Moffat muscling up for Masters
Ford legend heads the golden oldies at Sydney Motorsport Park
Allan Moffat and Colin Bond, the two drivers who took the chequered flag glory in the Falcon’s greatest on-track highlight – the spectacular Blue Oval one-two in the 1977 Bathurst 1000 – will be among the star legends at the 12th running of the marvellous retro Muscle Car Masters at Sydney Motorsport Park (SMP) over the last weekend of this month.
Along with fellow Bathurst Great Race winners in V8 machines - Fred Gibson, Allan Grice, and John French – the old team-mates Moffat and Bond will be at SMP for autograph signings and meet ‘n’ greet sessions.
Fans of early-days touring car racing (and rallying) will be delighted to learn that a special guest will be one of the original Flying Finns, Rauno Aaltonen, who with Bob Holden shared the winning Mini Cooper S in the 1966 Gallagher 500 (mile) race at Bathurst, leading a sweep by the little ‘bricks’ of the first nine places.
The celebration of Australia’s muscle car heritage and a tribute to the drivers that raced so many iconic cars of the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s will this year include an expanded programme of six competitive categories, plus demonstration events for the valuable cars of the golden era.
Bathurst 1000 winners Jim Richards and John Bowe will be working up a sweat on track along with Glenn Seton – the former two-times touring car champion
The new date of October 29-30 is proving popular with those who often had commitments on Father’s Day (the long-time slot for MCM).
Returning categories include Heritage Touring Cars (Group C/A), Australian Trans-Am, Historic Touring Cars (Group N) and Group S (production sports cars).
The 2016 Masters will also feature a new 'Sports Racing Car Invitational' demonstration session for historically-significant vehicles. Invited cars will come from the ranks of Sports Sedans, GT cars, plus Can-Am and Le Mans-style sports cars.
And a special all-Mini race, for cars from the Group Nb ranks, will be held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cooper S's win in the 1966 Bathurst 500.
Big-banger FT5000 set for Muscle Car Masters demo
Prototype of new open wheeler successfully roars through successful shakedown
A bold new prototype open-wheeler car which revives memories of the golden era of Formula 5000 is set for demonstration laps as part of the annual Muscle Car Masters event at Sydney Motorsport Park after surviving a searching initial shakedown session at Winton raceway.
The prototype FT5000 car will be making its public debut with demo runs at SMP on October 29-30.
Nearly 12 months of design and car construction at Borland Racing in Melbourne culminated in the car turning a wheel for the first time at the northern Victorian track.
Formula 3 champion Tim Macrow took the wheel of the V8-powered car for the day, initially working through a program of technical systems checks, before cranking up the pace through the afternoon.
“It couldn’t have been a more productive day for day one with a brand new race car,” said Chris Lambden, who has overseen the development of the FT5000 concept to date.
“The systems checks – primarily ensuring the engine, gearbox, and MoTeC system were speaking to each other correctly – were done by lunchtime, and Tim was able to push things along later in the day, even though we were running the car in relatively conservative spec.
“All our technical partners had someone on hand for the day and, I’d have to say, everything went like clockwork, which is a great credit to all of them. After all the work that has gone in, it was pretty exciting to see and hear the car on track.”
Lambden feels the public demo of his new car at the MCM is a great way of bringing his concept to the people at which it is aimed – those with a fondness for the glory days of open-wheel racing in Australasia.
The FT5000 emerged from a desire to create a cost-controlled ‘Big Banger’ crowd-pleasing, modern open-wheeler race car, at the same time providing an exciting challenge for top racing drivers, from Formula Ford/Four graduates to more experienced racers.
Based on a chassis design by American company Swift Engineering and modified to suit, it utilises a 5.0-litre V8-engined, big tyres, modest downforce philosophy which, even prior to the car’s completion, has created a lot of interest.
The Hulk jumps from Force India
And the tall guy is likely to land at Renault
Nico Hülkenberg has announced he’s leaving the solid-performing Mercedes-powered (but cash strapped) Force India team from the end of the season, his likely destination being a seat at the under-performing Renault factory team.
Hülkenberg is something of an enigma, having at times shown sizzling speed but also struggling to manage his tyres in the way necessary these days if a driver is to score a swag of points on a regular basis.
Like Mark Webber before him, The Hulk is a tall chap, meaning car designers have a greater packaging challenge and must work harder to get him comfortable in the cockpit.
At 29, Hülkenberg is running short of opportunities at the highest level. But there are no guarantees that Renault (which had been chasing Sergio Perez until he re-signed with Force India), will be much improved over its dismal 2016 form. It’s chassis/aero development is constrained by the lack of superstar technical people and the Renault engine is still not yet a match for Mercedes and perhaps Ferrari.
On the other hand, little Force India sits fourth in constructor’s title chase and the team fights above its weight and budget. Its chassis works well with the tyres, and the Merc engine provides a guarantee of straightline competitiveness.
But The Hulk clearly felt the need to get into a works outfit.