There was plenty of action on the track and the crews were kept very busy throughout the opening round of the Austeam Racing Australian Touring Car Championship at Symmons Plains. With all More »»»»
Following the finish of round 6 at Oran Park, the Austeam Racing ATCC now moves into endurance mode with 2 upcoming races at Sandown (The Sandown 150) and at Mount Panorama (The Bathurst 250). As the names suggests, the numbers refer to the distance that will be covered for the event. The Sandown event should take around 55 – 60 minutes and the Bathurst race, somewhere around 80 – 90 minutes. With 2 tracks that have nice long straights to stretch even the longest V8 legs, it is time to stop and review the last 6 rounds, or 17 races that have taken place.
As it stands, we have had 11 different drivers take part in the championship so far. We have had 6 drivers take race wins so far in the series, and 8 drivers that have grabbed a podium place. Let’s take a look at how it’s all happened so far:
Round 1 – Symmons Plains
There was a great array of cars on show as the field arrived for the very 1st round, with Commodores, Skylines and a very fast Ford Sierra. It was the Commodores of Rod Savage and Travis Fox that were the front runners early and took up the front row for the 1st race, only to be upstaged by the Nissan Skyline who grabbed the opening race win after mistakes from both Fox and Savage.
In the reversed grid of Race 2, there was a lot of action in the pack while Morrison set sail in the lead. Behind, it was chaos. Nearly every car at some stage was on the grass. Retirements were thick and fast in the 2nd race with 4 cars stopping and multiple pitstops for others. In the end, Morrison succumbed to the chaos and left Cooper to take the race win with Rod Savage ahead of his brother Doug Savage, also in a Commodore.
For Race 3, it was a scratch race, with the Nissan Skylines of Lundgren, Watson and Morrison leading the way. Cooper was the last one to leave the grid (a lap down on the race leader Lundgren). Once again there was commotion, with 3 retirements from the race, but it was Doug Savage who remained level-headed throughout and was able to record a race win. Late contact between Cooper and Fox slowed their progress, but Cooper took 2nd ahead of the flying Phil McKee in his Sierra.
Round 2 – Winton
The long straights of Symmons Plains were replaced with the tight and twisty turns of Winton. And once again it was a Commodore on the front row, with Travis Fox pulling an absolute blinding time with Cooper alongside on the front row. As the 2 charged off into the 1st turn there was no quarter asked or given and both ended up on the grass at Turn 1, much to the delight of Rod Savage who grabbed the lead. It wasn’t to last for long as Cooper slipped through at the start of the 3rd lap, and Fox managed to get through at the end of the same lap. Behind it was chaos once again, contact between Morrison and Simons changed the places of all the cars and it was Chatt who managed to squeak through for 4th
In the reverse grid Race 2, the cars who started near the front, certainly didn’t stay there. It was Doug Savage who appeared in the lead, before it was taken over by Fox who run away with the win. Cooper was able to get through into 2nd place ahead of a consistent Gary Simons in 3rd
The scratch race saw the competitors finally settle down. With drivers in mostly clear air to run their own race, there was little contact. Ed Watson was an early leader of Race 3, until overtaken by Cooper and Fox with only 4 laps to go. Phil McKee was able to grab another 3rd place.
STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2:
1. Matt Cooper 84pts
2. Travis Fox 59pts
3. Doug Savage 55pts
4. Rod Savage 47pts
5. Phil McKee 29pts
=. Gary Simons 29pts
Round 3 – Barbgallo
The wild west was the location of the 3rd round of the Austeam Racing ATCC. The Commodores were the quick cars in qualifying with Fox and Rod Savage locking out the front row. Rod Savage was able to get the jump off the start in Race 1, and then on the next lap Fox was able to make his way through. Then on the very next lap, Rod Savage ran wide and allowed Cooper, Chatt and Simons through. Fox and Cooper were trading lap times, and the gap between them was never more than 2 seconds for most of the race. Meanwhile behind Rod Savage was starting to make his way back through, re-claiming 3rd before half distance. The closing stages saw a fantastic battle between Doug Savage and Gavin Chatt, with Doug grabbing 4th.
For Race 2 and the reverse grid, there was a lot of positional changing on the opening lap with Jeff Luke grabbing the lead, before Gary Simons taking over on the very next lap. By lap 5, it was Rod Savage who had made his way through from the back to hold down the lead, before a mistake allowed Gary Simons back through on Lap 12. Cooper grabbed the lead on a few laps later, with Rod Savage coming back to 2nd a few laps later. Fox, who had damage on his car due to a small altercation with a safety cone, was able to grab 3rd place with only a few laps remaining from Gary Simons.
