Morgan Park Super Sprint B Series Round 1 – 5th to 7th February 2021
By John Flynn.
2020 was a huge year for change and uncertainty as we all learnt to live in a COVID 19 world. Motor sport in Queensland fared better than many other places, during 2020 the Warwick District Sporting Car Club (WDSCC) managed to run three rounds of the Queensland Super Sprints Series. Pit crew and spectator numbers were reduced to driver plus one, social distancing was enforced but the format of the event remained unchanged.
After more than 15 years of running the Super Sprint events the WDSCC changed the format for 2021. On the 3.1km long track we would be doing a standing start and 5 racing laps rather than the traditional standing start and 3 laps. They also added a group for sports sedan using a rolling start! For those competing in southern states the rolling start is the norm but up in sunny Queensland we enjoy the challenge of a standing start and the first lap on cool tyres. There was chatter around the pits over the weekend that for Round 2 the WDSCC was planning to do rolling starts for all groups.
The idea was to reduce the number of runs from 7 to 6 to accommodate the additional laps. In theory the new format would give us 30 racing laps compared to the traditional 21. This was sounding like a great innovation! When the supplementary regulations for the event first came out there was a bit of online discussion questioning how the traditional tyre of choice for many Lotus drive, a medium soft Kumho would fare on the 5th lap?
For 2021 we have a record number of 24 Lotus Club member entered for the B Series. Due to work commitments, mechanical breakages and illness for round 1 we were down to 17 Lotus Club entrants, still not a bad turnout! We filled two groups and had a great range of cars!
- Elan – Mike Goodfellow
- Elise S1 Honda – Clive Wade, Barry Mather, Cris Johansen
- Elise S2 Rover – Rob Stevens, George Row, Steve Donka
- Elise S2 Honda – Garry Pitt, Jason Patullo, Pat Richards
- Elise S2 Honda Supercharged – Geoff Noble
- Elise S3 – John Flynn
- Exige S2 Supercharge- Matt Plowman, Andrew Row, Desmond Hill
- Exige V6 – Gideon Street
- Cheetah – John Barram
Friday practice opened at 12noon and more than half the Lotus field lined up to get in a few laps on what was a very hot 35-degree afternoon in Warwick. Needless to say, the track temperature was very high which resulted in a lot of slipping and sliding fun. Unfortunately, during practice John Barram cracked an engine mount on his beautiful Cheetah and was out of the weekend’s fun.
One of the Elise drivers who had driven their car to the track from Brisbane went out for the first practice session, only to discover on lap one a very concerning vibration on every hard righthand turn. They promptly returned to the pits to investigate the issue thought to be an issue to do with the left-hand rear corner of the car. Wheels removed and checked, wheel bearing checked, a lose CV boot was discovered. The left-hand drive shaft removed greased, CV boot secured and reinstalled. The vibration was still present. As practice was closing at 4pm the decision was made to install Geoff Nobles spare driveshaft and CV joints.
With half a dozen assistant Lotus mechanics, the drive shaft replacement was complete a bit after 5pm. As the righthand rear wheel was being replaced it was noticed that the righthand rear hub bolt was missing! Problem solved! All that was need now was to find a nut. The chances of finding a suitable hub nut for a Lotus Elise in Warwick was very slim. Rob Stevens, who was in the second Lotus group, in true Lotus comradery volunteered to share his righthand rear wheel nut! Problem solved and time for a beer!
Due to the number of Lotus entries we were split into two groups, the very fast Lotus group and the slightly slower group. The organiser usually arranges the staring order based on your previous round lap times. Geoff Noble is traditional the quickest and starts first. For 2021 a Radical Sports Car powered by a Hyabusa motorcycle engine had entered the series. The Radical was assumed to be quick and was included in the fast Lotus group to start alongside Geoff. We were all excited to watch the competition between Geoff in his almost road registered Lotus Elise and the Radical Race car!
We all had a different anticipation for Desmond Hill in his S2 Exige, Des was competing in his first sprint event at Morgan Park and had been included in the fast Lotus group with Geoff and the Radical. We all looked on during the first two runs on the Saturday as Geoff and the Radical lapped Des at the end of the main straight at a frightening pace! Des moved to the second Lotus group and had a much more enjoyable time learning Track K at Morgan Park.
The temperature Saturday was again in the mid 30’s with no breeze, the track temperate was hot and slippery for everyone. The five lap sprints were proving fun and challenging, but no one was setting PB’s today. The challenge of the new format emerged as the day went on. Wait times between runs had increased from just under 2 hours to almost 3 hours. We only managed 3 runs over the whole Saturday. Talk in the pits was that we would do 3 runs on the Sunday, this was reduced to only 2 runs on Sunday. We still managed 5 runs of 5 laps for the weekend which was more than we did in the old format of 7 runs of 3 laps! The big challenge was waiting 3 hours between runs. Maybe rolling starts will reduce the wait time between runs?
Geoff and the Radical chased each other over the first 4 runs. On the final run of the weekend Geoff gave the Radical a 100 metre head start and then chased down the Radical to set the fastest time of the weekend at 6:30.422. Nick Ashwin in the Radical finished second 1.969 seconds behind Geoff. Garry Pitt finished 3rd overall and Matt Plowman was 6th. Jason Patullo, Barry Mathers, Andrew Row and Clive Wade all finished in the top 20 out of the 120 cars entered.
Some things never change. Yve from The Pitstop Lodge had found the team of Lotus drivers and partners accommodation across her four properties. We all gathered on both Friday and Saturday at 5pm for drinks and nibbles prepared by Maree Noble at Area 51. On Friday night we walked the short distance to the Stockyard Hotel for a tradition pub feed and a few quiet beers. On the Friday night Maree and her assistants prepared a smorgasbord of roast chicken, BBQ meats, roast vegies, salads, bread and even desert for 21 Hungary people! A huge effort that we all appreciate! We all slept well after the feast.
We are all looking forward to Round 2 in the first week of May!