About 2 hours south east of Melbourne at the end of the Bass highway is an island that is a popular destination for Penguins, Seals and, of course, Motor Racing fans. The November 23 – 25 weekend sees the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit hold the annual Island Magic event and this year the excitement ramps up as the famous Island Magic hosts the final round of the Skye Sands National Sports Sedan Series.
A casual look at the Phillip Island lap records sees Jack Perkins name next to a 1:27.2 lap set in the John Gourlay owned Audi A4 sports sedan. Ask anyone who has been to the Island track if that is fast and you will get a jaw dropping head nodding reaction that will have you wondering if they need medical attention. That speed is generally achieved with a purpose-built carbon fibre replica body over a space frame chassis powered by a highly developed 6 Litre V8 revving to 7,800 RPM sitting on top of Hankook’s finest 320mm wide dedicated racing slick tyres. This package is topped off with a bit of aerodynamic downforce help to keep it on the black stuff.
Young Victorian driver Steven Tamasi (Holden Calibra/Chev) with 482 points has had speed and reliability this season and looks set to achieve his and his families dream of accepting the National Series winner trophy. He comes off a win in the penultimate round at Queensland Raceway and only one other driver has a mathematical chance of beating him. That driver is third paced Steven Lacey (Chev Camaro) with 350 points from NSW. Lacey would have to win every race with Tamasi failing to finish all 3 races to win the series. Possible but not likely. Steve Tamasi together with his father Daniel have put everything into getting to this position and I am assured they will be finely prepared going into the final round, but motorsport has been known to be cruel on occasion.
Second and fourth placed Thomas Randle (428 points) and Tony Ricciardello (347 points) are missing the final round therefore likely to fall down the rankings. Randle could well hold on to third or second despite not attending as his results from previous rounds have been spectacular including setting a new lap record at Queensland Raceway in the Skye Sands backed Saab / Chev.
Not too far behind the top 4 are Shane Woodman on 312 points, Michael Robinson on 286, Shane Bradford on 268, Colin Smith on 240, Phil Crompton on 233 and Birol Cetin on 180.
Birol Cetin (Chev Camaro) is the reigning champion but has not had the best of years this year including a damaging coming together with Shane Woodman’s BMW / Chev at Sydney Motorsport Park. Woodman is hopeful of moving into the top 3 after a recent engine upgrade. Chris Donnelly in Shane Bradford’s Chev Camaro and Phil Crompton (Ford Mustang) both travelling from Queensland have opted for USA designed Trans-am machinery and are always racing close together. Crompton has found form and reliability in the last 2 rounds with a 4th overall at Sydney and 2nd overall at Queensland so is hoping to improve his end of season position. The Holden Monaro twins, Robinson and Smith are always in the points mix with strong and reliable runs.
What about the all-conquering lap record holding Audi / Chev you might ask; well it returns to the Island with 6 time National Champion Kerry Baily from Tasmania behind the wheel. Kerry has won here before in 2012 driving his Aston Martin / Chev so he has a good pedigree.
Meanwhile the Aston Martin returns with its new owner Mark Duggan hoping for a trouble free weekend and the immaculate Chev powered Camaro of Ron Moller from WA is also believed to be appearing at Island Magic. Add to that Alex Williams from Tasmania we will see cars from every state in Australia making a spectacle not to be missed!
The points system for the Nationals offers 30 points for a win in race 1, 45 points in race 2 and 60 points in race 3 so you can see why reliability and tyre management over the weekend is just as important as outright speed.
From a local point of view, this round also sees the final round of the ASSA Victorian Sports Sedan Championship and Rick Newman in his 6Lt Ford Falcon will be hard to beat for outright with several others in contention for class wins. Add Andrew Brown, Dean Camm plus last years wet 50k Plate Winner Jon Lawson and we have a massive field of 34 impressive Sports Sedans which will without doubt draw a large crowd and the roar down the Gardner Straight will be something to remember! See you there