The mid-winter round of the NSW Motor Race Championships for 2015 arrived back at Sydney Motorsport Park in direct contrast to the bleak, freezing conditions the state has been beset by over recent weeks. The weekend brought forth predominately sunshine-filled days and much warmer temperatures; ideal conditions for drivers comfort. Only around 160 entries came out for the weekend however, with the Production Sports category headlining the weekends event schedule with a one-hour , two driver enduro race. In fairness, some of the regular state competitors were otherwise engaged assisting in this major event.

The Production Sport enduro brought out some glamourous metal. No less than four Audi R8 LMS vehicles with their coloured headlights beaming their no-nonsense “get-out-of-my-way” message, mixing it with a large cadre of Porsche GT3 Cup smartly liveried beasts loudly purring in amongst the vast field. Rounding out the eye-candy were a Gallardo, GT40, E-type Jag, Elise/Exige’s, Monaro, MX-5 and a Commodore. The day surely went to Andrew McPherson (Porsche GT3R) who started second on the grid after qualifying. Constantly pushing Rod Salmon’s Audi Andrew’s team took race one as well as the enduro, with his co-driver Brad Shiels winning the second “driver B” race. Clean sweep! Rod Salmon and Neale Muston placed second and third respectively.

Listed as a competitor in the program, perennial “owner” of this category second places this year, Birol Cetin did not line up for racing this weekend. This allowed Steve Lacey to take a lock on one notch up the podium from his usual third spot. Grant Doulman did what he does best, and stayed out front for all three races with as much as a one minute lead during race two. Chris Jackson and Anthony Macready split the third places.

Formula Vee gave us all a bit of a nervous time. Race one had only just begun when six cars got all tangled up at turn two ( where else) leaving fibreglass debris of nose cones and torn away bits of race car on the track. This caused a 40 minute delay as CXC racing identity Matthew Bode (Stinger 010) was cut free from his car after a heavy t-boning of Gary Hook ( Jacer F2K4). Amazingly Hook’s car was driveable and went on to compete in the following races. As a precaution Bode was very gingerly extricated and fortunately whilst not taking part in any further racing, was walking around the pits the following day. Recovery was very busy with the Manitou, a tow truck and a flatbed all needed to clean up the tangled mess of non-working vehicles after the incident. Race one was ultimately abandoned. Dylan Thomas (CXC Racing) and Michael Kinsella (KE Power) shared the remaining race wins, whilst Tim Brook converted an ordinary qualifying result, starting from tenth on the grid, to finish race one and two with a couple of second place podiums. Ever-consistent Simon Pace rounded out the placings with a pair of thirds. Simon’s son Aaron is a debutante this year, under his dad’s watchful and encouraging eye. Aaron is showing excellent signs of talent after a short time in competition. Starting eighth after qualifying Aaron finished with a fifth and sixth place.

Improved Prod O2L is all in the hands of Graham Watts. From early Saturday morning through to Sunday afternoon, his smooth driving style and excellently prepared Nissan Silvia purrs out the front of this category. Consistently lapping at 1:40/41’s, Graham kept a 30sec advantage on the field. Closest to him all day was John McKenzie, but in doing so John flaunted the new rules that prohibits drivers from drifting wide on turns like #5 and #15. If all four wheels cross the yellow lines, then a time penalty is awarded for each time this occurs. This has been judged to give a driver a “slingshot” advantage over other drivers. Whilst McKenzie got within 15sec of Watts, it came at a cost of 60sec’s worth of penalties. Paul White ( Mazda RX7) finished with a second and third place, sharing that distinction with Michael Posa ( RX3) in the reverse order.

Jason Grimmond from Queensland experienced SMSP for the first time, coming to Sydney combining a family holiday with getting some mid year track time. Jason said when asked what brought him to Sydney for this event ”…there are long gaps between events in Qld mid year, and I’m working on a new suspension setup, so this event gives me a chance to put some new thoughts into action.” He also commented that “….this is a big track. The corners are huge. Just when you think you through them, they keep on going.” Sam Maio was wanting to work on his understeer problem on Saturday evening, but this was put on the backburner as he ended up spending much of the night rebuilding his gearbox after problems on Saturday. He was back in his garage very early on Sunday morning tinkering with his setup to correct the understeer.

The NSW Motor Race Championships return to SMSP on Sept 26/27th.

Words and pics by Rob Annesley