Chaos Reigns Supreme

It was a chaotic weekend for the RaceAway Track Time crew, but both our Cheap Car Challenge combatants and Pulsar Racing protagonists managed to survive the mayhem!

At Marulan, John Connolly, Tom Connolly, Phil Keegan and Michael McMichael took control of our purple Pulsar for Round 4 of the Cheap Car Challenge – after a consistent performance, they qualified ninth and finished eighth outright, recovering from a penalty for contact with another car.

Meanwhile, Sydney Motorsport Park saw a number of our drivers in action for Round 5 of the APRA Series, as part of the MRA (Motor Racing Australia) meeting… and action was certainly the operative word!

Race 1 was shrouded in controversy, with no less than 13 cars excluded for not returning to the pits during a red-flag stoppage.

Race 2 was also red-flagged due to an incident after three laps, so there were some scores to settle in Race 3.

After being caught in the Race 1 and 2 drama, Josh Heath did extremely well to fight his way through the field for a fourth-place finish, and Gavan Reynolds also impressed, putting together one of his best weekends in the series to date – he finished seventh in Race 1 (before the red flag) and ninth in Race 3.

Greg Dufficy and Ian Joyce both steered clear of the carnage to finish inside the top 15 while Ian Ashcroft and Scott Thompson also kept improving their lap times over the course of the event.

The final round of the APRA Series is one of our favourites – it’s the twin one-hour endurance event at Wakefield Park on 10-11 November, so we’ve got plenty of time to give our cars some TLC before then!

Fun Had by All at Super Track Day

Our latest Super Track Day was held at Wakefield Park on 28 August, with our cars turning more than 700 laps over the course of the day.

Our APRA cars were leased out to the “Newcastle Scoundrels” corporate group, who steadily improved their times over the day, benefiting from expert driver coaching from our star instructors Harry Hayek and Jayden Ojeda.

A number of drivers and teams also brought their own race cars to the day, taking advantage of the open pit lane sessions to accumulate some valuable track time to test their vehicles and refine their skills.

RX8 Rookies and Cheap Car Challengers Shine

RaceAway Track Time’s Mazda RX8 Cup rookies and Cheap Car Challenge combatants have recorded some impressive results across two different race tracks on the weekend.

In Round 3 of the Mazda RX8 Cup, held as part of the Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS) round at Wakefield Park, Brayden Slater was back aboard the RaceAway Mazda RX8, while leading instructor Phil Alexander was also assisting Aaron Prosser and Maisie Place with driver development and car setup assistance.

Prosser, a New Zealander who now calls Australia home, was making his very first visit to Wakefield Park. After qualifying 11th, he stormed through the field in Race 1’s wet weather conditions, running as high as fourth before a late braking move saw him ending the race in the gravel trap at Turn 2.

Not to be discouraged, Prosser staged a strong recovery in Race 2, charging through the field to sixth. In Race 3, he battled with Matt Butters and Stephen McLaine on his way to third (setting the fastest lap in the process) and in Race 4, he chased series leader Ric Shaw all the way to the chequered flag to round out a strong weekend.

“It was my first time at Wakefield Park, and it took me a little while to come to grips with the track, which is where Phil’s knowledge was very useful,” Prosser said.

“Qualifying and Race 1 didn’t quite go according to plan, but we tuned the car across the weekend, and by the last race it was a rocket.”

Slater enjoyed a consistent weekend, continuing to develop his race-craft through battling more experienced drivers. After qualifying ninth, Slater finished in the top 10 in three of the four races and set his best lap in the fourth and final race, demonstrating his steady improvement curve.

“Brayden did everything we needed this weekend,” Alexander said.

“He brought the car home in one piece in each race, and learned a lot by racing wheel-to-wheel with others.”

In her very first circuit race meeting, Place had an eye-opening introduction with the wet weather in Race 1, but steadily improved her times in the remaining three races. The second-year apprentice mechanic demonstrated raw enthusiasm over the course of the weekend, relishing the chance to learn about the sport from others.

