Guns Blazing

Mumbo Racing returned to the circuit on the weekend, for the first time since April, and it was with much success.

The team fielded three cars in house for the inaugural round of the Independent Race Series, with a fourth car run by Mathew Fox.

Friday saw unofficial practice on the flowing Oran Park "South Circuit", and Neil Byers was doing double duty in his Ford Mustang Cobra R V8 Giant, and his Mitsubishi 380 Production Racing Car. Both cars ran strongly during the day, and even managed to give a few passengers a thrill in the passenger rides in the afternoon. Sam Dale arrived late on Friday with his Reynard 94D, but wasted no time getting on the pace. Mathew Fox was driving the Hyundai Lantra Super Tourer in the Touring Car Challenge.

Saturday morning brought official practice, followed shortly thereafter by Qualifying, and then a packed day of racing (the event was a one day meeting).

In the Production Racing Cars, Neil Byers took a little while to hit his stride, but once he did he was on fire. In Saturday morning's official practice session Byers clocked a 52.41s lap, good enough for 5th fastest.

In Qualifying Byers went a fraction slower, with a 52.65s lap, and paid the price, dropping one place to take 6th on the grid.

It was in the first race that Byers really upped the ante. He got an excellent start, and moved up to third by the end of the opening lap, from there he was never challenged, and held onto take out third place in the race.

In the reverse grid Race Two, Byers was again on fire, his start wasn't as hot as the first race, but he clawed his way up to third by mid-race, and then spent the rest of the race threatening Bryan Fitzpatrick (Renault Clio). Fitzpatrick ultimately held onto the spot, and Byers took another third place.

In the third race, Neil really opened the taps. He followed up a reasonable start with some blistering early laps, to put himself in touch with the leaders. Byers didn't hesitate once he got near the front, and passed Anthony Soole (Toyota Celica) to take the lead. From there, despite a strong challenge from Soole, Neil was never headed and took his first race win in his time with the Mumbo Racing team. This race was Neil's strongest performance of the weekend so far, and he managed to break into the 51s laptime bracket.

In the final race Byers was headed by Soole in the early laps, but he slipped through, and held the lead until the end, giving him his second race win, and enough points to win the day outright! Neil also took out Class B for the event - his best ever result with the team.

In the Formula Tasman stakes, Sam Dale almost didn't make it to the circuit - the alternator in his tow vehicle failed, and the battery held just enough charge to make it to Oran Park (literally - it refused to start after arriving at the track!). He did make it though, and it was with a very quick car straight out of the trailer.

Sam only completed four laps at the end of Friday's unofficial practice, but clocked a 43s laptime, putting him ahead of the rest of the cars that had been running throughout the day. Sam was grinning from ear to ear, as he had tried a number of new settings on his car, and ALL of them appeared to be working as planned, resulting in a more driveable, and faster car.

The trend continued on Saturday morning, with Dale 1 second clear of the next quickest car (Bob Muir's 550hp Lexus Reynard), with a 43.0s lap.

With a wide range of cars in the field, and traffic problems encountered in the practice session, Sam thought the best tactic was to be at the front of the queue for Qualifying, so he wheeled his car down to the end of pitlane well ahead of the session. One small problem with this plan though, the car had not yet been fuelled. So, just as the session was about to commence he fired the car up and promptly ran out of fuel. A jog for the crew back for some fuel, and the car was fired up with a few minutes of qualifying remaining. No time to muck around then. And Sam didn't, he waited for a clear lap, and put down a 41.8s lap - again leaving him a full second clear of the next fastest car, and with pole position.

The opening race was an eight lap sprint, with Sam on pole for the standing start. He made a strong getaway, and then proceeded to drive into the distance, enjoying the setup changes he'd made to the car, and finishing in the lead, 10 seconds ahead of second placed Bob Muir.

For the second race, Sam was concerned about the superior power of Muir's machine at the rolling start. He needn't have worried though - Sam lead away from the flag, and again pulled off into the distance to take the win. The threat from Muir was neutralised after a few laps when he retired with overheating problems, leaving the LM Sports car of Mark Laucke to take second.

For the third and final race - a 24 lap feature - Sam was again on pole for the standing start. Muir ran strongly in the opening stages, and Sam suffered a sticking throttle, causing the car to run wide on corner entry, and then not allowing a clean exit from the corners. This allowed Muir to close the gap, and actually pass Sam. A few laps later the safety car made an appearance, and picked up the car in third place. When the other cars were waved through, Muir mistakenly believed it was the restart, and proceeded to pass a number of cars under yellow flags. He was then excluded from the race, handing the lead back to Sam (patiently following the safety car). The race was temporarily red flagged, and then restarted with cars in the order they were stopped in (giving Sam another standing start from the #1 grid position). Sam resumed the lead, and wasn't headed - he took his third win for the day, and the overall win for the event.

In the early running for the Touring Car Challenge, Mathew Fox set the 6th fastest qualifying time, with Neil Byers 7th fastest, the pair separated by just 15 thousandths of a second!

In the opening race, Fox came in 7th, with Byers 8th.

For Race Two, the first of the handicapped events, Byers reversed the order to finish 6th, with Fox in 7th.

For the third race, Neil finished 5th, with Fox recording a DNF with fuel pressure problems.

In the final race, Byers managed fourth place, while Fox was a non-starter with his fuel pressure problems.

Mumbo Racing's next appearance will be at the next round of the Independent Race Series at Queensland's Morgan Park 15 - 16 November.