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Collie report updated - thanks Nordine

posted Jun 3, 2012, 8:06 PM by David Campbell


With the Barbagallo Track and buildings being renovated for the V8s, the first round of the Smarter than Smoking 2012 State and FVAWA Championships was held at Collie on 17/18 Mar 2012.
It had been a long five months since the last race at the FVAWA hosted Nationals; many cars needed to be run in and many new drivers had yet to take their cars onto a track. Steve Williams had swapped his Championship winning Daverick 1200 for a 1600 Jacer, David Caisley had bought John Cousins’ Ribuck 1200, and Peter Dyball now owns the ex-Burns Aurora (although it was listed as a Jacer on Natsoft). Rhys Lilley made a welcome return to racing and Nev Bettridge bought the Copy Cat from Garth Simpson to race whilst he builds himself a new car. Scotty Evans hired an Elfin from Brett Scarey whilst Gerry Prosser and Craig Bremner breathed a sigh of relief after many weeks of engine and gearbox rebuilding in order to get most of the 17 entries to the track. Robert Lambe was a no-show and unfortunately for the second year running at Collie, Brett Scarey had an engine failure in practice. With a returning Tim Riley and new members Peter Jojart, Dan Lineham, Shaydan Penniment and 14 year old Jordan Cvetanoski expected to race at the next meeting, a grid of 20 cars is very possible for each race this year.

Nine drivers and their supporters travelled to Collie on the Friday to get some much needed practice and running in time. Fifteen cars made it for practice 1 on Saturday but unfortunately Brett did not finish practice 2 and his weekend was changed from driver to spectator with an engine failure for the second year running at Collie. Fifteen cars qualified, possibly a record number for Vees at Collie, and the times spread from Cameron Edwards on 53.56, 0.19 secs ahead of DC, to Nev Bettridge trying to get the Copy Cat to work on 57.22. Surprise of the day was the first 1200 of new member David Caisley who qualified his Ribuck on 54.93, an excellent time for a 1200. Nordine lost control on turn one during qualifying and hit the wall, which broke the gearbox selector; thanks all the Vee guys who helped him repair his car on the Saturday evening ready for racing on the Sunday.
The balloted grid and reverse grid system took effect this year and the draw was held in a local pub on the Saturday evening giving a good spread of competitors throughout the field. Peter Dyball chose to run last for both heats one and two as he had never raced before despite getting a time that would have placed him eleventh on the grid. Sunday morning’s drivers meeting saw Clerk of the Course Simon Sterner announce Vees would get four races but this was changed to three races after the AU/VTs were allowed to race separately from other saloons despite only having six cars.
The first race was the real start to our Smarter than Smoking 2012 Formula Vee Season and the first time FVAWA had used the balloted grid system for several years. The Vees had to wait for the 11 EA/VNs, 12 Historic Sedans and 6 AU/VTs to practice and then qualify before they eventually made it onto the track 43 minutes behind schedule at just after 1 pm. With a full spread of ability and experience throughout the grid it was a nervous time for all 15 drivers.