The rate of attrition had claimed quite a few cars, and so it was a reduced field for the scratch race. Doug Savage held his advantage to the end of the race (finishing just under 2 seconds in front of Cooper), with Rod Savage and Travis Fox next in line.
STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 3:
1. Matt Cooper 123pts
2. Travis Fox 92pts
3. Doug Savage 84pts
4. Rod Savage 79pts
5. Gary Simons 48pts
Round 4 – Calder Park
Calder Park was the track for Round 4, and it was expected that the Commodore would once again dominate qualifying. But it was the Nissan Skyline of Cooper in pole position ahead of Fox and Rod Savage, with more turbo cars not far behind. But by the 1st turn, it was a different story. Fox and Savage were able to get off the line quicker. Fox held onto the lead ahead of Rod Savage, with Doug Savage briefly up into 3rd place who passed Cooper who was off the track. After a few laps, Doug Savage too fell off the track, allowing Cooper to get past, as well as Watson, Simons, and Morrison. Fox had a spin around half distance, allowing Rod Savage to hold his lead until the flag, ahead Cooper and Fox.
A slight change in the format for this round, saw Race 2 become the scratch race AND an endurance race. In order to win, the drivers needed to be turning in competitive times for 45 minutes, and we’ll throw in a pit stop for good measure. Gary Simons was the 1st off the line and held the lead until his pit stop on lap 20. From about lap 25, most racers completed their pit stops and the true measures were starting to stack up. Simons reclaimed his lead on Lap 29, with Morrison moving up to 2nd place. Phil McKee was in 3rd place with the rocket fast Sierra and behind him he had Rod Savage, Cooper and Fox. It was a good 10 laps before they were able to make their way through, with Rod Savage getting through, before Cooper took advantage of McKee running wide at the 1st turn. Fox was also able to make his way through after a little contact between Cooper and McKee when they were fighting over Turns 2 and 3. And more good luck for Fox, when Cooper went a little too deep under brakes and turned around Rod Savage, both cars off the track and the Pink Commodore of Fox was able to grab 3rd place behind race winner Gary Simons, with Grant Morrison in 2nd place.
STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 4 (WORST ROUND DROPPED):
1. Matt Cooper 123pts
2. Travis Fox 102pts
3. Rod Savage 93pts
4. Doug Savage 84pts
5. Gary Simons 51pts
Round 5 – Pukekohe Park
The next round was across the ‘dutch’ as we went to Poke-a-kiwi for Round 5. With such a fast track, the Commodores were a short price favourite to lock out the front row – and they did. Rod Savage grabbed pole position ahead of Travis Fox, Cooper and Morrison in the Skylines next. Rod Savage converted his pole into a handy lead and wasn’t headed for 5 laps, until both Fox and Cooper were able to sneak past. Fox opened out the gap and towards the end of the race, Cooper reeled him back in to finish only 1.11 seconds behind him. Rod Savage finished 3rd ahead of Doug Savage in 4th.
Race 2 was the traditional reverse grid race and it was Phil McKee who got the perfect start from the 2nd row to head the field into Turn 1. He proved to be a tough car to pass and it wasn’t until lap 7 where Fox tried for the pass, but both were passed by Rod Savage. After a 1st lap off, Cooper had made his way back up to 4th and was trying to track down McKee. Rod Savage got it all wrong and had to retire with a damaged car, promoting Fox to 1st, and McKee to 2nd. With only a few laps left in the race, McKee tyres were destroyed, and Cooper was able to make the pass and unfortunately on the last lap, McKee ran out of fuel, and Ed Watson was able to grab 3rd place.
The final race of the night was the scratch race, with Simons and Watson heading the field. After a couple position changes, Simons was able to hold the lead before damaging his car and having to retire. This handed the lead to Doug Savage, who was then penalised on the very next lap for cutting the course. Morrison was now in the lead and was able to hold off the closing Rod Savage with Fox in 3rd.
STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 5 (WORST ROUND DROPPED):
1. Matt Cooper 155pts
2. Travis Fox 142pts
3. Rod Savage 119pts
4. Doug Savage 103pts
5. Gary Simons 84pts
Round 6 – Oran Park
And this brings us to the latest round, at Sydney’s Oran Park. Going from the long straights of Calder and Pukekohe, back to tight corners of Oran Park, was always going to be tough for the heavier cars. And so Matt Cooper grabbed pole in the Skyline ahead of Fox in the Commodore, with Morrison and Doug Svaage next. Race 1 saw the Skyline jump away at the start and was never headed. Fox got close near the end, but illness prevented him from being his best and settled for 2nd place. Morrison missed the start, but clawed back to 3rd and was challenging for 2nd place, not able to make a pass stick.
