Action Aplenty at the 2020 Lakeside Tribute.

Action Aplenty at the 2020 Lakeside Tribute.

Zak Caban recaps the ninth running of the Lakeside Tribute – the first event to be staged at Lakeside Park in 2020.
Photos courtesy of Matthew Paul Photography.

After a one-year hiatus, one of the premier events of the Queensland Motor Racing season – the Lakeside Tribute – returned to the calendar for 2020. It was the second event of the Queensland Raceways season, and the first of six planned for the iconic 2.41km Kurwongbah venue.

Despite an initial forecast of showers, it was a mostly dry weekend of racing, which saw 81 competitors entered across the five categories contesting the meeting.

Headlining the event, as per usual, was the Queensland Touring Car Championship, which splits into two groups when racing at Lakeside Park, due to the circuit’s track density.
Supporting the QTCC was the Australian Trans-Am Series, Group N – Historic Touring Cars, the Queensland Production Sports Car Championship, and the combined field of QR Sports & Sedans and Replica Tourers.

This meeting was the first round of 2020 for all categories, with the exception of the QR Sports & Sedans and Replica Tourers field, who were on-track three weeks ago, down at Queensland Raceway.

In what ended up being a 22-race program, there was no shortage of action, with a mix of racing incidents and mechanical failures creating a high rate of attrition across the weekend, as competitors, organisers and a healthy gathering of spectators celebrated the return of racing at Lakeside Park.

In the Australian Trans-Am Series, contested over four 12-lap races, nothing separated John English, Ian Palmer and Anthony Tenkate in Saturday’s two races. Earlier in the day, it was Ian Palmer who claimed pole position, ahead of John English.

In the opening race, English – the multiple Australian Trans-Am champion – had to settle for a third-place finish. After running second for much of the race, his gear lever broke on the penultimate lap, which allowed Anthony Tenkate the chance to steal second away from the Pontiac Firebird driver.

Palmer, in another Pontiac Firebird, led the whole way, to take victory in the first race of the 2020 championship, ahead of Tenkate’s Ford Mustang.

In the second race, Ian Palmer took the early lead, but by the end of the fourth lap, John English had displaced him, and in the end, order was restored, as English took the win – his first of the season.

Behind him though, no shortage of drama, in the battle for second, which reached boiling point on the very last lap, when Tenkate made contact with Palmer, while trying to find a way around the Pontiac Firebird.
The contact resulted in Palmer spinning to the outside of the circuit, at turn four, where he was very lucky to keep the car off the wall.

Palmer was able to keep going, and crossed the line in third position, but was later awarded second, as Tenkate copped a 30-second penalty for his role in the incident, which saw him relegated to fourth position, while Chris LaRosa was promoted to third.

For English, the Lakeside Tribute marked his fiftieth anniversary in Motorsport – he made his racing debut at this venue (in those days known as Lakeside International Raceway) – back in 1970. He celebrated the milestone with that win on Saturday, and another two on Sunday, as he charged to a comfortable win in the opening round of the championship, in his Pontiac Firebird.

In Race 3, Chris LaRosa took the fight to Ian Palmer and Anthony Tenkate, but it was short-lived. Palmer broke clear, chased down John English, but was unable to find a way by. Tenkate settled for third, some seven seconds behind the top two.

In Race 4, it was much the same, except English’s winning margin was far more comfortable – he was 1.6 seconds clear of Ian Palmer, while Tenkate was a further nine seconds down the road.

In the five-litre class, Ron Prefontaine took a clean-sweep. In the absence of Sean Evans, he was in a league of his own. Behind him though, a cracking battle for the minor placings, with all four of the remaining cars involved. Gareth Jones won the battle in the opening race, while Mike Collins claimed second in class over the remaining three races. Patricia Chant and Peter Schultz rounded out the field, while Gareth Jones was the only retirement of the weekend – failing to finish the last race.

The Australian Trans-Am Series continues at Queensland Raceway, on the opening weekend of May.

