MG & Invited British Sportscars finally got back on track for the first time post COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne as part of the Australian Motor Racing Series and a small but close field put on a great show.
The field hit the track for practice and it was Keith Ondarchie in his updated Triumph Stag that set the pace early on with a 1:30.4 ahead of Jason Holmes in the first MG with a 1:33.1, while Ed Ferguson in his TR7 V8 set a 1:36.7. Louise Simmonds was a competitor in her MG B but has recently updated to an MG ZR and returned to the series and made strong progress all weekend getting quicker in every session and will only get better with more experience of front wheel drive.
Saturday came and the 10 car field took to the track for qualifying, Early pace was set by Ed Ferguson for a 1:30.5 ahead of Keith Ondarchie with a 1.31.9 before Ben Muller in his MG B GT V8 was the first to go under the 1 minute 30 barrier with a 1:27.29 before lowering it further to a 1:25.7 later in the session while Keith Ondarchie lowered his time to a 1:27.9 to consolidate a front row start. Ferguson did grab a 1:29.2 on his final lap to stay in 3rd ahead of Jason Holmes in a 1:30.1 and Michael Wood in his MG B GT V8 took 5th with a 1:31.4. Gordon Bunyan (Spitfire), Alister Ondarchie (TR7), Alana Ondarchie (Stag), Simmonds (ZR) and Peter Owen rounded out the field.
Race 1 – 10 Laps
The opening race saw a staggered start, Owen and Simmonds lead the way from Alana Ondarchie after the opening lap before Bunyan and Wood while Holmes, Ferguson, Keith Ondarchie and Muller had to try and get back to their qualifying placings. By lap 2 Alana Ondarchie moved into 2nd while Bunyan got gobbled up by Holmes and Wood, on lap 3 Wood found himself in 3rd place ahead of Simmonds as Keith Ondarchie made his way into 4th by the end of lap 4, a lap later he got by Wood and another lap later he was in the lead. Wood followed through into second ahead of Owen and Holmes as Muller begun his way through from 7th to 2nd in the final 3 laps. On lap 7 Ferguson had a small moment and wouldn’t go further in the race. At the flag Keith Ondarchie would take a 10 second win from Muller who was just 3 seconds up from Wood and Holmes just behind. The rest of the field was Owen, Alana Ondarchie, Bunyan and Simmonds.
Race 2 – 10 Laps
The second race was a more standardised affair, Ben Muller didn’t make the start and Keith Ondarchie had the front row to himself, he immediately lead Wood from Ferguson, Holmes, and Alana Ondarchie. The second lap saw Ferguson jump into second and Wood drop to 3rd while Alister Ondarchie who started last came to a halt. On Lap 4 Ferguson came to a halt while in second as Holmes got by Wood for 3rd which would turn into 2nd and the field would stay in those position for the remainder of the race as Ondarchie took a convincing win from Holmes, Wood, Owen and Alan Ondarchie ahead of Bunyan and Simmonds.
Race 3 – 10 Laps
Keith Ondarchie was now the man to beat with 2x wins, he didn’t hesitate to lead again in front of Holmes and Wood, Owen and Alan Ondarchie. Ben Muller and Alister Ondarchie started at the back as Muller moved into the top 5 by the end of the second lap as Alister Ondarchie battled with Louise Simmonds. Alana Ondarchie lost out to Muller and a recovering Ferguson and dropped down to 7th before losing out to Alister a lap later as well. Ferguson then came to a halt on lap 4 as Muller moved into 3rd place ahead of Wood and it wouldn’t take long before he got by Holmes and set his sights on Muller. As Mike Wood had to deal with people pushing through the field he also dropped back from a nearly second place to 5th behind Owen. As Muller took advantage of Keith Ondarchie making a small mistake to catch up, the pair then separated by less than a second for the remainder of the race where Muller took the win ahead of Ondarchie, Holmes, Owen and Wood for the top 5.
Race 4 – 10 Laps
For the first time all weekend someone beat Keith Ondarchie on the opening lap as Muller took the lead, Mike Wood ran 3rd from Owen, Alana Ondarchie, Bunyan and Simmonds. Owen and Wood ran closely in the battle for 3rd place and Bunyan and Simmonds took aim at each other, yet again showing some of the best racing is at the back of the field. On lap 7 Owen found a way by Mike Wood for 3rd place only for Wood to get back past later in the race. The field crossed the line with Muller taking his second win from Ondarchie, Wood, Owen, Alana Ondarchie, Simmonds and Bunyan.
Race 5 – 4 Laps
With so much racing and another even in just a fortnight we saw a number of competitors consolidate their cars and head home early. A fairly subdued race with Muller and Keith Ondarchie fighting a close race for the 4 laps, fastest laps just .2 of a second apart and then crossing the line just .4 of a second apart! Alana Ondarchie had a good run and came home 3rd in the final race.