After a 10 week break to accommodate the HQ Nationals at Phillip Island 18 HQ racers were ready for action at the September race meeting at Barbagallo Raceway.
Steve West #36 only managed a couple of laps when his diff failed but luckily managed to get off the track allowing the session to continue uninterrupted. Rory Sharp #19, Laurie Marsh #67, Brad Butler #76, Phil Breen #75, Peter Marsh #68 & Marc Watkins #1 all set their fastest laps of the day in qualifying. Only five thousandths of a second separated Phil Breen and Peter Marsh. Watkins put his HQ on pole for race 1 with an incredible 1.15:78 which was almost 1 second clear of 2nd place Wade Hedley #16 with a 1.16:69. The second row was filled by Adam Butler #93 and Rory Sharp. Peter Marsh also struck trouble and returned to the pits with a misfire which was found to be a broken bolt and rocker bridge which was soon diagnosed and fixed with a swarm of activity under the bonnet of the #68 car. The complete rear axle was removed and replaced on the Steve West #36 car but unfortunately fell short of time and would miss the first race of the day.
Both Adam Butler and Rob Roelofs #24 rolled forward on the start grid which would see them both receive a 5 second time penalty added at the end of the race. Watkins led the pack into turn 1, Mark Alfonsi #47 used his launch control with great effect taking two places off the start. Woodbridge #74 passed Roelofs on lap 1 but Roelofs was not giving up and they both battled hard exchanging places over the first couple of laps until Ryan Davis #49 joined the party and passed Roelofs on lap 3. Laurie Marsh, Phil Breen & Peter Marsh had a good close race with lots of door to door racing constantly changing positions, later joined by the on-form ROOKIE Chris Ainscough #5 who started 15th and passed Phil Breen on lap 6 to finish 12th. Watkins led from start to finish taking the chequered flag followed closely by Wade Hedley, Adam Butler 3rd & Rory Sharp 4th. Hedley set the fastest lap of the race (a 1.16:47) Adam Butler, Woodbridge, Roelofs, Davis, Ainscough, Alfonsi & Grant Johnson #7 all set their fastest lap of the day in race 1. Once all HQ’s had returned to the pits, ½ inch & 9/16 inch spanners were scarce and in demand at the Hedley camp with head gasket changes on both Wade & Dennis Russell’s cars.
We also enjoyed the on track grid walk during the lunch break. Thanks to the WA Sporting Car Club for organising these and we hope to do many more of them in the future:
All 18 HQ’s made it out for the top 10 reverse grid race (2), Steve West starting rear of the field after his misfortune in qualifying. Mick Woodbridge had issues on the start (possible senior moment) Adam Butler responded well to avoid the slow starting #74 car. Roelofs took the lead with an in-form Adam Butler moving up from 8th to 2nd on lap 1 and take the lead on lap 2 chased hard by Roelofs. Alfonsi had another great start but later came together with Brad Butler in turn 4 which would see Alfonsi receive a 30 second time penalty. Rory Sharp was having brake issues throughout the race and drove well to bring the car home in 8th place. Brian Pangler #62 also had a good race finishing in 7th. Ryan Davis was still having brake and handling issues which would see him finish 9th. Ainscough again made a few passes towards the end of the race to finish 10th. Watkins charged his way through the field to pass Adam Butler on lap 5 to go on and take the win from Butler with the in-form Roelofs finishing 3rd and Hedley taking 4th place from Grant Johnson on the last lap. Steve West made steady progress to finish 14th after Alfonsi’s time penalty relegated him to 18th. Lots of close racing all through the field and all HQ’s finished the race. Unfortunately, a blown head gasket at the end of race 2 retired the #7 car of Grant Johnson for the day.
Back down to 17 HQ’s for the final race of the day. Watkins set off from pole closely followed by Adam Butler and Wade Hedley, Rory Sharp was back on the pace in 4th under pressure from Mick Woodbridge. Ryan Davis, Laurie Marsh, Ainscough & Peter Marsh were battling hard from the start with some good clean close racing. Brian Pangler was in-form setting some consistently quick lap times sitting in 6th place under pressure from Roelofs all race. On lap 7 Rory Sharp had clutch issues coming out of turn 6 retiring the #19 car from 4th moving everyone behind up a place. Phil Breen had now caught up with Ainscough the Marsh brothers and Ryan Davis waiting for an opportunity to make a move. Dennis Russell was driving well gaining a couple of spots and setting his fastest lap of the day. Brad Butler and Alfonsi were having fun again with some very close racing. Steve West starting from 18th was working his way through the field steadily improving lap times finishing 11th setting his fastest lap of the day on his last lap. Scott Hames #6 also set his fastest lap of the day but then pushed a little too hard and gave the sand trap at turn 7 a visit. A lap later Laurie Marsh & Dennis Russell got a little too close in turn 6 with both cars having a spin, Laurie did well to keep it going but was now also struggling with a blown head gasket (AGAIN!!!) Unfortunately, Russell could not get the #23 car started which retired him from the race. On lap 9 Peter Marsh tagged Ainscough on the entry to turn 4 which sent the #5 car sideways, Ainscough did well to keep it under control but lost a couple of places to Peter Marsh & Phil Breen. Watkins won from Adam Butler with Wade Hedley and Mick Woodbridge in 3rd & 4th.
(Thanks to Ieishea for all of these brilliant photos.)
Another entertaining race meeting from the HQ’s. Lots of comradery in the pits with all drivers friends and families helping each other out. See you all at the next round at Barbagallo Raceway for round 7 on the 20th of October!