President Will and Robin (left) And Peter (1st), Tim (2nd) & Greg (3rd) with Will getting his face in again - Photos C&J Mason 2011
The day dawned with slightly overcast skies and we did experience some precipitation at the meeting place in Rockbank and some dampish roads on the tour.
I think nine cars set off with maps at the ready with the first stop scheduled at the historic Red Beard Bakery in Trentham. A very cute place it was too with lots of history and home made breads and cakes which all smelt divine. After an eclair with fresh country cream and a black coffee we proceeded to our luncheon destination, Captains Creek Organic Winery at Blampied, just outside of Daylesford.
993s in front of the restaurant / tasting room - 2011
All produce for the restaurant was sourced locally and most of the wine was estate grown and bottled. The food was excellent, the whites 'interesting' and the reds 'very good' seemed to be the consensus from our table.
Thanks to Felix for organising the event. It was great to see so many 993 variants (i counted at least five different models) and a most enjoyable day was had by all.
Turbo, Carrera 4S & Carrera S on the grass - 2011
Sadly the weather was not kind to the drivers and brave passengers with lashing rain interspersed with slightly clearer skies and the odd patch of sun.
Grey skies, wet track and passengers... - 2011 Photo by Tim Stevenson
The good news is I got around safely and thanks to my passengers Andrew, Tim, Bruce, Steve, David and Darryl for trusting me in the conditions and still appearing to enjoy themselves.
Andrew smiling bravely - 2011 Photo by Tim Stevenson
A few of my guests stayed for a drink and a bite to eat just as the sun came out. Aarrghh. After a quick drink I had to make my farewells as I was dead tired from a heavy day of guest hosting and concentrating on keeping us all safe in the tricky conditions. This was the club's last track event for 2011 so a big thank you to the organisers, officials and marshals for their efforts. See you all next year!
The lonely walk of a slow race driver... - 2011 Photo by Robin Humphries
As for the Friday practice, I frankly did very well, by my modest standards improving my personal best by over a second. The video below is proof! I was lucky as the weather, track surface and lack of on-course vehicles made conditions near perfect. I was best pleased!
Sunday was however a different story, with alternating rain and sunshine making outright speed difficult if not impossible for someone of my limited talents. Accordingly I was unable to get close to my Friday time after four sessions of trying, sometimes too hard. So I parked the car in one piece mid afternoon and looked forward to getting back to the motel to catch the end of the Bathurst 1000. I enjoyed the day but had nothing to show for it. Congratulations to my GT3 buddy Chris for recording a PB in the morning. Great work!
Your humble correspondent at 'speed' - 2011 Photo by Robin Humphries
On the social side, without sounding like a promo for the area, the food, wine and hospitality was fantastic. Georginas, Raffety's and North Eastern Hotel for food, Pizzini, Redbank and Sam Miranda for italian Arneis / Pinot Gris - Grigio varietals and great scenery from Myrtleford to Bright to Harrietville were highlights.
993 GT2 v 993 Turbo @ Mt Donna Buang - 2011
I didn't make it to Healesville however as my Turbo buddy dropped a clutch on route and I saw it as my duty to stay with him and share how reliable my car is while we waited for the flat-bed truck.
Perhaps I over-estimated Tony's sense of humour a little! - 2011 (iPhone)
A pleasant drive was dampened a little by a nasty stone chip on my windscreen in the first 45 minutes. Aarrgghh.... Windscreens O'Brien called.
993 Turbo v 993 GT2 @ Mt Donna Buang - 2011
In addition to the Turbo, I took the Leica D-Lux 5 out for the day and managed to catch a couple of nice shots. For some reason, this camera / sensor combo seems to lend itself to very moody / detailed monochrome shots.
Race day dawned crisp but clear, and despite a dodgy forecast, the weather smiled on us all day. My car had a service between events, some minor maintenance and a fresh set of tyres. A quick check of tyre pressures on Sunday morning and I was good for the off!
