Beyond Blue Regularity Run – Lakeside Raceway
Interclub Challenge – Round 4
By Liam Philp. Photos by Gloria Wade.
It was an early pilgrimage to Lakeside on a crisp Sunday morning. With the threat of rain looming, my trust in Google’s “cloudless sky” prediction was faltering. Everyone trickled in before the drivers’ briefing at 8:30 and all eyes were split between the shiny new BMW i8 and the sky.
It was my first time driving in anger at Lakeside, so whilst paying extra attention to Doug, I was incredibly pleased to learn that I was facing the prospect of driving in anger for the first time at a track which has supposedly killed more people than every other track in Australia combined. My eyes turned to the darkening sky and I crossed every finger and toe I could.
Predictably this did nothing. As soon as the briefing was over the heavens opened up. It was lightly raining as Paul in his bonkers PRB and Martin in the red-hot Elise set out for the first practice session, followed in the second session by the twin S1 Elise’s of Clive and Cameron. The general consensus was “a little bit slippery.” It looked like I would be in for quite a learning curve.
As I followed Dad’s Europa out past the blend line, I soon realized that “a little bit slippery” was someone’s impersonation of Kimi Raikkonen. The track was like an ice rink. Following the advice of our fellow team members, I began aggressively weaving the car and using the brakes in order to get as much heat into the tyres as I possibly could. Before I knew it, I had spun coming into the Carrousel, on the out lap. I’m told the footage went straight to YouTube. The news wasn’t all bad however, as Ken had promptly gone ahead and spun on the exit of Hungry, so I was spared a lecture about keeping the car “safe”.
As Tony (NB MX5) and Shane (Lotus Seven), left for their run, there were the finest hints of a dry line appearing. The second practice was much drier and times dropped significantly. As great as it was to finally see some sunshine, it confused us all as to what times we would nominate for our regularity runs. The general consensus was to nominate three seconds slower to cover for rain. Unfortunately we all should have placed our trust in Google, as the skies cleared and we all were forced to drastically back off in order to keep as close to our nominated times as we possibly could.
By the time the first regularity run was upon us, the track was dry as a bone. We were all getting into the swing of things, which meant that we had all realized that we were driving much faster than our nominated times. Everything was going swimmingly till the second regularity run. Shane had trouble with his Seven which wouldn’t go away and Ken had an apparent boost leak, causing him to be lapped twice by yours truly, much to his annoyance. My gloating was short-lived, however, as I had my first taste of British reliability when I lost all power coming into Hungry, turning the Seven from a snorting, angry-sounding Ford, to a wimpy Boxer. After a quick shortcut to the pits, the issue was diagnosed as a fuel pump going on strike and refusing to pump fuel. Surprisingly the only Lotus reliability jokes overheard were those from our own camp.
After lunch, despite some gallant efforts from our remaining teammates, our points standings dropped due to our retirements. Tony, Clive and everybody else put in some very consistent laps, to try and keep our standings on the leaderboard ahead of at least a few.
I must say that regularity is a lot harder than it looks, particularly when you’re given the opportunity of running on a dry Lakeside with little to no traffic. The real challenge was trying to resist the temptation to plant your right foot on the floor. Unfortunately the constrained and disciplined efforts of our team mates were not enough to negate the points toll of the wounded cars, Team 1 of Paul, Cameron, Tony and myself ended up eleventh of fifteen, whilst Team 2 of Martin, Clive, Ken and Shane ended up eighth.
Even though we had clearly been defeated, I can’t fault the camaraderie and team spirit within the Lotus drivers. Everybody was willing to offer advice, joke around or simply lament our standings on the scoreboard. The team aspect of the event made the day incredibly fun. It wasn’t just ourselves against the clock, it was the team. Gloria Wade took some fantastic photos, which really detailed the situation at hand, as well as some great shots of us on track.
The wounded cars were diagnosed, Shane having a distributor problem, Ken having an apparent boost leak and myself having a fuel pump that refused to pump fuel. The former two were able to drive their cars home, whilst I lucked out and sat in a tow truck. Hopefully all the cars can be repaired before our next event. Nothing like great British engineering and reliability!
Despite our club v club on-track battles, everybody at the event was there to support Beyond Blue, a charity which works to raise awareness and understanding of anxiety, depression and suicide; something which affects us all. In total the day raised $7,200 for Beyond Blue; a fantastic amount which I’m sure will be put to good use.
While the results on the leaderboard were not as we had planned, I can safely say that everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The cars all looked great and were all setting somewhat consistent times. I’m told that with a good result at the DTC event, the Lotus Club could be in with a shot of taking out the overall Inter-Club Challenge, and rightfully so. I hope to see as many of you there as possible.