FOR one motorsport talent factory, this previous weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park provided a breakout result.
WORDS: Mark Walker IMAGES: Richard Craill & Mark Walker
Formula Ford has always been a breeding ground for gun race car drivers, and the 2012 Australian Championship was no exception, with a highly talented field still proving their ability both at home and abroad.
While not necessarily overflowing with cars on the grid, as is often the case with these things, the racing at the front of the field was still incredibly intense.
The author of this article was in the midst of the action from the sidelines, enlisted for PR and commentary duties for the season, with many of the more stressful moments in the commentary box shared with The Race Torque’s own Richard Craill.
From the Australian Grand Prix to a slip streaming battle at Symmons Plains, a freezing cold Phillip Island, to carnage on the streets of Townsville, Queensland Raceway, Sandown Raceway, the 50th anniversary Bathurst 1000, the Championship eventually concluded at Winton Raceway.
For better or worse, there is no truly defined ladder system in Australian motorsport – it’s still largely a case of choose your own adventure.
Below, and in part two (following shortly), we examine the careers of the various combatants in championship order, we revisit their 2012 season, then chart their subsequent rise through the various motorsport ranks around the world.
There were many different paths, but there’s one common theme: a highly talented group of racers.
1. Jack Le Brocq
Then: After finishing second in the 2011 Formula Ford Championship to Cameron Waters, including four race wins, Le Brocq remained with the CAMS Rising Stars/Minda Motorsport squad for 2012. He registered 11 wins from 24 starts, including a run of five straight successes between Phillip Island and Townsville, as well as a clean sweep of Bathurst, where he wrapped up the title with a round to spare. He finished every race no lower than fifth, only missing the podium four times throughout the year.
Since: 2013 saw Le Brocq bounce between various categories, including Australian GT, where he picked up four wins in an Erebus AMG, as well as the Khumo Tyres V8 Touring Car Series, Formula 3, and a guest drive in V8 Utes. The 2014 season kicked off with third place in the Bathurst 12 Hour alongside Will Davison and Greg Crick for Erebus, as well as sporadic GT starts as well as an introduction to the Supercars DVS with Image Racing. Switching to MW Motorsport netted third in the 2015 DVS pointscore, while he made his main game debut in the Enduros alongside Ash Walsh at Erebus. Moving to Prodrive in 2016 saw him finish second in the DVS to teammate Garry Jacobson, while in the enduros he paired with Cam Waters to register a best finish of fourth at Bathurst. Meanwhile in 2017 he returned to MW Motorsport, where he claimed third in the DVS, and for the Enduros he lined up alongside Todd Kelly at Nissan Motorsport. Le Brocq graduated to the main game full time in 2018 with Tekno Autosports, where he scored top rookie honours amongst a competitive field. Following a tougher run in the 2019 season, he replaced Chaz Mostert at Tickford Racing for 2020, where he has subsequently been a race winner after just three events.
2. Mathew Hart
Then: In the final run down, Hart’s 330 points placed him 76 behind Le Brocq, but 91 ahead of Jacobson for second in the standings. Five race wins, 15 podiums and a pole were highlighted by a clean sweep of the race wins at Queensland Raceway aboard his Synergy Motorsport Spectrum. A big improvement over his 2011 campaign, which featured a best race result of fourth.
Since: Sadly, the 2012 season was the end of the line for softly spoken Canberran, with the realities of budget sidelining the talented youngster. Motorsport’s loss.
3. Garry Jacobson
Then: Mick Ritter’s Sonic Motor Racing Services squad have always hard to beat in Formula Ford, with the 2012 season seeing Jacobson stepping up to the plate in the latest Mygale. Following three podium finishes in 2011, Jacobson claimed four race wins in 2012 amidst 12 podium finishes. However, being in the wrong place at the wrong time essentially cost him a result in three events: a massive roll over in Townsville race one wrote a car off, while an epic shunt at Bathurst’s McPhillamy Park into the stalled car of Shae Davies broke his arm, which also ruled him out of the Winton finale.
Since: The 2013 season saw Jacobson step up to the Supercars DVS with his Sonic outfit, while also taking in races in the BNT V8 SuperTourer Series. After winning his class in the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour, he registered his first podium finish in the DVS for Eggleston Motorsport. The 2015 season saw further enduro racing, as well as a return to the DVS, where he picked up two podium finishes en route to sixth in the final standings, before claiming the title in 2016 for Prodrive, with four victories and ten podiums. The 2017 DVS season for Prodrive only produced a lone win, although he put in some outstanding drives alongside Jason Bright in his main game debut. For 2018, Jacobson shifted to MW Motorsport, where he finished third in the Super2 standings with two wins and six podiums, before partnering Rick Kelly in the enduros. After gradutating to the main game full time with Kelly Racing in 2018, he is now the leader of the Matt Stone Racing squad, scoring a personal best result of seventh this last weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park.
4. Shae Davies
Then: After a second place finish to round out his 2011 campaign, Davies was right in the thick of the action in 2012, with his lone win aboard his Borland prepared Spectrum not representative of his competitiveness. Zero points from the AGP, two DNFs in Townsville, and the non-start at Bathurst didn’t help his points tally, although he was on the podium in all three races at Symmons Plains.
Since: Following on from Formula Ford, Davies took in the Scott McLaughlin approach to furthering his career: seat time, seat time, seat time. 2013 saw him take in the BNT V8 SuperTourer Series, while back at home, he claimed the Khumo Tyres V8 Touring Car Series title for Fernandez Motorsport with three wins and ten podiums, as well as the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, where he finished sixth for the year, including a race win. The 2014 season saw a return to the Carrera Cup, which netted fourth in the standings with another win, as well as debuting in the DVS with Matt Stone Racing. In 2015, Davies raced in Australian GT for Erebus, the Carrera Cup, as well as the DVS with MSR, netting eighth in the standings. For 2016, Davies started the season for MW Motorsport in the DVS, before being called up to the main game, where he made 12 starts for Erebus. After racing a MW Motorsport Nissan Altima to fifth in the 2017 DVS Series, as well as making two wildcard appearances, Davies relocated to Paul Morris Motorsport for the 2018 DVS, as well as racing in the Blancpain GT Series Asia for Craft Bamboo, before ultimately moving to Team WRT Audi for the 2019 season.
Stay tuned for part two, featuring future aces such as Anton de Pasquale, Matt Campbell and Macauley Jones…