|Bourne Breaks Vaucluse Track Record
Action-packed day as newcomers shine
the Banks/Havoline/Williams Industries/Pirelli Subaru Impreza
WRC, Paul 'Surfer' Bourne (right) smashed the track record
at the Vaucluse Raceway on Sunday (June 20), his achievement
just one of the highlights of an action-packed third round
of the 2004 VRW RallySprint Cup.
Recent light and regular rain showers had helped the Raceway
management in creating near-perfect track conditions, and
Bourne signalled his intentions from early; his first-run
qualifying time of 2m 08.79s - more than 3secs quicker than
anyone else - was good enough to slot into the all-time top
10 fastest and, as the Vaucluse track always gets faster during
the day, a new record looked possible.
Bourne's target was the 2m 05.64s set in 2002 by Trevor
Manning, who was sidelined on Sunday following some problems
with the on-board computer in his new Mitsubishi Evo VIII.
On his third qualifying run, Bourne clocked 2m 05.51s, but
felt there was still more to come.
It wasn't only Bourne who was reeling off quick times .
. . by the end of qualifying, Barry Gale (2m 08.13s), Roger
Skeete (2m 08.66s) and Geoffrey Noel (2m 09.62s) had all broken
the 2m 10s barrier, while many other drivers had recorded
their best-ever time at the track.
And the pace got even hotter once the head-to-head knockout
runs started in the afternoon. Bourne defeated Roger Hill
(Mobil 1/Nassco/Michelin/Motormac Toyota Celica GT4) in the
first heat of his Group, while Skeete (Havoline/McEnearney
Quality/Michelin Ford Escort WRC) put out Sean Dowding (Pro
Pac/Globe Finance Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V) in the other. In
a sensational final, Bourne was the winner, bringing the record
down to 2m 03.92s . . . but that still wasn't the end!
After his KnockOut Handicap run-off against Gale (Automotive
Art/Courts/Kerridge/Yokohama/Simpson Motors Rally Team Mitsubishi
Lancer Evo VI), 'Surfer' ended the day with a new record of
2m 03.30s; he failed to win the run-off, though, Gale beating
him to the line and clocking 2m 06.86s, a very impressive
time for a Group N car.
But Sunday was not only about fast times. The healthy entry
of 38 drivers included a number of new faces, and a couple
of well-known names - Hill and Cliff Roett - who were returning
to VRW after a couple of years' absence.
the newcomers, the star of the day was Logan Watson (right),
who was sharing the Tropical Landscapes Ford Escort RS2000
with elder brother Rhett, who had already gained some experience
of Vaucluse. Logan started steadily, and was around 4secs
slower than his brother by the end of qualifying.
Rhett (right) finished third in his Group, Logan won his,
first defeating Mark Sabga's Volkswagen Beetle, then benefiting
from the retirement of Graham Manning (Ford Cortina MkI) in
the final. But Logan hadn't finished yet . . . in the Group
Winners' Handicap KnockOut, he first beat Reggie Gill, then
became the beneficiary of one of the strangest sequences of
bad luck a rally team could ever experience.
Each of the three Simpson Motors Rally Team drivers at Vaucluse
won his Group - Neil Barnard (Opel Corsa), Sean Gill (Suzuki
Ignis) and Gale, but none would survive the Handicap. First,
Gill was beaten by team-mate Barnard, when the differential
of the Ignis failed.
Gale (left) crashed heavily into the start lights and concrete
barriers on the startline . . . although badly shaken, Gale
was uninjured, but his Evo VI will require a fair amount of
attention before its next outing. His retirement handed Logan
Watson the victory, and a ticket to the final to face . .
. Barnard. And it all looked set to go Barnard's way, until
the power steering belt failed, and the Corsa retired to the
pits . . . leaving Watson the overall handicap winner for
Another impressive debut came from Sean Corbin, who won
the Production Group in his Toyota Starlet, beating his brother
Ryan (Peugeot 106XSi), another Vaucluse debutante Joshua Delmas
(Toyota Starlet) and Stephen Moore (Datsun B510).
The returning Roett was also very impressive, getting below
2m 10s in his Toyota Starlet on his way to Group victory,
defeating yet another newcomer, Mark Hamilton (Esso/Automotive
Art/McEnearney Quality Ford Escort MkII).
has not competed since the 2001 Texaco Rally, and was driving
his recently-acquired Escort in anger for the first time (right).
By lunchtime, he had a best time of 1m 16.59s, but his day
nearly came to an early end, when he stalled on the start
pad in the second heat of his Group. His opponent, Hally Holder
driving Mark Sabga's Beetle, was long gone by the time Hamilton
persuaded the Escort to start . . . afterwards, Hamilton said:
"The engine stalled, then I had my foot hard down so
flooded it, then I said 'calm, Mark', counted to three and
tried again. When the car fired, I just thought back to the
time difference in qualifying and realised that I could catch
him, if I just kept my head."
And keep his head he did. In what looked more like a handicap
race, Hamilton steadily closed on the Beetle to claim a memorable
win, and the Banks Pig'n'Likka Bar 100-dollar prize for the
most entertaining drive of the day . . . on a day of motor
sport which gave race drivers and fans alike many moments
There are two more rounds of the Vaucluse Raceway RallySprint
Cup, on July 11 and August 8.