Australian Trans-Am Series | Round 1
Pole Position:
Ian Palmer (58.3013)
Race 1: 1st Ian Palmer, 2nd Anthony Tenkate, 3rd John English.
Race 2: 1st John English, 2nd Ian Palmer, 3rd Chris LaRosa
Race 3: 1st John English, 2nd Ian Palmer, 3rd Anthony Tenkate
Race 4: 1st John English, 2nd Ian Palmer, 3rd Anthony Tenkate
Fastest Lap: John English – 59.2267 (Race 2 | Lap 6)

Group N added an historic touch to racing at an historic venue, and the racing was as competitive as it’s ever been at Lakeside Park, with the four races delivering two different race winners, and no less than five different drivers featuring on the podium across the weekend, in the first outing of the season for the Historic Touring Cars.

True to form, the Holden Torana of Peter Baguley was the man to beat in Qualifying, with the XU-1 1.61 seconds faster than anyone in the 15-minute fight for pole position, and he backed that form up with a comfortable win in Race 1, ahead of Stephen Scales and Grahame Wrobel. Normally, Wrobel’s Ford Mustang is fighting for race victory, but not this weekend.

Race 2 was an absolute belter, with four drivers split by a solitary second by the end of the 10-lap affair.
Stephen Scales, in the Chevrolet Camaro, claimed a rare win, in the last race of their Saturday schedule, ahead of David Waddington’s Ford Falcon, with Grahame Wrobel and Peter Baguley making up the top four. Despite winning the opening race, Baguley started that second race from the rear of the field.

In Race 3, early Sunday morning, it was David Waddington who was relegated to the tail of the field, and that promoted Grahame Wrobel to the front row of the grid, alongside Stephen Scales, but neither of them were able to convert the clear track ahead in a race win, as Peter Baguley mowed them down, and pulled clear, to win by 1.2 seconds, ahead of Scales and Wrobel, who again just didn’t seem to have the pace we’ve come to expect from that Ford Mustang in previous outings.

David Waddington and Martin White rounded out the top five, at the expense of Graham Streat. The Torana pilot had been running fourth, right up until the last corner of the race, where he lost control of the car, and speared off the track coming onto the front straight.  Despite the high speed, the Torana escaped the incident with no damage whatsoever!  This is another testament to the COTA barrier and Soft-R-Wall positioned on the outside of that turn. Those safety upgrades were installed at T9 in 2018, when the oh-so-close ARMCO was removed and a concrete wall installed several metres behind where the ARMCO had stood.

Streat left the circuit at well over 150km/h, so for both car and driver to be undamaged and unharmed is a big testament to not only the safety upgrades at that corner, but also the effectiveness of COTA barrier Soft-R-Wall combination in washing speed off the car upon impact.

The fourth and final race delivered a comfortable win to Peter Baguley, ahead of David Waddington, and then Martin White, who only joined the field on Sunday morning. After missing Saturday’s action, he started at the rear of the grid for Race 3, and worked his way through the field, to finish in fifth position.

In Race 4, he was engaged in a cracking scrap with Stephen Scales, for the final spot on the podium, and he eventually prevailed, taking third place, by only two-tenths of a second.

Group N – Historic Touring Cars | Round 1
Pole Position:
Peter Baguley (1:00.6735)
Race 1: 1st Peter Baguley, 2nd Stephen Scales, 3rd Grahame Wrobel
Race 2: 1st Stephen Scales, 2nd David Waddington, 3rd Grahame Wrobel
Race 3: 1st Peter Baguley, 2nd Stephen Scales, 3rd Grahame Wrobel
Race 4: 1st Peter Baguley, 2nd David Waddington, 3rd Martin White
Fastest Lap: Peter Baguley – 1:00.9398 (Race 4 | Lap 3)

In the Queensland Production Sports Car Championship, Wayne Hennig has been untouchable in recent years, but he may face a stiffer challenge from the competition in 2020, after the defending champion only managed one race win across the weekend.

For once, the number one didn’t have it all his own way, as Andrew Adams claimed pole position, and two race wins, while Joseph Barbagallo also tasted success.

The drama began on Friday, with the Mosler of Graham Lusty sustaining damage from a heavy crash during Friday’s practice. Sadly for the veteran, that was only the start of it. His team were able to repair the car on Friday night, but he failed to clock a competitive time in Qualifying, and failed to finish two of the four races in the opening round of the 2020 Graham Lusty Trailers Championship.

