Wrapping Up Round Three and All the Action at the 2022 HSRCA Sydney Classic

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Wrapping Up Round Three and All the Action at the 2022 HSRCA Sydney Classic

Lead image thanks to Craig King

Over the weekend of 11th and 12th of June, 2022, Heritage Touring Cars joined the HSRCA at Sydney Motorsport Park for the 2022 Sydney Classic, where we held round three of our 2022 series.

Over 200 entries made their way to the circuit, which, after months of seemingly endless rain in the city,  was blessed with a near-perfect winter weekend. Strong Group C & A fields and big entries in Group N and Australian Five-Litre Touring Cars, not to mention plenty of muscular machinery in super sprint and regularity, and big fields in Group S, made for a brilliant meeting for tin top racing fans, and especially touring car racing categories such as our own.

After a good day of practice on Friday, with cars well sorted and setups dialed in, we went out during the mid morning on Saturday for a hotly-contested qualifying session. Jonathan Webb was quick out of the gates, claiming pole position on a 1:37.96 in the Sierra RS500. Tony Alford joined him on the front row, steering Godzilla around the circuit in 1:43.83. Group C driver Terry Lawlor put in a massive lap to qualify third overall in the Bob Morris/Bill O’Brien Ford XD Falcon with a 1:45.40.

Qualifying threw up a few challenges, as well. Russell Stenhouse brought the 1977 Brock/Patterson A9X hatch out for its first meeting with Heritage Touring Cars and was running well, qualifying twelfth overall, before the gearbox let go. The Janson A9X of Michael Logiudice blew a diff in qualifying, which led to a flurry of activity with many HTC members jumping in to help replace it and get the car back out. Michael ran well in race one, but fuel issues began to niggle at the car and hampered the rest of his meeting. Meanwhile, the JPS BMW M3 of David Towe, one of our most consistent competitors, was brought to an uncharacteristic early stop with a blown head gasket, ending his weekend early.

Webb was able to turn his pole position into a victory in race one, finishing ahead of Tony Alford, with Adrian Allisey moving the Walkinshaw VL up onto the podium. Brian Henderson relegated Lawlor to fifth in his first weekend piloting the George Fury #15 Nissan Bluebird Turbo with the series, and the car’s first meeting at the circuit. Chris Rose finished seventh overall and third Group C, chasing Rick Allen to the line. A little deeper into the order Steve Axisa and Craig Foster had a great scrap in the wildly different Torana GTR XU1 and Toyota Team Australia AE86 Corolla, orchestrating an exciting run to the flag.

With Alford and the ever reliable and very quick ‘Godzilla’ sadly forced into an early mark by technical maladies, Webb resumed his iron grip on P1 when we returned to competition on Sunday morning. Terry Lawlor was able to move into second and relegate Adrian Allisey to third in a very closely fought race. Rick Allen claimed third in Group A in perhaps the closest finish of the weekend, with Meon Nehrybecki just a tenth behind him piloting the ex-AMG-Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evo2 for its Heritage Touring Cars debut. Second in Group C was claimed by Chris Rose, sixth overall, with Adam Workman in the sister Bluebird – George Fury’s first Nissan Bluebird Turbo – third Group C and seventh overall.

The 2022 HSRCA Sydney Classic marked the first occasion that the two previously factory-backed Nissan Bluebird Turbos had been together since 1984. Henderson, Workman and teams put in a big effort on the tools to work through some gremlins that were holding them back from their true pace, keeping the cars out on track in front of fans as much as possible, and finding some good speed along the way.

Jonathan Webb secured a clean sweep of the weekend with victory in race three, breaking Carey McMahon’s outright lap record along the way. That bar had stood for seven years and a hearty congratulations is due to both drivers. Adrian Allisey gave him a strong chase to the line, the two separated by about seven tenths at the end of the weekend.

After being well inside the top five for most of the meeting, Rick Allen turned his strong pace into a podium finish in the final race, with Lawlor nipping on his heels as he completed an excellent weekend with first in Group C and fourth overall. Nehrybecki was only half a second down the road, separating Lawlor and second place Group C finisher Chris Rose, with Bill Cutler claiming a third place Group C finish in the last event of the weekend, steering the BMW Motorsport M535 to eighth overall.

Peter Woods steered the refreshed 1983 Chickadee Celica to first place in the under two-litre Group C class followed by Chris O’Connor in the 1978 Axe Peter Williamson Celica and Gavin Adamson in his Gemini. The Axe Celica had not been seen since 2007 at Oran Park and Chris was honoured to have the opportunity to drive it; “After 15 years in personal collections, I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to race this car at Phillip Island March and again at HSRCA Sydney Classic in June by the owner Mark Fitzgerald.”

It was an action-packed weekend for the team as they worked to sort out a few gremlins that appeared under race conditions, having not seen the track in one and a half decades. During practice they replaced the rear brake cylinders and gearbox, and then a DNF in race two saw them repairing the muffler in time for the final outing, ultimately earning a three-second improvement from qualifying by the last race.

We were very pleased to be joined by Craig Marsland over the weekend, who journeyed across the country from Western Australia with the beautifully restored E38 Charger. This was the car’s first outing since 1985, and the pair enjoyed a successful weekend. Craig plans to be back at Winton and Baskerville, and we look forward to seeing both him and the car progress.

Thank you to the HSRCA for organising and running a stellar weekend of motorsport, to the many volunteers who supported the meeting and made it possible, and to Sydney Motorsport Park for hosting.

Round four of the 2022 Heritage Touring Cars series is just a few weeks away, with entries open and looking very strong. We’ll head to the Winton Festival of Speed at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria over August 6 – 7. Come along, catch the action, say ‘Hi!’ and support Australia’s wonderful historic motorsport community. We look forward to seeing you there.

Photos thanks to Craig King

Photos thanks to Seth Reinhardt