Championship defining weekend for key contenders at Lakeside Park
In Class A1, Murray Kent continued his dominance of the season thus far, extending his championship lead to 115 points, over Steve Hay. It’s now Kent’s title to lose, as it is going to be an uphill battle for Hay to erase that deficit, as long as Kent maintains his consistency of finishing every race. In Class A2, Gary Anger’s hopes of championship supremacy suffered a major blow, as he retired from race 3, and was unable to start race 4, and in Class B, breakouts were the big talking point of the weekend.
Classes A1 and A2
Holden continued their dominance of qualifying in 2018, with another lock out of the front row. Murray Kent claimed his second pole position of the season, ahead of Steve Hay, with a scintillating time of 56.2992.
It was a Holden 1-2-3, with Adrian Blackwell upstaging the BMW of Ashley Hooper, who currently sits third in the points standings. Jason Lansdell rounded out the top five. Kent’s pole position was nothing short of convincing - he was four-tenths of a second faster than Steve Hay, and 1.1 seconds clear of Adrian Blackwell.
In Class A2, Adam Pye scored pole position - his first of the season, with a 59.1735, ahead of Leonard Meiers and Stuart Walker, in what was another Holden lockout. The points leader, Gary Anger, was fifth, behind Lance Jurgeleit.
In the opening race of the weekend, Steve Hay got the jump on Murray Kent, who was unable to convert his pole position. Hay took the lead into the Karousel, and stayed there for the duration of the 10-lap race, but not without a serious fight from the current points leader, but despite Kent’s best efforts, he fell marginally short, a Hay took the win, in a photo, by one-tenth of a second.
As he has done for much of the season, Ashley Hooper had a lonely race, on his way to claiming the final spot on the podium, finishing well clear of Adrian Blackwell and Jason Lansdell, who rounded out the top five. The A2 race certainly didn’t disappoint either, as Holden locked-out the top five places.
Stuart Walker continued to close the gap to Gary Anger in the points race. Walker claimed the win, ahead of Anger, by two seconds in the end. Just half-a-second separated second and fourth, at the end of ten laps, as Anger held off Rob Droder and Michael Woodcroft, in what was a hard fought race, while Adam Pye was unable to convert his pole position, and came home in fifth.
In Race 2, Steve Hay led the race for the first seven laps, but he was unable to hold Murray Kent off any longer. The championship leader moved into the lead of the race, on lap eight, and went on to claim his seventh win of the season - bringing him level with Hay - by just 1.4 seconds. In a positive sign of progress and development, Adrian Blackwell came home third, ahead of Chris Sharples.
They both got the better of Ashley Hooper, who scored his worst finishing result of 2018 thus far. Class A2 also saw a second different winner in as many races, with Michael Woodcroft claiming a commanding 8second win over Stuart Walker. Walker was three seconds clear of Gary Anger, who rounded out the class podium, as Walker continued to close the gap in the championship fight.
All hell broke loose in race three, in both classes. Steve Hay held the early lead in Class A1, with Murray Kent in close pursuit, but on lap seven, Hay’s race came unstuck, as he went rallying at Hungry corner.
Throughout the weekend, Hay had been using tyres that were, arguably, past their use by date, and they were his downfall, as, after six laps of holding Murray Kent at bay, Hay was unable to hold on for any longer - Kent made his move, cleanly, and in trying to defend, with very little grip, Hay slid off the road, and looped it in the dirt. While he was able to resume, he lost a stack of time, and fell back to fourth place.
Kent went onto win the race, ahead of Ashley Hooper and Hay, who got back by Adrian Blackwell in the closing stages. In Class A2, Gary Anger’s championship lead evaporated in the blink of an eye. While attempting his signature outside manoeuvre at Hungry, on Lance Jurgeleit, Anger overshot the corner, ending up way off course, in an incident where the car nearly rolled, as he hit a divot in the grass.
Unfortunately, as a result of that incident, Anger was forced to retire from the race, and due to the commodore suffering unsustainable damage, he would take no further part in the weekend. The class honours went to Stuart Walker, ahead of Michael Woodcroft and Lance Jurgeleit. The final race of the weekend was easy going, smooth sailing for Murray Kent, who cruised to his ninth win of the season, as he blitzed the rest of the pack, to record an 11-second victory.