At the front of the field, it was a battle between Ginetta and Porsche, with the Ginetta of Andrew Adams taking the fight to Hennig and Barbagallo. The Mazda MX5 of Tim Janke was also prominent across the weekend, only dropping outside the top five, in the final race of the program.

Remarkably Adams claimed pole position with over a second clear of Hennig and Janke – 55.3244 is the new benchmark time from the Ginetta at Lakeside.

Adams converted his pole position into an early race lead, in Race 1, and that’s where he stayed, despite a gallant effort from Hennig. They were ten seconds clear of Joseph Barbagallo and Tim Janke, while Graham Lusty was able to overcome the issues he had in Qualifying, to finish in fifth place.

The opening race wasn’t without drama. It had to be stopped mid-way through, following a crash for the Mazda MX5 of Chris Battista, who lost control going through the Kink, at the end of the main straight, and the car slid off into the barrier on the outside of the circuit.

Battista was OK, but the car was not, and he would take no further part in the event.

The second race, over 15 laps, also delivered some drama, as Andrew Adams and Graham Lusty both failed to finish, as did Brian Ferrabee, while Wayne Hennig struck trouble as well, and only managed to finish in tenth position.

All that drama saw Joseph Barbagallo record his first win of the season, in the Porsche Cup GT3 entry, ahead of Tim Janke’s Mazda MX5, while another Porsche, driven by Kevin Vedelago, rounded out the podium.

It was a case of order restored in Race 3, where Wayne Hennig charged through the field, to take the win, ahead of Adams, who started at the rear of the field, and simply charged through – he was sitting second by the end of the sixth lap, and began mowing down the gap that Hennig had already established, to finish within four-tenths of victory, and he recorded the fastest lap of the race along the way.

Joseph Barbagallo was third, ahead of Tim Janke, and series president, Shane Plohl, in the Eunos Roadster.

The start was critical in Race 4, and Andrew Adams got the better of it, to sit ahead of Wayne Hennig on the first of fifteen laps. Hennig stayed with Adams the whole way, but couldn’t find a way through – again highlighting just how difficult overtaking can be at Lakeside Park – as the Ginetta grabbed its second win of the weekend. Hennig was second, but the big talking point of the race was Brendan Whittaker, with the Mazda MX5 charging through to take the final spot on the podium, ahead of Lusty, Barbagallo, and Tim Janke, in a most impressive drive.

QLD Production Sports Car Championship
Pole Position: Andrew Adams (55.3244)
Race 1: 1st Andrew Adams, 2nd Wayne Hennig, 3rd Joseph Barbagallo
Race 2: 1st Joseph Barbagallo, 2nd Tim Janke, 3rd Kevin Vedelago
Race 3: 1st Wayne Hennig, 2nd Andrew Adams, 3rd Joseph Barbagallo
Race 4: 1st Andrew Adams, 2nd Wayne Hennig, 3rd Brendan Whittaker
Fastest Lap: Andrew Adams – 54.2138 (Race 4 | Lap 4)

QR Sports & Sedans competitors are accustomed to sharing the track with the QLD Production Ute Series, but this weekend, they shared the circuit with a new category, and a growing one at that, in the Replica Tourers – proudly supported by Gulf Western Oils and Racer Industries.

Despite the presence of three Oz Truck machines – two more than we’ve been used to in recent times – there was no match for the Tundra of Lachlan Gardner, who stormed to pole position, and four race wins – a dominant display, and the continuation of an emphatic start to the season.
Gardner has now won eight races on the trot, after also winning four of the five races held, in the opening round of the 2020 championship, at Queensland Raceway three weeks ago.
It was an Oz Truck domination, as Gardner, Greg McIntyre and Graham Struber locked out the podium in the opening three races. Unfortunately, McIntyre struck mechanical drama in race four, and was forced into retirement.

Behind the dominance of the trucks came the rest of the challengers. The battle for minor placings was very entertaining, with Ettore Vosolo (BMW E30), Martin Smith (Nissan Pintara), and Zayd Tones (BMW 318) swapping positions in a constant scrap for the weekend.

