ROUND 3 REPORT - SKYE SANDS NATIONAL SPORTS SEDAN SERIES
Round 3 was held in conjunction with the Muscle Car Masters race meeting run by the Australian Racing drivers Club. This is the second year we have joined MCM as Sports Sedans are rightly regarded as true Muscle Cars by many past and present race fans. Friday practice opened in cold conditions with the early start but the track was ideal for P2 and saw the teams establishing a benchmark to improve on in later sessions in readiness for qualifying Saturday morning. Already the field was to thin with Ron Moller from West Aust. a late withdrawal in his TA-1 spec Trans-am Camaro and Mark Duggan succumbing to mechanical issues with the Chev powered Aston Martin whilst David Wall experienced a front hub failure on the Shannon’s Insurance Corvette TA-1 car; a shame as he dearly wanted to race and in particular win the Des Wall trophy in memory of his late father.
Alas the good work to fine tune a dry qualifying setup on the Hankook slicks came to nought when we were greeted by clouds and a stubborn wet track. One of highly fancied, Thomas Randle, in the Skye Sands backed Chev powered Saab sat on the tracks edge exiting turn 8, an engine management hardware issue being pinpointed as the cause.
This meant a rear of grid start for the talented youngster. The rest of the series regulars did their best in the trying conditions, a cold wet track, lightweight car with 700+ horsepower proving difficult for even the most experienced on the latest wet Hankook tyres. Looking at some logging data showed that you only had to breath on the throttle to induce wheelspin until 5th or 6th gear.
At full time it was Steven Tamasi from Victoria in the Domain Prestige Homes Chev / Calibra who did enough to earn pole position for race 1 by a margin of 0.311 seconds from Steven Lacey NSW Real Dairy Chev Camaro. Third was 10-time champion Tony Ricciardello from WA in the B&M Ricciardello legendary Chev Alfa GTV a further 0.4 behind Lacey.
These 3 were the masters of the wet track, the times dropped off beyond them but there was a second bunch grouped within a few seconds between them that would ensure that racing throughout the field should be entertaining. This group consisted of Shane Woodman in 4th (Landells Signs Chev / BMW), Phil Crompton (Datafin Engine Dyno Ford Mustang TA-1), Shane Bradford (Aston Air conditioning Chev Camaro TA-1), reigning national champion Birol Cetin (Billy’s Motorsport and Automotive Chev Camaro) and Dean Camm (Chev Corvette TA-1).
The third group consisted of Michael Robinson Vic in 9th followed by Colin Smith Qld both in Holden Monaro’s and Stuart Inwood from NSW in an AU Falcon ex supercar.
Prior to race 1 the rain come in again and that settled the discussion on which tyres to use with all starters on wet rubber. With the conditions not so cold the times came down by several seconds but the best were still about 13 seconds per lap over a decent dry time. Whilst Tamasi, Lacey and Ricciardello jostled up front Thomas Randle was passing at will and making serious ground. By the end of lap 1 he was up to 4th. Woodman had a spin on the opening lap while Cetin, Crompton, Bradford and Camm were locked into a battle for 5th – 8th while Woodman regained back to 9th place by race end. But it was all Randle and he took the lead off Tamasi on lap 5, Ricciardello slotted into second a lap later at the same time as Lacey took 3rd so Tamasi went from 1st to 4th over 2 laps, something that did not please the talented young driver who was suffering from the flu all weekend.
Cetin moved from 7th up to 5th in the early laps while Crompton who started 5th fell back to 7th and then up to 6th by race end after an epic battle with Cetin, Bradford 7th and Camm who finished 8th. The rest of the field went a lap down in a race of survival in the wet conditions.
Watching Randle’s car control in the wet was sure something to see, the experience he gained racing in Europe over the last few years serving him well.
Race 2 on Sunday morning saw some sunshine and a dry track, something the drivers and the many spectators appreciated. Lap times tumbled and it was Randle who made the best of the start from P1 as a result of his race one win and led all the way to the chequered flag. Ricciardello followed till lap 7 and a rare spin from the legend saw him drop back through the field to make his way back to 6th by race end. This elevated Tamasi up to second, Lacey into 3rd and Crompton into 4th after Crompton passed Cetin under brakes on the opening lap at the hairpin. A couple of laps later Cetin spun at the exit of turn 6 causing Bradford a heart flutter as he locked up and just avoided the yellow Camaro. No so lucky was the following Woodman who was on the limit and could not avoid contact with the rear of Cetin’s car. Both cars were out for the remainder of the weekend, Cetin’s needing rear frame and body replacement while the Woodman BMW requires a replacement front suspension and bodywork repairs. The field circulated under the safety car for 4 laps.
Bradford came from 7th up to 5th and shadowed Crompton throughout the race. Robinson and Camm swapped positions a few times and Robinson came out on top in P7. Smith ran up in 9th for most of the race and dropped back to 12th after a spin on the final lap.
Just to liven things up Huey decided we needed more rain about 30 minutes prior to Race 3, the Des Wall trophy race dedicated to our 2009 champion and one of sports sedans favourite drivers. After some wind and sunshine. Most took the punt on slicks whilst Lacey and Robinson would dare to be different on wets. Some rain would take Lacey to hero status but it was not to be. He challenged early on but by lap 4 when some heat got into the slicks he was a shot duck being passed by Bradford and Crompton. Ricciardello made a blinding start after some super serious tyre warming in the formation lap. He told me he has never worked a rear tyre so hard before but it paid dividends with him moving into 2nd during the opening lap. There was a clash at turn one with Ricca tagging Randles Saab rear diffuser tray causing the carbon fibre part to fly just over Crompton’s Mustang and settle not far off the side of track. Tamasi settled into 3rd for the distance while Bradford and Crompton caught and started attacking Lacey. It was all over for Lacey by lap 5 and he surrendered to Bradford and then Crompton passed him on the outside of turn 3 a lap later. Crompton honed in on Bradford and caught him during lap 7. Crompton ran down the outside into the hairpin and kept momentum passing on the outside whilst the Bradford car slowed and pitted as the result of a broken Watts Link on the rear axle housing. Lacey retained 5th wobbling around on the no doubt blistered wets followed by Camm and Inwood whilst the rest went a lap down.
At the close it was Thomas Randle a clear leader on round points and winner of the Des Wall Trophy presented by David Wall, followed by Tamasi, Ricciardello, Lacey and Crompton.
Round 4 of the Skye Sands Sports Sedan Series will be run at Queensland Raceway during the Shannon’s Nationals weekend July 27 – 29. This round will be live streamed on Sunday 29th July. Visit sportssedansnational.com.au and National Sports Sedans facebook page for further updates and information.
2018 Skye Sands Sports Sedan Series Points - Tamasi 354, Ricciardello 347, Randle 323