Motoring South West had upgraded the start from the usual waived flag to traffic lights this year so the drivers were ready for a quick start. The back markers tried to take their grid positions early but the grid lines do not have numbers on them and quite a few drivers set up on the wrong lines and then had to move forward. When the red went out at the front of the field Cameron Edwards moved from third on the grid round the outside of Rhys Lilley and in front of Steve Williams, who had gone wide around Nev Bettridge to take turn one, and Cam led the race exiting turn one. At the back David Caisley made a great start at the rear passing the misfiring Stinger of DC, Derek #1 Bromlewe and Campbell Gow by turn 1. By turn three he was past Rod Lisson and going like a train to pass Nev Bettridge and Nordine El Hafidoun by turn four. Nordine had started well and passed Allan Yeo only to be slowed by Nev and Allan retook the place on the inside of turn one leaving a space for David to squeeze through. DC’s misfire had gone after one lap and he was chasing the string of Scotty Evans, Alan Yeo, David Caisley and Nordine onto the start/finish straight. At the front Cameron Edwards comfortably led Steve Williams and James McDonald was third. Rhys Lilley was having the best run of his short racing life in fourth with the trailing group led by Scotty not far behind. DC passed Nordine on the start/finish straight and David Caisley pushed through the inside of turn one to take Allan Yeo. Allan was obviously a bit surprised by this and chased David into turn three resulting in a back end slide to the right that gave DC a full broadside view of Allan’s Vixen. DC passed Allan on the back straight as David took Scotty on the entry to the chicane. This left room for DC chase hard into the last straight before diving to the inside of the last turn and take both David and Scotty and move up into sixth by lap two. Nordine tried to take Allan exiting the chicane but the door was firmly closed and Nordine had to back off and wait for the start/finish straight to ease past Allan and take him entering turn 1. Cameron was holding a comfortable lead with Steve behind and Bruce Welsh in the Jacer had moved up into third past James. Unfortunately lap two was to be the last one for Derek #1 Bromlewe. Cameron set his best time on lap three at 53.3124 and Steve Williams was learning how to drive his new car behind him but in the 55s. DC was clear of the rear pack and setting 53s with a 52.821 on lap 8 followed by a fastest lap 10 of 52.6362. Nordine was also going well passing Scotty on the entry to the chicane to give him some clear laps and he later got his 1200 into the 54s on lap 6, very close to the lap record, after getting tows from Campbell Gow and David Caisley. Rhys decided to take three minutes to complete lap five as he had to come into the pits to have one of the ‘track marker cones’ from turn 4 removed from under his car and then go out again and complete another lap before recording a time. Those cones have no place on a race circuit and pose a potential danger to open wheeler cars, Rhys was lucky, as were the rest of the drivers. Campbell Gow was making his way through the field and held fourth for the last four laps, despite dropping his right rear wheel off the track at turn 4 and giving David Caisley a sand bath. Campbell had snapped his rear suspension in practice and was extremely appreciative of the friendly support from other drivers and FVAWA members, especially David Caisley, Nev Bettridge and Gerry Prosser, who repaired his car and allowed him to race; again great friendship off the track and good rivalry on the track is a recurring theme for Formula Vee. DC was moving through the field taking Rhys and James on the back straight and was surprised when overtaking Bruce leaving turn two on lap 5 as Bruce raised his right hand to indicate pass on the left. He managed to sneak through on the right and set about catching Steve Williams. Lap 7 showed David Caisley is a quick learner. He had seen DC take him on the last corner a few laps earlier and he then did the same move on James McDonald to move up to 6th.
Nordine had caught James McDonald on lap 8 but his brakes decided that they needed more (some) material to work properly and he had to back off. Despite this he made a scary dive inside James on turn three and took the place. Steve and DC lapped Peter Dyball on lap 9 and Peter did very well to get out of there way, especially as no blue flags were shown. The yellows were out on turn four as unfortunately Nev Bettridge’s throttle had stuck open and he went off into the sand, luckily stopping before the tyre wall. DC was pushing Steve hard now, and he was even driving over the speed bumps on the exit of the chicane rather than driving around them. The yellows were still out on turn four next time round although Nev was well behind the wall. The third time round, the yellow flags were still there and Steve and DC had caught Allan with the trio going three wide into the chicane. DC pulled ahead but backed off when Steve went around the outside leaving him no room. DC waited for the last corner, Steve turned in early and clipped the curb leaving DC to move up the inside on the straight and just take him on the line by a few centimetres. The only flags on the whole lap were a yellow at Flag Point three and a green at four – no red flag or SC board was shown. Despite this, the race was stopped by the chequered flag after 11 laps, one lap early, due to the position of Nev’s car some 8-10 metres off the track after turn 4. When the results were published the chequered flag had been given to Allan Yeo about 200m in front of the leader, Cameron, and therefore if the race was 11 laps long Allan would be given a DNF as he left the track on lap 10 after being given the chequered flag. The organisers then decided to call the race finished after 10 laps, which meant Steve Williams got second and DC was given third.
The second race turned out to be a non–event after three laps. It was a grid in reverse from race one so there was good mix of talent and potential throughout the field. DC led the cars around the warm-up lap behind the safety car but had to work his way around all the rocks that were on the track; the six AU/VT cars in the previous race had certainly left a trail of stones behind them. Fearing a puncture before the race actually started he took it easy on the corner exits, where the stones where, and kept up with the pace car on the straights. From only a few centimetres above the ground those rocks looked huge and the potential for one to be kicked up into an open cockpit was a great concern. The slowing and speeding up meant the field was well spread out and it was a lengthy time on the start line before the 5 second board was shown. The red light eventually came on and went out.
DC bogged after spitting flames out of the exhaust and Campbell Gow, Rod Lisson and Nordine El Hafidoun were quickly past him behind the leader David Caisley in only his second race. Derek #1 Bromlewe and Scotty Evans cars were swiftly around DC passing both sides but Allan Yeo was unsighted going into the corner and collected the Stinger on DC’s left side and the two cars tangled wheels. One of DC’s wheels rubbed Allan’s bodywork on his right side and this pushed Allan’s rocker cover off its cylinder head and the engine then deposited about one litre of oil on the track and in DC’s cockpit. Allan continued for two more corners before leaving the car on the inside of turn 4 and making a considerable number of other cars leave the track and spread the cones everywhere. DC eventually cleared his engine and got going at full speed to take back a few places as Cameron Edwards slotted in behind him having started on the second last row of the grid. Due to the oil, times were only 6 seconds a lap slower but the Vees were still racing.
When the leaders finished lap one and tried to turn into turn one the oil was clear to see and all the drivers had to control the skidding around the corner. Campbell led into turn one, he had passed Dave Caisley’s 1200 on the back straight, and Rod Lisson was third. The Flag Point one oil flag was out but the three front runners backed off and Nordine El Hafidoun and Derek #1 Bromlewe pounced and Nordine took the lead. No oil flag at Flag Point two so turn three was at full speed. Campbell could see the line of oil in the turn and backed off allowing Rod to move into fourth so there were four 1200s leading the race. Turn four was slippy and obviously Allan had driven off to the inside there. Judging by the scatter of cones other people had obviously been off on lap one and two cones were overturned and still lying on the track. Flag Point three was on that corner and there were no flags to be seen. FVAWA drivers were lucky not to have an accident at this corner. David Caisley went off on the oil and ‘dropped off the track’ into the dirt and Derek #1 Bromlewe had to avoid the cones on the bitumen whilst skidding at full right lock leaving Rod Lisson to chase Nordine down the back straight in second. For those of you who have never been to Collie, the track has significant drop offs on the outside (and perhaps on the inside) of the track and driving a Formula Vee with 40mm of ground clearance off (and worse still back onto) the track when there are drops in excess of 40mm is not something to be recommended. Many of the cars needed floor repairs after the weekend.
The race continued around the track with oil flags at Flag Points 1 and 3, still nothing at Point 2 and the litre of oil that had spilt was slowly disappearing. The cones on the exit of turn four had been avoided by all the cars on lap 2 and were still on the track. Entering the start/finish straight at the end of lap three the SC boards were out and the Safety Car was waiting to collect everyone at turn two. This meant that 1200s were leading the race and Nordine, Rod, Derek and Dave all finished ahead of the 1600s. Campbell Gow did not make it around lap three and Bruce Welsh did not make it round lap four. The Safety Car stayed out for four more laps and eventually the red flags came out and the race ended.
Unfortunately the whole race program was running one hour behind schedule at this time and the officials took a quick decision to stop the race meeting there and then so all categories did not get a final third race. The awards were handed out, and some were handed back as they had 2011 on them, and the weekend warriors all started the long drive home. Unfortunately for the second year running, there were no 1200 Vee trophies despite this been very clearly annotated in the WASCC Standing Regulations.
Collie is always an adventure. The drive down and back is long, the overnight accommodation is a necessary expense and Formula Vees rarely leave the track unscathed. The track is so rough in many places that it vibrates your fillings loose and can damage your car - and those drop offs are to be feared. The addition of the cones on the outside of the corners is a big concern for small open wheelers and they caused more chaos than they stopped. That said; drivers leave Collie with a sense of achievement having had a battle with both fellow competitors and the track. Here’s hoping Motoring South West get some additional funding to upgrade the track and make it a safer and a more enjoyable place to race in the near future.