Half an hour north of Wakefield Park, the RaceAway Pulsar participated in the Cheap Car Challenge at Marulan’s Pheasant Wood facility.

Drivers Shane Fowler, John Connolly, Phil Keegan and Steve Champion qualified 16th, but a combination of no mistakes or penalties, consistent lap times and clean racing saw them improve to fifth position at the finish – the best result for RaceAway in a Cheap Car Challenge event to date.

Fowler even recorded a “breakout” time at one stage, going faster than the minimum-permissible 1:03 lap time, demonstrating the RaceAway Pulsar was a match for every other car in the field in terms of pace.

Double Jeopardy

Being in two places at once is impossible for some… but not us!

This weekend (18-19 August) we will be competing in the Cheap Car Challenge at Marulan’s Pheasant Wood circuit, while also running an entry in Round 3 of the Mazda RX8 Cup, being held as part of the AMRS (Australian Motor Racing Series) round at Wakefield Park.

The Cheap Car Challenge has become one of the events we recommend to those who want the experience of wheel-to-wheel racing, along with the teamwork and strategic aspects of endurance events – pit stops, driver changes and working with others.

We’ll be running our purple Pulsar and our driver lineup will consist of Shane Fowler, John Connolly, Steve Champion and Phil Keegan.

Half an hour down the road, Brayden Slater will line up for his second start in the Mazda RX8 Cup, following his promising debut performance at Morgan Park. We’ll also be assisting 18-year-old Masie Place, who becomes the first female competitor in the series.

Sunday’s RX8 Cup races will be live streamed from Wakefield Park and we’ll share the stream on our Facebook page, so stay tuned!

RaceAway Drivers Run Hot and Cold

In a hectic couple of days for RaceAway Track Time, drivers were in action across both Queensland and New South Wales over the weekend.

Soaking up the sunshine at the Queensland Raceway Shannons Nationals round were James Keene and Dominc Martens, in the twin 300km endurance races for the Australian Production Car Series, while Brayden Slater was behind the wheel of his Excel for the Series X3 Queensland round.

Keene and Martens finished second overall in Class B1 for the production cars, and also managed a strong ninth outright in the Sunday race, aboard their VW Golf R.

Despite driving a car without the same level of development as the front-runners, Slater ran solidly in the mid-pack for the Excel Series, and managed to finish 16th in the weekend’s second race. We’re looking forward to having Brayden back in our Mazda RX8 for the RX8 Cup Series round at Wakefield Park in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, in freezing temperatures at Wakefield Park, it was an extremely busy weekend for the RaceAway crew, with no less than 11 drivers competing in Round 4 of the APRA Pulsar Racing Series, receiving a variety of services including driver development, car setup assistance or race car hire for the meeting.

Josh Heath continued his strong recent form, qualifying second and finishing second in Races 1 and 2, and third in Race 3.

Also performing well was Tim Colombrita, who charged into the top five in Race 3.

After recently purchasing a Pulsar to race in the series, Ian Ashcroft received some driver development and car setup feedback over the weekend, and he managed to set a 1:13.0 in the weekend’s final race – a sensational effort for his first race meeting.

Other drivers competing under the RaceAway banner were Greg Dufficy, Ian Joyce, Shane Fowler, Jack Hoysted, Marty Welsh, Scott Thompson, Chris Manning and Gavan Reynolds. Reynolds has been competing in the Toyota 86 Series, but after hiring one of our cars for a one-off Pulsar round earlier in the year, he enjoyed it so much he decided to buy his own, to race in the series more often! We’ll continue to help him with car setup for the coming rounds.

Hayek Shines in V8 Debut

RaceAway Track Time driving instructor Harry Hayek has staged an impressive debut in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series – widely recognised as the third tier of Supercars racing in Australia –finishing in the top five overall at Queensland Raceway on the weekend.

Harry has been a long time friend of our owners Phil and Karen Alexander, having competed alongside their sons Gene and Carey in go-karts.

