2017 Motorsport Year in Review

2017 has been a year to remember in motorsports worldwide, with champions crowned, rising stars established and the rest going back to the drawing board hoping for a more successful 2018. At Rare Spares we’ve been glued to our TV sets throughout the year keeping track of all the major forms of racing around the globe. From TCM to Formula 1, in this article we’ll take a quick look at the categories that caught our eyes in 2017.

Touring Car Masters

Touring Car Masters produced another classic racing season as Steve Johnson stormed his way through the second half of the season to take out the Pro class. John Bowe and Adam Bressington rounded out the podium, while a huge crash at Winton captured headlines when a no less than 12 cars were caught up in a pile up at the second corner. The TCM category is going from strength to strength attracting a number of ex pro’s providing the ultimate challenge to the amateur participants.

Supercars Australia Championship

What a season for Supercars, Jamie Whincup took the title for the seventh time, with the fight between himself and Scott McLaughlin coming down to the very last lap of the season. The eventual margin of victory was 21 points after McLaughlin was penalised 25 seconds for squeezing a hard charging Craig Lowndes into the wall on the last lap of the season. David Reynolds and Luke Youlden were popular Bathurst 1000 winners while Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen took out the Enduro Cup. The category’s first female driver Simona Di Silvestro finished in 24th place, but produced a few moments that suggest 2018 could be an exciting year for the Swiss native.

Bathurst 12 Hour

Taking place way back in February, the Bathurst 12 hour was won by Marinello Racing with Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup and Toni Vilander behind the wheel. Shane Van Gisbergen and his Scott Taylor Motorsports teammates put up an incredible fight before SVG put the incredible AMG into the wall while trying to chase down his Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup. The 2018 edition is fast approaching, and catching our eyes is the inclusion of a classic car event at this year’s 12 hour. Group S cars will be taking to the grid, with everything from Austin Healy’s, MG’s and Porsche’s taking part in a support race.

Formula 1

British superstar Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth World Championship and Mercedes claimed their fourth constructer’s championship in a row. Ferrari regained some level of form in 2017 as Sebastian Vettel held the points lead for much of the first half of the season. Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was left frustrated due to the lack of pace and reliability in Red Bull’s 2017 power units, meaning only one win was recorded for the popular West Australian.

NASCAR & IndyCar

Martin Truex Jnr took out the premier class of NASCAR in 2017, winning the final event in Miami to round out the ‘playoff’ series with a lead of 5 points over Kyle Busch. IndyCar headlines were dominated by Fernando Alonso in 2017 as he began his quest to conquer motorsports ‘Triple Crown’ (Monaco GP, Indy 500 & Le Mans). Alonso impressed in his first IndyCar outing at the Indy 500 and even led the prestigious race at one point before an all too familiar Honda engine failure left the Spaniard stranded. Takuma Sato won the event while Josef Newgarden went on to take out the title.

What was your favourite motorsport moment in 2017? Or maybe you have some predictions for 2018? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

John Bowe 2017 Touring Car Masters season review

Rare Spares Brand Ambassador and our long-time friend John Bowe has just wrapped up his 2017 Touring Car Masters campaign at the Newcastle 500 over the weekend. In what was a hard fought series Bowe and his Torana SL/R 5000 spent many rounds at the front of the pack and even led the series coming in to the final round. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as he could do little to stop the hard charging Steve Johnson on the tight streets of Newcastle’s East End. In this week’s blog, we’ll take a quick look at Bowe’s incredible season.

The 2017 TCM season kicked off way back in March at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and for Bowe the season started with a bang. Bowe was challenged early in both races 1 & 2 before recording victory in both, while a 6th in race 3 was enough to guarantee him the round victory. Round 2 at Winton saw one of the biggest accidents in the category’s history and unfortunately Bowe was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Race 1 went swimmingly for the number 18 Torana as Bowe worked from 23rd on the grid to take the win, a monumental effort around the short Victorian circuit.

Race 2 was where it all went pear shaped for a large number of the TCM field as Jason Gomersall span in front of the following pack as he rounded the 2nd corner on the first lap. Gomersall span into the path of Eddie Abelnica and his XB Falcon before being collected by Mark King’s Camaro, leaving both cars with very heavy front end damage. The ensuing pack had nowhere to go, with a number of cars finding each other or the surrounding walls. Bowe was sandwiched in the middle of all the action and the resulting broken ribs ensured a non-start for race 3 and a short stint in hospital for the fan favourite.