I felt a bit 'flat' while waiting on the grid for Session 1 but I got the warmup lap out of the way and the car felt pretty good. After passing a couple of cars and seeing my times come down (courtesy of my on-board real-time data logger) I started to 'push' while also remembering to breathe! After another smooth lap, I glanced at the data as I crossed the Start / Finish line and saw 1.53.5 flash up. A personal best by nearly two seconds. OK!
Excitedly heading into Session 2, I had a real crack after my first lap was only 0.02 second slower than the PB. Like an inexperienced duffer, I then began to over drive the car, miss breaking marks, muff gear changes and generally screw up. On my return to the paddock, someone kindly suggested the track 'goes off' in the late morning and was a little slower. It didn't make me feel any better,
My car was still running a soft setup from the previous month's damp conditions and the car felt too loose on the high speed corners so the guys from NinePlus swapped it to full stiff, front & back. So out for Session Three. Those of you hoping for a happy ending will be disappointed. Although trying (probably too hard again) I just couldn't get the car around any quicker than early in the morning.
I am sorry to report a serious accident ended the day when one of our members had a big off exiting Turn One. The car looks terminal but the driver while shaken just has a fractured wrist, I believe. Best wishes to Cameron for a speedy and full recovery.
On a positive note, my GT3 buddy Chris also set a personal best in session one capping off a great day all round for the peninsula boys. For me, although disappointed after such a fantastic start, I would have taken a personal best at the start of the day. Now on to Haunted Hills.
Upon leaving home it was mild and temperate, but sadly the closer I got to the island the weather closed in. The drivers briefing, while under cover, couldn't hide the rain pouring down outside.
On the straight - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
So the first session was 'wet', and I really, really struggled. Every time I touched the steering wheel the front slid, every time I touched the accelerator the rear slid. Aarrgghh.... A check on a slight oil leak had me sit out of session two, and while the car was 'in service' we took the time to up the tyre pressures and soften off the roll bars to their softest setting.
Session three showed more improvement, which was no surprise as the track was now drying out. But by sessions four and five I started making excellent progress by my standards resulting in an 'official' personal best lap time of 1.55. I know, I know nothing special for a GT3 but don't discount the quality of the pilote...
A You Tube video of my best lap can be found below.
Also, I attached a GoPro SD video camera to the rear of the GT3 for an interesting rear-facing video of one of my out laps. Not a lot to see, but the sensation of 'speed' is cool, I reckon.
All in all, a most enjoyable (and safe) day at the Island.
In convoy with our friends, the Masons we arrived mid Thursday with Chris discovering the right rear tyre on his GT3 running at 10 psi. Yikes! . With a Test & Tune Day scheduled for Friday and no R-spec 18 inch Dunlop tyres in Benalla he was at risk of missing out. Some frantic phone calls to son James, who was planning to drive his new (for him) 997 911 up on early Friday, pleading with him to source two new tyres for Dad and pop them in the back seat for the drive up! Nice effort by James over & above the work he was doing to get his own car ready for the day.
Greg & Winton Start / Finish Line - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
Friday dawned very cold but clear and dry. After a bakery breakfast we headed to the track (via Beaurepaires in Chris's case to have his tyres fitted and balanced) to prepare for an exciting test day. Plenty of sedans on the track were making fast progress tricky. Unfortunately, worse was to come for me. After a pleasant first 20 minute session, nearing the end of my second run the throttle jammed open and I nearly rear ended a BMW M3 under braking as I was approaching the very tricky left hand Turn 9. See short video below. After being towed back to the pits, a number of Porsche boffins stared into the engine bay of my stricken GT3, comparing my throttle position to Chris's, when wife Robin piped up and said 'I can fix this!'. Mmmm. After grabbing a very large screwdriver and with a couple of 'pokes' at the throttle body it released back to it's normal position. A miracle? Saint Robin? Great work subsequently confirmed by the NinePlus techies.
