Super2 Mid-Season Recap

Super2 is the name given to the second level of Supercars racing in Australia. It’s undergone a number of name changes in recent years, but the level of entertainment and gripping racing hasn’t. It’s provided a home for superseded top tier Supercars, and is a place for drivers aiming to enter the big league to test themselves in close quarter racing.

Naturally there is some big money being moved around on track in the form of Commodore, Falcon, and Nissan shaped cars. All of these are draped in sponsorship logos and proudly representing Rare Spares is Perth born Adam Marjoram.

The West Aussie is no stranger to high performance racing. The Saloon Cars category and Porsche GT3s have felt the Marjoram touch, before finding a place in the biff and barge that was V8 Utes. The talented Marjoram quickly caught the eye of Erebus Motorsport and the dynamic Betty Klimenko.

After rapid growth in racing stature here and almost winning the V8 Ute Championship in 2015, Marjoram entered the Super2 category and raced the Ford FG Falcon in a tough competition in 2016. 2017 and Marjoram moves into a Holden VF Commodore, where he remains but now with the Image Racing/Erebus Motorsport team.

There have been two rounds of the Super2 with Adelaide and Perth having seen the cars on circuit so far. Qualifying for the Rare Spares backed driver wasn’t kind for his first 2019 race, starting from 11th, but did manage to make his way up through to 9th. Race 2 was a better result, with Marjoram getting good pace on the tight Adelaide street circuit and finishing in 6th.

Round 2 saw the category head to Barbagallo, a circuit that Marjoram knows well. Up against some serious competition, and just weeks away from his 26th birthday, Marjoram’s first race was forgettable, with no result against his name after reaching 7th. Brake failure took him out of a top 8 finish on the last lap and took him out of serious points contention. Race 2 saw Adam climb from 10th to 6th off the start, only to be muscled off the track on lap 3, dropping to 12th and driving back through to 10th.

Round 3 was held in rainy conditions in the normally sunny town of Townsville. Race 1 Adam qualified 13th and was in contention for pole but a last second error took that out of his hands. The race itself saw him finish as high as 6th. This would be where he would finish in Race 1, and in Race 2 just had nowhere to go. Most of the second race was held under safety car conditions due to the inclement weather. A second 6th will be in his history books for the third round of Super2s in 2019.

Adam says of Rare Spares that he aligns with them due to their passion for motorsport, and enjoys their like minded attitude when it comes to cars and the aftermarket automotive industry. For the rest of the year he says a podium is well and truly within sight, and by continuing to harass the top five, he’s certain that a podium finish and a chance to spray the champers is his!

Are you a follower of Super2 and/or Adam Marjoram? Let us know your thoughts on the category and this talented and engaging Perth born driver via our blog feedback section. 

 

 

 

VT Olympic Edition Commodore

“And the winner is....Syduhknee” And with those words in the early 1990s the Olympic games were heading to Australia for the first time in over forty years. They kickstarted a revamp of a tired section of Sydney, reinvigorated Little Athletics, and would give Australia’s own, Holden, a chance to showcase its home grown hero, the Commodore.

In 1997 Holden released the VT Commodore. In a program that would ultimately cost around $600 million, Holden took the outgoing VR/VS sheetmetal  and revamped both exterior and interior. Taking Opel’s Omega B, a brand and car that Holden used previously for its Commodore designs, it was widened, strengthened, and given a substantial increase in electronics. Underneath was a work in progress for the IRS or Independent Rear Suspension and the front MacPherson struts. Both had changes that would contribute to a ride and handling package widely regarded as being far better overall than the previous model.

The Commodore Executive was the door opener to the VT range, followed by Acclaim, S, SS, Berlina, and Calais. All models received a driver’s airbag, with a passenger airbag an option on the S and Executive.

Safety items such as ABS were an option on the base model Executive, but standard on the rest of the range. Traction control was standard on the Acclaim and Calais.

Power was courtesy of a 3.8L EcoTec V6, or Holden’s own 5.0L V8. At the time, the Series 1 V6 could also be specified with a supercharger as a factory fitted item. In 1999 the range had a slight update, dropping the supercharged V6 and slotting in the Chevrolet sourced 5.7L V8, which saw the end of Holden using its own 5.0L.