After missing the 1st race, Rod Savage started from pole position in Race 2 and was never headed, but there was Morrison who was keeping him honest, until about half-distance before heavy contact with the wall. This enforced a lengthy pit stop, but allowed Cooper into 2nd place and close down the lead to Savage. Rod crossed the line ahead of Cooper and Gary Simons who did well to keep out of trouble.
With another scratch race in store, Simons and McKee led the field away. McKee was able to grab the lead on the opening lap and held it until there was a problem with his car. This promoted Simons to the lead, before he was passed by Cooper and the Rod Savage on the same lap. Just like the previous race, Simons was able to keep out of trouble and bring the car home in 3rd place.
STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 6 (WORST ROUND DROPPED):
1. Matt Cooper 197pts
2. Travis Fox 162pts
3. Rod Savage 146pts
4. Doug Savage 125pts
5. Gary Simons 109pts
You think of Winton and all the twists and turns and you think that a small, light car would have the distinct advantage over the others right? Wrong! Travis Fox in his pink Commodore proved that it was going to take a mammoth effort to knock him off the top spot with very quick times being set throughout practice leading up to Round 2 of the Austeam Racing ATCC. In practice 1, Fox posted a 1:21.8. Cooper got close with an 1:21.87, and then in the dying minutes of practice Cooper was able to post a 1:21.67.
Fox was able to get the last laugh in qualifying by producing an absolutely blistering time of 1:21.27 to grab pole position. Cooper wasn’t even close with a 1:22.26, only just ahead of Rod Savage 1:22.78. Rod shared the 2nd row with his brother Doug in another Commodore and on the 3rd row was Grant Morrison in the Skyline and Phil McKee in the lone Sierra.
Fox’s Commodore on pole was always going to be tough to get away and so proved the point, with Cooper’s lighter Skyline nosing ahead by the time they got to the 1st turn. Undeterred, Fox went just that little bit deeper into turn 1 and Cooper wasn’t giving up easily on this. Contact between to the 2 cars meant some time in the grass for both of them and Rod Savage was promoted to the lead. Doug Savage was also able to capitalise and grabbed 2nd ahead of Cooper and Fox. Doug Savage was also the 1st casualty of the race, missing his braking marker on the back straight and making contact with the tyre wall sending him to the pits.
Behind, there was chaos. Contact between Gavin Chatt and Phil McKee had McKee parked in a precarious position on the track and he was collected by Morrison and by Gary Simons who had nowhere to go. Both resulted in trips to the pits. Chatt was able to continue and pick up 4th, with the dust settling, it was Ed Watson in 5th ahead of Bengt Lundgren.
Back to the front, Cooper and Fox had made ground on Rod Savage and now there was a convoy of 3 cars, with a Skyline in the Commodore sandwich.
Rod Savage at the head of the pack with Cooper and Fox close behind
Cooper was able to get through by lap 4 and Fox got through on the next lap, before gradually drawing away from Rod Savage, who was having a tough time with some handling gremlins in his car. On lap 7 Fox had a big moment which looked to have put him out of the race but luckily the sand trap slowed the pink Commodore down enough to point him in the right direction and head off after the leader.
Gavin Chatt ahead of Ed Watson
There were small changes in position throughout the field as the race drew to a close, Cooper taking the win ahead of a fast finishing Fox, with Rod Savage in 3rd and Gavin Chatt in 4th. A great drive through the field from Doug Savage saw him grab 5th place on the 2nd last lap ahead of Bengt Lundgren.
1. M. Cooper
2. T. Fox
3. R. Savage
4. G. Chatt
5. D. Savage
Our reverse grid race was going to be tough. A short run to the 1st corner, which was a 90 degree left, followed by a 90 degree right, all mixed in with a narrow track. Morrison and Simons started on the front row, and it was Morrison who ended up on the grass, whilst Simons was leaving room, Ed Watson was able to sneak through with Phil McKee also looking for a way through. At the end of the 1st lap however, it was Doug Savage who managed to grab the lead ahead of Watson, Rod Savage, Simons and
The start of the 2nd race was a little busy…
On lap 3, there was some jostling and little contact between the Savage brothers (no doubt some discussions at the Sunday lunch table this weekend!) which saw Doug lose time with a spin, Rod lose time trying to avoid, and Fox moving from 3rd to 1st in the space of 500m. This left Rod Savage in 2nd place, promoted Gary Simons into 3rd and after a tough 1st lap, Cooper was now into 4th with Chatt in 5th.
