Story: Robert Downes
We were blessed with warm weather all weekend with a full field of more than 40 teams featuring over 20 makes of cars and over 60 models. It differs from the normal track day where mainly MX-5s are grouped together and drive against the clock to achieve each individual driver’s best single lap time in multiple 10-15 minute sessions and, where possible, away from other cars to avoid interference and aid safety.
The Winton 6 Hour involves sharing the track with over 40 cars with different “nominated lap times” and a diverse range of performance capabilities – some are all go, some no cornering, some poor braking and of course, a broad spread of driver experience. This mix adds to the intensity, skill and concentration required to achieve a good result.
Saturday practice provided an opportunity for our teams to spend some time on the track getting used to the traffic. After all our teams cars were through scrutineering it was then a full a day of seven practice sessions giving everyone plenty of time to get their eye in.
With Saturday over without a hitch it was off to The Northo’ in Benalla for our traditional Team Dinner (below). It was great to see all 33 of the team, wives, partners, kids and even some parents, enjoying plenty of stories and predictions for the next day. A big thanks once again to Tony and Helen at the North Eastern Hotel for looking after us.
On to the big day and, as a car club, we should be thrilled that again we produced two Top 10 finishes in the Winton 6 Hour.
The Flyin’ Miatas finished second to the Team E30 BMWs under the control and support of Bell Motorsport – congratulations to them. The Flyin’ Miatas were endeavouring to make it three in a row, following back-to-back wins in 2012 and 2013, and a second place in 2011.
An extremely good drive came from Stephen Downes with 34% of his laps in the bonus zone (not counting safety car laps and discounting for breakout laps), particularly considering he has been out of the race car for a full 12 months.
Team MX-5 Motorsport finished eighth and follows their Top 10 finish last year. On examining the results carefully, they were only two laps from finishing sixth.
Our beloved Club Motor Sport Captain, Tim Emery, had the “best drive of the day” with an equivalent 44% – truly an outstanding effort. Although Paul Murphy and Fabian Mastronardi had been out of the race car for some time, they both put in solid performances with the two Johns (Reid and Downes) helping the team to their second Top 10 finish in two years.
Team City Mazda Motorsport finished 12th – a very credible performance. It had a serious setback when Jeremy Fredersdorff’s MX-5 failed to start back in Melbourne on the Saturday morning and Kim Cole experienced supercharger belt problems on the Sunday after doing over 60 laps of trouble-free practice on the Friday. In addition, drivers Alan Conrad and Peter Dannock were making their 6 Hour debuts and, as they say, will be better for the run next time.
A close examination of the results and individual lap times reveal what could have been or should have been or if only … but we need to learn from this experience and return and bring every bit of knowledge from what we did or didn’t do well to next year’s events.
On behalf of the driving teams our thanks to:
- AROCA (Victoria) and all officials for an extremely well-organised event
- our Team Managers, volunteers and supporters
- our sponsors including:
Arma Window Tinting
Safe Pack Packaging Solutions
Espresso & Coffee Solutions
“Northo” Hotel – the North Eastern Hotel, Benalla
Executive Hideaway Motel in Benalla.