still playing with toy cars ...
37 entrants, just one shy of the previous record, participated
in six races during three heats Heat 1 had 29 drivers split
into two separate races of the tight and twisting Hungaroring.
Heat 2 split 16 drivers between two Adelaide courses. Heat 3
pitted 18 drivers against two sets of LeMans, the first WBC appearance
for this track
The top 14 finishes
from these heats qualified for the Final. Kevin Keller, Scott
Cornett, Chris Hancock, and Jim Fleckenstein won qualifying heats
to grab the pole positions. Kevin and Scott actually won two
heats each and Jim won the only heat he entered. Darin Morley,
Terry Schulz, Doug Schulz, and Franklin Haskell qualified with
second place finishes. Gerald Lientz and John Wellage both qualified
with third place finishes. Dennis Nicholson and Stuart Tucker
both produced fourth place finishes in qualifying heats. Peter
Ticole and John Sharp rounded out the field as fifth place finishers
in qualifying. John was the last driver to qualify, improving
on his previous eighth place finish in the last qualifying heat.
Lance Ribeiro and Paul Haynes had also qualified but did not
participate on Sunday.
The Final was a very competitive race with eight different
drivers making serious plays for the championship resulting in
one of the most dramatic finishes in recent memory. Chris parlayed
his 1st place qualifying finish and a high bid into a spot on
the front row of the grid. When the lights went out, Chris got
an excellent start and led the field into the first corner. Generating
some early excitement, Darin plotted 80 mph over the first corner
and blew into the tire barrier for the first of five retirements.
Chris got through the first two corners of the track with
a lead and entered the long back straight in first hoping to
gain separation on the rest of the field. But Chris' lower top
speed prevented him from capitalizing on his early lead and the
pack caught him by the end of that straight. Although Chris
was able to stay near the front for the remainder of the first
lap, he eventually fell back and finished sixth. Gerald made
his move early in lap 1 and moved into the lead after half of
a lap. Gerald was also unable to maintain his early pace and
dropped back into the pack by the half way point, finishing seventh.
Jim hung around in third or fourth for most of the first lap,
but would take the lead by the midpoint of the race. Doug, Scott,
and John Sharp battled for position behind Jim for most of the
mid-race but as Doug and John S. fell off the pace in the last
lap, Scott began to make up ground on the leader.
Jim took excellent advantage of running first and used a lot
of resources building a two-turn lead by the end of lap 2. But
Scott used his wear and skill chips to reel in the leader during
the third and final lap. With half of a lap remaining, Scott
had cut Jim's lead in half. With one corner remaining, Scott
pulled even with the leader at the cost of his significant advantage
in chips. Earlier in this same lap, Dennis used the long back
straight and his better tires to out-break and pass three cars
through the next corner suddenly vaulting him into third, within
sight of the leaders. Scott spun out in his bid for an unprecedented
second WBC Speed Circuit championship in the final corner.
Although Jim would retain the lead on this turn, Scott's push
moved Jim off line, allowing Dennis to catch the two leaders.
With the finish line in sight, Jim's engine failed him as he
called for a little more speed. This allowed both Scott and
Dennis to catch Jim - three wide with mere spaces to go for a
win. But Dennis had the better top speed and was able to reach
it - crossing the finish line just ahead of Jim. Scott finished
third, a nose behind Jim. Kevin finished fourth after spending
most of the race in the back of the pack. A forced pass with
two corners left was the key move in a frantic lap that saw Kevin
move up from 9th to claim the last plaque.
More details on Speed Circuit racing as practised at
WBC at http://www.lucidphoenix.com/sc/wbc/