TEAM WILD DOG ? The 6-Hour Relay

Doggies Doing it at the Island

After some pretty solid rain Friday night, we set off from home in the dark on Saturday morning with the trusty Rolla (Corolla) in tow, hoping for an improvement in the weather. The further we travelled, the dryer it became, also the foggier it became, and around the Anderson Hills it was very thick. As it turned out, weather-wise, the weekend was almost perfect for a weekend in July on the Island, with the sun even making an appearance on Sunday.

Our little Wild Dog Team has appeared at this event now for fourteen years and apart from some new faces appearing from time to time, the core group remains the same. The Richards clan were well represented this time with Alan and David of course, then Harvey (pit board). James (BMW driver). and of course, our new and very strict manager, Claire, who did a great job. Then there was Rex (Mazda RX7) making his first appearance in the ?A?’ team then Paul and myself sharing the Rolla. We always manage to find some highly skilled pit crew, and we were supported this year by Ron and Harvey on pit board, with Dennis, Claire and Jean as Lap scorers, with a cameo appearance by Alan and Marg Humphreys.

After the usual scrutineering wars and the reading of the Riot Act, (always read before any rioting takes place at the drivers briefing) the Saturday gets down to the routine of practice, vehicle adjustments and driver attitude adjustments. Rex was treated severely at scrutineering after alterations to the fuel system were detected and condemned – this proved to be a real head scratcher of a problem to overcome, but after several hours a solution was found and the car was past as OK.

Rex’s woes continued however. His Mazda was running very rich and as he circulated, the most spectacular exhaust flames ever seen on the Island were seen spewing out the back of the car, no doubt startling a number of drivers following. In the pits many experts gathered under the bonnet, including those from other teams, but no cure was forthcoming and the car ceased forward motion for the weekend. The now five drivers, posted their nominated lap times for the Sunday event and that evening gathered at our usual watering hole, the Rusty Waters, for our traditional post-practice dinner.

On Sunday, James landed the task of starting the event for us and so parked his BMW on the grid along with 46 other cars. Formalities and speeches were seen to, along with Alan’s usual gig of Advancing Australia Fair. The Regularity got under way smoothly and our garage quickly settled down to a well-practiced routine of car out, car in, changeover car out and so on. The only drama we had was when an official turned, up thinking we had two cars on track at the same time. James was overdue – he had ‘gone off’, but was quickly pushed back onto the track by some quick thinking flaggies before we knew it, so no harm was done.

I noted several differences about this year?s event, those being ? Apart from Paul in the Rolla, none of us were able to consistently achieve our nominated times, unusual as the weather, always a factor at the Island, was almost perfect. This was not a big problem as we still accumulated bonus laps, just not as many. We also stayed completely out of trouble, so no penalties – always nice. After the first hour, the Doggies were placed in 30th position and due to the discipline demanded by our Manager, we improved and finished the day in a comfortable 9th position out of 47. Amazingly the last time the Doggies finished this high, our garage was also Number 31. I finished the event in the Rolla, the front tyres now being almost without tread, like slicks. The improvement in grip through those long sweeping bends was fantastic. The run to the flag was a real thrill.

By mid-afternoon, the Pits looked like a wrecker?s yard. Cars on stands, engine parts spread about, gearboxes, clutches, axles, all lying about and of course bonnets up. I have never seen a driver cautioned for revving his engine in the pits at a race meeting before either. The amount of tyre skids disappearing off into the scenery was alarming, something like a giant centipede wearing a full set of thongs spinning off !

Thanks for great company, great weather, great motor sport, great organization at a great venue. It must have been just a great weekend.

Philip Finger  

Addendum 1:

After our woes of the past few years, we now have a new engine fitted to the Datto and we were under strict instructions from Event Organiser David Bellenger, that we could not win the Perseverance Award three years in a row. Thankfully we had no problems with the car this year as it circulated all weekend with oil pressure and water temperature remaining exactly where they should.  I did say we had no problems with the car ? however, with the track refueling regulations imposed on us this year, I decided to take the car down to the Island with a full tank of fuel for Saturday?s practice sessions, then just top up on Sunday for the Relay. It seems that the Gods had other ideas, for as I drove past the Warragul Sale Yards Friday night, the stub axle on our trailer broke, leaving me stranded with a one wheeled trailer. I guess it would have been worse if that had happened at 6.30 am Saturday on our way to the Island. A big thanks to Dennis Cope for allowing us to borrow his trailer which got us out of trouble.

Thanks to everybody who helped out with timing etc. and especially a big thanks to Claire who stepped into the breach taking on the role of Team Manager.

Allan Richards

Addendum 2:

Hi everybody, it was that time of year again. I entered the event for the third year in a row and despite the ongoing development problems with my 1988 Mazda RX7, I enjoy this event immensely. At the start of practice on Saturday my car was running really well and looked like doing a better lap time than last year. The fuel starvation problem on left hand corners from previous events was now rectified with the fitting of a swirl pot. However, after a few laps the gremlins were back. My car developed an intermittent miss and a loss of power. Unbeknown to me at the time, my car was shooting spectacular flames out of the exhaust, it being caused by unburnt fuel. It seems like I had accidently found a cure to deal with tailgaters. At the end of practice I decided to set a higher lap time than last year for Sunday.                                

