Craillsy’s Column: North of the Border

You have to feel sorry for the poor sods working on Supercars teams or following that circus around right about now.

Not only are they lumped with a crazy-busy schedule that has seen them go from Perth to Winton to Darwin, now they’ve also got to go to North Queensland this weekend – making it four states at exactly opposite ends of the four corners ‘Straya has to offer in just six weeks … you can almost hear the truckies sighing from here.

Meanwhile, we hardy Shannons Nationals folk get to jump on a short commuter flight and head to Sydney’s West. I certainly know where I’d rather be going.

I mean, aside from the 28-degree days, 20-degree nights, lovely beaches, palm trees and a relaxed attitude to life that only the top parts of Australia seem to enjoy, Sydney Motorsport Park and Townsville are essentially identical.

You might think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m really not: There may be two events on the same weekend but all they involve is a bunch of people turning up to either make cars go fast around a circuit, or turning up to watch people try it.

At both venues, cars will leave pit lane, scrap a bit on track and return to pit lane with an eclectic mix of drivers either happy/sad/angry/frustrated/embarrassed/ broke or otherwise.

So while the locations will be different and they’ll probably be a tad more attention on the Queensland event and a tad more morning frost at the Sydney one, either way it’s pretty much the same thing and yes, I am going to keep telling myself that until Sunday night.

Quite remarkably, this weekend’s round of the Shannons Nationals is the first time that we have left Victoria all season, which in a state-of-origin context would be like Queensland winning eight series in a row. Imagine if that ever happened!

But now those North of the border (the one that runs along the Murray, not the other one) get their say with what should be a fascinating weekend of competitive intent at the ‘Park.

While no one ‘headlines’ Nationals rounds, The Australian Production Car Series – by virtue of having four, one-hour races – certainly does a reasonable job of stamping it’s mark as the dominant category on the program this weekend.

It’s an interesting format that will likely see the closest thing to sprint racing we’ll see in the Proddy car world: One compulsory stop for all competitors set to make it a flat-out thrash for everyone given that CPS will allow cars that might have struggled to make an hour on fuel—hello EVO Lancers—to top up and get to the end.

Who will win? Well, I’ve given up on ‘tipping’ based on how my footy predictions have gone this year—but I will say this: There’s a Hyundai Getz entered in the field and I will be keeping a close eye on it. Having steered several examples of Hyundai’s little shopping trolley as a rental car in the past, I can indeed confirm it has been the Fastest Car in the World before and may well be again this weekend.

As a purist, the category I’ll be paying closest attention to this weekend will be the Australian Prototype Series, mainly because = aero.

Aero on racing cars is a remarkable thing that allows cars that have a lot of it to go around corners quicker than a football tribunal receiving a character reference from the PM.

The APS has racing cars with lots of aero and because SMSP has a lot of corners that like a lot of aero, many fun things happen.

I’ll be standing somewhere with a view of Turn 7, that brilliant left-hand corner that sweeps around Corporate Hill and into the heavy braking zone at the hairpin that follows. It’s a corner that most drivers put in their ‘top-10’ list of fun things to drive in a racing car and in a West or a Radical it’s awesome.

Just down pit lane a little bit will be the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Pirelli, a series that this year is featuring more storylines than I have words to showcase. However, here’s a go:

There’s Jordan Love the dominant young gun, Brenton Grove the challenger who is getting quicker, John Steffenson the Olympic Athlete who’s third in the series, Sam Shahin who won his first ever round this year, Anthony Gilbertson who scored his first ever pole this year by 0.01s and the Jim Richards Endurance trophy, which I wrote about here and is excellent. Breathe…

There’s also the Radical Australia Cup, which will be fun—but not quite so fun I think as the final category on the program which is called the Veloce Alfa Romeo Series.

Now I like to think I’m reasonably well-informed when it comes to local motor sport, but I confess to Googling this series to find out what it is.

It looks fantastic. Brilliant. What could be more entertaining than a field of classic Alfa’s of all different shapes of sizes cutting loose on a great track like the ‘Park.

Actually, I know one thing. The profound joy our commentators Darren Smith and Tony Schibeci are going to have, for the word ‘Veloce’ is an instant invitation to a broadcaster to pretend they are multi-lingual for a short piece of time.

Seriously, by the end of the weekend I bet the word ‘Veloce’ will be drawn out longer than the comments section on any article posted online about open wheel racing at the moment.

And that beings me to the final reason why it’s good we’re north of the Victorian border this weekend: No one in or around Melbourne’s significant Italian population will hear that and that’s probably a good thing.

Now, about that live stream…

Craillsy