The Olympic Edition was like most of the other limited edition cars made available from Holden.  Badges denoting it was part of the Sydney Olympics were fitted to base model cars, and bumpers were body coloured. Wheels were sourced from the higher spec Berlina, aircon was standard as were power windows, and the exhaust was given a chromed tip. Inside a bespoke Olympic Edition cloth was used for the seats and the key came with an Olympic Edition badge. Finally, a dash mounted plaque stated that these cars were of the 3500 cars supplied by Holden and used during the Olympics for official duties.

Being little more than a cosmetically enhanced Series 2 VT means that prices for these are on par for the everyday version. But who knows, if you have one it may have been the car that had Cathy Freeman or Ian Thorpe as a passenger.

Do you own one a VT Olympic Edition Commodore ? Tell us your story via our blog comments or drop us a line via our social media links. 

Classic Bathurst Recap - 2006

The Bathurst 1000 of 2006 will be forever etched in history as the one “The King of the Mountain” watched from up high and saw his protégé’ Craig Lowndes, alongside a champion in the making, Jamie Whincup, hold the first ever Peter Brock Trophy over the pit lane crowd.

It was the second win for CL, as he’s known, and the first for Whincup after his second place the year before.

Thirty one cars would be entered in this year’s “Great Race”, with an almost even split of Holden and Ford branded vehicles. Ford would field fifteen BA Falcons, the first model after the ill-fated AU Falcon, whilst Holden showcased sixteen VZ Commodores, the final iteration of a design essentially a decade old.

Qualifying was tight and intense, resulting in the top eight cars being separated by under a second, and the top eighteen cars separated by under two seconds.

Again it was almost an even split for the then top two locally made cars, with four Falcons and six Commodores. Of the top five though, just one blue oval branded car would be there, with a former Holden driver, Jason Bright, in second. Provisonal pole had gone to Holden driver Mark Skaife in a blistering 2:06.9764, just a tenth ahead of Bright’s Falcon.

The Top Ten Shootout would see Skaife carry that form onwards, with a 2:07.4221, a full three tenths quicker than Bright. Rick Kelly, New Zealand born Jason Richards and Greg Murphy, all in Commodores, would round out the top five. Eventual race winner Lowndes, driving the Ford BA Falcon, would be beaten to fifth by a mere four one thousandths of a second.

The race itself was held on Sunday October 8. In 2006 it was the ninth race weekend of the then V8 Supercars Championship. It would also prove to be the longest race since 2002. With all 161 laps completed it finished just seven seconds shy of seven hours and a full twenty two minutes longer than the previous year.

A race start incident proved to be crucial in the final results. Pole sitter Skaife went from hero to zero within a half minute, with a clutch failure leaving him battling to get his Commodore moving to race speed. Although he had cleared the first corner he had got as far as the first rise on the road to the top of the mountain, and with heavy traffic behind him an unfortunate Jack Perkins was blindsided, ploughing his Commodore into Skaife’s and forcing him into the wall.

This allowed the second grid spot driver, Jason Bright and his co-driver Mark Winterbottom, to take the lead. However a brake lockup had Bright require a tyre change with just fifteen laps completed. More woe befell the duo with Winterbottom garaging the car on lap 28. A full fourteen cars would fail to finish the 2006 race, with Rare Spares ambassador John Bowe, alongside his mate and co-driver Brad Jones, finishing eleventh.

The race was punctuated by a number of safety car interventions, including one of over twenty minutes after the veteran Kiwi born Paul Radisich, on lap 71, had his Commodore spear into a retaining wall at the Chase. The impact rolled the car onto its side and left Radisich in need of trackside marshal intervention to remove him from his stricken vehicle. Just six laps would be held in that fourth hour of the race.

As seems traditional with the Bathurst 1000, a late race incident played a part in the final standings. Jason Richards also lost control and hit a wall. Laps remaining were just ten. Rick Kelly and Craig Lowndes were dealing with a six second buffer prior to the final safety car call to deal with the Richards car. A fired up Lowndes would lay down the race’s quickest lap on the 158th circuit of the 6.213 kilometres worth of tarmac, and would greet the chequered flag a bare half second ahead of a determined Kelly.

In tumultuous and emotional scenes on the presentation balcony, Lowndes would be in tears as he acknowledged his late friend and mentor, Peter Brock.

Is 2006 your favourite Bathurst 1000? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us your memories of the weekend in the comments section below this article.

The Final Holden built on Australian Shores

The final Holden built on Australian shores has rolled off the Elizabeth production line. On October 20 at 10:45am, the final four Australian built Holden’s were ‘officially’ completed with a red VFII SSV Redline Commodore the final to leave the facility. The Commodore, on black wheels with a manual transmission was the 7,687,675th Holden built and will be kept and used as a museum piece. The other cars down the production line on October 20 were the final Holden ute (SS), wagon (Calais) and ‘limousine’ (Caprice).

