Bryant Park in the Haunted Hills near Moe is a favourite venue for many competitors due to its excellent facilities and the challenging 1300 metre track. The circuit is designed in such a way to enable events to be run using several different circuit configurations. The long, short, clockwise, anti-clockwise and figure 8 layouts have all been used many times before and each driver has their own favourite. This round of the Championship, however, would see the introduction of yet another, hitherto unknown, variation of the track – clockwise with loop! As this was the first time such a configuration had been run, it was seen as a level playing field as far as drivers were concerned.
This layout is really a longer variation of the regular clockwise track that has been extended to 1600 metres in length thanks to a repeat of the bottom loop section. This adds another 20 seconds or so to the elapsed time and gives the tyres a chance to warm up. From the start the track runs downhill through a series of open curves to the cross-over, where in this configuration, you stay left and descend steeply into the pit before climbing out through a series of right-left-right bends prior to descending again to the cross-over where you turn right and then right again to repeat the bottom loop and back to the cross-over. This second time at the cross-over you turn left, climbing steeply onto the back straight before tackling a series of tighter bends which continue to climb on the approach to the finish line.
Practice was available prior to the timed runs and the new configuration was well-received by competitors, many of whom identified the almost blind right turn at the end of the crossover on the repeat loop as being quite tricky. Eighty-five competitors, including Ray Youlden (Focus RS), Ian Holdsworth (RX7 turbo), Ian Maud (MR2), Jane Vollebregt (MGB), David Anderson (MGB) and Steve Schmidt (Cooper S) from the Sporting Register, were looking forward to five timed runs each at the new circuit, but a number of ‘offs’ necessitating the use of the recovery vehicle, ate into the time available resulting in one less run than expected.
Unfortunately, Ray pushed the Focus a bit hard too early and slid off the cold track during a practice run. The car nudged the dirt embankment at the cross-over, ripping off the plastic front undertray and passenger-side inner-guard liner, damaging the ECU and wiring connectors living beside the inner-guard, in the process. The damage was barely noticeable, but the ECU didn’t want to play anymore, so Ray’s day unfortunately ended before it actually began.
Ian Holdsworth was the fastest of our contingent as usual, and recorded a best time of 79.93 seconds to win the Over 3L Sports Car class by 0.09 seconds from a light-weight, home-made special that looks like it would be more at home in the Formula Libre class. Ian Maud was using this event to test the effectiveness of a new tune-able ECU which had recently been fitted to his super-charged Toyota MR2. It seemed to do the job well with Ian placing third in the very large Non-logbooked class, recording a best time of 85.05. Jane Vollebregt improved her times in the MGB on each run, finishing strongly with a 95.57 to place forth in the Under 3L Marque Sports Car class. David Anderson’s MGB isn’t eligible for the Marque Sports class due to modifications which include an alloy cross-flow head. He therefore runs in the more general Under 3L Sports Car class where his MGB regularly comes up against Mark Patane’s very potent, fuel-injected 2L Alfa GTV. These two always have a close battle, but this weekend the class honours went to Mark, with David’s 82.4 securing him second place. Steve Schmidt had the usual Cooper S battle with Peter Weymouth-Wilson in the Under 2L Historic Touring Car class. There are some minor differences between Steve’s Mk.1 S and Peter’s Mk.2, but wherever and whenever the two meet, the results always come down to split seconds. Steve had the upper hand at this event and finished the day with an 86.04, only 0.09 seconds up on Peter. Due to the fact that this was the first time the track had been used in this configuration, both Ian Holdsworth and Steve Schmidt now hold their respective class records.
The event was very well run by the Phillip Island Auto Racing Club with assistance from the Gippsland Car Club. Our thanks go to all the officials who generously gave their time to make the event the success it was. The next round will be held at the DECA complex in Shepparton on April 30th.
Action shots of Sporting Register members, courtesy of Peter Weaver Motorsport Photography