VICTORIAN Travis Lindorff claimed a hat-trick of victories in the Australian United Saloon Car class to claim the Ashley Cooper Memorial Trophy at the Bathurst Motor Festival meeting at Mount Panorama over the Easter weekend.
A 55-car-field provided plenty of action over the weekend, with the competitors that regularly take part in the National Super Six Touring Car Series, dominating the proceedings across the weekend.
West Australian Garry Hills placed his Performance West backed Holden Commodore VT on pole with a 2:38.4404 in a red flagged marred qualifying session, besting the efforts of Queenslander Coleby Cowham in the Escape Energy Ford Falcon AU and Lindorff in the Pakenham Tyres VT Commodore.
A post-race decision saw the grid determined by the times set in practice, leaving an all-Queensland-all-Ford Falcon AU top three of Ashley Jarvis, Cowham and Kane Baxter-Smith.
Lindorff came through from fifth, after the top four all experienced offs, to take the first race victory of the weekend, beating Hills and current South Australian Saloon Car champion Wayne King in his Morphett Vale Garage Holden Commodore VT to the chequered flag.
Lindorff went back-to-back in race two, finishing ahead of the battling duo of King and Hills. There was plenty of moving and shaking in the field throughout the race with Queenslander Craig Campbell steering his Campbell Motorsport Holden Commodore VT past 18 cars in one lap of the 6.213 kilometre circuit.
With the weather conditions easing on Sunday, competitors relished the chance to race around the famed tarmac in the dry.
Lindorff went onto complete his clean sweep in the finale, with Hills and King swapping positions on the podium. Plenty of racers made the most of the dry conditions including Cowham, who passed 35 cars on his way from 48th to 13th place.
West Australian Chris Kneafsey in the Hot Lap Motorsport Holden Commodore VN, was the best of the EA-VN class for the weekend, with fellow West Australians Ryan Glass, driving the Response Marketing Solutions Ford Falcon EA, and William Powell, in the New Frontier Trailers Ford Falcon EA, completing the podium.
Lindorff was honoured to have his name etched onto the Ashley Cooper Trophy.
“I didn’t really have high expectations for the weekend, but the way it turned out was a dream come true, to win one race at Bathurst would have been awesome, but to win all three races just excelled whatever I thought would be possible at this iconic place,” said Lindorff.
Cowham, who was one of 12 competitors from the Queensland Saloon Car Series in the field, said it is impossible to know what the mountain is going to throw at you.
“We were hoping for a strong result after qualifying on the front row, but it wasn’t meant to be, after going off the road to avoid another competitor’s out-of-control car in the first race followed by a diff failure on the warm up for the second race leaving us to start the final race in 48th. It was a fantastic event topped off with a fun final race of the weekend and the ‘Best Presented Ford’ award. I cant wait to come back,” said Cowham.
There were many first-timers at Bathurst in the grid, including South Australian Anthony Hardy, who was pleased to have his Penrite Oil Ford Falcon AU finish in the top half of the field.
“We went to Bathurst knowing the track could cost us a car if you are prepared to attack it. To drive the car on the trailer and come home in the top 20, the team and I were absolutely stoked,” said Hardy.
Queensland Saloon Cars Category Manager John Townsend, who was a driving force behind the event, said that despite the dismal weather the event was well received.
“The competitors were really thrown in the deep end as the place is daunting enough, let alone throwing rain into the mix. It was great to see all the smiles around the pits after finally getting a dry race on Sunday morning and that enough was a reward for all the work everyone put in to organise it and get there. Thanks to all the competitors, sponsors, state managers, event organisers, officials, families and friends for supporting this event,” said Townsend.
The Ashley Cooper Challenge will be contested annually, with Western Australia to host the second edition of the event in 2016, with meetings at Barbagallo Raceway and Collie Motorplex over two consecutive weekends.
1. Ashley Jarvis 3:13.7871 [QLD]
2. Coleby Cowham 3:13.9816 [QLD]
3. Kane-Baxter Smith 3:17.7209 [QLD]
Qualifying (Session Void)
1. Garry Hills 2:38.4404* [WA]
2. Coleby Cowham 2:38.8000 [QLD]
3. Travis Lindorff 2:39.3807 [VIC]
1. Travis Lindorff 3:12.9757* [VIC]
2. Garry Hills 3:13.8701 [WA]
3. Wayne King 3:13.9571 [SA]
*Fastest Lap Time – Travis Lindorff 3:12.9757
1. Travis Lindorff 3:01.6901 [VIC]
2. Wayne King 3:01.6221* [SA]
3. Garry Hills 3:05.7494 [WA]
*Fastest Lap Time – Wayne King 3:01.6221
1. Travis Lindorff 2:38.4354 [VIC]
2. Garry Hills 2:38.2195* [WA]
3. Wayne King 2:38.3022 [SA]
*Fastest Lap Time – Garry Hills 2:38.2195