Wrapping Up the 2023 Phillip Island Classic

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Wrapping Up the 2023 Phillip Island Classic

Images thanks to Brent Murray of At Speed Images

The 34th Phillip Island Classic historic race meeting hosted the opening round of our 2023 season in great style over the 10th to the 12th of March, 2023.

After a bit of a break following our 2022 season finale at Baskerville in September, we were thrilled to be back on track at the biggest historic race meeting of the year, and honored to be hosting two living Bathurst legends amongst the Legends of Bathurst.

Qualifying saw those two Bathurst winners leading a competitive pack, with Steve Richards going quickest in his dad’s 1990 ATCC-winning Nissan Skyline GTSR31 and Greg Murphy second in the #3 Nissan factory HR31 Skyline. Keeping illustrious company, Chris Stillwell qualified third in his RS500 Sierra.

Paul Stubber opened a competitive weekend by qualifying fastest in Group C, a commanding run in the RX7 putting him ahead of other Group A cars such as David Towe’s M3, Tony Alford in the HR31 GTS Skyline and Adrian Allisey in the Commodore, all four drivers running 1:45s. In Group C, Paul was followed by the twin VH Commodores of Chris Rose and Ed Singleton, qualifying tenth and eleventh overall and astonishingly closely matched on a 1:49.3503 and 1:49.3534 respectively.

Unfortunately, we lost two competitors before qualifying, Garry Kirwan in his Group A Commodore suffering a broken gearbox and Terry Lawlor in the Greens Tuf Dick Johnson Mustang a broken diff.

Race one saw Greg Murphy get the better of his old teammate Steve Richards, with Chris Stillwell also enjoying a run up the podium and Richards relegated to third with the three separated by just a few tenths. The gap back to Eddie Sansil was no bigger, Sansil chasing hard in the Wellington 500-winning Diet Coke M3.

Paul Stubber remained in a league of his own in Group C, falling a few spots to eighth overall but enjoying some fresh air back to Ed Singleton and Chris Rose. The pair continued to put on a great show in their closely matched cars, just behind Carey McMahon in the Group A Fox body Mustang, with Mike Roddy and Michael Logiudice chasing and enjoying a great duel of their own. A little further back, Wayne Clift and Meon Nehrybecki also had a good run, putting the VK Commodore up against the Supra in its first outing with HTC just in front of the two Falcon XDs of Kyle Alford and Ian Ross.

Race two saw us out late on Saturday morning, with Paul Stubber orchestrating an astonishing run in the Group C RX7 to claim an overall win and the Group C lap record. Greg Murphy crossed the line second, with Steve Richards giving Stillwell the slip for third. The pointy end was extremely tightly contested, Eddie Sansil, Tony Alford, David Towe and Adrian Allisey all enjoying a tussle in the closely matched pack.

Ed Singleton and Chris Rose continued their great scrap for second and third Group C, Chris getting the better of Ed this time around. Meanwhile, Michaels Roddy and Logiudice picked up their battle from race one while Meon Nehrybecki and Adrian Brady, and Don Dimitriadis and Thomas Vondrasek also put on a good show with closely matched runs.

Taking the penultimate slot on Saturday afternoon for race three, drivers enjoyed a short sprint as the sun got low. This time out, Eddie Sansil was able to claim victory, Tony Alford in second with Chris Stillwell third, Steve Richards and Greg Murphy chasing hard to finish fourth and fifth.

With Paul Stubber out for this run, Chris Rose was quick to claim a class win, Adrian Allisey jumping into his ongoing duel with Ed Singleton. Behind them was another great C and A battle between Michael Roddy in the Tom Walkinshaw Racing XJS Jaguar, Michael Logiudice in the VK Commodore and Bill Cutler in the Group 2 BMW M535. Jamie McDonald and Carey McMahon also put on a good show in the VN Commodore and ex-Lawrie Nelson 1984 Ford Mustang GT.

Our fourth and final race of the weekend was a full ten lap feature held just after lunch on Sunday afternoon. The extended run time did little to separate the front runners, with Steve Richards climbing his way to the top to finish the weekend as he’d started it. Greg Murphy did the same to follow less than a tenth behind, with Chris Stillwell in third, claiming fastest lap as the trio crossed the line in their qualifying formation.

In Group C, Chris Rose was able to hold on to his lead from race three for another class win, the Group A VK Commodore of Michael Logiudice separating him and Ed Singleton. Tony Sawford moved the Torana A9X up into third Group C fending off Bill Cutler in a run to the line.

Unfortunately, the race was marred by an untidy incident causing major damage to the BMW M3 of Rick Allen and the Ford Capri of Carl Muller after another car spun in front of them and they had nowhere to go.  Luckily no one was injured, and we hope to see both these regular cars back on the track soon.

With that, another action packed edition of the Phillip Island Classic is in the books. Our thanks to the VHRR and volunteers for running another excellent meeting.

Stay tuned for more from the Legends of Bathurst. In just a few short weeks we head to Queensland for the HRCC’s Autumn Historic Warwick at Morgan Park Raceway, May 13 – 14.