After a stint in the Australian Formula 4 Championship, Harry decided to pursue the international racing dream and travelled overseas, where he competed in the British F4 and F3 Championships. Sadly, a British F3 crash at Snetterton in May last year left him with a broken back, and he returned home; the weekend’s Kumho Series outing was his comeback race.

“I loved being back in a race car, I had a ton of fun!” Harry said after the weekend.

“It was my first race meeting in a tin-top rather than an open-wheeler, so it felt quite foreign – I didn’t have a lot of testing before the weekend, so I was learning as I went along.”

Harry qualified his Brad Jones Racing Commodore third outright – a fine effort considering his lack of seat time, and then finished fifth, fourth and sixth in the three races.

“It took me some time to dial myself back into a racing environment – at the start of the first race, I was racing door-to-door with other cars, and learning the perception and spatial awareness of a touring car was quite a challenge,” he said.

“I set some really good times in Race 2, but in Race 3 I overheated the clutch off the start line and lost some spots.

“With some more testing, I’m sure I can improve and be closer to the front-runners but in the meantime, I’m looking forward to attending some more RaceAway Track Time events and sharing my racing knowledge with those who want to learn more about driving on the track!”

New Marulan Circuit Presents Cheap Car Challenges

The RaceAway Track Time crew first started competing in Marulan Driver Training Centre’s Cheap Car Challenge events last year, but Sunday’s opening round of the 2018 Cheap Car Challenge Series was the first we had done on the recently-revamped Marulan circuit.

While the circuit – now to be known as Pheasant Wood – is still relatively low-speed and very technical, the new surface and reconfiguration of the layout has changed its character quite substantially.

Most noticeably, the corners are now significantly wider. While this makes overtaking easier, it also means each corner can be attacked with a variety of different approaches, and according to our own Phil Alexander, this presents its own challenges.

“Steve Shelley and the MDTC team have done a terrific job with the venue; it’s so much more polished and refined than it was before,” Alexander said.

“As well as being a lot less bumpy, it’s also noticeably safer – the run-off areas are a lot more well-maintained.

“It was already a good circuit for inexperienced racing drivers to learn car control, now it’s even better.

“Some of the corners allow you to take different lines, and this really allows drivers to learn how some lines are faster than others. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of taking the wrong line, and costing yourself valuable tenths of a second every lap.”

RaceAway Track Time’s Cheap Car Challenge Pulsar was driven by John Connolly and his son Tom, along with Pulsar Racing Association Series regular Shane Fowler and tarmac rally ace Michael McMichael, who flew from South Australia to be part of the event.

Out of a field of 22 cars, they finished seventh outright but according to Alexander, they could have finished even higher.

“The Cheap Car Challenge has always been a fun event, and it’s very strategic because there are strict rules about maximum driving times and minimum pit stop times.

“It’s great for endurance racing practice, because drivers have to get into the car, go onto the track and be on the pace straight away – there’s no time to build up to it.

“All four drivers did a really good job and we were challenging for a top-three position for much of the race – unfortunately, we received a few penalties which put us back a few places.

“Everyone had a lot of fun and the car ran well – we’ll be back for sure.”

RaceAway Track Time drives are available in upcoming Cheap Car Challenge events – contact us for more details:

Sunday, 29 July

Sunday, 19 August

Sunday, 9 September

Sunday, 28 October

Sunday, 18 November

Slater Makes Solid RX8 Cup Debut at Morgan Park

Following his impressive debut performance in the Mazda MX5 Cup at Sydney Motorsport Park last month, young gun Brayden Slater slotted into our Mazda RX8 for Round 2 of the Mazda RX8 Cup Series at Morgan Park on the weekend.

The Mazda RX8 Cup Series is a national category that runs as part of the Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS) and it receives a high level of exposure, including live streaming of Sunday’s races.

Brayden qualified a fine fourth on Saturday, and despite managing some engine temperature issues he finished inside the top 10 in three of the four races, scoring ninth overall for the weekend.

