Clipsal 500 Adelaide, 11 – 14 March 2010
Story and photos by Vince Johnson
Early each year the V8 Supercars descend on Adelaide for the first Australian round of the distinctly Aussie series. These 5 litre racers, based on Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon road cars, are the main drawcard for the bi-partisan fans at a four-day event Murray Walker calls the greatest touring car festival in the world.
Now in its twelfth year, the street circuit in the middle of town is a slightly shortened 3.22 kilometre version of the track which hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix for a decade. The V8s run two 78 lap races over the weekend but the variety of the supporting categories mean that there is rarely a quiet moment on track. The gates open to the public at 8am on Thursday morning and fifteen minutes later the first practice session for the Touring Car Masters is under way.
This pre-1974 group included cars of the type that contested the Australian Touring Car Championship. Ford Falcon GT, Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chrysler Charger and Holden Monaro muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s traded places with the more nimble Holden Toranas and Porsche 911s. The Escort, Datsun and Alfa Romeo two litre cars made up in the tight East Terrace section what they lost to the larger engines on the Brock and Brabham straights. Understandably V8 drivers filled the podiums with Gavin Bullas’ Mustang (race 1) and Andrew Miedecke’s Camaro (race 2 & 3) sharing the spoils.
Slightly better behaved around corners was the more exotic machinery contesting three races in the Australian GT Championship. The much anticipated Audi R8 GT3 of 2008 GT champion Mark Eddy missed race 1 after a qualifying accident but his crew’s dedicated work saw it back in action for the next two races. David Wall made it a hat trick in his Porsche GT3 997 Cup car from Greg Crick’s consistent Dodge Viper, Peter Hackett’s Lamborghini Gallardo and Max Twigg’s Porsche.
In the Murray Walker Extreme Machines exhibit behind the Pit Straight grandstand were exotics for the road from Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin and Lotus, a Nissan R35 GTR and two wheeled pre-1963 classics ridden by members of the Historic Motorcycle Racing Register. During the demonstration laps spectators did a double take when the Tesla Roadster came by. What it lost in aural presence it made up for with its 3.9 second 0 to 100 kph time and a horizontal torque ‘curve’ of 380 Nm available from startup. With 6,800 “AA” sized lithium ion batteries powering a 100% electric AC motor, it develops 185 kW and has a top speed of 201kph at 14,000rpm.
Running on the Adelaide street circuit for the first time in their three year history were the 1.6 litre turbo BMW engined Minis. Based on the John Cooper Works R56, with their braking and handling ability entry into corners is a closely fought affair. Track space was even more hotly contested by the Aussie Racing Cars. These scaled down 450kg single seaters, with 1200cc twin cam motorcycle engines revving over 11,000 rpm and body styles based on current road cars, are a useful development series for young drivers. Suzuki and Kawasaki engines are a popular choice in the Sports Racer category. These super quick UK and US built cars feature sophisticated chassis and suspension, sequential gearboxes and advanced aerodynamics.
The ‘development’ category Fujitsu cars & the Ute Racing series saw spectacular V8 track action all weekend. The threatened rain held off and in the premier class Garth Tander took maximum points in his V8 Commodore to the delight of the Holden fans. Sports car purists made up a large part of the crowd, no doubt due to the support categories which continue to provide variety and celebrate motorsport history.
2010 Clipsal 500 Adelaide Photo Gallery (click image for larger photo and description)
[Source: Vince Johnson]