Formula Vee Queensland took to the track for Round 4 of our 2019 Championship at Queensland Raceway on August 18 and what a great round it was. With practice, qualifying and three races all consolidated into our only single-day format in the 2019 race calendar, drivers needed to be on their toes throughout the day in order to stay on top of car preparation between sessions and heats.
Sunday morning saw a healthy field of thirteen cars take to the track for qualifying, including NSW visitor Luke Collett, Queensland newcomer Luke Turner in his renewed Stinger, part-time state racer Clinton Leibinger and rounded out with special ‘guest appearances’ from no less than four of our Historic fellow racers.
Qualifying saw young gun Luke Collett (FVANSW) post an excellent time of 1:29:16 on his Queensland Raceway debut to qualify overall second, splitting FVAQ regulars Garry Hook (pole) and Alex Hedemann, third. Ken Taylor qualified an impressive fourth on his first time back in the seat after a break of three years. Scott Andrew and Bruce Acheson followed closely to round out the top six in 1600s, followed not too far behind by Clinton Leibinger and 2019 rookies Luke Turner and Gerry van de Pol, all racing hard to qualify within 4/10s of one another.
In the Historics, Bernie Cashin proved he’s still got it, qualifying first ahead of Graeme Clarke by 3/10s , then came Neil Sivyer and Alan Don, rounding out the field.
Race 1. The field took to slippery track conditions minus Scott Andrew, whose car had succumbed to what was deemed to be terminal gearbox issues, suffered during the second half of qualifying, while Alex Hedemann’s race was also to be short-lived, lasting only one lap. Eight laps later, results were Hook, Collett (the latter taking full advantage of the lead car’s tow to post the fastest lap of the race of 1:28:38 – a full half-second quicker than Hook’s qualifying time ) and come-back-kid Ken, in third. Bruce Acheson was fourth , never quite recovering from a small error to truly challenge Ken for third. Luke Turner posted a solid fifth, maintaining that position for the duration of the race, while Clinton drove hard to recover from a disastrous first two laps that saw him drop from sixth to ninth. Ultimately, Clinton managed to reinstate himself into sixth on the final lap by passing consistent rookie Gerry, who finished seventh. In the Historics, Graeme Clarke made amends, finishing ahead of Bernie Cashin, but only just! Neil Sivyer and Alan Don rounded out the field.
Race 2. Though track conditions had improved, drivers had to adapt quickly to a very different turn four entry, if they were to avoid oil dropped during a prior race and make it to turn five! That being said, the front runners failed to excite, with Hook, Collett and Taylor running in that order from start to finish, with Hook’s fastest lap 8/10s down on the earlier race as a consequence of the turn 4 compromise. Behind that group, Formula Vee put on a more typical affair with Alex Hedemann driving hard from his ROG starting position (courtesy of his race 1 DNF) to be in sixth after one rotation, behind Clinton, who subsequently tried a little too hard, resulting in his dropping to last on lap 2. That elevated Hedemann to fifth, where a lap later, he made his move on Acheson for fourth, holding that position all the way to the final lap where, once again, he suffered gremlins with his new engine and posted his second DNF for the weekend. One man’s hard luck can be another man’s good omen (or something like that) and so with Hedemann’s demise, Acheson was able to re-take his fourth place and hold it to the end. Gerry impressed,to improve on his race 1 result by finishing fifth, ahead of Clinton, who was no slouch recovering from his misdemeanor to race back from last to ultimately finish sixth, both drivers benefiting from Luke Turner, who took out the ‘hard luck’ award in race 2, when he was forced to retire on lap five, holding a broken gear selector in his hand. In the Historic brigade, Clarke again proved too good for Cashin to come home first, but with an even tighter (7/100ths) margin than in race one, while Sivyer and Don rounded out the field.
The weekend’s attrition rate was disappointingly high and now stood at three. Scott Andrew, (gearbox) Luke Turner (broken selector) and Alex Hedemann failing to line up for the final, still unable to overcome oil pressure issues at the end of lap one.
The final for the weekend provided good track surface conditions, ideal ambient temperatures, with the biggest challenge being the setting sun, as you entered turn two. Hook again lined up on pole with NSW visitor Luke Collett beside him. Taylor and Acheson made up row two.
At the drop of the flag, Hook got the jump but Collett wasted no time in making his first move into turn three, to cross the line in front at the end of lap one. Hook returned the favour to take the lead on lap two. While Collett stayed close, it appeared both drivers were thinking more about the second half of the race, working together for now, to build a gap on Taylor and Acheson, who had nothing between them and everything to lose. Behind them, Gerry again benefited from his smooth and consistent driving and though Clinton produced some quicker lap times throughout the race, he again had to overcome small driver errors that would ultimately help Gerry take fifth in the final, with Clinton several seconds in arrears in sixth. In the Historics, Clarke got his first easy win over Cashin, who had managed to pass him on lap two to take the lead, only to retire the following lap and score a disappointing DNF. That produced a final Historic podium of Clarke, Sivyer and Don in first to third respectively.
Back at the front, just after the halfway mark and with four laps to go, Collett took the fight back to Hook, to put himself back in the lead. The pair then raced hard, using all of the track, passing one another multiple times at turns three and four, giving track commentator Zac Caban something to scream about. Meanwhile, Taylor continued his successful return to the seat and drove hard to keep his third place and final podium position from Acheson, who chased him all the way to finish fourth, just two tenths of a second adrift of Taylor. Up front, Collett tucked in behind Hook coming out of turn five for the final run, while Hook protected his line for the sixth and final turn, forcing Collett to try the outside, before switching back mid-corner to lead the run for the straight. It was not to be, with Hook carrying more corner speed onto the straight, ultimately enabling him to win the drag race to the flag, marginally ahead of Collett, producing a final podium of Hook, Collett and Taylor, in that order.
Apart from good, clean and safe racing throughout the field, it would be remiss not to mention the camaraderie and good spirit shared by those back in the pit garages, supplied courtesy of Queensland Raceway. Formula Vee racers old and new (including rookie Luke Collett from NSW, Luke Turner and Gerry Van de Pol, Clinton Leibinger, who took a break from his usual ‘Sprint’ schedule to make an appearance and a healthy field of Historic Formula Vees, all combined with regular 1600 competitors to make the day a fun, successful event for all involved.