However, that three-way scrap came to an abrupt, and premature end in Race 3, when Vosolo found the wall, after losing control of the BMW, heading through the right-hand sweeper, near the old spectator bridge.

Vosolo walked away from the incident, but it triggered a race stoppage, which saw the event declared two laps shy of its scheduled 10-lap distance.

After finishing fourth in the opening two races, Tim Jordan only managed sixth in the third race, but bounced back to capitalise on the demise of Greg McIntyre, and finish third in the final race of the weekend.

The next round of the QR Sports and Sedans championship will be held, as part of Round 2 of the Queensland Raceways Drivers Championship, at Queensland Raceway, on Queensland’s Labour Day weekend (May 2-3).

QR Sports & Sedans | Replica Tourers
Pole Position: Lachlan Gardner (56.5244)
Race 1: 1st Lachlan Gardner, 2nd Greg McIntyre, 3rd Graham Struber
Race 2: 1st Lachlan Gardner, 2nd Greg McIntyre, 3rd Graham Struber
Race 3: 1st Lachlan Gardner, 2nd Greg McIntyre, 3rd Graham Struber
Race 4: 1st Lachlan Gardner, 2nd Graham Struber, 3rd Tim Jordan
Fastest Lap: Lachlan Gardner – 56.7978 (Race 3 | Lap 3)

For the first time since September, the Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship went racing at Lakeside Park.
In total, thirty-three competitors entered this event, but only thirty remained by the time Qualifying commenced on Saturday morning, and the attrition didn’t end there.

In the Group A Qualifying session, 2016 champion Steve Hay suffered a monumental engine failure, which saw his VK Big Banger replica go up in smoke.
Initially, the team suspected that an oil line may have let go, but upon further inspection, back at their workshop, they discovered it was a far bigger problem, and disappointingly for Steve Hay, he would take no further part in the weekend.

The session was stopped, while officials cleaned up the circuit. Upon resumption, no one was able to match the time that Hay set down in the early part of the session – a 56.9151 – so, while he won’t pocket any championship points from this round, he’s still credited with the first pole position of the 2020 season.

Matthew Haak spent the off-season upgrading his Holden Commodore, in preparation for the step up, from A2 to A1, for this season, and was rewarded instantly – qualifying second fastest, and inheriting pole position, following Steve Hay’s withdrawal.
Defending champion Chris Sharples was third fastest, ahead of 2019 runner-up Piers Harrex, while Chris Brown rounded out the top five.

In Group A2, the defending champion Stuart Walker clocked the fastest time, ahead of Rob Droder and Peter Bray, in a Commodore lock-out of the top three. John Swarbrooke’s BMW was fourth, ahead of Chris Begg, in a brand new BMW V8 – a notable upgrade from his trusty E92 M3.

In Group B qualifying, held separately to the A1 and A2 session, it was another newcomer, in Dave Hinton, who claimed pole, in his Toyota Corolla – it came after Mark Giorgio and Mark Hyde were promoted to Group A2, after breaking out, on multiple occasions, in the 15-minute qualifying session.

Scott Kelly was second fastest, ahead of Gerard O’Flynn, Andrew Knight and Paul Bonaccorso.

The opening race of the Group A season was an absolute belter, with Matthew Haak getting the better of Chris Sharples, in a classic 12-lap scrap. Haak grabbed the early lead, and Sharples was unable to find a way through, sticking within a couple of car lengths for the duration.

The big excitement came when the pair closed in on Maddison Crowe and Cameron Haak – Matthew’s brother – to put a lap on them. The A2 pair, were engaged in a battle of their own.

When they all ended up side-by-side.  Sharples took the opportunity to pounce on Matthew Haak, as he went through the middle of his brother and Maddison Crowe, while Sharples tried to go around all three of them, even putting the wheels on the car’s left-hand side in the grass along the main straight, in a bid to take the race lead. As spectacular as the four-wide action was, down the main straight, it didn’t work to Sharples’ advantage, as Matthew Haak maintained the lead, and Sharples lost the slightest bit of ground, but how they all got through that unscathed, only they’ll know.

