It was a very early start for our 405 Racing Team, we were on the road at 4.30am.
It was about Picton Rd when we got a disjointed phone call from Adam Hughes #22 telling us that his car had fallen off the trailer, something about a flat battery and missing battery from the trailer. After a few more calls back and forth with poor reception and 1 hour later, Adam was fine, car was back on the trailer and he was on his way, although he was cutting it fine for sign on and qualifying.
We arrived at SMP thinking there was going to be a line up at the gate, but we were wrong. Signed in and down to the pit garages to unload. Mark Atkinson #54 had already arrived and unloaded. After unpacking and getting set up, others from our club were also arriving and setting up too. Anticipation was building for a cold slippery qualifying. The pit garages and paddock areas filled up fast.
We had a traditional Drivers Briefing with all the usual discussions which was good. Qualifying - for me it went well, with me beating my best time from the 1hr event and getting more confident with the track and car setup. Well done to Rob Broaden #16 who scored our pole with a 1.53.59. A few competitors had issues, Adam Hughes #22 had a clutch problem and Mark Atkinson #54 with an electrical gremlin.
Race 1 - Our E36 Club was combined with the Production Cars which worked out well with the expectation that the Production Cars would bug out and we could have our own race with the Production class starting in front our class. I got a great start from position and a great view of our E36 Race Series cars heading into Turn 1 and 2.
Paul Stanbrook #51 had a big moment, snap oversteer in front of me which opened my eyes like saucepans and got my heart rate up. For a few laps, I struggled with grip and setup.
I constantly improved my times and eventually got into the 1.58s. Our E36 race was won by David Bailey #39 with a great time of 1.54.6129.
At the end of the racing, we were instructed to head to the weigh bridge with a couple of cars being under series regulation minimum weight of 1200kg (driver, car and safety gear). A few disqualifications were handed out. This helped me to a fifth position finish.
Race 2 - With increased confidence and improving track conditions, I was very keen to get out on track for Race 2. For the start, I had two of our clubs fastest starting behind me, Shaun Penwarden #36 and Paul Stanbrook #51. I got another great start and positioned myself well for Turns 1 & 2.
It wasn’t long before the field started to sort itself out until Matt Herberstein #66 had a spin at Turn 4. Others and I got past without issue. With increased grip, I pushed harder and got more confidence, and I broke into 1.56s. With the rest of our E36’s getting past the Toyota 86, I had a great battle for a few laps till we got the checkered flag. Marcus Rummler tried a bit of rally cross on the last lap. Jeff Barnes #83 was first across the line with a respectable 1.54.81 which was the best lap time for the race. I did my best for the weekend in this race with a 1.56.23 and finished 6th. We all headed back to the weigh bridge this time all passing the scales.
Race 3 - Now knowing I can do 1.56’s, I was keen as ever to get back out and replicate the times. A few drivers were now retired from racing, Adam Hughes, Mark Atkinson and Paul Stanbrook with a fuel tank issue.
The grid was more compact but my start was still just as important. I started beside Marcus Rummler #7. I got a reasonable start but Marcus got a better start. I pulled in behind the E36 train thru Turn 1 then in Turn 2. I was greeted with Matt Herberstein coming back on the track. I continued to do well on the back of the train having a good duel with Marcus Rummler until he cleared the Toyota 86. I continued to look for ways past the 86 and Turn 2 and 8 looking like the best opportunity.
I got a great runout of the last corner, the 86 was very fast for the first part of the main straight I was able to pull up onto the back thru Turn 1. The 86 ended up on the grass and took out the breaking markers and I was unsure what he was going to do, so I pulled to the inside making sure I avoided any contact. I almost out braked myself and the 86 managed to re- enter the track and pulled up beside me and had the line into Turn 3.
We continued battling with the 86 staying in front. Shaun Penwarden had an excursion on the last turn, and it wasn’t long before I saw him on our tail, he was keen to make up the lost place. I was able to hold my place and finished the event very happy and satisfied. It wasn’t without a love tap from Shaun. Jeff Barnes was the winner of Race 3 with another consistent weekend with another respectable best time for the race 1.54.84. I was able to do a 1.56.54 so very happy and finished 5th again.
The final placings were:
1st – Jeff Barnes
2nd - David Bailey
3rd - Matt Herberstein - with the best race lap time for the day 1.54.33
Many thanks to Vanessa Lloyd and Russ Phelan for pit crewing for me. Plus I would like to thank my sponsors JN Responsive Engineering, Jervis Bay Tyrepower, Creation Signs and Graphics, Ultimate Cycles, 405 Racing & Customs, Adam Hughes Motorsport.
Many thanks to Scott Walker and not sure who else for the photos from Facebook.