We were the last category to race in Australia before the lockdown and with the incredible work behind the scenes, Terry Donovan and the team at MRA brought us back to be the first series to race post corona.
Shaun Penwarden gives us his race report for Round 3 of the LA Racing E36 Race Series.
Great to be back on track after a long hiatus. Day structure was a concern with a shortened format but without any mechanical issues it turned out to be a great day.
After barely warming up tyres, the qualifying session was interrupted with a not only a safety car but being sent back to line up in the pits. Once cleared we were out again with a shortened session. Only managing to get 3 fast laps in I was very happy and surprised to qualify 3rd with a 1:58.4
A 10 minute turn around from qualifying to race sounded a bit quick but it was long enough for a toilet break and a tyre check, which luckily was all we needed.
Race 1 also suffered the inconvenience of a safety car but once that was cleared I had a great tussle with the very experienced Matt Thewlis. After initially making the most of a missed gear change, Matt quickly took his spot back and dragged me around the track.
Ignoring better judgement I thought I would take a shot at him under brakes up the inside at turn 2.
Heavily out braking myself and collecting oil from a previous incident, I somehow managed to spin from the inside to the outside without cleaning up Matt. Speaking to Matt after the race, he was also surprised we didn’t connect. Luckily for me, David Bailey retired and I was far enough in front of Marcus Rummler that I held onto 3rd place.
A bit more of a break from race 1 to race 2 gave my committed Chief Engineer Stephen Barnes, time to adjust suspension, scrub tyres and give the car a clean.
Race 2 turned out to be a cracker, I again slotted in behind Matt Thewlis and having learnt from my mistake in the last race, I decided to wait and bide my time. The cars are so evenly matched that I had no way of powering around him, even if I had a run on him on the last turn it was never enough to get him going into turn 1 and Matt being an experienced driver I was never going to get him under brakes.
So for 8 laps I sat behind him and got a 1 on 1 lesson around SMSP! Unfortunately my patience didn't pay off, Matt never made a mistake and even faster cars coming through didn’t upset him. My last 7 laps were all between 1:57.22 & 1:57.53 a consistency I could not have done by myself.... so thanks Matt!
All in all it was a great day of racing, the condensed format was good but only because we had no mechanical issues. The short space between qualifying and races left time only for the essentials.
It was great to see how evenly matched the cars are with Matt using 2nd gear in corners where I am in 3rd, we would enter at leave at different speeds but 50m out of the corner we were even again.
The weekend result is thanks to my father in-law Stephen Barnes, who without I wouldn’t even be on the track. He puts in countless hours before every race preparing the car, refining the car , chasing oil leaks , swearing at the car, searching ebay for parts, searching European websites for go fast ideas and humouring me on my latest go fast ideas and on track days providing transport, catering, cheer squad, swearing at the car and telling me “no” he hasn’t seen the latest thing I have lost. Thanks again Stephen.
Looking forward to the next round and excited to try and find another second or two to keep up with Jeff Barnes.
Thanks Shaun for your race report this round and congratulations to all drivers and teams for getting back to racing!
As usual, before I sign off, a quick shoutout to our sponsors, LA Racing Lubricants, Suspension Concepts, RHD Engineering, MH Auto Care, Prime Race Tyres, Kumho Tyre Motorsports, Tongarra Road Preschool and Early Learning Centre and Metro Fire Services.
Please visit their website and/or social pages, give them some love because supporting them supports us!
If you have any questions about the cars, the build process or how you can be involved in the series, don't hesitate to reach out to us and join our Facebook group, just click this link - https://www.facebook.com/groups/e36raceseries/