The Enhanced Performance, Good Cars Only, Gabo Solutions, Melanoma Canada #77 Formula Mazda Team had an fantastic weekend at the VSCDA Vintage Grand Prix au Grattan XXXVI held at Grattan Raceway. We had registered our #77 Formula Mazda in the VSCDA Formula Classic (Group E). There was a total of 24 cars in our race group including Vintage Formula Fords, Club Fords, S2000’s, a lightning-fast Formula Continental, a Brabham and as well as a many other historic open wheel cars. The weather was beautiful all weekend with temperatures during the weekend ranging from 20°C to 25°C. Over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we were on track a total of 7 times; 2 on-track practices and the first qualifying session on Friday, followed by the second qualifying session and the Sprint Race and the Heat Race on Saturday and Feature Race on Sunday.
On the Friday test day, the weather was very nice with a sun cloud mix. Our best lap for the two practice sessions was a P2 1:23.377 – a pretty respectable lap time considering that we haven’t been to Grattan in 15 years. The leader, Scott Durbin in a very nice yellow Formula Continental, was P1 at 1:21.382 – so we had some work to do. During our first qualifying session on Friday, we were a bit slower, P2 1:23.835, while Scott bettered his practice time to 1:20.549 – clearly, we had to improve our on-track performance if we were to challenge for the win.
The weather on Saturday was perfect, sunny and 24°C. During our second qualifying session, we improved our lap time to P1 1:22.315 (Scott decided not to waste his tire for the second qualifying session). With qualifying over, and based on the best qualifying time, Scott qualified P1 and we qualified P2. During the Sprint Race, we managed to get a good start and gapped Scott down the front straight to turn 1. Scott caught us in the technical portion of the track and passed us during the first lap. Scott finished in P1 with a best lap time of 1:20.802, while our best P2 lap time was 1:22.471. During the Heat Race, once again we managed to beat Scott to the first turn – we battled for 2/3rds of the race – Scott was able use the back markers to his advantage and developed a gap of 7 seconds at the finish. He finished in P1 with a best lap time of 1:20.585 compared to our P2 best lap time of 1:20.922 – we were definitely making progress.
On Sunday, the weather was once again beautiful a per day to be on the track. Our last race of the weekend was scheduled to start at noon – it was delayed by 20 minutes due to track clean up from a shunt in the previous race. During the Feature Race, I managed to get an excellent start, beating Scott to the first corner. He and I battled for the first three laps, and then my tires started to go away due to the abrasive nature of the track. In the end, Scott finished in P1 with a best lap time of 1:19.949, we finished 16 seconds behind him in P2 with a best lap time of 1:21.539 – clearly, our tires were done. A fantastic weekend and a great race result!!!!
A very special thank you to our guest crew chief for the weekend, Christina Murdoch. We would not have been able to accomplish what we did during the weekend without her expert help. And many thanks VSCDA Vintage Grand Prix au Grattan XXXVI for hosting such a fantastic, safe event!!