Phillip Island Classic – The event preview

Friday 17 to Sunday 19 March 2017

The 2017 Philip Island Classic kicks off tomorrow with racing events to follow qualifying at 1:40pm.Production Sports Cars will take to the Gardner Straight start grid first for a continuation of the Germany vs USA battle. Yes, it’s our tip that the horsepower of the Chev Corvettes will be taking up the fight to the flat-six nimble Porsches.

There will be two races for Production Touring Cars of the 1950s-1970s, for both under 3 Litre and over 3 Litre capacity. As with the Production Sports Cars you’re always guaranteed some close racing.

The real history will then take to the track at the scheduled 2:20pm with the 1970s & 1980s Sports-racing car race. The mighty CanAm McLaren M8F will take it up to the RALT RT2 (a single-seater turned sports car), but they’ll have their hands full with the anticipated visit from NSW by Tom Tweedie in the Repco-powered Elfin MS7. Tom has proved his speed in recent years in the dominance of the Formula 5000 races, so expect the same now he’s shifted to this historic Australian Sports Car.

Cooper, Brabham and Elfin will feature at the front of the 1960s Racing and Sports-Racing carraces. Ray Stubber has a busy weekend ahead competing in three cars, but will be a front-runner in this race in his Brabham BT29 alongside Peter Strauss who’s got the bit between the teeth to take out a podium (or even a win?) in the Brabham-Repco BT31. You will also see the first Formula One car Bruce McLaren built and raced, the Cooper T70 Climax.

The trackside action just gets better with the next race, the Groups C & A Touring car event. Patron of the meeting, John Bowe will be reunited with the Volvo 240T he first competed at the mountain in, and he’ll be joined by Jim Richards in his JPS BMW 635. Skyline GT-R, Sierra, RX-7 are just some of the genuine period machine that will be on track.

Can the action get any better. YES.

The Victorian Historic Racing Register has brought a couple of container loads of some truly fine machinery out from the UK for this year’s event, predominantly to compete in the Pre-war to early Post-War race. Two ERAs, the Lister Monzapolous, Connaught, Walker Climax and GP Scarab just to name a few. While the Lister and Scarab will take the battle up to the local front-runners; including the Dalro Jaguar (amongst others), it’s the two ERAs (R5B & R10B) that will be chasing hard, and for much earlier technology will put up a good battle.

From early to modern we will then see the 1970s & 1980s Racing cars, the fastest category of the weekend with the top drivers to lap the track in times around 1:28. John Bowe will be back on track in the 1974 March 741, AND MAKING HIS RETURN AFTER A FEW YEARS ABSENCE FROM Victoria will be Guido Belgiorno-Nettis from NSW in his ex. Stefan Johansson 1985 Ferrari 156/85. Along with these F1s there are also a string of RALT RT4s and some Formula 5000s.

Formula Ford will round out the afternoon’s first day racing action at the event. With more than 50 FFs entered this will be a must stay and watch battle. Tim Blanchard is on the list to return after an absence last year, so expect him to battle hard to bring the most out of the seasoned amateur drivers.

More across the weekend.

Photo courtesy: Chris Carter

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