Round 5-6 Preview - Willowbank plays host to a Double-Header Weekend like no other

Just when you thought there were only two rounds left in the 2021 Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship, there’s now three.

This weekend, Queensland Raceway will play host to the fifth and sixth rounds of the season, in a campaign that now spans seven rounds.

Since the last outing at Lakeside Park, the season schedule has received a significant shake up, in what can only be described as a monumental cock around, and major headache for all concerned.

In short:
- On July 18: QR and Supercars confirmed that the Repco Championship would race at QR on August 21-22.
- As a consequence, this race meeting gots shafted to August 7, as the AMRS meeting scheduled for that weekend was CANCELLED.
- Later that week, it was confirmed that both the TA2 Series, and the QLD HQ Holden Championship – originally scheduled to appear on the AMRS bill – would be added to the local meeting, which was subsequently expanded to a 2-day affair.
- On July 29, Supercars confirmed they now wouldn’t race at QR in 2021, but the rescheduled local meeting remained slotted for August 7-8.
- On July 31, Queensland entered an 8-day lockdown, which saw this meeting pushed back to where it was originally scheduled, but in a 2-day format.

Confused? You’re not alone… and, understandably, not everyone is happy with how the events of the last six weeks have played out, because it’s been a fairly disrupted mid-season break, amidst uncertainty triggered by, firstly Supercars, and then, the constantly changing COVID situation.

As a consequence of all of that, this weekend of racing will see TWO rounds of the Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship, instead of the usual one.

The reason – a combination of factors, but mainly, it’s the availability of drivers.
Some competitors are in a position to race both days, while others aren’t, and considering this was originally scheduled to be a one-day affair (August 21), the QTCC committee were left to come up with a solution to best please as many as possible… something that isn’t always considered an easy task.

So, Round 5 will be staged on Saturday, with Round 6 on Sunday, and both will follow the same format – qualifying and three eight-lap races, all on the 3.12km National Circuit – the first time this year that a championship round held in Willowbank won’t feature four or more races, nor racing on different circuit configurations – a factor that will disadvantage the BMW brigade right from the start.

Once the dust settles on this weekend, drivers who contested both rounds will drop their worst round of the pair. We saw a similar situation unfold in 2019, where the opening two rounds of the championship were staged on consecutive weekends, due to the debacle surrounding noise restrictions at Lakeside Park resulting in the first round of the championship being pushed back two weeks, and moved to Queensland Raceway.

The other obvious ramification of this restructured format, is that we go from having eight points paying races left in the campaign, to only having seven – meaning a maximum of just 3500 points are on offer between now, and when the champions will be crowned, on October 23.

Now, for the important stuff… let’s talk about the racing itself, and the battle for the championship across the three groups.
Matthew Haak remains the clear outright leader, and sits at the top of the Group A standings as a result.
Despite not featuring on the overall podium in the previous round, at Lakeside, he still managed to extend his championship lead, to 987 points, over his brother, Cameron Haak, who has sat second to the defending champion since the conclusion of the second round.

Chris Brown is on the comeback trail, having won the last seven races in succession – Brown’s downfall was the opening round of the campaign, where he didn’t bank any championship points.

Also fighting from behind is Stuart Walker, who missed the second round of the championship, and failed to finish the last race in the previous round, and as we’ve seen on so many occasions, championships have been won and lost through competitors retiring from one, or multiple races – consistency is what saw Matthew Haak claim top honours last year.

The Group B battle is really hotting up, with Gary Anger leading the way, Rob Droder looking to bounce back after a difficult third and fourth round, while Peter Bray is flying well under the radar, and is a mathematical chance of a championship podium, if he can maintain his consistency across the final seven races of the season.
Shannon Cane is set to throw the cat among the pigeons. While the young lady of the field is not in championship contention, her pace in the last two rounds has seen her battling for podium positions, within Group B, on a regular basis.

Group C has produced some of the hottest racing we’ve ever seen in the Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship.
After 17 races, just one point separates the top two – Team Schnitzel team-mates, Andrew Knight and Matthew Devitt - and we’ve seven different drivers take a race win thus far, representing three different manufacturers.

For Matthew Devitt, the postponement of the Leyburn Sprints (to September 11 and 12) opens the door for him to have a crack at the Group C title. Originally, with Leyburn scheduled for this weekend, he was set to sacrifice his season-long QTCC campaign, to attend and compete in that iconic event, but now he’ll enjoy the best of both worlds.

330 points behind the battle for first, is Paul Bonaccorso, flying the flag for Ford, in the absence of Mark Hyde, with the Escort driver set to miss yet another round, on the back of the mechanical dramas he incurred during Round 3 of the championship.

Notably, Alessandro Vosolo is back on the grid, despite that heavy shunt in the final race of Round 4, at Lakeside Park.
Also returning to the grid, in Group B, will be Les Hanifin. Hano returns having missed Round 4, on the back of several mechanical issues plaguing his progress during Round 3 of the 2021 campaign.

While it’s hard to predict how this weekend will play out, given that we’re simply not sure how many competitors will back up for Round 6 on Sunday, one thing is clear – the Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship is on its way to a dramatic conclusion in two months from now, and these six races will go a long way to determining who is in contention for the respective group titles, on October 23.

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