Cooper moved into 3rd on the next lap, but the action was still happening back in the pack. Simons was now in 4th having a tidy race, with Morrison now back up to 5th place. Chatt had an excursion with some contact and had to pit from 6th place which allowed Doug Savage back up the order ahead of Ed Watson, Lundgren and McKee who was having all sorts of issues.
Morrison and Doug Savage heading into turn 3
By lap 8, positions had steadied a little. Cooper had made it past Rod Savage and into 2nd place, whilst Fox had put the hammer down in the lead and was pulling a margin. Rod Savage was in 3rd, ahead of Gary Simons in 4th. Morrison and Savage were arguing over 5th place with Lundgren now up to 7th place at the retirement of Watson. McKee and Chatt were arguing over 8th place.
And with 3 laps to go Rod Savage had to pull into the pits (likewise McKee had to as well), losing his 3rd place to Gary Simons who was keeping out of trouble. Doug Savage was able to jump up to 4th, with Rod now back to 5th and these positions were held until the flag. Fox finishing some 15 seconds up the road from Cooper.
1. T. Fox
2. M. Cooper
3. G. Simons
4. D. Savage
5. R. Savage
It was time for the handicap event and Race 3 of the night. Lundgren and Watson led the field away and straight away were battling for the lead. Watson gained the upper hand in the early laps holding out a determined Swede!
Watson and Lundgren head the field in Race 3
But back in the pack it went sour for a few drivers very quickly. Morrison was into the pits after his car was damaged, and on the very next lap it was Rod Savage who retired from the race with car troubles. Bengt Lundgren was unlucky to get some damage on his car and he was the next to retire, leaving spots wide open for anyone who could make it to the end! Meanwhile, at the front it was Ed Watson who was making all the right moves to win the race. Keeping it on the black stuff, turning in consistent times and staying out of trouble.
Gavin Chatt was making his way through the field and by lap 5 was in 2nd place after Lundgren retired. But it was the cars behind him that were the worry. Coming through the pack was Cooper and Fox, with Doug Savage and Phil McKee also getting closer to the yellow Commodore. And within 2 laps, Chatt found himself going from 2nd place, down the order a little to 5th place, with McKee now right on his rear bumper.
McKee just after he passed Chatt for 5th place
On Lap 10, Cooper was able to make the pass for the lead on Ed Watson, with Fox able to make his pass (not without some contact and helping Watson to straighten up from a half spin) on the next lap. This left Watson in 3rd for a short time, before a small mistake allowed McKee and Doug Savage to sneak through for 3rd and 4th place. Watson ending up in 5th place after the 20 minute race. Race winner Cooper stated he only passed 3 cars all race, despite coming from 10th on the grid. Whenever I got close, they all seemed to have a slight moment, or loss of traction and I was able to sneak by. Fox was not so fortunate, more often than not spending more time than he liked behind the cars that Cooper had just passed. “He (Matti) was getting some good luck to pass other cars. I was never quite able to get close enough to challenge for the lead.”
1. M. Cooper
2. T. Fox
3. P. McKee
4. D. Savage
5. E. Watson
1. M. Cooper 42pts
2. T. Fox 39pts
3. D. Savage 22pts
4. R. Savage 17pts
5. P. McKee 16pts
= G. simons 16pts
1. M. Cooper 84pts
2. T. Fox 59pts
3. D. Savage 55pts
4. R. Savage 47pts
5. P. McKee 29pts
= G. Simons 29pts
There was plenty of action on the track and the crews were kept very busy throughout the opening round of the Austeam Racing Australian Touring Car Championship at Symmons Plains. With all cars unloaded there were plenty of Commodores and Skylines and a few Sierras were thrown into the mix, with 1 having to leave early, it’s driver feeling the effects of a very serious man flu. The pace was hot at front with the Commodores of Rod Savage and Travis Fox setting times in the low 52′s and Matt Cooper in the Skyline who managed to split the pair.
The tyres proved to take a little while to come in and the times were slow in coming down, with Trav setting a 52.0 early in the session. Rod Savage was able to set a 52.2 and it wasn’t until a 2nd set of tyres were bolted onto the Commodore of that the pole time was lowered to a 51.9274. At the end of session it was a Commodore lockout on the front row with Fox taking 2nd, unable to improve his time, with Cooper in the Skyline in 3rd place with a 52.2015. Gavin Chatt completed the 2nd row with a banzai last lap qualifying effort to grab a 52.4675, ahead of Phil McKee and Doug Savage.
