Wrapping Up Sydney Master Blast, Featuring Muscle Car Masters


Wrapping Up Sydney Master Blast, Featuring Muscle Car Masters

The 2019 Father’s Day long weekend found the Legends of Bathurst at Sydney Motorsport Park for Sydney Master Blast featuring Muscle Car Masters, set to contest the penultimate round of the 2019 Heritage Touring Cars series at Sydney’s home of muscle cars.

Winter seemed determined to produce one more truly wintery day before making way for spring and provided extremely wet and cold conditions for Friday’s practice. Things improved on Saturday, with a little less rain and a little more warmth making its way into the circuit. After a cool start, Sunday kicked off spring in spectacular style, the clear and warm day adding to the general buzz around the circuit.

The meeting would see Group C and Group A split into feature class events throughout Saturday, but we got under way in qualifying as one magnificent field of 35 classic Australian race cars.

Competition at the pointy end was tight, although the three Sierra RS500s did manage to run away with the top three. Terry Lawlor set the benchmark with a 1:40.05, followed by Tony Karanfilovski on a 1:41.82 and Chris Stillwell (1:42.19) quick on his debut in the recently-restored ex-Colin Bond Caltex car. Adrian Allisey completed the front row in the Walkinshaw VL.

Frank Binding went quickest in Group C with a 1:47.96 in the Army Reserve Racing Falcon XD, with Dean How in the BMW 635CSi around a second behind on a 1:49:02. Lindsay Woolard was third quickest, steering the Re-Car Commodore around Sydney Motorsport Park in 1:51.12.

Group C were first up after the combined quali session, sixteen of the cars heading out for race one. The race saw a magic scrap for the podium, with Frank Binding, Dean How and Lindsay Woollard all carrying their pace from qualifying through to the race. The three were closely matched, running away from the field, but ultimately held the order from qualifying.

Russell Keam had a strong run in the Escort, pushing himself up to fifth, while Steve Axisa did even better, jumping several positions to finish sixth in his Torana XU-1. Steve was actually running a little faster than Russell, making for a great dice to the end.

Peter Woods and Gavin Adamson were also closely matched, the Volvo driver putting his 242GT just a few tenths ahead of Adamson’s Gemini. Meanwhile, David Paterson and Chris O’Connor put on a good race – David piloting Steve Axisa’s Gemini and Chris making his Heritage Touring Cars debut in a Gemini belonging to Michael Logiudice.

The Group A race went out just after lunch, featuring seventeen of Australia’s iconic Group A race cars. Tony Karanfilovski was able to break Terry Lawlor’s two-meeting winning streak in the event, getting by the Shell car for a photo finish. Chris Stillwell continued to hone his pace in the Caltex car, taking third in a strong race debut.

Some of the most exciting action of the race was to be found in the mid-field, with a three-way scrap between the Holden VK of Michael Logiudice, VL of Mark Taylor and the Benson & Hedges BMW E30 M3 of Rick Allen. There was next to nothing between the three drivers, who occupied less than a second’s worth of track space when they crossed the line.

A few seconds behind them, Graeme Taylor was on a run in the Netcomm Skyline, moving up three spots from qualifying to finish three hundredths behind Eddie Sansil, who also improved on his debut in the 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution.

Usually at this point, the motorsport would be over for the day and it would be time to catch up and recount tales of deft steering and daring do over a delicious dinner, but 2019’s Sydney Master Blast had a special treat in store – racing under lights. And so, it was time to go back to the future and run qualifying all over again.

The night events were run on Sydney Motorsport Park’s shorter Gardner circuit, which meant that the full Heritage Touring Cars field was packed into less than a minute and a half’s worth of circuit.

Tony Karanfilovski was able to make it two in a row, finding great speed on the more open circuit and stretching the Sierra’s legs to a 1:11.10 – a half second quicker than his two Sierra contemporaries. Terry Lawlor completed the front row with a 1:11.60. Chris Stillwell was just a few tenths behind on a 1:11.80 in third, while Greg Keam put himself on the second row with a 1:12.29.

With Frank Binding tucking the Army Reserves car in early, Dean How and Lindsay Woollard went fastest Group C, Russell Keam not far behind in his RS 2000 Escort.

Heritage Touring Cars had the honour of the penultimate race of the night, and it would be a lonely one for Tony Karanfilovski. Tony found even more speed than in qualifying, running a 1:10.77 fastest lap and pulling out a five second gap to Adrian Allissey, who was also running hot and dipped into the 1:10s on his way to second. Greg Keam was able to hold off Neil Schembri for third, after Schembri fought his way up from qualifying seventh to finish fourth – a great result in the Roadways Racing Holden VL SS’ debut Heritage Touring Cars weekend.

