Phillip Island 6 Hour 2014
by Ed Ferguson
Over the week-end of 2nd and 3rd August, TSOA was well represented at this year’s 6Hr regularity relay event at the fabulous Island track. This is one of the big three 6-hour events (Sandown and Winton are the other two) that the club aims to compete in each year.
Six drivers were entered, Rob Splatt (TR6), David Kelly (Tr7/V8, Keith Ondarchie (Stag), Ed Ferguson (Tr7/V8) and Geoff and Shirley Cox (shared drive of their (TR7/V8), all ably organised by Alister Ondarchie, Team Manager and Jim Cain, timing/pit wall coordinator . Unfortunately the team was dealt an early blow when the Cox car had major clutch problems just as Geoff went to load the car on the trailer on Friday night. Despite his best efforts (we believe the candles were burning most of the night as they struggled to fix the problem) they had to pull the pin and so the team turned up on Saturday for practice and qualifying down to the minimum number of drivers and cars allowed.
This probably affected Saturday’s lap times as together with a damp and slippy track for the morning sessions, drivers were circulating cautiously with the primary aim of avoiding other cars and keeping their cars on the black stuff uppermost in mind. All drivers qualified and times were set for Sunday’s competition.
Weather conditions on Sunday were terrific, a cool wind was blowing most of the day but sunny dry conditions meant that the track surface was giving plenty of grip and drivers were confident that their cars would generally steer in the direction pointed. With only four cars competing, and session times limited to 15 laps, drivers were kept busy all day and there was a short turnaround time between sessions to check cars, refuel and scratch heads in puzzlement over the previous times recorded. All cars finished the event (although Ed spectated the last 30 minutes of the event sitting on a tyre wall after an untidy off-course muddy excursion at MG corner.)
How did we fare, well not that flash, finishing well towards the back end of the field of 47 teams which is below par for a TSOA regularity team. But it does highlight, for this type of event, the very narrow margin there is between getting it right – and horribly wrong. Despite Saturday’s wet conditions, drivers were happy with the times they nominated. And indeed for many laps, each of the four drivers did get into a consistency groove and circulated at close to their nominated times.
But to acquire bonus laps (which you need to do if you want to give yourself any chance of getting into the top placings) it is necessary to push close to the boundary and get within 2 seconds (or better if you can) of the time set. Sometimes this works and sometimes it backfires, as even one tenth of a second under the nominated time not only incurs an immediate penalty lap, but also halves the overall laps attributed to the team score. So, drivers are caught in a bit of a dilemma – do not break your nominated time (gives ulcers to the team manager and does not help his disposition) – but do try to acquire some bonus laps. If there were not 46 other cars out on the track at the same time all trying to drive to their nominated times, then I am sure the experienced TSOA drivers could circulate for many laps within a second of a nominated time, but traffic congestion, yellow flags, recovery vehicles on track, much slower/faster drivers etc. all conspire to ensure that no two laps are the same. As the reader is probably aware by now, this is a very feeble attempt at admitting the drivers were a bit too right-foot-heavy on a few occasions!
Anyway, a great time was had by all and, as usual, the Triumph spirit and comraderie made for a most enjoyable week-end. On behalf of the drivers, I wish to issue a big thank you to all the helpers and supporters who turned up over the week-end to make it all possible. Apologies if I have overlooked anyone:
- Alister Ondarchie
- Jim and Jeanette Cain
- Geoff and Shirley Cox
- Vince Perillo
- Alana Chipizubov
- Barry Pritchett
- Ursula Weidenmuller
- Ross Mackinnon
- Lindsay Coleman
- Michael Kip
- Stuart Price
For those of you who might want to experience a bit of the atmosphere of Sunday’s activity – from a driver’s perspective – post this address into your internet browser for a video of a few laps of PI track.