8-4-2019 The CPR Kart Parts Aussie Mixed and Fixed Monday Night Series went to Phillip Island this week with the V8 Supercars. A strong field showed up for this popular and tricky car to provide what would be a great and challenging night of racing. Stephen Varga would smash out a stunning lap time of 1:31.209 in the shoot out to lead away the field of 26 cars from Pole Position.
The race got underway cleanly. Chris Pellatt was the first casualty, taking avoiding action to the left on approach to Honda Corner saw him catch the grass on the outside and go into a half spin from 13th position. Quickly regathering his Falcon he would rejoin in 19th position. David Miller lead the field across the start finish line after the first lap. Varga, Damon Mulqueen, Nathan Anderson and Tyler Blackburn hot on the chase. Tight racing continued throughout the pack as the field jockeyed for position, but none of them could match the pace of the lead group of 5 cars as they began to open a gap to the pack behind.
Lap 2 would see Varga pounce on Miller, on the ragged limits of adhesion braking into Honda, he just managed to get the big Holden pulled up and turned in for the corner, Miller gave him plenty of space allowing Varga to secured the lead. From here he set to building himself a small cushion in front. Mulqueen remained hot on the heels of Miller. Anderson and Blackburn began to slowly slip off of the back of the podium. Paul Jones in 6th was barely managing to keep position a second or so back, with another large gap behind himself to the rest of the pack.
The 5th lap would see an opportunistic lunge in Southern Loop from Marty Hansen on Chris Pellatt as he slowed slightly off line to avoid the rejoining Brady McHugh. Throwing his car into a gap that was already closing saw contact and the unfortunate Pellatt spinning around for a second time. Race control deemed Hansen at fault and the stop and go was issued.
Varga continued his run off into the distance while those chasing behind battled the track and the machines. Small errors would allow gaps to close and extend throughout the course of any given lap, sometimes nose to tail, sometimes with several car lengths between each of them as Jones now took up position on the end of the leading train, making it 5 cars long from 2nd to 6th position.
Blackburn would be the first of the leading group to pit on lap 8. After a clean stop he rejoined the track in 16th position and set about trying to make the most of his undercut as he battled his way past the cars yet to make their stop. Mulqueen, Anderson and Jones all pitted on lap 9, as Anderson left the pits Blackburn would find himself side by side and fired it down the inside for the fast right hand Doohan Corner, managed to slot himself safely infront before switching left into Southern Loop. Varga would pit the lap after, Blackburn again finding himself in prime position to ambush into Doohan as Varga left the pits, his small lead eradicated through the first series of pit stops. The revised order at the front was now Mulqueen from Blackburn and Varga, Anderson and Miller behind, with Jones having again dropped a little off of the back of the lead pack after finding himself stuck behind slower traffic that had not yet pitted.
Varga would immediately go on the offensive to try reclaim his lost positions, sending it down the inside into Honda, he held the outside through Siberia, racing side by side with Blackburn on the approach to Lukey Heights were he found himself on the outside scrabbling for grip over the hump. Somehow he found the grip to hold position, setting himself square on the inside for the downhill brake into the turn 10 hairpin, slotting in front after a brilliant sequence of side by side racing from both drivers. Perhaps sensing weakness, Anderson would follow Varga’s example and attack Blackburn down the inside into Honda the next time around, managing to slot cleanly in front and claim 3rd position as they accelerated out onto the short burst before Siberia. Anderson, Blackburn and Miller maintained tight formation as Varga cleared out down the round on the hunt to reclaim the lead position from Mulqueen.
Varga manages to close the gap within a couple of laps and attacks downhill off of Lukey Heights, the two lead cars racing side by side through turns 11 and 12 and on to the front straight as the trio behind continue to scrabble and trade positions. Mulqueen manages to hold the inside line through the final two but this places Varga on the inside for Doohan and by the time they are into Southern Loop Varga has reclaimed the lead of the race and again sets about trying to build himself a gap.
After 16 laps of racing, Anderson has managed to get himself in front of Blackburn and Miller, Blackburn responds by again being the first of the lead cars to dive into the pit lane. Mulqueen, Anderson and Miller all pit on lap 17, but this time the undercut does not work in Blackburns favour, Anderson gains a small gap, Miller still remaining behind in effective 5th position. A bad run with traffic and a few small errors sees Blackburn and Miller both close back onto the tail of Anderson. It seems Anderson has begun to struggle under brakes, but puffs of smoke from locked wheels have been a familiar sight all race from all cars involved. Varga pits lap 19 and rejoins safely in the lead.
Lap 20, and pushing hard trying to maintain his position on the podium, Anderson slips up, running wide onto the grass on the exit of 11, he manages to recover quickly from the small slide caused be the sudden lack of grap, but it is enough to allow Blackburn and Miller to fire past, Anderson rejoins in 5th position with a small gap to the two in front. Anderson’s misfortune allows Miller a run out of the final turn, giving him the inside line for Doohan, but he can’t quite make it stick and Blackburn holds on to his position through Southern Loop. Blackburn then makes an error into Honda going deep under brakes, and that is all the invitation Miller needs to dive past and up into 3rd position.
Blackburn tries to have a couple of looks back over the next few laps, but Miller is to strong in the closing stages and slowly edges away from him to claim a well deserved 3rd position on the podium after battling hard for the entire race. Mulqueen holds on to his 2nd position from a dominant Stephen Varga who edged away to claim his victory on the back of a 7 second lead. All in all it was an excellent night of close, hard fought racing throughout the field. All drivers showed great respect to each other on a difficult circuit with difficult cars to make for an enjoyable evening. A credit to all involved.
Next week sees another long format round, the Radical SR8 will be racing on the Motegi East circuit, we look forward to seeing you there.