South Australia's Motorsport Festival

LAP RECORD: V8 Supercar driver Tim Slade broke records at the Motorsport Festival in a 1994 Footworks FA15 Formula One Car. Slade, from McLaren Vale, drove the Formula One car around the streets of Adelaide. Photo: Stuart Daddow.
LAP RECORD: V8 Supercar driver Tim Slade broke records at the Motorsport Festival in a 1994 Footworks FA15 Formula One Car. Slade, from McLaren Vale, drove the Formula One car around the streets of Adelaide. Photo: Stuart Daddow.

Tim Slade wows Motorsport fans

MISSION: Ben Calder grabbed his second podium finish. Photo: Stuart Daddow.

MISSION: Ben Calder grabbed his second podium finish. Photo: Stuart Daddow.

By Stuart Daddow

Motorsport fans of all types throughout South Australia have experienced four days of events.

The third  Adelaide Motorsport Festival is quickly becoming the second biggest motorsport event on the South Australian calendar, behind the Adelaide 500.

The event was held from December 7 to 10 and a magnificent array of cars and vehicles of all makes were  on display as well as the most talented of drivers and riders.

The promotion of this event was a masterstroke by Tim Possingham and his crew by releasing a short film, which is well worth a view, featuring several of the superstar drivers involved in this years event, including Australian Motor Racing Legends John Bowe, (two-time Bathurst winner and V8 Supercars Hall of Famer), and Troy Bayliss, (three-time world superbike champion).

The scene had been set for another brilliant race meet with an extraordinary calibre of drivers, cars and racing, it was no surprise that over 30,000 people attended the Victoria Park track alone over the weekend.

COMFORT: McLaren Vale's Tim Slade in a 2017 BMW M3. Photo: Stuart Daddow.

COMFORT: McLaren Vale's Tim Slade in a 2017 BMW M3. Photo: Stuart Daddow.

The event began on Thursday with the Shannons Adelaide Rally, a new incarnation of what has been known as Classic Adelaide and Targa Adelaide in the past. The three day tarmac rally drew some of the top competitors from all over Australia to compete in various classes and stages.

From Mallala Raceway and  Collingrove Hillclimb Track, both north of Gawler and as far south as the Fleurieu Peninsula with stages run at Wickham’s Hill, Mclaren Flat and the old Willunga Hill Road.

Among the drivers involved in the event were current V8 Supercars drivers Craig Lowndes, Tim Percat, Cameron Waters, and McLaren Vale’s own Tim Slade.

Other drivers of note were Neil Bates, (Australian Rally Championship winner in 1993-95), Molly Taylor, (2016 Australian Rally Champion), and World Tarmac & Dirt Rally YouTube sensation Frank Kelly from Ireland. 

Add to the mix Victor Harbor local Ben Calder, pursuing his second podium finish in a month after winning Targa High Country held at Mt Buller in late November. 

Day One of the Shannon’s Adelaide Rally also incorporated the Prima Tour, which was for those people who want to maximise the spirit of driving a sports car, but minimising the risk. The Prima Tour allowed entrants to rub shoulders with the previously mentioned greats of motorsport, not only sharing in driving the special stages, but also getting to chat in between and during the scheduled breaks.

Tim Slade was one of the leaders of the Prima Tour behind the wheel of a very exotic 2017 BMW M3 and although not being as fast as his usual seat in a V8 Supercar, it was certainly more comfortable.

Following later in the proceedings of each stage was the competition class, in which Ben Calder and co-driver Steve Glenney were certainly near the top of the time sheets in the Modern Competition Category.

Day Two of the event saw the Shannons Adelaide Rally competitors start competitive proceedings with setting a hot lap each of the track as Mallala Raceway, before transiting back to the Adelaide Hills with special stages through Chain of Ponds, Anstey Hill and the Corkscrew Road at Castambul.

Troy Bayliss on his Ducati Superbike, Craig Lowndes in an extremely rare and exotic Ferrari FXX, amongst several other incredibly rare, powerful vehicles literally roared down the streets of Adelaide.

One of these feature vehicles was a 1994 Footworks FA15 Formula One Car, (driven by Emerson Fittapaldi  in its prime), on this night being driven by Tim Slade.

To drive a Formula One car around the streets of Adelaide must have been a dream and a great inspiration for any young South Australian racing driver, even a current V8 Supercars pilot.

