A fairly good number of entrants made up of 23 FA / Euro F2 cars and 5 invited Australian F2 cars assembled at Eastern Creek as a support category for the Australian round of the 2007 / 2008 A1 GP. Due to a rather wettish summer so far, for most of the Eastern States, there was every chance that the weather would play a part over the weekend. And this was to be the case.
The Friday morning practice session was a little damp with most people circulating with lap times of just over the 2 minutes. There was a red flag half way through the session when Geoff Calvert’s car’s handbrake (?) locked on and he was stuck for a while in the middle of the track between turns 3 and 4. The drizzle had cleared up by the time the qualifying session came around later in the day and Ty Hanger dominated with a fastest lap of 1:28.57 in his RT4. Actually, RT4’s took 8 of the 9 front positions in the session. Chris Farrell was the odd man out in the Spirit BMW claiming second spot with a 1:31.98.
Saturday morning looked promising and 26 cars arrived at the dummy grid, on slicks, for Race 1, however very early in the race rain made its unwelcome appearance. For most of the track it was only a very light drizzle, but in the proximity of turn 1 it was a fair bit wetter. My own experience in the Modus was that I started in 17th position, lost a place before turn 2, and then when the Pace Car came out on about lap 4 found that I was the 7th car behind it. Where did they all go? Prior to the Pace car coming out there were a few very interesting laps for both drivers and spectators. As you approached turn 1 you could see the increased spray coming off the cars ahead as they turned in, and it tended to make the next few seconds most interesting. The Pace car stayed out for 3 laps and Ty Hanger managed to keep it all together to take the win with a best lap of 1:35.10. Vivian King and Sean Whelan closely followed in their respective RT4’s in group R. Doug Macarthur was 5th overall and 1st in Group Q with Peter Whelan and Peter Landan not far behind.
Race 2 in the afternoon was much more under control with sunny weather and 24 starters. Once again Ty took the win with a fastest lap of 1:27.90, just 0.22 outside his own lap record. This time Sean came in 2nd with Chris Farrell 3rd in group R. Peter Whelan was 5th overall to take 1st place in Group Q, I came in 2nd and Peter Landan recovered from a spin (?) to take 3rd.
Sunday can best be summed up by the photo on the previous page. The rain came and went all day, at times fairly heavy. Not long before our race was scheduled, the rain bucketed down and a look at the clouds suggested it was going to stay that way. The stewards gave us the option of canning our race or going out behind the Pace car and finishing the race the same way. The majority of drivers decided that it wasn’t worth the effort and so the race was canned. It did ease off a bit for a while, but depending on when we would have eventually gone out, the weather varied from light to heavy rain with a fair bit of water running across the track in a few spots. Anyway, all this was in hindsight and people were getting on with packing and loading up. It is always a shame to end the weekend like this because of all the individual effort that people put in just to be there, but such is life.
My only involvement for the A1 was mainly putting together this newsletter and sending it out. I think special mention must be made of all the effort put in by Bryan and Col to organize our association’s inclusion as a support category at the A1GP. I know that a lot of effort goes in behind the scenes to string it all together. There were additional OH&S issues to content with this year and also at the last minute we were informed that AVGAS wouldn’t be available at the track. It all came together in the end and then there was only the weather to contend with. Thanks also to all the competitors for presenting their cars in such great condition and in particular the interstate guys for whom it must be at least a 6 day event.
Howard Blight’s new Chevron B29 with 2 litre BDG made its first appearance at Eastern Creek. It was a rush to get it there in time but according to Howard it went fairly well for the first time out. A few teething problems which were more to do with Howard getting used to the cockpit and where the gears were, etc. etc. combined to make it hard to set quick lap times, but a best of 1:38.77 in race 2 seems a good start for this seasoned campaigner, and I am sure he will move rapidly up through the field later on in the year. It should be easy to spot the Banana hovering around your rear wing attempting to get by. Due to the inclement weather I failed to get a proper photo of Howard’s previous car, the ‘75 March that Rob Foster had recently acquired. It has had a complete make over and looked immaculate in its distinctive new lime green paint job. It can be picked out here in the photo along with Rob to the right in the black race suit. Peter Mohr’s Chevron B29 Atlantic is seen in the foreground.
Another new car which should make its appearance at Mallala is Rod and Julie Kuchels’s 1977 March (77B-30). It originally raced in New Zealand and was bought into Australia by Ray Hanger at the end of ‘81. It has undergone a full restoration and Rod and Julie are looking forward to its first ‘real’ outing at the Easter Mallala meeting. Hopefully all will go well.
Bryan reports that some sort of deal was done and Tony Simmons took home in his trailer Peter Mohr’s Chevron B34 Atlantic, which now leaves ‘Simmo’ with a B34 Chevron F3 with 2.0 litre Toyota, surplus to requirements, maybe John Bowe should buy this and annoy all the Atlantics with an F3, price is very reasonable I believe, even after you add on the 10% spotters fee to Bryan.
Don’t forget Mallala at Easter. The organizers are hoping for a big roll up of open wheelers and Peter Whelan has been helping out in this area. Contact him if you want to be involved.