Saturday, 10 December 2016

Racing at Sydney Motorsport Park

The Alpha Hotel is just across the street from the track. Unfortunately they did not open the gate there and we had to drive around to the other side.
Back of the front straight grandstands from the hotel
We had to wait until 5:30pm on Thursday before we could get at the container. The paddock was still being used by an Audi track day event.

The car came out clean since I had put a tarp over the car when we packed up at Sandown. No 'Cooper'ing on it this time. All the car checks were good.

Friday we had 3 practice sessions scheduled. Boy was it hot. The forecast was for 34C and it got at least that hot. Another interesting track to learn. We were using the Gardiner (GP) layout at 2.44 miles long. A long front straight mostly slight downhill (was a drag strip before they build a dedicated strip) to a sweeping Turn1. I had to feather the throttle to keep the revs in a reasonable range. Turn1 is quite quick. For those familiar with Mosport, think of Turn8 leading to another straight. Turn2 was tricky as you are coming off close to top revs into a low 3rd gear corner that goes uphill before the apex. There are a number of downhill braking areas into hairpin corners. Easy to brake too late and understeer wide.
The Junior side of the garage
Practice was not without some dramas, just not for me. The Waggott-motored Brabham travelling with us had battery problems, a broken motor mount, and a broken wing support. The Ralt got a new ignition system (to solve the module blowing problem) and found a broken wire for the tach. JR's Lotus 18 was running fine. My only issue was the Sony on-board camera is acting up (stopping in the middle of a session with a damaged file). I replaced the toasted rear brake shoes after practice to see if the fade going into Turn2 would get better. The higher engine temperatures were attributed to the high ambient temperature. If the engine doesn't run cooler on Saturday we might have to look at the head gasket again.
Brabham with Waggott motor
Saturday qualifying had steady improvement. Close to a second quicker each lap, ending with 2:00.2. Engine temps were back to normal so it is a bit marginal with high ambient temps.
Qualifying results
Started 21th out of 33 for the race. Had my usual start and lost a number of positions. Close to the end of the first lap, there was a big cloud of dust in the distance. Jamie Larner's Cooper T67 had his rear brakes lock on hard going into the second last corner. Lots of dirt on the track but stopped before hitting anything. A stone had got into the brake linkage jamming the rears full on. I had a good battle with Michael Rowe in the ex-Roger Ealand Koala (Australian built FJr). Michael was having trouble keeping the engine on the cam so he often would bog down on exit. He would pass me on the straight and I'd get him back in the corners. The one time I kept my foot in it down the front straight saw 7800 on entry to Turn1. I was starting to get more comfortable with my turn-in point for Turn1, just a tap on the brakes. There was a bit of attrition in the last couple of laps that got me back to 21th at the finish.
Race1 results
Sunday dawned cooler from the overnight rain. The first group out was a 45 minute enduro so the track was dry for our races. A racer came by to see my car and I was surprised to see a Mosport patch on his driving suit. Turned out to be Peter Mohacsi who had traded rides with Andrew Celovsky. Peter came to Canada to race Andrew's Fiat, and Andrew came to Australia to race Peter's Midget. Peter was racing his FVee this weekend and had seen the Canadian flag on our garage.

Race 2 was our trophy race with just Formula Juniors on the grid. The Lola Mk2, the Golford and John Rowe's Lotus 18 got me on the start. I got back around the 18 by the second lap. The rest of the race was chasing the other two. I found I could carry more speed through Turn1 than the Golford but kept getting the timing wrong (either too far back at entry, or too close and have to feather) until the last lap. So up the inside going into Turn2 and the car won't stop!! Used all the track including the concrete apron but never went off the hard stuff. Had to settle for 20th with my best lap down to 1:59.41.
Race2 results

Michael and Valerie with the 1963 Koala Robert Buckley's 1963 Golford
There was an optional Tasman Trophy race with a mixed grid that I decided to skip to save wear and tear. Probably should have done it as I could have placed well. I wandered around an looked at some of the other interesting cars there.
1977 Alfa GTV Always liked the Renault Alpine

1971 Mawer Clubman
The final race of the series was late in the afternoon. Only 22 starters. Usual start, but got back both the Lola and John's Lotus 18 by Turn2. Started chasing the Golford and Erik Justesen in the 1960 U2 Mk2 but could never quite bridge the gap. The high ambient was back so I had to watch the engine temps. Finished 16th with my fastest lap of 1:59.64, a little off the morning's race.
Race3 results
The awards followed this last race. Once again JR got 2nd in the rear engine drum brake class. Margaret Ealand presented all the class awards. This was also the last race for the Australian leg of the Formula Junior World Series. The overall award, The Ron Tauranac Trophy, went to Martin Bullock as the top points for the 3 race meetings combined. The award was presented by Ron, a plaque he received for the 1964 Temperado F3 Series in Argentina. A well deserved award not only for the racing, but also Marty's contribution to the running of the Australian leg.
Ron Tauranac, Martin Bullock, Margaret Ealand
Now it was time to load the container for shipping to New Zealand. All the tires were scraped and wrapped in plastic to reduce any biological contamination concerns. We had it all loaded by 6:30pm this time. Practice makes perfect (and starting some loading on Saturday helped). Next stop Hampton Downs New Zealand in January 2017.

Ready for New Zealand in 2017

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