Ridiculous Racing at Vic States
The fifth round of the Victorian State Race Series hit the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, with some incredible racing turned on between multiple classes.
And in some good news for the series, the championship will extend to a sixth round, with Motorsport Australia confirming a finale will be contested on a rejuvenated Calder Park Raceway on the last weekend in October.
Following on from last weekend’s Sandown 500, the weather well and truly came to the party, with three days of mint conditions greeting competitors.
First up on the programme were the Formula Vees, with the class once again turning on a show that would make it difficult to argue against it being the most competitive class in Australian motorsport today.
Overall for the weekend, series leader Reef McCarthy claimed a second place and two race wins to seal the overall weekend point score.
Nick Jones claimed the opener, while other staunch competitors included Heath Collinson, Lee Partridge, who recovered strongly after a stall at the start of race two, Andre Curin and more, with four-wide racing absolutely par for the course.
How close was the racing?
In the opener, the top five cars finished within a second, and in race two, eight cars were separated by 1.3sec.
A stacked field of 35 Formula Fords fronted for the penultimate round of their national series, and produced action that was almost as ludicrous as the Vees, albeit at a slightly brisker pace.
Matthew Hillyer confirmed his future superstar status by sealing the national title with three race wins in a row, adding another entry to the Sonic Motor Racing honour roll.
Conor Somers, Jake Santalucia, Zak Lobko, Harrison Sellards, Damon Woods, Kobi Williams and more all spent time in the lead pack, while Richard Davison won the Kent class after claiming the opener and being consistent through the next two, with Peter Fitzgerald ultimately four points behind in second.
The first race saw Hillyer and his teammate Santalucia split by less than a tenth of a second at the chequered flag, with similar results produced in the subsequent races, while the final feature race was shortened after an accident on the warm-up lap.
It was a Holden benefit at the front of the Improved Production field, with six big banging V8s leading the weekend points.
Danny Timewell was the leader of the pack with a clean sweep, edging slightly closer to championship leader Luke Grech-Cumbo, who led the finale before fading late.
In a late change to the program, the similarly grid-sized BMW E30s and the Hyundai Excels were combined, which resulted in action all over the Grand Prix Circuit.
Royce Lyne won the opening two Beemer races, but Ashley Roger’s feature race win gave him the round, from Jesse Bryan and Brian Bourke.
In the Excels, James Lodge claimed three from three, ahead of Cadel Ambrose and Blake Tracey.
The final race was a blinder – the top three BMWs were split by 0.7sec, and the top three Excels by only 0.2sec
The best of British was on show with the MGs and invited friends, with Simon Elliot’s mega MG B winning the weekend overall with a pair of wins, with his rocketship showing that if England had joined the space race, they would have landed on the moon long before 1969.
Philip Chester was the best of the rest and won the opener, which was heavily interrupted by a start line shunt.
Ryan Woods was the absolute class of the HQ Holdens with a sweep of the round, but behind him, there was action aplenty, featuring the likes of Rod Raatjes, who started the weekend from the rear of grid, Steve Banks, Robert Paterson, Glen McDonald, Perry Bekkers and company.
The Saloon Cars churned out a mixed bag of race results, which ultimately saw the finale finish under a late red flag, which saved Scott Dornan, who won the race and the round despite being parked on the Siberian infield.
Travis Lindorf won the opener and Jacob Prestipino race two, while Daniel Johnson, Keven Stoopman, Adam Lowndes and Jackson Griffith scored strong points hauls.
The Historic Touring Cars might not have had the biggest field of the year, but some of the battles that broke out were absolutely first-rate.
Darren Collins swept the weekend in his Ford Mustang, while other contenders featured Glenn Miles (Valiant Charger), Jervis Ward (Ford Falcon), Peter Meuleman (Mustang) and Trevor Talbot (Chev Camaro).
In the Sports Sedans, it was all about Thomas Randle in his ludicrous Saab 93.
In qualifying, the black and gold beast was 8.7sec faster than the field, which would have eliminated the entire grid had the qualifying cut-off been 107% and not 130%.
Dean Camm made a fast start in the opener, although Randle claimed an easy win, while the second was a non-event after a first-lap tangle.
In the finale, Randle was setting sail for another win until a flat tyre forced him into retirement,
Graeme Gilliland, meanwhile, was also a crowd favourite in his recently 20B-powered Mazda RX7, which coincidently also had the afterburner from an F1-11 attached, as it torched its way around the venue.
Francois Habib (Dodo Supercar) survived to claim race three and the overall win ahead of Ben McLeod (Commodore) and Williams Tymms (MARC Mustang).
Last but certainly not least were the Porsche 944s.
Chris Lewis-Williams took the event with three straight successes from Cameron Beller, Adam Brewer and Mark Taubitz.
A shout-out goes to all of the officials for a well-run meet, with the time-certain format for the round placing racing lap totals into the hands of the competitors, who were ultimately self-penalised for biffo and tardy warm-up laps.
Similarly, the broadcast via Blendline TV was first-rate, with the production putting to use the various Moto GP-spec scaffolds around the facility, as the Australian Grand Prix infrastructure build kicks into overdrive about a month out from the big event.