The Heritage Touring Cars series returned to Mount Panorama over the 14th to the 16th of April, spending the Easter weekend recapturing the golden age of Australian motorsport on its most iconic circuit.
It was a non-championship round, but that didn’t seem to slow anyone down. Competitors put on great racing throughout the field, and took more than a few lap records home with them at the end of the weekend.
“It’s not just chocolate eggs that were smashed on Sunday – five lap records were broken at Bathurst!” – David Paterson
Carey McMahon was immediately quick when the Heritage Touring Cars rolled out onto Bathurst’s iconic tarmac, topping the practice time sheets in the Ford Sierra RS500. Chris Stillwell was right on his tail, however, clocking a best time just a tenth slower.
The pair carried their contest through to qualifying, where they’d secure the front row of the grid. Duncan MacKellar was just behind them with a great time in the Class A2 BMW M3 E30.
In Group C, three men in Commodores wasted no time settling in to a mirror-to-mirror duel that would last throughout the weekend. Milton Seferis narrowly edged out Ed Singleton to set the fastest Class C1 time, the twin Commodore VHs on 2:37.034 and 2:37.044 respectively. Jeffrey Trembath followed a hundredth behind in his Holden Commodore VC.
The first race of the weekend demonstrated the unforgiving nature of The Mountain, with an unusually high attrition rate. By the time the chequered flag waved, six drivers had DNFs next to their names.
This included pole sitter Carey McMahon, who was forced out of the race when the Sierra suffered a fuel pump failure while enjoying clear air at the head of the field. Left in a race of his own, Chris Stillwell took the Race 1 win.
Duncan MacKellar would also exit the race from the pointy end of the field, giving David Holc the opportunity to move into second. David Towe finished third in his JPS BMW M3.
Seferis, Singleton and Trembath resumed their duel from qualifying, moving up to sixth, seventh and eighth overall to claim the top three Group C spots with just a second separating them after 19 minutes of racing.
Stephen Axisa, John Abbott and David Paterson put on another great dice further down the field in a mix of C1, A2 and A3 cars. Axisa in the big Torana XU-1 led the A2 Toyota Celica Supra of Abbot, with Paterson just a few tenths behind as the lone A3 entry in the field in his Bob Holden Corolla Sprinter.
Race 2 settled into somewhat more of a rhythm, Stillwell once again finishing out front with the might of the Sierra unchallenged. Holc kept a tight hold on second place, pulling a comfortable lead on Towe who led A2 in third overall. Harrison Jones climbed from his fifth-place finish in Race 1 to give Towe a serious run for his money, eventually finishing fourth and second in class.
Bill Cutler put in a great drive, working his way up through the Commodore pack to finish seventh amongst some of the tightest competition in the field. Seferis retained his Group C lead, once again followed by Singleton. Anthony Sawford was able to navigate his Torana A9X around Trembath to move up to the hotly-contested C1 podium.
Duncan MacKellar returned from his Race 1 DNF to work his way up to 18th overall and sixth in class. David Paterson was another star performer in this race, narrowly edging out Abbot across the line and finishing just ahead of C3 leader Justin Matthews aboard the two-litre Ford Escort.
Race 3 was held early on Easter Sunday and saw the order at the pointy end unchanged. Chris Stillwell finished the weekend with a clean three-for-three and a lap record. David Holc retained second and David Towe was able to hold on to third in the M3 VS M3 battle with Harrison Jones. Hot on their heels in fifth, third in Class A2, was Duncan MacKellar completing a magnificent recovery.
Milton Seferis enjoyed a brilliant run in Race 3, putting his C1 car ahead of both Bill Cutler and Gregory Keam and finishing just behind MacKellar’s M3 to retain a clean sweep of Group C. Ed Singleton was close behind for second in C1 and Jeffrey Trembath followed in third C1.
Carl Muller was, literally, in a class of his own in the C2 under three-litre Ford Capri and set a new lap record with an absolute monster 2:47.065 lap under race conditions. Neville Butler led the C3 cars home, with Justin Matthews scoring an unfortunate DNF after just one lap, having led the class in the previous two races.
Muller wasn’t the only hot shoe over the weekend – five lap records fell during proceedings.
“Congratulations to Chris Stillwell, who knocked nearly three seconds off the outright lap record for Group A, and Harrison Jones, who knocked more than six seconds off the under three-litre Group A lap record.”
“Milton Seferis shaved less than half a tenth off the Group C lap record, and Carl Muller beat his own Group C under three-litre record by almost ten full seconds!” – David Paterson
David Paterson was busy as well, setting a new Class A3 record for the circuit when he found some space in Race 3.
Thanks to the the Bathurst 6-Hour for hosting another great event and giving the Heritage Touring Cars series an opportunity to bring the Legends of Bathurst to life on the unparalleled Mount Panorama circuit. Heritage Touring Cars would like to send a special ‘Thank you!’ to the many volunteers who devote their time and expertise to making the event a success.
“I signed on as an official each day at 5:30AM and was amazed and incredibly impressed to see the number of volunteers already there to give their time to make these weekends happen. There are 200-plus officials there each day for the Bathurst event and they’re all positive, helpful and great company. Thank you!” – Chris O’Connor
The Heritage Touring Cars series will be back in championship mode this June when we tackle the Sydney Classic at Sydney Motorsport Park. The event’s shaping up to be a big one, and we can’t wait.
Brent Murray photographed the event, and has kindly shared his photos for us to enjoy here. Have a browse through them below, and enjoy!
Head to Brent’s official Facebook page here for more images and to follow his work.
Images by, and thanks to, Brent Murray – At Speed Images
The Heritage Touring Cars series will return this June 10-11 at the Sydney Classic at Sydney Motorsport Park. Be there!
Stay tuned to www.heritagetouringcars.com.au for more from the Legends of Bathurst.