Last-minute shootout clinches record sixth Leyburn Motor Sprints for Ray Vandersee
A LAST-MINUTE, all-or-nothing run clinched a record sixth outright victory for Ray Vandersee and his self-built Skelta G-Force sports car at the 15th annual Leyburn Motor Sprints on Queensland’s Darling Downs last weekend.
Vandersee engaged in a blow-for-blow duel with Grant Watson in a ProSport Eclipse in the final minutes of the two-day event.
Watson set the fastest time of 50.24 seconds on his second-last run around the one-kilometre street course; Vandersee improved it, then Watson lowered his time again.
“When I heard that I thought he had opened a big enough margin, but on my last run I pushed very hard and came across the finish line sideways,” Vandersee said.
“I saw the hay bales looming but managed to keep the car off them. I was definitely the hardest I’ve driven here.”
Vandersee’s last of seven scheduled runs improved the mark to an indisputable 48.98 secs to secure the trophy that commemorates the running of the 1949 Australian Grand Prix on a nearby airfield.
A challenge from 2009 winner Darren Duffield barely came off. He completed only one run before breaking the differential in his RPV-01 Mazda, although the time of 49.89 secs was sufficient for third outright.
The 15th annual Leyburn Sprints featured a record entry of 212 racing, sports and touring cars ranging from Watson’s 2010 ProSport Eclipse to a 1932 Triumph Wolseley Special driven by Steve Anderson.
Keith Carling was the fastest competitor in an Historic car, with a time of 53.39 secs in a 1980 Tiga SC80 sports, but perhaps the most notable result went to a MG TC Special driven by Victorian Peter Gostelow.
The supercharged MG single-seater, which won its class last weekend, was the car that finished second outright in the 1949 grand prix in the hands of Ray Gordon.
Touring car personality Dick Johnson was another who proved age had not diminished his speed.
Johnson, 65, won the class for touring cars over 5.1 litres, driving an 800 horsepower, 1971 Ford Falcon XY GT and beating one of two unofficial rivals from the Stone Brothers V8 Supercar team, 20-year-old Shane Van Gisbergen.
The other Stone Brothers competitor, Tim Slade, unofficially set the fastest time in class, driving the same car.
Slade described his first experience of the historic sprints event as “awesome”.
“I haven’t done anything like this and I’m really enjoying it,” he said.
“It makes you really respect those guys who did 150 miles an hour at Bathurst in those Falcons. The XY is a weapon in a straight line but it’s got unbelieveable wheelspin.
“This is an awesome event. I get to drive some good cars and meet some good people – and I can hang the tail out and have some fun.”
Johnson was one of the weekend’s busiest drivers, completing more than 14 runs in the Falcon, a1971 Ford Escort and a Ford V8-powered 1956 Morris Minor.
He also was one of many who praised the quality of $100,000 hot-mix surface laid for this year’s event.
Ray Vandersee, winner in 2002, ‘03, ‘05, ‘06’ and ‘07, said: “It’s transformed it into a real driver’s event. It used to be a social event, but now you’ve got a proper surface and defined edges. It’s been a great event.”
More than 1400 timed runs, a speedcar parade, Show and Shine display, perfect weather and an historic pub situated close to the starting line combined to attract one of the biggest spectator crowds in recent years.
Proceeds from the not-for-profit event benefited local community organisations, whose members did many voluntary jobs from selling tickets to emptying rubbish.
RESULTS (Outright fastest times)
- Ray Vandersee, 2009 Skelta G-Force 48.98 seconds
- Grant Watson, 2010 Prosport Eclipse 49.62
- Darren Duffield, 1998 RPV01-Mazda 49.89
- Paul Mienert, 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer 50.38
- Terry Johns, 2001 Sports 1300 50.68
Full results are available at www.natsoft.com.au.