Peter Jones, Michael Logiudice, Brian Henderson and Graeme Taylor had a great scrap as they moved up the field in a pack, tussling amongst themselves to finish 7th through 10th.

Dean How and Lindsay Woollard kept up their pace from qualifying to take the top two spots in Group C, 11th and 12th overall. Steve Axisa and Russell Keam continued their duel from the Group C race and put on a great show on their way to third and fourth in class. Meanwhile, David Paterson and Peter Woods found themselves at the back of the field, but were enthralled in a closely-fought dice and likely having too much fun to notice.

After recovering from Saturday night’s racing we got off to a somewhat late start on Sunday, but were straight back into it with a healthy combined field and stunning spring conditions.

With his weekend-long Sierra nemesis bowing out early from race three, Terry Lawlor was back on the top step of the podium for the feature event of the meeting. Chris Stillwell moved his way up to second, at this point just a second and a half behind Lawlor and coming to grips with the car brilliantly. Adrian Allisey was again quick in the Walkinshaw, scooping up the final piece of silverware.

Frank Binding put in a monster drive, steering the Group C Army Reserves Falcon way up into the top ten to finish seventh overall and first Group C. He split the E30 M3 of Peter Jones and VK Commodore of Michael Logiudice, who were part of a great battle also featuring Mark Taylor, Brian Henderson and Eddie Sansil.

Binding’s nearest Group C competition was Dean How, who put the magnificent 635CSi into 12th and second in class. Lindsay Woollard finished third Group C in the Re-Car VC and was chasing down a David and Goliath scrap between Craig Foster in the ex-TTA AE86 Corolla and Tony Pallas in the V12 Jaguar XJS when the three saw the chequered flag.

Further into the field and we had the highlight of the race – a six-way dice that eventually saw the Escorts of Russell Keam and Neville Butler home ahead of Darryl Leslight in his Mk II Capri, Steve Axisa in the XU-1, Gavin Adamson in the Gemni and Peter Woods in the Volvo 242 GT.

After a lunch break and trophy presentation, the field took to the track for a split grid race that saw Group C taking a rolling start with a gap back to the chasing Group A field. After a weekend spent way up amongst the Group A cars it was little surprise to see Frank Binding emerging victorious in this race. Dean How and Lindsay Woollard, similarly quick throughout the weekend, were able to hold off the charging Group A Sierras to finish second and third.

Said charging Sierras, piloted by Terry Lawlor and Chris Stillwell, fought their way up to fourth and fifth as the first Group A cas home. Greg Keam brought the Capri Components Mustang up into seventh for third in Group A.

Carl Muller was able to keep the nose of his Capri ahead of Brian Henderson’s charging Skyline, with Mark Taylor just a few tenths off in the VL Commodore and looking for an opportunity. Eddie Sansil, Neville Butler and Michael Logiudice produced a photo finish, with Graeme Taylor clearing the pack a little earlier and finding some clear air for the finish of the race.

After an action packed weekend and a whole lot of track time, the hardiest remained for an encore race five as the sunlight became golden on Sunday afternoon. Chris Stillwell was able to take a well-earned win after a great first weekend in the Sierra. Greg Keam claimed second, with Peter Jones hopping up onto the podium, third in the M3.

Frank Binding closed out his weekend fifth overall and top Group C, having won the class every time he headed out over the weekend. Dean How and Lindsay Woollard were similarly quick, seventh and eighth overall as they completed the Group C podium.

Following the weekend’s competition, Terry Lawlor holds a healthy lead in the Group A championship. We then have a trio of BMWs in chase, with Peter Jones second, David Harris third and David Towe fourth. Adrian Allissey and Craig Foster are both within a shout of the podium as well. Russell Keam leads the Group C tally ahead of Frank Binding and Lindsay Woollard, but there’s just a handful of points separating them from Milton Seferis and Dean How.

With four meetings in the books, just the season finale remains for the 2019 Heritage Touring Cars series. You’ll be able to catch the cars in action at the VHRR’s Historic Sandown at Sandown Raceway in Victoria over the 25th to 27th of October, 2019. Head to vhrr.com for more details.

Thank you to the ARDC, the Sydney Master Blast team and the many volunteers who support motorsport in Australia for a magic weekend celebrating Australia’s motorsport history!

Stay tuned to www.heritagetouringcars.com.au for more from the Legends of Bathurst.

Images thanks to Brent Murray, Craig King and Seth Reinhardt.

Thanks to Brent Murray – At Speed Images

Thanks to Craig King

Thanks to Seth Reinhardt