Third place went to Chris Brown, ahead of Piers Harrex and Dean McMahon.

Unfortunately, the mechanical woes continued into a new season for Shannon Cane, as a gearbox issue put paid to her weekend. Such a blow for the 19-year old, who posted the tenth quickest time in the combined Group A qualifying session, and spent much of summer trying to nut out the mechanical gremlins that have plagued her for the last two years.

The A2 battle was superb as well. Rob Droder got the better of the start, taking the lead away from Stuart Walker, and that’s how it stayed – Walker was unable to find a way past his Commodore compatriot, and settled for second. In third, it was Mark Giorgio, who was a wildcard entry for this round, in a Ford Falcon owned by Alwyn Bishop. Giorgio was bumped from Group B, into A2, at the completion of qualifying, and then punched out his quickest ever laps of the 2.41km venue, en-route to that third place finish in Race 1, and was thirteen seconds ahead of rest of the pack.

In the opening Group B race of the weekend, Dave Hinton was unchallenged on his way to victory, ahead of Scott Kelly’s BMW 318is, and the Holden Commodore of Gerard O’Flynn.

The second Group A race of the year will go down as a huge talking point for the remainder of the season. We talk about championship defining moments, that play a part in the overall outcome of the campaign, and this was certainly one of them. Unfortunately, the race was stopped when Chris Sharples deflated a tyre which brought him into heavy contact with the concrete wall at turn 4; near where the bridge used to be. While Sharples was shaken by the impact but he walked away from the car without any injuries. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the car, with the team taking to social media on Sunday morning, declaring it a write-off, and all but ruling themselves out for the rest of the season, and bringing a very premature end to their strong and promising championship defense.

Upon resumption, Piers Harrex was forced into retirement, after he and the team couldn’t get the car to re-start – it was a fuel vapor issue that caused that problem.

On-track, with Hay, Sharples, Harrex and also Chris Brown out of business, it was a fight for survival in Group A1, and there’d prove to be a sting in the tail for Matthew Haak, as he ran out of fuel on the last lap of the race. That saw Dean McMahon come through, to claim his first win in the Queensland Touring Car Championship, in a Holden Monaro that has given him nothing but grief over the last twelve months – it would appear as though he’s got the car fully sorted for 2020.

Haak limped to the line, to finish second in class, as Rob Droder came through to finish second outright, and take Group A2 honours, ahead of Stuart Walker once again. Walker held the lead, in that battle, until the race was suspended., Droder got the better launch off the restart, to get himself ahead of Walker, and that’s where he stayed. Third home in Group A2 was Michael Woodcroft, in the Holden Torana – a welcome return to racing, after rebuilding the car, following an incident at Queensland Raceway last season.

With on-track incidents delaying the program, the second Group B race was pushed back to 9:30am (Local Time) on Sunday morning.

Once again, Dave Hinton was the man to beat, but he faced a stiff fight from Scott Kelly, who got to within half-a-second of taking victory away from the Toyota driver, but it wasn’t to be. Hinton went two from two, ahead of Kelly and Andrew Knight, who recovered from a first race retirement, to get the better of Gerard O’Flynn, in the battle for the final spot on the podium.

Dave Hinton’s Group B success was short-lived, as category officials promoted him to Group A2 for the rest of the program, and with the field somewhat depleted, they also decided to combine the two fields for the remainder of the day.

In the absence of Chris Sharples, Dean McMahon took up the fight with Matthew Haak, as Monaro and Commodore went toe-to-toe, in the fight for outright supremacy.

It was another cracking scrap for the race win, which saw McMahon lead for 75% of the 12-lap encounter, until Haak forced his way by on lap 10, in a battle that was again affected by lapped traffic, and for the second day in a row, it was to Haak’s advantage, and he went on to secure his second win of the weekend, ahead of McMahon, while Chris Brown worked his way through the field, after failing to finish the second race, to take the final spot on the A1 podium.

Just ahead of Brown, Rob Droder and Stuart Walker were again engaged in a duel for Group A2 victory, and again it went the way of Rob Droder.
For the second race in succession, Michael Woodcroft was the best of the rest within Group A2.

