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It's nostalgic wandering around Calder Park. That huge Thunderdome is still a sight to behold, and what a place it was in it's heydey. People thought Bob Jane was mad trying to bring yank-tank -turn- left racing down under but for ten years he pulled off quite a promoter's dream. Now it looks unkempt and overgrown, with the occasional souped-up sedan doing corporate rides around it's bumpy surface.


One wonders how much longer the venue can survive the urban crawl but it seems that it is still being run by people with passion.

Kudos to the Victorian Superkart Club for organising the meeting. There were some sacrifices to be made, but it was nice to have our own class races and a generous dose of heats and laps and it was worth every cent. Having said that, around 45 laps of Calder Park reminds you that you're not young anymore.

The circuit has varying levels of grip, ranging from none to very little. Just when you think you've nailed a corner, the next lap it will spit you off . But it was the same for everyone. Exiting onto the drag strip is particularly interesting. Not often does a Rotax get wheelspin in the dry.

In Rotax Heavies it was the "yellow untouchables"- the Howard Equipment Racing pair of Rod Clark and Peter Howard, and Wicksy filling up the top spots. This time however they had an interloper in the form of 250 Superkart legend Colin McIntyre, jumping into a Max and putting it on pole. Andrew Jackman, yours truly, Lee Filliponi and David Byrne were haggling over "best of the rest" honours although we all managed to stick in amongst the yellow terrors for a spell. Jackman in particular did extremely well, despite giving away more kilos than most of us. However, I still cannot forgive him for usurping the last pair of green race boots in the known universe.

Race 1

I got a blinder of a start for a change and settled in behind McIntyre, Wicksy, Clark and Howard. After a couple of laps the inevitable happened and my thing just didn't have the grunt to stay with them. Still, it was a safe fifth place from Andrew Jackman. Safe, that is, from everything but my own stupidity as I looped it going into the esses at the end of the back straight, with a wide-eyed Jackman working out which side of me to go. Not quite the whole field streamed past.



oops

I picked off two or three spots, then Filliponi had a spin in turn two on the final lap giving me another leg up. Damage was minimised, with a 7th place but I was none too pleased with myself.

Race 2

The start was almost as good as the first- sniffing at the Big Four for a while. Colin McIntyre parked it on the main straight. Then Filliponi and I commenced the mother of all battles, which lasted the entire race. Our straightline speed was so identical we could have swapped karts whilst in motion. At the end of the long, long Calder main straight into the narrowing and very bumpy braking area we banged wheels at 160km/h (or whatever) more than once. Lee got the better of me in the braking duels and occasionally I'd pip him coming over Bob Jane's hill or exiting onto the main straight.


It was this close for 8 laps

Almost anticlimactically, Lee made a tiny error through the esses on the last lap and I scrambled home ahead, into 4th place. It was a nerve-testing, ballistic fight. Beats driving around on your own. The volunteer trackside folks thought it was great, giving us a rousing applause on the slowdown lap. Wicksy cleaned up the win with Rod Clarke a very close second and the impressive Andrew Jackman and his green boots in 3rd.

Race 3

So maybe I only make errors in odd-numbered heats. This time my start wasn't so good and I got buried mid-field. Running about 6th I had a lazy half-lose exiting the final turn and dropped again. The fact that many were having, um, "grip problems" on the day was no consolation. I was infuriated.




Overall Heavies winner Rod Clarke in the immaculate Howards Equipment Racing Arrow

I seemed to have good speed through the left hander up Bob's hill, but this almost brought me undone. Getting a good run on Gary Vick #49 on the way out I thought he'd left me room on the right, so I breezed on by only for the gap to close. A brief bit of bush tracking ensued, and the bouncing bashed my knee into the steering mounts which brought on a sudden dose of leg cramp. In my throttle leg. Very inconvenient. It seemed I'd reached my "threshold of stupidity", where ideally I need to stop, have a cup of tea, and calm down.

9th place. Not happy Jan.

Race 4

Being an even-numbered heat, I didn't make any stupid mistakes this time. The starts were becoming a little less spectacular as the spark plug was oiling up. Still I was in the front half and had the ringside seat to witness Wicksy do an amazing 360 deg spin through the flip-flop and keep going. I had a few laps battling with Brendan Luneman, joined briefly by Wicksy as he stormed back to fourth place. I cleared Luneman and set off after 5th placed Andrew Jackman. The gap was too great so I had to settle for 6th.

And 6th place was my overall position. The three yellows were as fast as ever, the evergreen McIntyre won every heat he finished, Rod Clark was one of the few to make no mistakes with second place in every heat, and Jackman was amongst them. Under these circumstances, 6th was acceptable, the mistakes in heats 1 and 3 were not as costly as they could have been. But they did cost...



"Seriously Jon, that motorhome you've given me needs marble benchtops. I can't work in these conditions..."

 

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