My car problems began prior to practice at scrutineering. There was doubt about whether I would be allowed to run the car due to the swirl pot that was fitted. The fuel lines were exposed and a metal cylinder should have been fitted over the swirl pot. As my car is a hatchback design, this left me open to an increased risk of fire in the event of an accident. It wouldn’t have been such an issue if it had been a sedan with the swirl pot fitted in the boot. After some discussion among the scrutineers it was decided that I could run if I could find a plastic bucket to place over the swirl pot and find a suitable way of securing it. Eventually after looking everywhere for a suitable bucket I had a plastic box in my car that did the job.

It seems I wasn’t the only one in our team who fell foul of the scrutineers. I read with great interest Phil’s review of the event and it seems he forgotten to mention one little detail about his car. His race harness was out of date and was no longer compliant. While I was away from my car my passenger side race harness was acquired and fitted to his car so he would be able to compete. Another one of our cars had an out of date fire extinguisher.

On Sunday morning my race was run. The car wouldn’t start. It never ceases to amaze me how helpful people are at this level of motorsport. An automotive electrical engineer from another team came over and ran his test meter over my car. At the moment, the problem appears to have something to do with the Microtech System and the ignition coil setup. I may need to have modifications made to the electrical system to eliminate the excessive rich fuel mixture. So, it’s back to my Rotary specialist and more money. I often joke to people that I should have taken up a cheaper pastime like stamp collecting but that’s not as addictive as the thrill of driving a car at high speed. At least I have some fantastic photos of my flame thrower to remember this year’s event. Thanks David and Claire for being our team leaders. I’ll be back to have another go next year. See you then.

Rex Connor


Three-car teams often struggle at events like this especially when mechanical problems come into play. When the Campbell/Anderson AU Falcon destroyed its gearbox during Dave?s first session on the track on Sunday morning things weren?t looking good. That was soon followed by alternator problems with Jim and Chris McNiven?s BMW M3 which meant that it would only run for a handful of laps at a time on the stored power in the battery. Mike Whitford was therefore given the enormous task of maintaining track presence in his BMW whilst a stash of new batteries and a battery charger got the M3 up and running again. David called in some favours and convinced Rodger Chapman in Silvan to pick up Glenn?s spare gearbox from Warragul and bring it to the Island. The replacement box was installed just in time for David and Glenn to complete one more session each before the chequered flag fell at 4pm.

To finish up in 19th place after such a tumultuous event is an amazing effort, so congratulations to all involved.

TEAM WILD DINGO ? The 6-Hour Relay

Saturday Practice Sessions

Arriving at the Phillip Island circuit early on Saturday morning, we were greeted by a foggy morning and a damp track. After unloading the cars and having our Team Manager and Drivers? Briefings the first practice session was soon underway. The initial session was for newbies which was two thirds of our teams and the times didn?t reflect what the cars were capable of as it was still slippery out there and our drivers were getting used to the track and the traffic. Their times were in the high 2 minute 20s, but as the track dried out and sessions continued throughout the day, the times started to tumble and in the last couple of sessions they were down to the low 2:05s with the quickest being a 2:00.8 and the longest an 8:42.85 ? both came from the Manson boys, which is which we?ll leave unsaid. Having unfortunately lost the Subaru WRX of Tony and Craig Pisa with mechanical problems in one of the early sessions, the weekend wasn?t look too bright for the boys, however, some quick work by the Team Manager over lunch managed to get Tony and Craig back into the event sharing George and Christian?s Audi A3. By the end of Saturday the Audi was having some mechanical issues, but we were hoping Sunday would bring better fortunes and they would still be able to participate in the team by using the Audi.

Sunday ? Event Day

The morning greeted us on Sunday with clearer skies and the promise of a beautiful day. After checking that the Audi had a decent night?s rest, it fired up after its oil change as if nothing had happened al all, and we were set for the start.

Starting from the back part of the grid with 47 teams, Craig made his way through a good part of the field after the rolling start. He was putting in lap times well under his nominated time of 2:05.00 with most of his laps around the 2:00 to 2:02 area. With this in hand we knew our day was done, so the guys said, ?Stuff the day, we?ve already had too many penalty laps, so let?s see how quick our lap times can get.? The track was dry and getting faster than was apparent on Saturday, so this was going to be fun as most of our drivers had never been to the event before. Shayne was next out, and let?s just say that all our nominated times were smashed by every driver. Our fastest lap came from Shayne Manson with a 1:56 lap in his last stint and on his final lap of the day. Most consistent went to George in the Audi, posting seven of his ten laps in one stint at between 2:00 and 2:01.00. We can confidently say that each driver contributed to our 415 penalty laps. Unfortunately, we had to retire both cars late in the day due to mechanical problems and we didn?t see out the six hours, but we had an enjoyable weekend learning a lot at our first attempt at the event. We hope to return next year and have already started making plans.

Thanks to Craig, Tony, George, Christian, Shayne, Andrew, Karen and Sam for a great weekend had by all.

Matt  (Manager Team Wild Dingo)

Early casualties and walking wounded from our teams at the Phillip Island 6-Hour Relay. Glenn Campbell and Dave Anderson’s AU Falcon ‘Saloon Car’ with a stuffed gearbox, Rex Connor’s RX7 plagued by fueling or ignition problems, Jim and Chris McNiven’s BMW M3 suffered an alternator meltdown whilst Tony and Craig Pisa destroyed the engine in the Subaru WRX.

Survivors included the Finger/Zidsy “Rolla” and the Richards/Richards “Datto”.

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