With a 6.2 litre LS3 up front, the last SS will also go down as Holden’s fastest production model to date with 304kw and 570nm on offer (Not including HSV models). With accessories that include FE3 suspension, a sunroof and HUD, the final commodore is testament to the journey Australian built cars have come on over the last 7 decades. In terms of power, safety and usability the final Commodore (and Falcon for that matter) is hardly bettered in terms of ‘bang-for-buck’.

After 69 years of manufacturing, Holden ceased manufacturing operations in October, leaving hundreds unemployed and bringing an end to a huge part of Australia’s manufacturing history. Employees were taken by bus to the Adelaide Oval for final knock-off drinks and treated to a show by the legendary Jimmy Barnes. The Elizabeth plant, in Northern Adelaide has been sold to an unidentified owner who will turn the facility into a business park.

With this closure, we bid an official farewell to Australian automotive manufacturing and look back at the many classics produced on our shores. Stay tuned to the Rare Spares Blog where we will continue to take a look at the many classics produced on Australian shores.

Do you have any Holden stories you would like to share? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below.

 

The Kia Stinger - a New Favourite?

The long awaited Kia Stinger has finally hit Australian roads over the past 6 weeks and we are getting our first look at how the Australian public is reacting to the Korean hatch/sedan which is being dubbed as a potential Commodore and Falcon replacement. While it’s by no means perfect, initial reviews of the range-topping Stinger GT have been overwhelmingly positive. The Stinger GT has to get a number of runs under its belt before it can truly be considered a car that will replace some of Australia’s most loved cars; but it has gotten off to a great start!

The Good

Straight off the bat, the appearance of the Stinger GT is great, and the latest and greatest in a line of Kia’s over the last 10 years that have progressively gotten better and better in terms of both appearance and performance. The sleek lines of the Stinger result in an exceptionally efficient aerodynamic package while large vents in the front and at all four corners serve to keep both the 3.3 litre twin-turbo’d engine and Brembo brakes cool.

Packing 272kw and 510nm the GT has plenty of go, and will at least match, if not better 0-100 times of both the Commodore SS and XR6 Turbo Falcon of years past. The interior is neat, polished and will rival that of any in the sub $60K price bracket, with a ‘squared-off’ steering wheel and a sporty driving position contributing to the overall premium feel of the car.

The 8 Speed Automatic Transmission is a truly impressive unit, taking like a duck to water to Australia’s driving conditions and contributing towards a ‘real-life’ fuel consumption of around 8L/100km on the open roads and around 11.5L/100km during normal city driving. The GT’s suspension has also received positive reviews, with a sports mode coping with all but the most spirited of driving while the comfort mode provides a compliant ride in more traditional driving scenarios.

Overall, there is a lot to like about Kia’s new Halo car.

The Not So Good

One of the major reasons both the Commodore and Falcon were so popular for so many years was the ability to comfortably seat 5 adults, and a family holiday with 3 kids and the Caravan in tow was a walk in the park. Unless your name was Aaron Sandilands you probably weren’t going to be complaining of a lack of head room either. This is one area that the Stinger falls flat, as a result of the slightly smaller dimensions all round, the Stinger will not comfortably carry 5 adults, nor will it provide ample headroom for those of us north of 6-feet tall.

Towing Capacity is at 1500kg while the down-ball rating is a meagre 75kgs, which means this will likely not be a suitable option for those with caravans, larger boats or anything particularly heavy that requires towing.

Perhaps the most griped about disappointment is the sound coming out of the Stinger GT’s standard exhaust. The GT, with the standard exhaust is quiet, too quiet for a performance car. Fortunately Kia realised the issue and has fast-tracked an optional bi-modal exhaust which should be available before year end for $2659.99. Videos of the new exhaust system show a much throatier sounding note, more akin to that of typical sports cars.

The Verdict

The Stinger GT is a very good car which is sure to prove itself a hit with the Australian public, is it a like-for-like replacement for the departing Aussie classics? Not quite. While it ticks the RWD and performance boxes, it doesn’t quite match the Commodore and Falcon in terms of usability or ‘street-cred’. The Stinger GT however will be considered one of the best value for money sports sedans in the world, taking the fight to many higher credential offerings from its European rivals.

What do you think of the new Kia Stinger GT? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.