It was a challenging round 5 of the 2015 Aussie Racing Cars Championship at Mount Panorama, Bathurst. The pocket rockets fielded more cars than any other category at the mountain with the main aim to put on an unforgettable show, and they did!
The excitement started to build on Tuesday when the teams started making their way to the mountain. By Wednesday the pits were full and the teams were buzzing, the cars were being prepared ready to tackle the tough 23 cornered circuit.
Mount Panorama is classed as Australia’s mecca for motorsport, only used as a circuit 3-4 times per year the other 360+ days it’s a tourist route where you can take your daily drive for a stroll. If you have been lucky enough to do this you’ll know what the boys and one girl endured over the weekend.
Practice went well with all of the cars safely completing laps early on Thursday morning, qualifying for the class was on Thursday afternoon, the V8Supercars and other supporting classes had all been on track so the circuit was cleaner than the morning session with a bit more rubber down too.
Maurice Masini put his Euro GT on pole from James Abela (Toyota) and Championship leader Brendon Pingel in a Holden Cruze. Adrian Flack (Euro GT) was fourth with Category Owner Tony Quinn fifth ahead of the Euro GTs of Damien Flack, Ben Walsh and Adam Uebergang.
Friday morning dawned fine and clear and the Aussie Racing Cars Race One was the first race for any class for the weekend, once again the whole field put on a fantastic show for the building crowd, spots along the front straight and right across the mountain were already filled by keen ARC followers and die-hard motorsport fans.
Maurice Masini fought hard with Adrian Flack to win the race with the current series leader Brendon Pingel taking second spot, over the course of the race Masini and Adrian Flack were glued together while Pingel shadowed the battling duo, waiting for his own opportunity to sneak through. On the third lap Flack hit the lead, but for only a brief period as Masini repassed on Conrod Straight, the three finished 8.1 seconds from the ensuing pack of Damien Flack, Walsh and Uebergang. In his first outing in an Aussie Racing Car Jon McCorkindale finished in a credible 8th spot.
The second race was to be the final event on Friday but was cancelled due to the massive crash had by Chaz Mostert just before the Cutting, Mostert was airlifted to Orange Hospital and a number of marshals were injured too and were taken to the Bathurst Hospital. The racing was suspended due to the damaged caused to the flag point.
The third race got off to a great start with Uebergang leading the pack up Mountain Straight closely followed by Chamberlin, Walsh and Trent Young (Nissan Ultima) and Tony Quinn (Ford Mustang) with the Flack Brothers. The leading pack moved away from the field with Walsh and the Flack boys dropping back a bit, on lap three these three cars were neck and neck down conrod, Adrian Flack pulled out to pass brother Damien and slightly tagged Damiens car sending it into a gut wrenching roll eventually coming to rest over the concrete wall.
Following the massive accident, Damien was treated initially in the track medical centre before being air lifted to Liverpool Hospital with broken ribs and a punctured lung.
In an interview a few days after the incident, Damien said: “While it’s all a bit fuzzy I do remember bracing for the roll. Spreading my legs and holding both hands on the bottom of the steering wheel.” “I was in the medical centre on track,’’ Flack continues. “I’m told I spoke with officials as they pulled me from the wreckage, but I don’t remember that. What I remember is hearing Adrian’s voice. And because of that, I opened my eyes” he said.
The race was deemed as a non-race due to only 3 laps being run.
The whole Aussie Car Paddock, the officials and management wish Damien a speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing both the Flack brothers back on track soon.
The last race for the Aussie Cars was Saturday afternoon, a shower of rain had washed the circuit but there were still damp spots around, Pingel and Masini went side by side into turn one with the field gathered behind them set to pounce if the opportunity arose, the safety car was called on lap one after Craig Woods (Ford Mustang) and Sam Milton (Toyota Aurion) came together just out of the Cutting at Reid Park which saw Milton’s car on its side between the outside wall and Woods’ car. At the restart Chamberlin lost his front brakes which skewed him across the path of Uebergang and Walsh compromising their race.
With a flying 1 lap sprint to the finish once the safety car pulled off, it was Pingel winning from Masini and Quinn.
Brendon Pingel took his maiden round win for the year with 152 points from Masini by one point on 151 and third outright for the round was the category owner Tony Quinn with 141 points.
Mike Rinkin: As always the mountain took a few prisoners, Robert [Motbey] archived a thirty year dream after watching all his life he drove it in a Aussie car and relished how great it was the rain and previous events of the weekend instilled caution in our heads for the last race we were more conservative than some on the first lap thus due to an accident we had a 2 lap race it was disappointing to lose so many laps but in the end it was a buzz again.
Jeff Watters: I went into Bathurst with the #96 Cure for MND car quietly confident as Bathurst is a fairly familiar track. After using practice as a low key familiarising session, I planned to go hard qualifying session that was going to plan until John Reynolds had an engine failure in front of me on the run into the Chase, thus ruining my hot lap. Unfortunately my second attempt at a hot lap was ended by the chequered flag so 28th was where I ended up. Race 1 was going great, getting up to 22nd before an over ambitious overtaking move on the last corner resulted in a spin at Murray’s Corner and a 25th finish. The car was great in the remainder of the races, but the shortened races were tough to make good progress, but I was pretty happy with the 17th in the final one lap dash in race 4. Bring on Phillip Island!
Chris Stevenson: Advantage Motorsport are thrilled to be walking away from Bathurst having Chris elevating himself into second place in the championship that was the aim pre event and we delivered!
Western Sydney Motorsport: Heading up to the Bathurst 1000 from our base in Western Sydney we had high hopes for a good showing on our first outing there. In reality it was a tough weekend, a failed engine ignition for car #78 in qualifying, and blown gearbox for car #72 in race 1 and an engine change for #64 after qualifying in search of some additional power created lots of distraction for us and we weren’t able to gain any type of decent momentum over the weekend. It’s been a learning curve, a steep one for us, we’ll leave Bathurst behind us and look to Phillip Island next!
Brendon Pingel: What an absolute honour and blessing to have won and become Aussie Racing Cars “King of the Mountain” at the iconic Mount Panorama Bathurst round of our championship. If there was ever a track that was at the top of my list to achieve a round win, this was it!!. My team provided me with an outstanding race car package and I am forever grateful of the opportunity to compete amongst such a quality field of drivers. There were certainly highs and lows throughout this round, and I together with my team, send our very best wishes to Damian Flack for a full and speedy recovery, Brendon said.
Can’t wait to be back at the Island in just over one month for another fast and furious championship round. We are working hard at continual refinements to our overall package in the quest to bring home the championship. Thanks also to the team at Aussie Racing Cars on another well-organised round.
Ruth Bowler: What an unprecedented round at Mount Panorama! Despite the reduced track time I still achieved a new personal best lap time for Mount Panorama wiping 2 seconds off in Race 1! Special thanks to my crew and all the fans who continue to support the Ford Coupe and enjoy seeing me put it through its paces! Looking forward to coming home to Phillip Island for our next round 20-22 November. Hope to see many of you there too!