Nine weeks on from the opening round of the 2021 Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship, the teams and drivers headed to the south side of the river city, and to Willowbank’s Queensland Raceway, for round 2 of the season.
It was the second one-day event of the scheduled four in 2021, and the first of four visits to the ‘Paperclip’ in the campaign.
What started out as a calm, cool morning, quickly turned into a day of high drama, controversy and attrition.
For Saxon Moyes, the day was over before it began. Moyes was so impressive in the opening round of the season, but failed to take to the circuit for qualifying, as the team continued trying to get to the bottom of some mechanical gremlins picked up during unofficial practice on Friday, but the problem was… they didn’t definitively know what the issue was.
Saxon’s Dad worked overtime, to try and resolve the problem, but to no avail… the leading Group A BMW would pocket no points in round 2 of the championship.
As for Qualifying, it was a returning familiar face that set the pace, with former champion Murray Kent claiming a comfortable pole position, in what was a big indication of what to expect for the rest of the day.
Defending champion Matthew Haak was second fastest, ahead of opening round winner, Stuart Walker. Robert Bellinger flew the flag for the BMW pilots, qualifying fourth fastest, ahead of the Monaro of Lee Gravolin, while Chris Brown was sixth fastest.
Michael Woodcroft was the best of the Group B contingent, ahead of Leon Kemp and Gary Anger, while Lance Jurgeleit was fourth best, ensuring that Holden drivers were set for a challenge, against the BMW brigade.
In Group C, Murray Reilly claimed his second pole position of the season, ahead of Scott Kelly and Paul Bonaccorso – all three manufacturers represented in the top three, in the slowest group.
Shortly after qualifying, Stuart Walker confirmed that his car would take no further part in the event, due to an engine issue that was only picked up during that session. Walker believed it was a timing chain problem, and while that is repairable, it wasn’t repairable on the day, so the car was put on the trailer, and he would score no points in this round.
With Saxon Moyes also out of business, Walker’s demise left Matthew Haak with a tremendous opportunity to claim the championship lead, and put a significant buffer between himself and the rest of the pack, with four rounds to go, and while he defending champion remains adamant that he isn’t going for back-to-back titles, consistency, even just finishing races at this early stage of the season, will put him in a very good position to secure consecutive titles.
Lee Gravolin would also miss race 1 during leaking coolant fluid, and later an oil leak would rule him out for the rest of the day as well.
The opening race of the round saw the cars take to the ‘sprint’ circuit at QR, for 15 laps of competition.
Matthew Haak took the lead away from Murray Kent momentarily, but the Torana was back in front before the field hit the dipper.
From there, Kent pulled clear, and wasn’t challenged for the rest of the heat, taking a comfortable win, in the opening race of the day.
Chris Brown found his way by Matthew Haak on Lap 4, and cruised to second position from there, while Haak was left to settle for the final spot on the podium.
Behind the all-Holden podium, a cracking scrap between the BMW pair of Robert Bellinger and Gary Lange, for the minor placings, and while there were no positional changes throughout the 15-lap affair, not only did Bellinger and Lange keep Matthew Haak honest, but they held the attention of the trackside spectators as well.
That’s the beauty of races on the sprint circuit, it suits the BMW brigade far better than the long straights of the national layout.
In the end, Bellinger held off Lange, to finish fourth, but that wouldn’t be the last time they’d be arguing over the same piece of real estate in this round.
Whilst it was cruisy and processional at the top of Group A, the Group B field produced an instant classic.
Three different leaders, no shortage of overtaking, and a good scrap between a mix of BMW and Holden entries.
In the end, the race was won by Michael Woodcroft, just ahead of Rob Droder, and Lance Jurgeleit.
Droder’s second in class – eighth outright – made even more impressive by the fact that he started down in 16th position, after a difficult run in qualifying, and the sprint circuit doesn’t necessarily suit the big V8 entries.
In Group C, Murray Reilly converted pole into a race win, for the first time this season, but he didn’t do it easy, as Matthew Devitt pushed him every step of the way. In the end, the BMW fell 2.5 seconds short, but Reilly had to keep his wits about him, as one mistake would’ve given Devitt a free pass.
In Race 2, on the 3.12km National Circuit, it was more of the same from Murray Kent, who grabbed the lead off the start, didn’t look back, and wasn’t challenged either.