In between the track events, we had a fantastic day touring the King Valley Wineries as part of their food and wine festival. The best wine of the day was the Dell Zotto Arneis, an oily complex dry white which I am sure would be even better with food than pinot grigio / gris. We all lunched at Politini Winery on a delightful selection of italian treats well supported by a guest guitarist and the winery patriarch playing piano accordion most energetically. Bellisimo!
Greg in Turn 3 - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
On the official runs on Sunday, I did not match my personal best time, being about a second and a bit slower, but I was generally happy with my pace and consistency. I didn't really get a series of clean laps when the track was at it's best so I wasn't too unhappy at the end of the weekend. After the throttle issues on Friday, the car ran perfectly all day. One interesting moment was when a fellow competitor spun in front of me and in the dust I had no idea where to go until the dust settled. See below.
On the social front, we all enjoyed Georgina's, Raffetys and the North Eastern Hotel as wonderful places to eat and relax after a hard day's racing or winery touring. The food, service, wine lists and 'country' pricing make for a most satisfactory dining experience.
Although I had not entered for the day, we had to go the DECA Driver Training Facility at Shepparton for the PCV Motor-kana event as Robin was Clerk-of-Course for the day. The format was runs on the short & long road courses in the morning, alternating with a motor-kana course around the cones on the slippery (but thankfully dry) concrete skid-pan. After an enjoyable catered BBQ lunch, it was back to the skid-pan for a head-to-head motor-kana event.
DECA Shepparton layout (Source - DECA website)
What a great event for spectators!
Robin instructing her faithful team of volunteers - 2011
I have uploaded some photos of the morning skid pan session to Flickr here. All in all, a fantastic weekend. Again.
We left Melbourne at 'O-Dark Hundred' on the Friday morning in convoy with Chris & Julie Mason, to get an extra day's sightseeing in the nation's capital before the tour kicked off. An excellent idea as we got in some interesting walks, a photographic session and a fine Italian meal at 'La Scala' .
The first official function was a guided tour and formal dinner in the Mural Hall at 'new' Parliament House. Wow, what a venue with outstanding food, wine and service. The tour was officially off to a sensational start.
Day Two was a free morning followed by lunch with members of the Porsche Club of Canberra at Lake George Winery. The weather wasn't great when we met at the Black Mountain Tower and only slowly improved as the day went on. The luncheon venue was excellent with heaps of food and very good local wines to accompany it.
The Group @ Lake George Winery - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
At some point the next day, we left for a long-ish drive to Bathurst. Apart from incessant roadworks, it was a pleasant and easy drive across the central plains of NSW. For those that arrived in time, road legal speed laps of the Mt Panorama race circuit were available and Robin took her turn at the wheel of the Boxster to enjoy the delights of Mountain Straight, the Cutting, Skyline, the Dipper, Conrod Straight and Caltex Chase. She loved it! Dinner was an enjoyable and high-spirited affair in the Chicane Restaurant of the Mirvac Hotel, on track.
An early start the next day had us on another lengthy session to Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley towards the highly acclaimed Peppers Resort.
Neither Robin nor I had been to the Hunter Valley before and apart from the reputations of the wineries, we didn't really know what to expect. Our expectations were further confused when not far from our destination we passed a military installation and a very large (and active) artillery range plus a number of coal mines and power stations. Could we have made a wrong turn somewhere? Well yes if you followed the tour guidelines & notes, but no if you listened to the dulcet tones of NavMan/Woman who guided us safely to our destination. Dinner was supposed to be a garden BBQ, but inclement weather forced us indoors for a slightly cramped BBQ / buffet.
The next day was free I think, with maybe a guided wine tour in the afternoon. We lucked into a great option with Rothvale Winery and Tamburlaine (organic) winery on our tour. Gentleman Max from Rothvale was a 'dry' treat as he lectured a pretty unruly group on how to properly hold a glass and taste wine. The organic wine story at Tamburlaine was most passionate and interesting. And the wine tasted pretty good too, so we duly ordered a dozen to be shipped home.
The Boxster in Autumn - 2011
More detail to come.
