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Australian Phillip Island Classic 2022

by Digital Mayne Media

Historic Racing at its best at the 2022 Australian Phillip Island Classic.

The Phillip Island circuit is two and three-quarter miles of flowing racetrack in a truly picturesque setting with the ocean as its backdrop. The Victorian Historic Racing Register (VHRR) once again staged the biggest historic event in Australia, its March Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport, this time without the COVID-19 restrictions that banned spectators in 2021.

There were no international cars due to shipping difficulties, but 450 entries as received provided interesting fields across a wide range of categories from the Australian favourites, 5 litre V8 TouringCars, through to a field of fifty-seven Formula Fords. This huge field included three overseas drivers, Richard Tarling from the UK, Gislain Genecand from Switzerland and Xavier Michel from France to do battle with the locals for The Perkins Cup, named to honour the Australian Perkins brothers, Larry and Terry who both won the Australian Formula Ford title in the nineteen-seventies before going on to success in Europe.

The International drivers enjoyed great success with Gislain Genecand winning the Formula Ford outright with Richard Tarling seventh and Xavier Michel eleventh in a 57-car grid. The Don Kinsey Encouragement Award for Young Drivers went to 16-year-old junior member, William Sala driving a 1975 Elfin Formula V and winner of the Q & R F5000, F1, Indy Cars and Invited, was won by Guido Belgiorno-Nettis in his 1985 Ferrari 156/85. In Saturday’s race the Guido was challenged closely by 2nd place winner Grant Doulman in a 1988 Shrike NB89H although Guido stretched the margin out in Sunday’s final race. Q & R Sports & P & Invited was won handsomely from start to finish by Thomas Tweedie in a 1974 Elfin MS7 who wasn’t seriously challenged over the three day event.

Larry Perkins and his son Jack were at the Island to race Holden Commodores in the Australian fans’ favourite category, the 5 litre touring car races. Following his successes in Europe, Larry became a local legend in touring cars and the seventy-one-year-old, six-time winner of the Bathurst 1000-kilometre race, was enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of historic racing. Jack was the outright winner of this spirited challenge.

Andy Newall was the fourth overseas driver to make the trip down under. Unfortunately, Andy’s borrowed McLaren M6B suffered a hub failure on Friday so he missed racing on the weekend.

The single seater event for cars from the seventies through to the nineties provided the fascinating sight of famed racing car designer Malcolm Oastler in a Ralt RT1 dicing with a Reynard 92D, a car he designed. After following the Reynard for a number of laps Oastler edged his 1600cc Ralt past the three-litre car taking fourth place in the Sunday morning race. Perhaps the Reynard driver, Duncan MacKellar sought out Oastler after the race to ask his advice on setting up the Reynard.

The winner of the Sir Jack Brabham Trophy for Driver of the Meeting was Nick Bennett who raced in two categories and achieved 3 outright wins in Class M & O Sports Racing driving a 1970 Elfin TC-W 600B.

Three days of historic racing in the sunshine was the perfect way to blow away the COVID blues of the previous two years. Many of the spectators took the opportunity to drive their special cars to the track, with car clubs providing displays in the vast area overlooking the main straight. Hopefully next year some international cars can add further interest to the VHRR’s impressive event.

For more information on the event visit vhrr.com

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