social distancing requirements for volunteer officials and no spectators permitted to be track side, the usual hum of the race day was not diminished and perhaps was more heightened by the length of time between the last laps turned here.
From the start of the day it was clear that there were some cobwebs needing to be blown out of the engines of both the drivers and the cars with some minor visits to the various sand traps around the track for most of the first outings of each category however there were no visits that caused early retirements for the day.
In the Formula Ford category a field of twenty were on track during the day with outright results going to Craig Jorgenson, Joshua Matthews and Mark Picket swapping the podium places for most of the day while over at the other open wheeler category, the Formula Vees, the split field of 1600 and 1200 engines had David Caisley, Ross Murray and Rod Lisson taking the 1600 podium spots while Franz Esterbauer, Andrew Lockett and April Welsh headed up the 1200 category podium positions.
Heading to the “tin top” racing categories, and the Excel Cup series had another field of twenty out on track and with the tight regulations around this category and the field always growing, proved to be some of the more entertaining racing for the day with Robert Landsmeer, Cooper Smart and Ryan McNess finding those extra few milliseconds where crucial to stay ahead of the rest.
The Saloon Cars were split with the EA/VN category running separately to the AU/VT field which joined the diminished Improved Production Car category to make up the numbers.
The Saloon Cars resembled something closer to the American NASCAR series with drivers bump drafting, swapping door paint and challenging each other through turns with a few spins later in the day as drivers perhaps got their confidence back on track a little too soon.
In the EA/VN category, the podium places were taken by Marc Watkins, Chris Kneafsey and Michael Holdcroft while the AU/VT category had Grant Johnson, Rick Gill and Brock Boley on the steps, while the latter’s teammate Brad Boley was handed a 30 second penalty in Race 3 for careless driving.
Even though there were only three runners in Improved Production racing, Barry Baltinas, Dom Coniglio and Tim Riley didn’t hold back with all drivers putting in respectable times.
The Historic Touring Car class had a big surge in entrants driving Morris Cooper S’ vehicles with a total of seven entered. Dan Forster and Lance Stannard would each split wins for the day while Garry Edwards, Grant Johnson and Laurie Lapsley would all take out their categories for the day.
The challenging Time Challenge / Regularity category was the more sedate action for the day where drivers were trying to maintain the exact same time around the track each lap. Another mixture of cars from Formula Vee to Skyline GT-Rs and Historic Touring Cars all entered. Justin Chaffey, Tony Menna, Bruce Pollock, David Dearden and Jamie Scott all were top of their categories for the day.
Peter Dyball, WASCC Chair of the Competition & Events Committee, had this to say about the race day:
“We’ve had a great day, the weather has turned it on for us and we’ve had plenty of exuberant driving and it feels like its the first race day back for the year rather than just after a couple of months break. Some great racing and great driving with our officials doing a fantastic job.”
“We’ve followed all the Motorsport Australia Return to Race guidelines and restrictions that is included the number of people on our facility including one driver, one pit crew and unfortunately no spectators, but we hope to have them back as soon as we can. We’ve also ensured hand sanitiser and social distancing is in place which is being monitored by a dedicated team today.”
The WA Sporting Car Club is now looking toward its next race meet and will monitor Motorsport Australia’s Return to Racing guidelines as to what will be permitted. WA Sporting Car Club will update their social media and website as information comes to hand.
Justin Chaffey – Time Challenge Competitor
“Feels good to be back racing, it has been a while since we raced but it has been worth the wait.”
“We have three race cars and have spent a lot of the off-time doing some work on them including a new engine in one of them.”
Tim Riley – Improved Production Cars Competitor
“Iti s wonderful to be back after three months, it feels like a big part of our life has been missing.”
“We have done some work on the car including making some new parts for the car.”
Mike Gallagher – Historic Touring Cars
“It is great to be back racing, we had quite a break that we didn’t expect since last racing in March. We were supposed to go to Bathurst for Easter Racing but that was cancelled so we had to wait until this round”
“Our car has a few problems and isn’t getting power but we are hoping to solve it and get back out there”