Robin at the end of Conrod Straight, Mt Panorama - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
The track goes 'across' the hill rather than 'up and down' which is where much of the camber change comes from. The surface is fabulous, billiard table smooth. A standing start was used with the finish to be within a defined cone 'garage' with a 5 second penalty for hitting any of the garage cones. More of that later...
So, fifty-ish PCV drivers turned up on a sensational March day to compete against the clock, one entrant at a time. Two slightly different layouts were used, one a little shorter in the morning, and the other longer in the afternoon. We had one untimed sighting lap at the start of the day, then three timed laps in the morning and three more after lunch.
In the first session I was feeling my way, enjoying the faster sections, but being 'timid' in the slower corners. More work to do. So in the second run, I had a 'crack' and lost control in the last two corners wlldly correcting after severe ABS-stammering and I knocked the cone at the end of the garage. Not happy Jan...
At 'speed' @ Broadford - Photo by Andrew Hutchison 2011
In the afternoon, I again started slowly (not aggressive enough) and was being indecisive. I tend to just cruise (neither on the power or on the brakes), and simply spectating almost. Aarghh... Vowing to have a 'go' in my final run, I was a couple of seconds faster than previously. Still way too slow, but happier... I need to learn circuits faster and be more aggressive sooner rather than waiting for the final run of the day to 'try'.
Did I mention the catering? Often the provisions are primitive at competition events. Not this time! Barista coffee all day, home-made cakes and scones, juice & water in the morning and a two course SIT DOWN catered lunch. How long has this sort of hospitality been going on? Congratulations to all involved in this effort. Awesome.
As always, a big thank you to the Competition Committee and the Marshalling team for their efforts in organising the day and keeping us all safe. It is a huge and often under-appreciated commitment. Great work. Thank you all!
Robin in charge - Photo by Andrew Hutchison 2011
Some video to follow soon.
First, it is worth understanding what a 'Regularity' event is. Basically, each driver nomintaes a time that they believe they can attain lap on lap thereby accruing points for being consistent. If you go slower than your nominated time, you don't get a point, if you meet your time you are allocated a point and if you go faster, you lose a point. Ouch. In the six hour event, our team 'Jive Torque' (don't ask) had four drivers therefore 90 minutes each which we decided to split over three thirty minute sessions. With me so far?
Chatting with James (l) & Team Manager Paul (r) - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
The team this year was Chris & son Brett sharing their GT3 and Dennis in his trusty 928. It was probably fair to say that we were slightly under-prepared. Chris got his car back from the repair shop a few days before the event, and it had it's final shake-down run two days before, our strategic team arrangement / planning meeting was over two glasses of Pinot Grigio at the Prince Patrick Hotel the day before! But we are professionals. Meaning, we pay!
Yep it was wet ! - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
So we turned up on Sunday raring to go. Sadly, in the rain. Remember the Regularity regulations. After practice, you get to nominate ONE time that you will target. Will it stay wet, will it be dry? Or changeable? Tough. I drew the short straw and was first out to practice and 'chosen' to be our first car in the initial session of the day. Did I mention it was wet?
The first lap through the spray and being seeded near the front with the 'fast guys' was nerve wracking. I was really grateful for the racing harness as it stopped me from leaping out of the car! Try this video...
It stayed wet, damp and overcast for the first three hours or so, then started to dry out. My last session was relatively dry and it was enjoyable to cruise around in those conditions after the pressure of the morning. Unfortunately, both Chris and Dennis had car issues late afternoon and weren't able to get their final stints done. Nothing major for Chris (split tyre valve stems in both front wheels, very strange) and Dennis had a radiator hose split. I am sure we will be good to go again next year!
The team format is very different from the normal solo driving events. With the rain we had, some of us commented that if it wasn't for the 'team', a decision may have been taken to park the cars and not participate given the weather and potential risk. At the end of the day, we all had a great time participating together, and a special thanks to our Team Manager Paul for trying to keep us all 'regular.