It took a few goes to settle the nerves, but eventually Race 1 got underway with the Commodores of Rod Savage and Fox heading into the 1st turn, blocking the way of Cooper’s Skyline. Chatt was able to hold onto 4th and keep a watchful eye on those in front of him, whilst there were a few changes behind. Phil wasn’t able to get away to well and the Commodores of Doug Savage and Gary Simons moved up to 5th and 6th.
Rod Savage, Fox and Cooper moved clear of Chatt after 2 laps with more action happening behind. McKee was able to move back up to 6th at the expense of Simons, and the Skylines of Morrison, Watson and Lundgren were all changing positions every other lap. Watson picked up some damage and had to pit, whilst Morrison and Lundgren moved up a position each. Simons struck trouble and also had to pit elevating Morrison up to 7th, before he too struck trouble, giving up his position to Lundgren.
Back at the front it was until after Lap 10 that things began to change. Fox made a small error and allowed Cooper to move through into 2nd, setting his sites on Rod Savage who had managed to open a small gap. And a few laps later, Fox had another moment, allowing Chatt to move into 3rd place. At the same time, McKee had a problem in which he had to pit, relinquishing 6th place to Simons, who also managed to pass Morrison at the same time. We lost our 2nd car of the race with Watson having to retire with damage, and we also had lost Morrison.
Fox was able to get back into 3rd place, passing Chatt, whilst Cooper had managed to bridge the gap to the leading Commodore.
Cooper hounding Rod Savage into Turn 1 at Symmons Plains
With only 3 laps to go, Rod Savage run a little wide trying to negotiate another car and allowed Cooper through into the lead. Rod was able to gather it back up, but with only a few laps remaining it was too late. Cooper crossed the line in 1st, ahead of Rod Savage, Travis Fox held onto 3rd ahead Doug Savage, Chatt and Simons.
1. M. Cooper
2. R. Savage
3. T. Fox
4. D. Savage
5. G. Chatt
Race 2 was a reverse grid of the opening race and there was a lot to talk about in the opening laps. Grant Morrison made the best getaway and held down the lead for quite a number of laps, but behind there was all sorts of commotion. After starting from the front row, Watson found himself at the back of the pack, along with Phil McKee. Lundgren made it through to 2nd place at the expense of Watson and McKee, but also found himself back down the order by the end of the next lap.
Travis Fox found himself in 2nd place, but had all sorts of mechanical problems making his car undriveable and this allowed Chatt into 2nd place of which he was able to hold down for a few laps, at the expense of Rod Savage and Matt Cooper who found themselves off the course after contact between Fox and Savage. Behind Savage for 5th place it was still chaos. After the dust settled it was Doug Savage who found himself in 5th, with Watson grabbing 6th place ahead of Simons in 7th. But that too was all set to change!
Morrison, McKee and Watson coming up to the start/finish line at Symmons Plains
Cooper and Rod Savage made their way past Chatt, and in the meantime, got past Morrison who had problems whilst leading the race. This placed Chatt in 3rd, with Doug Savage 4th, Simons now moving up to 5th and Watson dropping back 1 place to 6th. With damage on the Rod Savage Commodore, he was unable to to challenge for the lead and settled for 2nd place with very bent steering.
And just on Lap 12, Chatt received some damage and had to retire, handing his hard fought 3rd place to Doug Savage, with Simons moving up to 4th. Bengt Lundgren had managed to pick his way through and move back up to 5th after some extra pit stops for Watson who found himself back in 6th place. Cooper held on for the win ahead of Rod Savage, Doug Savage, Simons and Lundgren.
1. M. Cooper
2. R. Savage
3. D. Savage
4. G. Simons
5. B. Lundgren
Our traditional format of Race 3 as a handicap returned for this series. With Fox, Rod Savage and Cooper off the back of the grid, it was going to be interesting to see if 20 minutes was enough to make up the time difference. Lundgren set off 1st from the all Skyline front row and already had Rod Savage and Cooper a lap down before they got going.
Austeam Racing is going retro and stepping back into the 1980′s with the Australian Touring Car Championship. We’ll be visiting tracks that no longer are on the schedule such as Mallala, Calder Park and Oran Park and drag out cars such as the Ford Sierra RS500, Nissan Skyline R31, BMW M3, Holden Commodore VL and the Volvo 240T. Not only will the race track be hearing V8′s, but the sounds of waste-gates and screaming 4cylinder engines.
Wednesday the 18th of June, we will be running a fun run and everyone who has rFactor2 up and running on their computer is invited! Here’s what you need:
We’ll run 2-3 races on the night, lasting about 20 minutes. More races if there’s interest.