In the Rally, Ben Calder and his race prepped Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5 were still challenging the lead being held by three-time Australian Rally Champion Neil Bates in a 1994 WRC, (World Rally Championship) specification Toyota Celica. 

Day Three really revved up with the “spirited demonstrations” of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival beginning at the Victoria Park Street Circuit, which was a shortened version of the Adelaide 500 track. 

During the afternoon session of the Formula One Tim Slade driving the Footworks FA15 set the fastest time of 43.03 seconds, the fastest time of the weekend and enough to break the sprint circuit lap record to set a time of 43.03.  

Simultaneously, the Shannons Adelaide Rally started it’s final day heading to the Fleurieu Peninsula racing up special stages on Wickhams Hill and Willunga Hill.

After successfully negotiating these winding and tricky special stages, the teams and competitors travelled the Adelaide Hills for another street party, this time in Uraidla which became central to the final road stages of the rally. The final hit out was another hot lap, but this time around the Victoria park street circuit.

Ben Calder strikes a consecutive second place

Ben Calder came into this last special stage with a second place on the podium all but secured, as Neil Bates had gained a big margin over the rest of the field during the final day leaving Calder behind, but still well in front of the next closest competitor of Perth’s David Heaton in a current model race prepared Ford Focus RS.

Some drama unfolded for Calder on the last corner of the event when he collided with another car on track, a rarity in rallying, but fortunately for Ben, the damage was minimal enough that no time was lost, and he crossed the finish line with second place secured.

Sunday and although not officially a part of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival, the annual Willunga Hillclimb  was held. Crowds and the competition were as strong as ever. After six competitive runs up the hill, the results were very close, and the racing had been very competitive. Nathan Dale surprised many and possibly even himself with an out of the blue third place.

Andy Sarandis has been a dedicated supporter of many forms of motorsport in South Australian and no one could begrudge him for taking his top place on the time sheets and the podium. 

The last day of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival saw much of the same action as Saturday's competition  around the Victoria Park circuit.

However, there was much talk regarding the lap record, especially amongst the professional Supercars drivers, to try and break the new time set by Tim Slade.

Many tired and failed, even in the new Super 5000 car, based on the old and very exciting Formula 5000 racing cars.

One of the other highlights of the day was John Bowe being reunited with the Dick Johnson Racing Ford Sierra that he won Bathurst in with Dick Johnson, the first time he has driven it since this time.

It is this kind of history and special moments that make the Adelaide Motorsport Festival such an incredible event as there is something for every kind of motorsport fan and plenty for those who are not.

Results: Shannons Adelaide Rally – Modern Competition: 1. Neil Bates/Coral Taylor – Toyota Celica, 2. Ben Calder/Steve Glenney – Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, 3. David Heaton/Caleb Ash – Ford Focus RS.

Classic Competition: 1. Adam Kaplan/Aleshia Penney – Mazda RX7, 2. Oscar Matthews/Darren Masters – Toyota Carolla AE86, 3. Matt Selley/Hamish McKendrick – Hartge BMW H35-24.

Category S: 1. Craig Van Diemen/Michael Mohr – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 2. Nick Streckeisen/Mike Dale – Nissan R35 GTR, 3. Frank Kelly/ Cambell – Ford Escort.

Adelaide Motorsport Festival – 1. Tim Slade – 1994 Footwork FA15 Formula One Car (ex Fittipaldi).

Ultimate Motorsports Event Willunga Hillclimb – 1. Andy Sarandis – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, 2. Nick  Steckeisen – Nissan R35 GTR, 3. Nathan Dale – Nissan R32 Skyline GTST.

It was four days of excitement, which filled the large appetite of engine revving motorsport fans.

While approximately 30,000 people attended the event, competitors from interstate and even overseas tackled both the Victoria Park Sprint and the Shannons Adelaide Rally across the four days.

The Willunga Hill Climb was jammed packed with people grabbing any vantage point possible.

“It has been a fantastic weekend and the event is going from strength to strength,” Event Director Tim Possingham said.

“We shifted up last year and it’s gone into overdrive.

“The future is bright and we are already working on plans to make the whole event, from the rally to the sprint and our community based free events bigger and better next year.

“We feel like the event really has momentum now.”

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