IPRA SA Round 1 Race Report
23rd March 2021
By Michael Riemann
Round one for 2021 was a single day twilight race meeting held at Mallala, short and sweet with qualifying, two afternoon heats and then an eight laps night final heat. There was a reasonable field with seventeen entries, we welcomed two new competitors to IP, those being James Benford who moved over from the Excel class now racing a Nissan Silvia and Emanuel Palyaris with a newly built BMW M2.
Weather conditions looked pretty ordinary in the morning with competitors arriving to rain showers, which eased as the afternoon set in. Qualifying was held on a drying track, on paper it looked possible for Mitsubishi’s to occupy the first few rows for the race with two Evos and three Magnas in the field. However it was all Nissan, as Andy Sarandis’ Evo didn’t make it past the warm up lap with a brake issue that would rule him out for the day, and the Magna drivers said it was no longer wet enough for their cars to shine. Pole was won with an impressive drive by Matthew Wright in the Datsun 120Y,who’s car was often on the front row at Mallala in the early 2000’s in the hands of Mark Short. Scott Cook (Silvia) was second and Ian Statham (Magna) in third. James Benford did well to qualify fourth in his first IP qualifying in tricky conditions.
The track was fully dry for the first race. We were denied an exciting tussle for the top spot between two of the fastest IP cars in S.A by Sarandis’ absence, as he and Cook have battled hard previously. Wright took the lead initially but Cook took over quickly and pulled well away to win from Wright and Benford moving up to third. Steve Engelhart was fourth in the VH Commodore and Nathan Mills who didn’t take part in qualifying moved from last to fifth in his 1200 Datsun, and a four car battle for sixth was separated by only 1.5 seconds going Stathams way
Race two in the late afternoon was won by Cook. The race for second was quite entertaining between the Datsuns of Wright and Mills, with Mills on the second last lap performing a gutsy side by side overtake through the kink, only to run wide at the northern hairpin and let Wright back through. On the final lap Wright outbraked himself at the northern to hand the place back to Mills in the same fashion. Benford finished fourth, Carl Ward fifth in the Datsun Sunny, and Jason Palmer next in his newly acquired BMW, just ahead of Adam Trimmer who is a seriously fast under two litre runner. The race finished dramatically with David Perry’s Bluebird upside down in the sand trap at the esses on the final lap. Everyone was pleased to see him in one piece shortly after, shaken but not stirred, at the round prize giveaway during the dinner break.
The sun set and lights came on for race three. Cook led from the start and drove away to a twenty four second victory, to continue his form as last year’s state champion. Benford was second in a great debut event, only a few tenths ahead of Wright. Carl Ward was fourth, Trimmer fifth and Emanuel Palyaris who got quicker in every session of his first IP event was next in front of a tight bunch with Statham, Palmer and Mark Kempster.
At the end of the day Scott Cook took the round win with maximum points from Matthew Wright, James Benford, Carl Ward and Adam Trimmer rounding out the top five.
Big thanks to Michael Riemann for the report and Tony Donoghue for the photos