Lakeside Classic turns on the action in Wet and Wild Affair
The action was plenty but the names atop the time sheet were the same in the Trans Ams with Charlie O’Brien, Alwyn Bishop and Sean English consolidating their respective class leads at the meeting which marked the halfway point of the championship.
A capacity 21-car grid took to the historic 2.41 kilometre circuit, which lived up to its reputation as a track that demands respect with multiple casualties across the wet weekend resulting in a tight turnaround before the next event.
Amidst a sprinkle of rain, all drivers opted for the dry cross-ply tyres for the 15-minute qualifying session. In the Palmer Steel Industries Trophy Class, it was an O’Brien top two with Shannon O’Brien (Pontiac Firebird) setting a 58.89, besting his uncle and series leader Charlie O’Brien (Chevrolet Camaro) who clocked in with a 59.34.
Shane Wilson (Ford Mustang) qualified on pole in the Loaders ‘R’ Us Sportsman Class with a 1:03.29, ahead of Stephen Scales (Ford Falcon Sprint) and Alwyn Bishop (Ford Mustang).
Rob Hackwood (Ford Mustang) blitzed the field to claim pole in the Mulch Smart 5 Litre Classics with a 1:01.55, two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor in Mark Bowtell (Pontiac Firebird).
The wet weather came into play in race one as the top five positions from qualifying remained unchanged at the conclusion of the eight-lap encounter, as Shannon O’Brien ended Charlie O’Brien’s run of 11 straight victories at the historic venue.
However, there was plenty of jostling for positions in the mid-field with John English (Pontiac Firebird) moving up two places in the Logan Village Smash Repairs Firebird to sixth ahead of Ian Palmer (Pontiac Firebird) and a charging Anthony Tenkate (Ford Mustang) up from ninth. Hackwood was the best of the 5 Litres in the Wellpro/Mustang Auto Parts Mustang followed by Sean English and Bowtell. Stephen Scales took his maiden class win in the Sportsman class, after battling with podium finishers Wilson and Colin Velt (Ford Mustang) for the majority of the race.
Persistent rain and spilt oil made for a chaotic race two as series leader Charlie O’Brien took the chequered flag ahead of John English followed by Tenkate in third. The #17 Ford Mustang of Colin Velt left a trail of oil around the circuit as Shannon O’Brien and Russell Wright tripped over the oil and made their way off the tarmac mid-race. Hackwood went back-to-back in the 5 Litre Classics while Scales recorded a second consecutive win in the Sportsman class aboard the Falcon Sprint.
Despite the rain dissipating prior to the green flag, a slippery surface made for plenty of action in an incident-marred race three. Charlie O’Brien claimed back-to-back wins over John English and Woodward closely followed by Palmer, Wright and Brett Curran (Ford Mustang), as the top six finished within a two second margin. Hackwood lead the 5 Litre contingent for the majority of the race, but experienced a flat tyre in the closing stages, leaving Sean English in the MPP Race Fabrication/Discount 4X4 Mustang to take the honours in the 5 Litre Classics ahead of Bowtell. Bishop secured his first round win in the Blake Machinery Group/Agilis Accountants Mustang over Dan Flemming (Ford Mustang).
The Sportsman field depleted following an incident on lap 1, as Scales went off the track after the kink on the opening lap, and spun back onto the track as the pack closed in, resulting in a train of collision involving Shane Wilson, Harry Charalambous (Ford Mustang) and Shannon O’Brien.
Charlie O’Brien claimed the hat-trick with a win in race four, taking the chequered flag ahead of John English and Curran in third, as he debuted a new sponsor in Hutchinson Builders for the Angliss Meats Toowoomba Mustang. The race came to a halt on the third lap as Bowtell crashed coming onto the front straight, with track officials and medical staff on site shortly afterwards.
Although the car was extensively damaged, Bowtell received no serious injuries and is on track to return for the next event. Tenkate joined the elusive ‘Sub 60 Club’ at Lakeside in the final race, recording a personal best of 59.95. Hackwood bounced back from a DNF in the previous race to claim the 5 litre class win, over former 5 litre champions Sean English and Mike Collins (Ford Mustang). Flemming was the sole finisher in the Sportsman series, with Bishop’s race coming to an end with bent steering after an incident with Hackwood charging from the rear.