Natsoft results are below, and points are awarded for the fastest three qualifiers in each class - 3, 2 and 1 points

Gold Star 1600cc

1     2  Cameron Edwards   Ajay 08                    3   25   20    48
2    58  David Campbell    Stinger 007                2   18   25    45
3    28  Stephen Williams  Jacer 99                   1   20   18    39
4    49  Peter Dyball      Jacer 001                  0   16   16    32
5    30  Neville Bettridge Copy Cat                   0    0   17    17
6    17  Campbell Gow      Stinger 004                0   17    0    17

Silver Star 1200cc

1    98  Nordine El Hafidoun   Sabre 01                   0   18   25    43
2     7  David Caisley         Ribuck                     3   20   17    40
3    71  Rod Lisson            Sabre 01                   1   16   20    37
4     5  James McDonald        Elfin                      0   17   15    32
5    32  Sean Evans            Elfin NG                   0   15   16    31
6    26  Bruce Welsh           Jacer                      2   25    0    27
7     1  Derek Bromlewe        Elfin Crusader             0    0   18    18
8    44  Rhys Lilley           Vennom                     0    0   14    14
9    77  Allan Yeo             Vixen MY01                 0   14    0    14
10   18  Robert Lambe          William/Ribuck             0    0    0     0
11   33  Brett Scarey          Elfin Crusader             0    0    0     0

Now we look forward to returning to Barbagallo on 24 Jun 12.