ROUND 5 REPORT - NATIONAL SPORTS SEDAN SERIES
Updated: Mar 4
All roads led to the picturesque Phillip Island Grand Prix track with the best Sports Sedan teams from Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria converging for the fifth and final Skye Sands 2018 Series round at the Island Magic Race Meeting. The concurrent running of the Ramada Resort 50K plate ensured a big field with a total of 32 cars entered.
Heading the entry list was the Domain Prestige Homes Calibra / Chev owned by the Tamasi family and driven so well all year by a young Steven Tamasi. Two features are required to ensure a sports sedan series win and that is reliability and speed. One needs to finish all 15 races and the finishes must be in the top 3 if not wins. Steven came into the round with a clear lead that could clinch the series by a good finish in the first race. The only other potential was Steve Lacey who would have to win all 3 races with Tamasi failing to score.
From the opening cold blustery Friday practice session, it was clear that Tamasi had the goods speed wise. This led to a clear pole position on Saturday morning in qualifying with a 1:30.8 lap, the remaining top 5 places closely fought out between Phil Crompton from Qld in his Mustang TA-1 car, Michael Robinson in a Monaro / Chev, Alex Williams from Tasmania in a Mazda RX7 / 20B turbo rotor and Shane Woodman in the Riverside Racing prepared BMW / Chev. Following them was another close battle pack with Chris Donnelly from Qld in the Aston Air Chev Camaro TA-1 car, Steve Lacey from NSW in a Chev Camaro, Kerry Baily from Tasmania who has returned after a long layoff in the John Gourlay owned Audi, Dean Camm in his Chev Corvette TA-1 car and Colin Smith from Qld in the MR Automotives Monaro / Chev.
Race 1 on Saturday afternoon was an 8 lap preliminary carrying 30 points for the win and Steve Tamasi did what was necessary and won without stretching the limits of the Calibra. This ensured him the series win and the pressure was off for him to have some fun in the remaining 2 races. There was no panic or spanner thrashing in the Tamasi pit so the car reliability was under control as well. The race for second was a screamer with the early running seeing Phil Crompton chasing Tamasi only to be overhauled under brakes into turn 4 by Michael Robinson who put in fastest lap of the race. Try as he may Crompton had no solution for reversing that move until Robinson ran wide at turn 1 on the final lap. Crompton was poised to pass as “Robbo” re-joined only to be baulked by a lapped car so he settled into a close 3rd ……. until the final corner when they met more lapped traffic, Robinson eased whilst Crompton struck and filled the just wide enough gap beating “Robbo” to the flag by just over 2/100ths second. Crompton commented post-race “I tried a shallow exit to get under Robbo and when we quickly caught 2 lapped cars my position on track was where the gap was so it worked out just enough for me”. The remainder of the top 10 consisted of Woodman, Williams, Donnelly who was battling some understeer, Baily who was enjoying the Audi but needed more seat time to come to grips with its potential, Camm, reigning National Champion Birol Cetin from NSW in the Billy’s Motorsport Chev Camaro and Colin Smith with the Monaro engine running off song. Steve Lacey’s bid for a series win was over with a broken Steering bolt seeing the Camaro run off track at MG corner to score a DNF. Lacey commented “It was a $10 part that brought us undone but hey, that’s motor racing.
Race 2 Sunday morning was a 5 lap sprint and saw the starting order as they finished in race 1. Tamasi was going to go all out this time, Crompton dropped his rear wing angle looking for high speed turn and some extra straight-line speed whilst Donnelly raised the rear ride height to get the Camaro to rotate some more and overcome the race 1 front end push. Lacey had the Camaro fixed and was starting from the rear.
The cold start to the day was perfect for rolling start wheelspin with the field held till the last metre before going green. Crompton used half the track width before the Mustang behaved itself and Donnelly experiencing similar on the Camaro. The change to the Crompton Mustang delivered faster lap times and he was able to keep Robinson at bay who was under pressure from Woodman who came through for 3rd and Williams 4th who was clearly enjoying the extra power from the newly fitted turbo. Lacey fought from rear of field to 11th whist the remaining top 10 were Donnelly who gave the thumbs up to the ride height adjustment, Baily who was getting more settled in the Audi that was running reliably, Andy Brown came into the mix in 8th in his Chev Camaro TA-1 after fixing a power steering leak, Steven Page in the Jayco Commodore VE11 Supercar with Col Smith rounding out in 10th. Meanwhile Steven Tamasi cleared out for a comfortable win putting up fastest lap by quite a margin.
Race 3 was the 10 lap 50K plate and the final race of the 2018 Skye Sands Series with the start order was as they finished race 2. Prior to this race it was busy in the Crompton pit after the starter motor failed to work when returning from race 2 presentation. They just made the dummy grid by a few minutes as the starter is one of the more difficult parts to R&R in the Mustang. He was unfazed and got off to a better start shadowing Tamasi for the first 2 laps before the safety car came out due to an incident involving Rick Newman in the Nuline Homes Ford Falcon BF Supercar. On the re-start Alex Williams drew up alongside Crompton but Crompton held the inside line and continued on to the finish unchallenged in 2nd from that point beating Robinson who was 1.2 seconds behind. Tamasi dominated and finished 12 seconds in front of Crompton. Williams dropped back on lap 9 after a heart stopping spin onto the main straight to eventually finish in 7th. The battle 3rd through to 8th was intense with positions changing every lap. Eventually Robinson won the battle for 3rd followed by Woodman, Lacey who had his best and fastest race of the day, Donnelly, Williams and Baily.
The final round standings were Tamasi from Crompton and Robinson and the Series positions were Tamasi from Thomas Randle, who was racing in Super 2 at Newcastle this weekend but had done enough to hang onto 2nd for the series and Shane Woodman in 3rd despite his lack of points from round 3 due to a crash.
Look out for a release soon on the 2019 Sports Sedan Series.