18 May – Sefton Autocross

A cloudy morning with little wind (pretty good for Autocrosses really!) greeted crews at the Price property near Sefton for the first autocross of the 2003 club championship. The first course had already been laid out the night before and with documentation out of the way 19 drivers took the indian file. The course was quite open and fast, suiting the larger capacity cars well. With times being accumulated throughout the day to decide the winner, everyone would have to keep it fairly tidy. An interesting piece of machinery entered was paddock owner Michael Price in a Cortina (listed on his entry as a “Ford Slow”) he had dragged out from under a hedge, put a battery in and pumped up the tyres! It was great to see a number of new competitors at the event, most in road cars.

Hayden Riddle laid down quite a challenge to the rest of the drivers in his Mazda 323 GTX road car, going just over a second quicker than the following cars. Brent Sibley charged into the course and scored the second fastest time in the first run in his Escort. John Beasley in the road-going WRX equalled Sibley’s time for the run. Scott Reid’s brother Nathan brought his grass kart along for a blat and set a time equal again to Sibley and Beasley’s (and interestingly also drove Scott’s Escort to a time seven seconds behind that of the grass kart,.. we wonder what vehicle is more suited to this environment!). With the short course being only 40s or so in duration, the times of the chasing pack were very close indeed. Don Mathias was half a second further back in the Starlet and Grant Goile’s car sounded like it was only running on three cylinders and he was a further second in arrears. Bryan Chang in the Commodore Ute off-roader was going well, albeit with a little too much ground clearance for this type of event! Michelle Reid in the TeamRFR Corolla led the ladies class from Juliet Abbott driving Brent Sibley’s Escort.

Run 2 saw a few fortunes change, along with the course which got a couple more kinks and some tweaks to rutted corners to bypass the holes. Nick Marston sharing brother Josh’s Starlet clouted a marker early in run 2 and suffered a penalty. Don Mathias clipped one also, and Grant Goile hit a cone in the finish chute so both these close competitors were going to have to drive hard in the final run to catch up. Benefiting from the two class leaders mistakes was David Fletcher in the Corolla KE20 who went into the lead in the small-car class following the second run. Funnily enough the same car in the hands of Andy Reid was 0.05 seconds faster over the run. Anthony Reed had repowered his Starlet with a 5K and found corners coming up a bit more quickly than previously, making for a fun day down on the farm.

In run 3 Hayden Riddle snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, running into two markers and transforming a fastest of all 1m34s into an ordinary 1m43s. Brent Sibley got half way around the course when the electrics failed on the Escort bringing it to a stop (I’m sure you all know the acronyms for “Ford” that we could dredge up here but we won’t go there as it is quite frankly just too easy). The car was towed out by Andy Reid in the temporary recovery vehicle that conveniently was sitting on the start line as Sibley’s car had it’s mishap. Michelle Reid made a comeback in the ladies class to take the win. Josh Marston, while not happy with his run 1 time, got steadily faster throughout the day and took third in the 1301-1600cc class with a consistent performance. Marchal Head in the Corolla DX-4AGE took the win in that class (and third overall) followed by Scott Reid in his 4AGE powered Escort (which incidentally had not blown a motor at Hanmer as previously reported, but in fact suffered drivetrain damage). With the grass kart not eligible for overall points, John Beasley in the WRX road car, who cranked around the course and didn’t put a wheel wrong all day took out the overall win, followed by a resurgent Grant Goile. Fastest rookie of the day was Patrick Sullivan in his Mazda GTX, followed by Matthew Paulson in his Starlet road car.

There was a healthy amount of spectators at the event so thanks to all those who took the time to come out and support the sausage sizzle, and watch some cars throwing around bits of paddock. Everyone agreed that the courses that had been laid out were excellent, a great mix of sweeping and tighter corners. Event organiser Simone Trezise (thanks Si!) was happy with the day, which ran very smoothly, and there was even time for a fourth “fun run” after the certificates were handed out to the winners. Thanks to Royce Watson for scrutineering and witty repartee, David Fletcher and Gavin Henson for operating the timing gear, and to Michael Price for the use of his land. Thanks to everybody who helped pack up at the end, it proved that many hands do indeed make light work. Thanks also to Don Mathias for bringing the club van (and taking it back again!). See you all at the Ashley Forest sprint!