Despite the old tyres, Steve Hay finished second. He needed to finish that race as high up the order as possible, to minimise the growth in Murray Kent’s championship lead, and he did just that. Ashley Hooper was third, ahead of Chris Sharples, while Piers Harrex was the fifth A1 class car to take the chequered flag. Murray Kent secured round honours for the third time this season, and holds a 115-point lead over Steve Hay, with only eight races to go in the 2018 Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship.
In Class A2, Michael Woodcroft won the final race of the weekend, and, in doing so, secured second for the round, behind Stuart Walker. Second in the final race was good enough for Walker to secure his first round win of the season, and the championship lead, as he sits 119 points clear of Gary Anger with just two rounds to go. Rob Droder was third in that final race, ahead of Lance Jurgeleit and Stephen Coe.
Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship | Class A1
Pole: Murray Kent (56.2992)
Race 1: 1st Steve Hay, 2nd Murray Kent, 3rd Ashley Hooper
Race 2: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Steve Hay, 3rd Adrian Blackwell
Race 3: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Ashley Hooper, Steve Hay
Race 4: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Steve Hay, 3rd Ashley Hooper
Fastest Lap: Murray Kent - 56.7674 (Race 3 - Lap 8)
Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship | Class A2
Race 1: 1st Stuart Walker, 2nd Gary Anger, 3rd Robert Droder
Race 2: 1st Michael Woodcroft, 2nd Stuart Walker, 3rd Gary Anger
Race 3: 1st Stuart Walker, 2nd Michael Woodcroft, 3rd Lance Jurgeleit
Race 4: 1st Michael Woodcroft, 2nd Stuart Walker, 3rd Robert Droder
Class B featured some of the best racing of the event, and probably the season as well, with up to six cars fighting for the podium placings across the weekend. Qualifying saw a return to form from John Phoenix, who claimed his and BMW’s second pole position of the season - the last being five months ago, in the opening round of the season, at the Lakeside Tribute.
Mark Giorgio, fresh off an engine build, put his Ford Falcon on the front row, with the second fastest time of the session. Giorgio narrowly missed pole position - he was just 0.0238 away from Phoenix in the end.
Behind Giorgio, Steven Harper, Mark Hyde and the winner of the opening round, Andrew Knight, who missed the last round at Queensland Raceway, rounded out the top five. Simon Harrex, in his return to racing, after 28 years, would start from the outside of row three.
Round 4 of the Class B championship was one of the more extraordinary in recent memory, and not without controversy… not one of the four scheduled races was won by the man who took the chequered flag first, and it’s not every day you see that.
To elaborate, the Queensland Touring Car championship class structure is based on lap times, and in Class B, at Lakeside, drivers face penalties if they record times under 62 seconds, and quite a number of drivers copped that penalty across the course of the weekend. In Race 1, Mark Giorgio led the opening lap, after getting the better of John Phoenix off the start, but it wasn’t long before Mark Hyde snatched it away from him. From there, no less than six cars were in the leading battle pack. Simon Harrex, after a 28-year motorsport hiatus, returned to the front immediately upon his return. He was sixth fastest in Qualifying, before working his way forward, to be in second position, with only three laps to go.
On lap eight, he stole the lead away from Mark Hyde, but was unable to hold it, as Hyde took the lead back, and cross the finish line first, but only by a narrow margin. Mark Giorgio was third, John Phoenix was fourth and Andrew Knight rounded out the top five.
Post-race, Hyde was stripped of his race win, and Harrex was stripped of second place, for breaking out on multiple occasions. As a result, Mark Giorgio and John Phoenix inherited first and second respectively, ahead of Andrew Knight. Giorgio and Phoenix also broke out in that race, but escaped penalty as it was only an isolated incident.
The term ‘sandbagging’ is commonly used in Class B QTCC races. Sandbagging is when a driver drives to a number slower than what the car they’re driving is capable of, and it’s prevalent because of the 62-second barrier mentioned earlier - Class B of the QTCC is for cars who lap Lakeside in a time slower than 62.0 seconds, and quite a few drivers have sandbagged in the past, to avoid being bumped up to the ‘A’ classes, where they may not be as competitive through not being able to lap at 59 seconds, which is the fastest an A2 class entry can legally run at Lakeside Park.
