It has been a long 4 months for the motorsport fans of Western Australia with facilities closing down and track activities being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However after the West Australian government transitioned into the Phase 4 easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the West Australian Sporting Car Club worked closely with Motorsport Australia to organise a return of spectators to its facilities for the Tander Cup and Excel Enduro two day race weekend on July 11th and 12th.
Day 1 saw the Sports Sedans & Sports Cars combined with Street Cars field taking part in three races which saw a field of Porsche GT3 cars, former V8 Supercars, Chevy Corvettes and other sports cars race on the same track as the Street Car series which featured Nissan Skyline R33s amongst other cars lapping the track at times in under 60 seconds, including Andrew Stevens in his Nissan 180SX who after setting a lap time of 59.2525 seconds, was unfortunately forced to retire for the rest of the day due to an unfortunate windscreen incident.
The museum pieces of the Formula Racing category were out with the WA Motor Museum letting Neil Woodward take out their Befa Ford for a few laps. Despite the age of the vehicles, the Formula Racing category still never hold back providing some close racing in parts keeping the spectators entertained.
Regularity or Time Challenge racing while not one of the more visually exciting forms of motorsport, is certainly one of the more technical and skilful categories where drivers of various categories of car nominate a time that they will lap the track and receive penalty points for going faster or slower than that nominated lap time. A mix of every day street cars, through to the big V8s and even an open wheeler were on track.
For fans of the Historic Touring category, the last two race rounds have seen a large increase of Morris Cooper S entrants taking on the larger Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaro and LJ Torana GTR-XU1s. The Morris Cooper S were often seen competing with the larger cars for position and preferred three wheels to four as they turned the final corner into the main straight.
With the sunshine holding out for Day 2, the feature races of the weekend would be scheduled last but the Saloon Cars, Formula Fords, Formula Vees and F1000 categories would ensure that the large crowd who returned after Saturday’s race meet would be kept happy until the main races.
The Saloon Cars provided their usual bumper to bumper, mirror scraping racing and after a slight delay to the 2nd race the drivers soon found enough elbow room to pass each other without losing anymore mirrors.
In the PRO series featuring Ford AU and Holden VT/VY cars, would see Grant Johnson taking a clean sweep of the three races while teammate Matt Martin ended up third after tit for tat racing against Brock Boley. Over in the PRO-AM series which features Ford EA/EB & Holden VN/VP cars Marc Watkins made it two out of three race wins with Michael Holdcroft taking the third win to bring his car into second overall for the day.
Unfortunately with other commitments and drivers unavailable due to the usual interstate and international flavour of this category, a depleted Formula 1000 and Radical SR3 field took to the track with Adam Lisle taking out the F1000 category and Luke Iustini in the SR3s
Keeping with the open wheelers, the Formula Vee and Formula Fords took to the track in their separate fields and the Formula Vees put on probably the closest racing of the weekend with a blanket covering the top three in some of the races. Eventual honours would go to Rod Lisson in the 1600 category and Franz Estebauer in the 1200 category.
Formula Ford saw the swapping of wins between Joshua Mathews and Mark Pickett with Joshua Mathews eventually coming out on top of that tussle.
The first of the feature races was up next and with the crowd now almost filling the spectator areas, the highly tuned Improved Production cars took to the track racing for the Tander Cup. The 15 lap race became a bit of a race of attrition as a few mechanical failures bringing an end to a few competitors. Steven Turpin in his Holden Commodore VE won over Adrian Scharenguivel with over a 13 second margin.
The story of the weekend though was the Excel Cup enduro entry of Carlos Ambrosio and Isidoro Ambrosio who suffered a massive mechanical failure in their recently rebuilt Excel car on Friday during practice. The term racers helping racers gets thrown about a bit in motorsport, but on Friday West Australian Motorsport truly shined when the combined efforts of not only the Excel racing community, but others involved managed to get a replacement car, their running gear changed over to the car and the car all setup and ready for the weekend racing.
While there wasn’t the fairytale ending to this story, the Ambrosio team still finished a respectable 5th during the enduro with one of the leading figures of Excel Racing in Western Australia, Tom Hamlett teaming with Jake Passaris to eventually take out the Enduro Cup for 2020.
All competitors praised the return of spectators to the side of the racetrack with bringing back a sense of normality to their weekend and give them extra motivation to put on a good race meet.