We highly recommend the RX8 Cup Series for drivers looking for an affordable, one-make category with national-level coverage, and another driver to benefit from RaceAway Track Time’s driver development services, Aaron Prosser, has chosen to compete in the series for this reason.

Originally from New Zealand, Prosser has raced in speedway for the last couple of years, winning the Mod Lites national title in 2017.

 

Deciding he wanted to become involved in circuit competition, Prosser built his own car and made his debut at Morgan Park on the weekend. He finished a fine third overall, even leading the weekend’s final race for a number of laps in treacherous conditions.

The next round of the Mazda RX8 Cup Series will be held at Wakefield Park, 17-19 August and we’ll again be offering an arrive-and-drive deal for a driver who wishes to compete in the series, without the logistical exercises of preparing a car themselves.

Pulsar Rookie Colombrita Stars at SMP

RaceAway Track Time APRA Series rookie Tim Colombrita has produced a stunning performance in Round 2 of the series at Sydney Motorsport Park on the weekend, qualifying a sensational second outright in a 28-car field.

The qualifying session was cut short due to an incident earlier in the day, with drivers only able to complete three laps in the session. Colombrita recorded a time fast enough to secure a front-row starting position, upstaging some far more experienced drivers in the process.

At the start of Race 1, Colombrita fell back to seventh after a slow start, but staged a determined fightback to finish in third position.

The go-karting graduate was again running inside the top four in Race 2, and while he was forced into retirement by a mechanical problem, it detracted little from his fine performance.

RaceAway Track Time owner Phil Alexander was thoroughly impressed.

“Tim did a sensational job, and in particular his qualifying performance was superb,” Alexander said.

“We’ve been working closely with Tim in terms of driver development, and he’s improving at a rapid rate of knots. For him to qualify on the front row in only his third APRA meeting was very impressive.

“At Sydney Motorsport Park, Turn 1 is a very challenging corner due to the high speed and level of commitment required, but Tim was nailing it every time – it was a pleasure to watch.”

The attention of the RaceAway Track Time team now turns to this weekend’s second round of the Mazda RX8 Cup Series, where they will be running a car for another promising young driver, Brayden Slater.

Meanwhile, Colombrita and the rest of the RaceAway Pulsar fleet will be on the grid for Round 3 of the series at Wakefield Park on 29 July.

EXCELlent Addition to RaceAway Fleet

Hyundai Excel racing has exploded in popularity around Australia over the last five years, so we decided it was time to introduce an Excel race car to our line-up!

Since its modest inception at Wakefield Park in 2013, Excel racing has proliferated into other states, with the class setting a new benchmark for entry-level motorsport.

The popularity of Hyundai Excels as road cars has created an abundance of vehicles and spare parts, making it very easy and cheap for people to participate in the sport.

The category attracted a massive 55-car grid when it supported the Bathurst 6 Hour this year, and there are healthy state-level series in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

The Victorian series is particularly strong, to the point where there are often enough entries to run two separate fields.

Our Excel complies with series specifications, running a 1.5 Litre twin-cam motor. As well as being affordable, these engines are also exceptionally reliable and easy to work on.

Other components such as the control Federal tyres and price-capped coil-over suspension options are aimed at containing costs, and ensuring race results are determined by driver ability.

We will be making our Excel available for track days and race meetings, and we recommend it to anyone wanting to hit the track at an affordable price. We offer a range of options to suit different requirements – you can lease the car and look after the transport and preparation yourself, or engage our services for an “arrive-and-drive” experience.

As well as the Excel Series, our car will also comply with CAMS 3E regulations, enabling it to run in a range of production car events – perfect for drivers looking for signatures on their CAMS licence.

With its modest power output and forgiving handling, the Excel is a perfect learning vehicle for newcomers to motorsport. An increasing number of drivers are using Excel racing to learn their craft, before moving on to higher-profile categories. Maybe the RaceAway Track Time Excel will unearth a new racing star!