Thomas takes out final autocross round
The final round of the 2023 McPherson Mechanical Autocross Series took place at the end of last month, with a day/night event to round out the busy year at SEAC Park.
Coordinator for the year, Daniel Oldaker managed to assemble enough officials to have this round take place, after the previous round had to be cancelled due to lack of volunteers being available.
Clashing of dates always causes problems with the club’s volunteers also involved in other motor sporting activities.
After the compulsory driver’s briefing and a look around lap, Director Dan put his race hat on and led the pack away for Round 1. John Whitehead’s light weight buggy (above centre) topped the time sheet for this Round, three seconds clear of Sam Thomas in his Rally Subaru.
Barry Edwards managed a good open lap and snuck in third from son, Jayden a further second behind. Matt Kirby (above right) made the trip across from Warrnambool and his laser made its way around a roughening track for a well-earned fifth spot, Aaron Bowering next in the shared BMW in sixth, Geoff Wilson made seventh in a not happy Pug, Gary Brown driving in his normal manner slid the FG Falcon home in eighth, Kyle Johnson (above left) ninth in the Datto 1600 and Dale Cagney 10th in the Mazda Coupe.
Whitehead continued on in Round 2, only a half a second clear of Thomas, Jayden Edwards, Barry Edwards, Kirby fifth, Bowering holding onto sixth, Kyle Johnson seventh, Gary Brown eighth, Geoff Wilson ninth and Cagney 10th.
With several areas on the track opening up, some places required a little extra caution, but Thomas made good use of the rally developed suspension and set the pace with a very good run of 1:48.15 seconds, to hold out Whitehead’s buggy by a second and a half. Jayden Edwards again made third spot, Kirby doing enough on this run to pinch fourth from Barry Edwards, Cagney learning a 2WD Front Wheel Drive made it up the list to sixth, less than a tenth of a second in front of Gary Brown seventh, Johnson eighth, Ashton Slotegraaf ninth and Keith Cuttle doing an excellent job in the Commodore rounding out the top 10.
Round 4 underway, track surface showing its age from constant race traffic and mother nature’s control required even more concentration to avoid the worst spots.
Whitehead rode the bumps well and again made it the time to beat, with a 1:48.13 second blast that Thomas could not match on this round with his 1:51.09 for the second spot on the time sheet, Jayden Edwards 1:51.32 run his best for the day and enough for third with Dad, Barry doing a 1:51.40 and locking in fourth. Kirby’s 1:54.12 run gave him fifth, Johnson sixth, Cagney seventh, Slotegraaf made it a round with a 1:57.94 second run his best run for the day, giving him eighth spot, Brown in ninth and Cuttle again making the Top 10 with his 1:59.81 seconds effort in the Commodore. The track conditions had by now claimed a few cars with four or five succumbing to the testing conditions.
A double lap was the requirement for Round 5 and Thomas made the quickest run, a second clear of Whitehead in second, J Edwards third, Kirby fourth, B Edwards fifth, Gary Brown sixth, Dale Cagney, improving at each run, next in seventh, Kyle Johnson also improving at each run in his tidy 1600 Datsun eighth. Kevin Millard did a patch job on the BMW’s cooling system from an earlier failure and got it going for this round and collected 9th spot as a reward. Mark Jennings made it into the 10 with his double lap effort of 3:58.32 seconds a fitting reward in the FG Falcon he share drives with Browny.
With still plenty of daylight, Round 6 took place before a tea break and Thomas improved his time each run, this one a very quick 1:47.44 seconds setting the pace for the rest to beat.
Barry Edwards pulled a 1:50.56 to be the best of the rest in a pretty good drive of his Commodore. Kirby made third spot by a hundredth of a second from Jayden Edwards, 1:51.93 and 1:51.94 for each effort. Whitehead had to settle for fifth half a second behind, with Kyle Johnson nipping at his heels in sixth (1:53.90) Gary Brown seventh, Cagney eighth, Ashton Slotegraaf ninth and Mark Jennings 10th.
Lights fitted and tea completed, Round 7 got underway and no surprise to find Thomas at the top of the time sheet, with the conditions all suiting the well prepared Subaru Rally WRX and a driver fresh from a win in the VCRS series the week before, some six seconds clear of a big effort from Jayden Edwards in second place. Matt Kirby also did well in his Laser, making it home in third spot, half a second in front of Barry Edwards, Kyle Johnson fifth, Whitehead sixth, Brown making it all look so easy in the long-suffering FG Falcon, next home in seventh, Cagney eighth, Slotegraaf ninth and Director Dan (Oldaker) getting home in 10th spot.
Penultimate Round 8 and Thomas made another top entry well clear of a big charge from Jayden Edwards and John Whitehead, second and third, Barry Edwards fourth, Johnson fifth, Matt Kirby sixth, Brown seventh, Slotegraaf in eighth, Max Viitanen making it into ninth spot with another well driven lap and improving at each outing and Dale Cagney rounding out the top 10.
Last round, track rough, grooves showing, Sam Thomas rolled around to finish the day with an undamaged car and points for the quickest lap of 1:51.12, closely followed by John Whitehead (1:52.09) Jayden Edwards (1:52.81) for another third, Gary Brown (1:56.50) fourth, Barry Edwards (1:56.75) in another good day at the office fifth.
Kyle Johnson is showing signs of following his dad, Ian’s long chequered history of Motorsport, improving each time he gets some seat time in the tidy Datto. No doubt Ian has passed on a pointer or two about how to go quickly. Kyle has ended this outing with sixth quickest lap time (1:58.97) and holding out a big drive from Ashton Slotegraaf in his Falcon (2:00.00) seventh, Cagney (2:02.15) eighth, Oldaker (2:02.25) ninth and Keith Cuttle again making the 10 with his 2:06.44 second lap.
1 Sam Thomas 20:12.74
2 John Whitehead 20:32.59
3 Jayden Edwards 20:43.87
4 Barry Edwards 20:58.49
5 Matt Kirby 21:25.01
6 Kyle Johnson 21:31.20
7 Gary Brown 21:35.29
8 Dale Cagney 21:52.09
9 Ashton Slotegraaf 22:10.80
10 Keith Cuttle 22:36.49
11 Max Viitanen 22:46.97
12 Patrick Hughes 22:57.22
13 Harrison Bliss 24:51.72
14 Shania Whitehead 37:24.96
Balance of competitors did not score in all nine rounds.
Results will be added to the past rounds and winners will be advised at the club presentation dinner at a venue and date to be advised.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF DARREN ARCHIBALD (TURN8 PHOTOGRAPHY)