Bowe was able to make a speedy recovery from the massive shunt to line up only four weeks later at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. It wasn’t quite a fairytale comeback as a gearbox issue left the Torana in a plume of smoke early on in the first race. Some quick work was done to the Torana and he was able to make it back on to the circuit for races 2 & 3, finishing in 2nd and 1st respectively.

On to Queensland Raceway and after recording his 90th victory in the TCM category Bowe left the event sharing the championship points lead with Adam Bressington. The ‘paper-clip’ as it’s known in the industry provides a unique challenge to competitors with a number of difficult breaking sections wreaking havoc on the TCM field. Sandown provided a unique challenge to competitors as race 1 was run in terribly wet conditions. The conditions provided a shuffle in the running order with Bowe finishing in 8th. Race 2 was abandoned while Bowe was out in front after Gomersall parked his Torana in the tyres at the end of the back straight. Wrapping up the weekend with a 2nd in race 3, Bowe was able to take the lead in the championship over his rivals.

While Bathurst wasn’t a bad weekend for Bowe by any stretch of the imagination, the event began the late season run of Steve Johnson. Scoring 4,2,2 finishes throughout the weekend was enough for Bowe to maintain the championship lead, however closing quickly was Johnson who took 2 of the 3 victories throughout the weekend at the mountain.

Bowe entered the final round with a 5 point lead, however was only able to manage 3rd in both races, making up ground throughout the first half of the track but struggling to keep up with the big Mustang of Johnson and the Camaro of Bressington down the more open sections of the track. The championship went to Johnson who won both races and the image of Bowe congratulating Johnson post-race will be go down as one of Australian motorsports great moments of sportsmanship.

As well as TCM racing, Bowe has kept busy piloting a number of different race cars throughout the country this year at a host of different events. Take a look at his Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the incredible cars John gets behind the wheel of – very impressive!

What was your favourite moment of the 2017 TCM season? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

The Introduction of the V6 Twin Turbo to Supercars

Way back in 2014, it was announced that Supercars (formally V8 Supercars) were going to open up their rules starting in 2017 to allow cars other than 4 door sedans and engines other than 5 litre V8’s into the category. Dreams of Camaro’s, Mustang’s and GTR’s instantly overcame the Supercars fan base. Fast forward to the 2017 season and no teams or manufacturers had taken up the offer to run a new car in the category. We have however, received an insight in to the future of the category via the Red Bull Triple Eight Racing Team, who have been developing both their ZB Commodore body and more importantly the 3.6 litre Twin Turbo V6 engine.

With a reported 475kw, the new powerplant was manufactured in Pontiac, Michigan before being shipped to Triple Eight Racing for testing in their Sandman ride day car. And while we will only see the engine on track in select events in 2018, preparations are well underway with all three of Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen spinning laps in the Sandman. So it’s all systems go from a development side of things, but how do the general punters feel about the move?

Well, it’s fair to say the public’s opinion on the issue is all over the place. Triple Eight Racing recently released footage of the Sandman cutting laps around the Norwell Motorplex in Queensland and opened the floor for feedback from Supercars fans. Some think it’s absolute sacrilege that anything other than a big V8 will grace the starter at Bathurst, Sandown or Surfers Paradise. Others were pleasantly surprised by the unique sound provided by the boosted small capacity V6. I’m sure that the very Facebook comments section below this blog will provide a wide array of opinions and beliefs on the topic!

Alas, the V6 is on its way and you can’t help but wonder how it will stack up. Will it be a case of miscalculation, where the new option comes in and lays waste to the competition? Or will the engineers strike the perfect balance of power and controllability that ensures that the Supercars of the future are not all that different to years past? Time will tell.

Detractors will point to the Nissan Skyline’s of the early 90’s that were just about unstoppable at the hands of Mark Skaife and Jim Richards as to why mixing naturally aspirated engines and their force fed cousins is a recipe for disaster. They’ll also point to the fact that there won’t be a twin turbo production Commodore available to the general public as a reason for their lack of enthusiasm. But technology has come a long way in the last decade and it’s been quite some time since Supercars closely resembled any sort of production car. So in this writer’s humble opinion, providing the racing is still interesting, the crowds will flock and the modern day ‘Australian Touring Car Championship’ will live on.

What are your thoughts on the introduction of the twin turbocharged V6 to the Supercars championship? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook Page and let us know in the comments section below.

1979 Bathurst Re-cap

In the lead up to this year’s Bathurst 1000, Rare Spares are taking a look back at some of the most memorable Bathurst’s in history. We kicked things off with a look at the 1992 Bathurst 1000, which you can read about here. In this second installment, we will be re-capping the 1979 Hardie Ferodo 1000, an event that typifies the legend of the late great, Peter Brock.