No less than four drivers broke that barrier in race 1, but at a time where you’ve got six cars battling for the win, sandbagging is probably the last thing on your mind.
In Race 2, another belter, Andrew Knight held the early lead, before Mark Hyde took over on lap 4, only to be displaced by Simon Harrex on Lap 5. From there, Harrex held his lead until the chequered flag, to finish ahead of Mark Hyde, Andrew Knight and Mark Giorgio, but post-race, Harrex had his first win taken away from him, as we suspected he might, because he broke-out on THREE occasions.
That handed the win to Mark Hyde, ahead of Andrew Knight and Mark Giorgio, as Harrex was relegated to fourth place, just clear of John Phoenix and Leo Graae.
Sunday’s opening race was another case of what might’ve been for Simon Harrex, but even though he was having his race wins revoked, he didn’t care - he was there to race hard and have fun, and he was certainly ticking all of those boxes.
Just the one breakout in this race, but as he was a previous offender, he copped a three-place penalty for his trouble, as a race win quickly became another fourth-place finish. In the opening stages of the race, Andrew Knight took the early lead, before Mark Hyde made his move, on lap two. He remained at the pointy end of the field until Harrex displaced him on the final lap.
Across the line, Harrex was followed by Hyde, Phoenix and Knight, with Graae and Giorgio rounding out the top six. After starting at the back of the field, Nick Linton and Les Hanifin made their way through, to finish seventh and eighth respectively.
Post-race, Mark Hyde and John Phoenix were also hit with the same penalty Harrex copped, which promoted Leo Graae (2nd) and Mark Giorgio (3rd) to the minor places on the podium.
In race 4, Andrew Knight took the early lead, before Mark Hyde made his way past. Hyde was displaced on lap five, by Simon Harrex, who would lead for the remainder of the race. In a race where the field was, in the end, further spread than it had been all weekend, Andrew Knight was a comfortable third, ahead of Leo Graae, while Les Hanifin was a distant fifth.
This race wasn’t without drama, as the field started to deteriorate after an intense weekend. BOTH John Phoenix and Mark Giorgio failed to finish this race - coming unstuck as a result of mechanical dramas, on the penultimate lap of the weekend.
Unfortunately for Mark Hyde, he broke out twice, while trying to stay with Harrex, meaning that both men were relegated three positions, and Mark Hyde was denied what would’ve been his second win of the weekend. Instead, that honour went to Andrew Knight, who claimed the Sunday sweep, ahead of Leo Graee and Les Hanifin.
All in all, it was a top quality weekend of Class B racing - the best we’ve seen since the category restructure at the start of the year, and very clean racing as well, leaving us all waiting impatiently for their next standalone outing, back at Lakeside Park, supporting the Lakeside 300, on the final weekend of September!
Mark Hyde extended his championship lead to 96 points, over Leo Graee, but it was Andrew Knight - who remains third in the championship - that claimed round honours here, and quite comfortably so. Knight scored his second round win of the season, 50 points clear of Mark Hyde, who snuck in for second, ahead of Leo Graae, by only three points.
Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship | Class B
Pole: John Phoenix (1:02.2549)
Race 1: 1st Mark Giorgio, 2nd John Phoenix, 3rd Andrew Knight
Race 2: 1st Mark Hyde, 2nd Andrew Knight, 3rd Mark Giorgio
Race 3: 1st Andrew Knight, 2nd Leo Graae, 3rd Mark Giorgio
Race 4: 1st Andrew Knight, 2nd Leo Graae, 3rd Les Hanifin
Fastest Lap*: Simon Harrex - 1:02.0184 (Race 3 - Lap 6) *Fastest non-breakout lap of the weekend.
The Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship is proudly sponsored by: Conduit Bends and Fittings, Andrew Knight Electrical Contracting, Bob Jane T-Marts (Strathpine), Bribie Auto Repairs, Que Access, SP Automotive Engineering, Western Suburbs Mechanical, Brisbane Collision Centre and Hano's Car Care.