It was a surprise winner in Improved production as the Nissan Pulsar, has secured his maiden QLD round win at the Lakeside Classic event this weekend.
Qualifying was all Bruce Cook, setting a blistering 58.3952 lap time followed by Karl Begg, David Waldon, Scott Hunter and Daniel Clift rounding out the top five.
With race one starting out in the wet, the front wheel drive cars took it upon themselves to take control of the contest.
The high powered V8 cars could not get the traction down at the fast and flowing venue which allowed Hartnett to climb his way to the top step from ninth position. It was Hartnett’s first drive at Lakeside and also the first under 2 litre car to win a race outright in Improved Production Queensland.
Race two for the weekend, and the rain was really starting to set in which allowed the front wheel drive cars to further capitalise on their fast pace from race one. Darcy Wade in his Integra shot up to challenge Hartnett for the lead only to run out of laps and come home second in front of his father, Justin Wade.
Sunday morning and race three was set in sunny conditions which meant that the over 2 litre cars were eagerly awaiting to get their top step back. Hartnett put up a great fight but was rounded up by the bigger V8 and turbo cars. Bruce Cook stormed from seventh to take the lead late in the race, and Steven Jukes had a great run following Cook home for second place, and the podium regular Jason Grimmond claiming third.
The fourth and final race of the weekend was sure to be a nail biter. Bruce Cook stormed away from the front row and was never challenged taking his second win of the weekend in style, leading Grimmond home by 8.5 seconds and David Waldon made his way through from seventh to take home third. Daniel Clift ran hard after coming unstuck on the first lap he would finish sixth.
Hartnett won the round claiming the most amount of points across the two days, and is the first under 2 litre car in QLD to do so since the Supercars round at Lakeside Raceway back in 1997.
QTCC had a double field split between Group A and B. The Group A racing in Saturday's wet conditions was masterfully handled by Steve Hay in his Brock Commodore Big Banger replica ahead of the very fast Justin Anthony BMW. Championship leader Karl Begg slid off the road and took a heavy knock to the fence which put pay to his day but the Motorsportzone team were able to work through the night to have the car repaired for Sunday's races. Sunday it was Hay who once again controlled the race with Anthony dropping a bit behind on the dry track. Richard Gresham pushed his BMW up to the third position.
The combined A & B race saw Hay once again take victory ahead of Anthony. But the show was between Murray Kent in his Torana and Karl Begg in the BMW. Begg held out Kent on the line to take the third position and grab some vital championship points.
In the final race of the day, it was Murray Kent who took out the victory after having to change cars after a Saturday he would rather forget.
Class B had everything which started with Chriss Begg lapping the field in the extreme wet condition on Saturday. With a slightly dryer but still wet Track, Saturday afternoon Gary Anger broke through for his first win, streaking the field. Andrew Knight in his Datsun 1600 took the victory in the dry Sunday race while Michael Wedge in his Commodore was the first B class car home in the combined A & B race.
The Classic Sports Sedans had a wide variety of cars line up for the Classic. It was the father and son pair, Michael and George Kulig, the took the top two spots ion the podium in their GTA Camaro Stock cars.
The Classic Sports Sedans were halted in race three with a big crash that saw EVO driver Grant Spanikas taken back to the medical Centre for checks after heavily hitting the wall at the kink. Spanikas had returned to the track after overnight repair on his Gearbox after damaging it in race one.
Callum Whatmore was the first turbo car home and kept the kulig's honest. Whatmore finished the weekend third outright.
XU1 Torana once again dominated group N at the Lakeside circuit. The lover affair continued with Peter Baguley and Bruce Dummett taking out all the victories between them Baguley won four and Dummett one while the XY of Brian Wood took out third after mixing podium results with the Cortina of Allan Saunderson.
Attention now turns to the Lakeside 300 which will feature close to 30 cars in the final round of the Queensland Endurance Championship. The meeting will be also in attendance by the New TA2 class, Trans Ams, Qld Sports and racing cars and QTCC.
photos by Matthew Paul Photography