Peter Brock, 34 at the time with three Bathurst victories under his belt, was partnered with New Zealander Jim Richards and the all-conquering A9X Torana. Coming off a second place finish in the 1979 Australian Touring Car Championship, Brock and co-driver Richards were undoubtedly favourites for the big race.

After dominating practice, qualifying and the Hardies Heroes Top Ten Shootout to the tune of a 2 second victory, Brock started the race from the front of the grid. With the likes of Larry Perkins, Allan Grice, Allan Moffat, Dick Johnson and Bob Morris fronting the starter some were predicting it mightn’t be the walk in the park that many thought was a guaranteed. Well any doubters were silenced almost immediately with Brock pulling out to a 5 second lead within the first lap.

Brock dominated the first 2 hours of proceedings before pitting for fuel and allowing Richards to jump behind the wheel of the mighty Torana. The domination continued throughout Richards’ stint, who performed the role of a model co-driver by running fast, clean laps before handing the car back over to Brock to bring it home. The final stint of the race has gone down in racing folklore. Brock continued to run rings around the field, eventually taking the chequered flag some six laps ahead of the competition, even managing to break the circuit lap record on the final lap of the race! 

The Torana domination wasn’t confined to the top step of the podium either, with the next seven, yes you read that correctly, seven positions also occupied by Toranas! After the race Brock described the race as “An absolute dream run for us. From the word go the car was really on the ball and we drove it fast all day. We didn’t have to slow down for any reason.”

Of course, Brocky would go on to win five more Bathurst’s and the 24hour race in 2003, making him the most successful racer at the mountain, it is this race though that is remembered as one of his best.

Which year at Bathurst should we re-cap next? Do you have a favourite Bathurst memory? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

1992 Bathurst Re-cap

As the Supercar enduro cup is about to begin and the iconic Bathurst 1000 creeps up on us at a rapid rate, we’ve decided to produce a series of articles on some of the more memorable Bathurst’s over the years. We chose to begin with 1992 for a number of reasons, firstly it’s one of the more controversial Bathurst in the race’s history, and with the re-introduction of turbochargers in 2018 (in the form of wildcard entries) creating a bit of talk currently, we thought it would be worth checking out the last time turbo’s hit the mountain.

For a bit of background in the 1992 event, Jim Richards and a young Mark Skaife had been campaigning the all-conquering Nissan GT-R throughout the 1991 and 1992 seasons with a championship a piece and Bathurst victory in 91 to boot. To say that the ‘Godzilla’ wasn’t universally loved would be an understatement. Ford and Holden fans were displeased with the GT-R’s perceive benefits, namely four-wheel drive and a power advantage.

Bathurst weekend arrived and to the joy of Ford fans, Dick Johnson was able to upstage the GT-R in the top 10 shootout, putting down an incredible time in his Ford Sierra RS500 with Skaife following almost 2 seconds behind. On race day, the track was hit with severe weather (eventually resulting in 16 DNF’s), with Richards’ and Skaife’s four wheel drive GT-R benefitting from the inclement conditions.

In the early stages of the race, tragedy struck. New Zealander Denny Hulme lost his life after suffering a heart attack mid-race. Hulme’s car came to a rest on Conrod straight under seemingly innocuous circumstances, before he was then transferred to Bathurst Hospital where he passed away.

Racing resumed after a prolonged safety car period and as conditions worsened the majority of the field pit for wet tyres, however, the Nissan stayed out on slicks ensuring they were able to stretch their lead to a seemingly insurmountable one-lap lead. More and more cars found themselves in the wall as conditions continued to deteriorate, and eventually the stewards were left no option other than to red-flag the race. In the meantime, as Richards continued making his way around the circuit he damaged the front left wheel of the GTR, before losing traction out of forest elbow and winding up off the circuit with a score of other mangled cars.

The stewards were left with the unenviable task of declaring a race winner, eventually deciding to score the race as finished on the previously completed 143rd lap, resulting in race victory to Richards and Skaife. The result didn’t sit well with Holden and Ford fans, who booed and jeered the two as they stood on the podium. Richards’ response will go down in racing folklore; “I thought Australian race fans had a lot more to go than this, this is bloody disgraceful. I’ll keep racing, but I’ll tell you what, this will remain with me for a long time. You’re a pack of arseholes.”

While certainly creating a stir at the time, in hindsight it’s just one of many incredible moments that shape the history of the incredible racing spectacle that takes place at Mt Panorama each year.

Stay tuned as we continue to talk Bathurst in the lead up to this year’s great race. What do you remember about the 1992 Bathurst 1000? Do you agree with the steward’s decision? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.