In Group B, Andrew Knight claimed his first win of the season, ahead of Scott Kelly and Lance Jurgeleit.

As there was a gap in the program, left by the combination of the QTCC field, QTCC officials offered their drivers the option of holding a non-points race, and while there was initial enthusiasm for it on Sunday morning, by the time the teams had reached the end of Race 4, they had run their legs off, so the scheduled non-points race didn’t proceed.

After Race 3, Scott Kelly also found himself being promoted to Group A2, for the final race of the weekend.

In that final race, again over 12 laps, it was more of the same from Matthew Haak. Last year, he won the opening round of the A2 championship, and with his third win of the weekend, he secured Round 1 honours in the A1 title fight of 2020.

Dean McMahon was a really close second, in what was another very tight race between the pair, while Chris Brown was a distant third.
Haak led every lap of that race, but not without McMahon desperately searching for a way past – again showcasing exactly how difficult overtaking on this circuit can be.

In Class A2, it was a clean-sweep for Rob Droder, and you could argue that it was won at the start – four times he beat Stuart Walker off the line, and four times he was first to the chequered flag.
Walker was only nine-tenths of a second away at the end, while Michael Woodcroft completed a successful return to the series, by taking the final spot on the podium – his third 3rd place finish of the weekend. It didn’t come without a fight though, with ‘Pommy John’ Swarbrooke hunting him down – the BMW driver was only eight-tenths of a second away, from a surprise podium finish.

In Class B, it was another win to Andrew Knight, who was well clear of Lance Jurgeleit, who, of course, wasn’t running his usual BMW, that we’ve seen in Class A2 in recent years – it’s getting some TLC, with an engine rebuild occurring, before Lance hopes to have it back on the grid towards the end of the season – instead, he was driving a car that he’ll be contesting the Morgan Park 24 Hours of Lemons event in, later this year.

Third place went to Paul Bonaccorso – in what was a really good showing from the Ford Falcon XE, right across the weekend.

Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship
Group A1
Pole Position:
Steve Hay (56.9151)
Race 1: 1st Matthew Haak, 2nd Christopher Sharples, 3rd Chris Brown
Race 2: 1st Dean McMahon, 2nd Matthew Haak
Race 3: 1st Matthew Haak, 2nd Dean McMahon, 3rd Chris Brown
Race 4: 1st Matthew Haak, 2nd Dean McMahon, 3rd Chris Brown
Fastest Lap: Christopher Sharples – 56.9735 (Race 2 – Lap 5)

Group A2
Pole Position: Stuart Walker (59.3719)
Race 1: 1st Rob Droder, 2nd Stuart Walker, 3rd Mark Giorgio
Race 2: 1st Rob Droder, 2nd Stuart Walker, 3rd Michael Woodcroft
Race 3: 1st Rob Droder, 2nd Stuart Walker, 3rd Michael Woodcroft
Race 4: 1st Rob Droder, 2nd Stuart Walker, 3rd Michael Woodcroft

Group B
Pole Position: Dave Hinton (1:02.2410)
Race 1: 1st Dave Hinton, 2nd Scott Kelly, 3rd Gerard O’Flynn
Race 2: 1st Dave Hinton, 2nd Scott Kelly, 3rd Gerard O’Flynn
Race 3: 1st Andrew Knight, 2nd Scott Kelly, 3rd Lance Jurgeleit
Race 4: 1st Andrew Knight, 2nd Lance Jurgeleit, 3rd Paul Bonaccorso

The next round of the Racer Industries Queensland Touring Car Championship comes up in two months from now, when the field returns to Queensland Raceway, as part of the first Top Gear event of 2020.

As for Queensland Raceways, management will continue to monitor the ongoing impact of the coronavirus, but at this stage, the next race meeting is still scheduled to take place on the opening weekend of May (1-3), when QR hosts Round 2 of the Queensland Racing Drivers Championship (QRDC).

As for Lakeside Park, the next time that iconic venue hosts Motorsport will be in mid-July, when the Lakeside Classic returns for the first time since 2018.

For now though, we hope you enjoyed the 2020 Lakeside Tribute, and we look forward to seeing you all enjoying the trackside action, at Queensland Raceway again, on the first weekend of May.

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