Chris Brown said earlier in the day that he didn’t think he’d be able to go with Kent, in the potential battle for victory, but in the end, he was only one second behind the race winner, at the end of the 10-lap race.
Once again, Matthew Haak was third over the line, but much further clear of the chasing BMW’s than he was at the end of race 1.
In Group B, a much calmer second race, on the back of that intense opener. After 10 laps, it was Michael Woodcroft claiming a seven-second victory over Rob Droder, while Leon Kemp was third home, in a strong showing from the BMW pilot.
In Group C, more of the same, with Murray Reilly claiming his second win of the day, ahead of Matthew Devitt, but this time round, it was Scott Kelly rounding out the podium – his fourth podium finish of the season thus far.
Due to time breakouts, Michael Woodcroft was unable to avoid being bumped up into Group A anymore, which threw the Group B round podium race wide open, with two races remaining on the program.
On the back of race 2, competitors faced a hectic 35-minute turnaround, back in the pit paddock, before they’d be back on the circuit for race 3.
It was particularly frantic for Gary Anger, as he was forced to replace a broken axle, and managed to do so, by the skin of his teeth – the Group B Commodore would be forced to start Race 3 from the rear of the grid, after only making it onto the circuit AFTER the field had been released for their sighting and formation laps.
In what seemed like no time at all, the cars were back out on the circuit for Race 3, which was run on the Clubman layout, and it will be remembered for some years to come – but for all the wrong reasons.
Mid-way through the race, Murray Reilly pulled off to the side of the circuit, on the exit of turn two, which rightly triggered a clampdown, and neutralised the race.
Reilly’s vehicle was towed to turn 3, where it was expected to be kept until the end of the race, however, as the race resumed, the recovery vehicle towed Reilly’s car back to pit-lane, on a HOT TRACK, in what was a monumental cock up.
Thankfully, for everyone concerned, quick thinking by drivers approaching the scene, enable them to navigate their way by cautiously and safely.
Circuit management has since advised that the driver of the recovery vehicle copped a good whack across the knuckles, for his part in the incident.
As for the race itself, Murray Kent was victorious, yet again, and, for the third race in succession, it was Chris Brown finishing immediately behind the Torana, and Matthew Haak rounding out the podium.
Behind the Holden trio, it was a long gap back to the BMW’s of Bellinger and Lange, who had the elbows out, on the run to the line, in the battle for fourth, with Bellinger doing enough to keep Lange at bay.
Behind them, John Swarbrooke was sixth in class, and Michael Woodcroft was seventh (12th outright), in his Group A debut.
It could’ve been a better result for Woody, but he looped it, coming on to the main straight, shortly after the aforementioned clampdown, which cost him several seconds, and track position.
In Group B, Leon Kemp nabbed his first win, in what was a very nice drive. After starting 9th, he dropped back to 10th on the opening lap, before slowly working his way through, to finish seventh outright, even passing Rob Droder.
Droder was second in the end, just ahead of Gary Anger, who drove from the rear of the grid to finish tenth outright.
In Group C, Murray Reilly’s demise opened the door for Matthew Devitt to grab his first win of the day, but Paul Bonaccorso had other ideas, and Devitt was forced to settle for second, again!
It was Bonaccorso’s first win of the season, and Ford’s second, on the back of Mark Hyde’s win in Race 3 at Lakeside. Andrew Knight rounded out the Group C podium, in that third race.
Speaking of Mark Hyde though, it was mechanical reliability that cost him at Lakeside, and again here. He was on the trailer at the end of Race 3, and on his way home, as was Scott Kelly, who’d encountered an issue with the ECU, which later resulted in a burnt hole in the piston, which put pay to his day.
Race 4 was staged under lights, and was a spectacular way to end a very long day at the office.
Just 21 cars took the green flag – 11 less than we saw on-track for qualifying at the beginning of the day.
Murray Kent completed his clean-sweep, but Chris Brown pushed him every step of the way – finishing just four-tenths behind Kent, after 10 laps of competition.
Behind them, Matthew Haak cruised to third, ensuring he’d leave Willowbank as the clear, outright championship leader.
Bellinger and Lange rounded out the top five, as they had down in the other three races as well.
In Group B, a tremendous performance from Gary Anger saw him claim his first race win of the season, in what was a bit of a drought breaker for the #44, in more ways than one.
Anger was seven seconds clear of Lance Jurgeleit, while Nick Linton rounded out the podium, a further six seconds down the road. Rob Droder dropped right to the bottom of the order inside the final two laps, which cost him dearly in the points race, as far as round honours were concerned.
