The second round of the 2017 Aussie Racing Cars Championship held last weekend at Symmons Plains would have to be the wettest race car event the series has ever been to in its almost 20 year history. Friday lulled the competitors into thinking a fine race meeting was on the cards with clear skies and 25C temps. Alas it wasn’t to continue.
Friday saw the pocket rockets have two practice sessions, this is a great time for the new teams to get a real feel for the short but flowing track, half of the drivers had never raced at this venue. The hot weather made for great times and allowed the teams to assess the new Kumho tyres on a full-time race circuit having only run them at the Adelaide street circuit four weeks ago. Another sense of being lulled seen as no one had run the tyres in the wet!
Ben Walsh (DR Ink Tattoo Removal Mustang) dialled into the track quickly and was fastest in both P1 and P2. However, as the results now show in the weekend standings this didn’t unfortunately carry through to the races, however tenth overall was enough to secure first place in the Masters Trophy. Second to Walsh in another Mustang was Western Sydney Motorsports Craig Woods and from there was rookie Jaie Robson (UltraTune and Red House Developments Mustang). The crews left on Friday night with the cars in a typical dry setup.
Saturday morning the predictions of rain from late Friday were to come to fruition three quarters through the Aussie Racing Cars qualifying mid-morning Saturday.
Just prior to the chequered flag of qualifying the heavens opened, most drivers had set their times with Kel Treseder (KKP Motorsport Camaro) taking pole from Robson and Woods. Jeff Watters almost didn’t make the racing after his Cure for MND Foundation Nissan Altima had engine issues that saw the car catch fire with Watters leaping out and getting assistance from the fire crews, Watters missed race one but ran competitively in the 3 remaining races.
Saturday continued as the busiest day of the weekend with two races lined up for the afternoon. Robson soon stamped his dominance on the weekend taking his first ever win in the class with race one, two Western Sydney Motorsport drivers chased him all the way, Woods took second from Blake Sciberras. Not too long later Robson won the second race for the weekend, this time the battle continued with Sciberras, which saw the race lead changing several times in the shortened 12 lap race. And the weather had closed in for the rest of the event!
Sunday racing was nothing short of amazing and crazy! A comment from a group of spectators at turn two was “these amazing little cars have put on the best racing all weekend, the Supercars waited till the rain stopped where as these guys raced in a downpour, they must be nuts!” he laughed.
Saturday was wet but Sunday was extreme, the class was on the edge all day long, Sciberras won race three after James Duckworth (RDA Brakes / Rinkin Racing) lead most of the race but slid off the circuit at the last turn on the last lap, new comer Joel Heinrich (Sean Rose Motorsport Cruze) was second from Robson who appeared to “fluff” the start after starting 15th in the reversed grid race. “Ha-ha yeah about that, I just got to my grid spot and put it in neutral and the green light went, so I completely missed the start, then I got on the radio and said are we racing because I didn’t see the lights ha-ha” said Robson afterwards.
The last race aptly described as “nuts” saw the class roll out on to the track in torrential rain with rivers crossing the track on every turn and huge puddles forming across the circuit. The race was shortened to 5 laps after the Supercars qualifying was delayed due to the rain.
All eyes were on the front two runners Robson and Sciberras, the two swapped positions multiple times again during the race which saw Sciberras sideways down most of the front straight mid-race, in car footage shows water pouring in and the Mustang at right angles to the track with the steering swing from lock to lock. Robson took the win at flag fall from Sciberras with Treseder taking a well-earned third spot.
Robson won the round with 253pts from Sciberras 250pts with Treseder in third with 241pts. Chris Stevenson was fourth on 230pts and Heinrich rounded out fifth on 230pts as well. Robson also won the Rookie Award, as mentioned Walsh took the Master Trophy, Brendon Tucker took his second win in the Gold Cup Series, Madison Dunston had her maiden win in the Ladies Trophy and Western Sydney Motorsport (Woods and Sciberras) won the teams Trophy.
There is now a four-week break, which really works out to be three after the cars get home and then the long drive across the Nullarbor to Perth for round three at the Barbagallo circuit, another fast flowing but slippery track.
Ruth Bowler: Another remarkable round for so many reasons! Tassie certainly threw down the gauntlet and I am proud to be an Aussie Racing Car driver in a category that solidly took up the challenge despite the horrendous and treacherous conditions! Despite my elusive 2011 PB evading me I can say we witnessed the rise of emerging champions who exceeded expectations and put on a spectacular show! More than anything I would like to thank the incredible volunteers and tireless officials and crew members who literally weathered the conditions to get us out on the track! Well done to all who bravely took to the grid and I am pleased to say the little Ford Coupe has returned home fully washed inside and out! See you again Tassie – just give me a leeway on that PB next time!
Jaie Robson: After qualifying 2nd and winning the first race in dry conditions, I was a bit nervous going into race 2 as it started to rain. But I found the Kumho tyres to be extremely “gripp”y and I was very comfortable and won Race 2. The reverse grid for Race 3 I started 14th and finished 3rd. Race 4 I started from Pole Position and had a great battle with my team mate Blake Sciberras and held off for the win again in extreme wet conditions. Becoming the first rookie to ever win a round, I can’t thank my dad Mick enough, Paul Reitdyk and Mitch Biner from Western Sydney Motorsport and my sponsors, Ultratune, A1 Body Repairs, Red House Developments, Liquid Clothing and Trent Rogers from 6star Custom Paint for making the car look awesome ! Looking forward to Perth in 4 weeks time.
Craig Woods: Was a very strong showing in the 64 machine. Finishing inside the top three for everything but races 3 and 4, due to the motor dropping a cylinder. To come away from the Sunday that we had still in 2nd for the championship is a great save
Kel Treseder: It was the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced in motorsport, there was so much rain, the majority of the problem with the weather was the visibility, at times I was looking to the side to see where I was going. We needed to keep consistent and not make any mistakes which we did, we’ll need to strip the car down – it is completely drenched and an absolute mess.
Jeff Watters: Symmons Plains was a rollercoaster ride for me. A spectacular engine failure in qualifying saw me unable to take the grid for race 1 – effectively quashing my chance for a good result in the meeting. The WSM team – especially Macca and Royce did a great job of changing engine with water flowing through the tent to get me out for race 2. My car was great in the wet, but the DNS of race 1 hurt the overall result.
Reece Chapman: Tasmania provided good results for Reece Chapman driving for Motorsport 25. After qualifying in 8th position Reece had a great race showing great pace to finish in 7th position in race one. Race two Reece managed to finish 9th in poor weather conditions, race three was also extremely wet with Reece posting his best result of the weekend in 6th position, race four Reece managed to bring home the car in 9th position which enabled him to finish in 7th position overall for the weekend.