The 2015 Volante Tyres Qld Champs for EP touring cars are run and won. Logan played host to the event on their new-for-2015 race track on a beautiful Queensland spring weekend. The spoils, in the end, probably went to the four drivers who looked strongest over the weekend, but the story (in most classes) was anything but simple.
In particular ORRCA Queensland’s new rules under which all three finals results count (rather than the traditional ‘drop your worst’ approach of EP racing) ensured that every class went down to the wire with multiple drivers still in the mix.
TC3 (21.5) Touring
It looked for all money that TC3 would be a straight fight between Brad Palmer and Michael Belby after the due split the qualifying rounds three apiece and seemed to have a small pace advantage over the rest of the field. Belby grabbed the TQ spot by being fastest of all.
A1 was anything but simple – the complexity coming when Palmer tagged Belby on lap one and the due dropped to rear of field. Jay Marcon took up the front running (from P4 on the grid) before being run down by a speedy One Tran late, Palmer and Belby recovering to third and fourth respectively.
A2 was yet another unusual one with Belby and Palmer again struggling early, this time Mitch Hardy coming through to take a huge win after Michael Chiam led early. Belby and Palmer again led the recovery efforts to 2nd and 3rd – with first round winner One Tran back in 8th and in deep trouble for the overall.
A3 lined up with Belby, Palmer and Hardy sharing the points lead – and setting up a winner-take-all showdown. Finally we got the Belby vs Palmer showdown – Hardy back in the pack this time – and with Mal Pearson buying in after an up and down finals run. Palmer led for the most part – Pearson getting to the front late for a couple of laps before fading to third. Brad would go right on with the job, taking the win (and the Championship) over Michael Belby, Hardy rounding out the podium.
It was a cracking final series.
TC2 (13.5 Touring)
Keith Mackrill is arguably one of the most experienced in the field, and with multiple Qld Championship wins under his belt in years gone by (and at least one Aus Champs win) is always a fierce competitor. Combine that with a new-found determination in 2015 and a nearly unbeaten run at Logan in the leadup….and its easy to see why he started favourite. TC2 is always close though, and Keith would not have things his own way – Sunshine Coast’s Chris Shevelling making a rare appearance and imediately fast (as always), taking two qualifying wins away from Mackrill and serving notice. Hovering ever so close, Liam Chadwick and Cooper Porter representing the hopes of the young guns and another veteran in the form of Iain Schwartz looking fast as well.
Mackrill dominated A1 from the front. Staying clear of first lap troubles to grab an immediate gap and go right on with it. Porter struggled early, and some midfield shenanigans resulting in Terry Norman slicing through to third behind Shev – the two coming together in the right-hand sweeper and dumping them to rear of field. Iain Schwartz took over the chase and ran fast and clean to the end, Porter and Shevelling recovering to third and fourth.
A2 threw up a real curve ball. Mackrill again started best, this time Shevelling in close company. Shev served it up, and actually got momentarily to the lead before catching a curb and rolling the car – the battery ejecting in the crash to add insult to injury and put the luckless Shevelling out on the spot. From there it seemed Mackrill needed only to stay clean to the finish – with the rat pack of Chadwick, Schwartz and Porter engaged in unholy warfare behind him. It wasn’t over….Mackrill running into tyre trouble, and Chadwick putting on a determined charge to run him down, make the pass and go on to a popular win, Schwartz and Porter also taking advantage of Mackrill’s tyre failure.
Combined results put Schwartz one point clear of Mackrill going into A3, Porter a point away in third, and Chadwick another point back in 4th – still in the mix but needing results to go his way. Mackrill did exactly what a Champion should do – a flawless front-running drive to lock his opponents out of the fight and secure his first Championship in EP on-road since 2006. Porter put together his best run of the event for second, Schwartz again impressive in third. Shev and Chadwick tripped over each other and finished back in the pack. Mackrill then, from Schwartz and Porter the final podium.
TC1 (Modified Touring)
It has to be said. Corey Broadstock was peerless this weekend, taking home his first Queensland Championship in the class in what was an impressive performance on and off the track, and from start to finish. Team Broadstock worked to make the car safe and easy to drive – always a priority in the lowish grip conditions that prevail at Logan. The margins in qualifying were tight, with Jordan Kidas impressive in second, and multi-time defending champ Jason Dorn fast at times as well – but both looking a little more on edge to turn the lap times that Broadstock cranked out non-stop.
All three A finals followed the same script for Broadstock: a clean start, withstand the early pressure, and then press home the advantage to drive away from the field. It was, as I said, impressive. Kidas too impressed, trailing Broadstock home in A1 and A3. Only a jump-start penalty in A2 blotted his copybook. The fight for third was a little more complex. Jason Dorn threw everything at his pursuit of Broadstock early in A3, but rolled the car back into the midfield behind a super battle between Michael Redmond and Brad McDonald. These two had previously been glued together almost throughout A2 as well. Dorn bought into the fight late, momentarily getting by McDonald in a full throttle blitz to the finish line – before a 10 second penalty in those final moments dropped him down the order. Redmond then stood tall, the final podium position (and I think the first of his career) just reward for the consistently fast Brisbane driver.
Though officially a demo class, the F1 event was no less hard fought due to its non-official status. Many of the Logan club members who had given up their TC racing ambitions for the weekend to help run the event lined up, along with a few others taking the chance to run a second class. Noel Gordon was the class of the field – only Canberra’s Justin Reddiex prevening him sweeping qualifying – to lineup favourite for the 15 minute final.
The real interest in the final would come from Duncan Vaughan’s pursuit of Gordon. Duncan missed most of qualifying and would start off the back of the grid – but showed in Q6 that he had the pace to be a podium threat. By the time he worked his way through a tightly bunched midfield (Reddiex and Kuehner going at it very hard) Gordon was nearly 10 seconds up the road. Vaughan walked the tight rope, gradually reducing Gordon’s advantage – and when Noel got caught up in a mix of traffic his advantage was slashed to less than two seconds with four minutes to run. From there though, it was all one way traffic – Noel reasserting his dominance to ease out for a four second win, Vaughan a delighted second and Reddiex a deserved third.
On the whole, a good weekend’s racing, despite numbers being a little on the low side. Track conditions looked good, the weather was stunning, and at the end of the day four deserving Champs were crowned. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Full results here. Photos and stories from Team Argo here, and from Logan club here.