Afterwards, he confirmed that he’d suffered an alternator failure earlier in the day, had borrowed a battery from Stuart Walker, hoping that would get him through to the end of the day, but then the car went into limp mode, due to an overheating issue, and he was forced to nurse the car to the chequered flag!
In Group C, no change to what we saw in Race 3, with Paul Bonaccorso securing back-to-back wins, ahead of Matthew Devitt and Andrew Knight.
Shortly after the race, Lance Jurgeleit revealed that his engine has now had its final run. It’ll be put out to pasture, and while Jurgeleit will regroup, and get back on the grid, it won’t be in time for the next round of the championship.
For the round, with the top five in Group A finishing all four races in exactly the same position, it came as no surprise to anyone that Murray Kent was the round winner, ahead of Chris Brown and Matthew Haak.
In Group B, Gary Anger’s win in Race 4, and Rob Droder’s misfortune, was enough to give Anger round honours. A return to the top step of the podium, for a well-liked member of this paddock.
Droder was second home, ahead of Lance Jurgeleit.
In the slowest division, as it turned out, four seconds was good enough for Matthew Devitt to claim Group C honours on the day, with Bonaccorso second, and Andrew Knight rounding out the podium.
In this round of the Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship, several drivers racked up milestones.
Rob Droder and Mark Hyde racked up their 50th race start, Chris Brown notched up the ton, while experienced old hands of this field, Murray Kent and Nick Linton, surpassed 150 race starts, in the Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship!
Pole Position: Murray Kent (1:17.5652)
Race 1: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Chris Brown, 3rd Matthew Haak
Race 2: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Chris Brown, 3rd Matthew Haak
Race 3: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Chris Brown, 3rd Matthew Haak
Race 4: 1st Murray Kent, 2nd Chris Brown, 3rd Matthew Haak
Pot Luck Pole Award: John Swarbrooke
Hard Charger: Michael Woodcroft
Race 1: 1st Michael Woodcroft, 2nd Rob Droder, 3rd Lance Jurgeleit
Race 2: 1st Michael Woodcroft, 2nd Rob Droder, 3rd Leon Kemp
Race 3: 1st Leon Kemp, 2nd Rob Droder, 3rd Gary Anger
Race 4: 1st Gary Anger, 2nd Lance Jurgeleit, 3rd Nick Linton
Pot Luck Pole Award: Les Hanifin
Hard Charger: Gary Anger
Race 1: 1st Murray Reilly, 2nd Matthew Devitt, 3rd Scott Kelly
Race 2: 1st Murray Reilly, 2nd Matthew Devitt, 3rd Scott Kelly
Race 3: 1st Paul Bonaccorso, 2nd Matthew Devitt, 3rd Andrew Knight
Race 4: 1st Paul Bonaccorso, 2nd Matthew Devitt, 3rd Andrew Knight
Pot Luck Pole Award: Jackpots
Hard Charger: Luke Beveridge
2021 Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship | Round 2 Points
|1st||Murray Kent 2000||Gary Anger 1165||Matthew Devitt 769|
|2nd||Chris Brown 1880||Rob Droder 1139||Paul Bonaccorso 743|
|3rd||Matthew Haak 1768||Lance Jurgeleit 1084||Andrew Knight 674|
A long day, not without its drama and controversy, but attrition is what it’ll most be remembered for. However, it was also a day which saw some of the nice guys in this sport back on the top step of the podium.
As you would expect, the championship leaderboard has received a fair shake up, on the back of the second round of the season.
Championship Points | After Round 2 of 6
The Brisbane Collision Centre Queensland Touring Car Championship returns to Queensland Raceway at the end of the June, for the third round of the campaign – the end of which will see us reach the half-way point of the season.
The more traditional two-day format will be back in play for Round 3, which will see FIVE championship races contested. The event runs across the June 26-27 weekend.
The 2021 Queensland Touring Car Championship is proudly sponsored by: Brisbane Collision Centre, Brisbane Motor Works, Uniglide Friction Reducing Concentrate, Hully’s Automotive, Tyre Busters Kunda Park, Hano’s Car Care, Vitesse Developments, Fifotos Motorsport Media, Andrew Knight Electrical Contracting, Western Suburbs Mechanical, Hyqual Australia, and Prestige Stripes and Signs.