SportsRacer, that hidden something special in Australia?


Sam Tickell/RacerViews

It is perhaps the closest thing Australia has to a sports prototype.

In fact the Series is a draw for European Le Mans Series runner James Winslow as he looks to to as many miles in racing cars as he can.

As regular runner Aaron Steer explains, the SportsRacer series in Australia offers something special for the Australian market.

“My teammate last year – he races LMP2, he chooses to race a West as it is the only thing in Australia that gives him good practice for the techniques he needs for Le Mans.”

Not only that, the Series offers different cars, a great sound and most importantly, great racing.

That was not more evident than at Queensland Raceway with an epic back and forth race between a sportscar and an open wheeler. It was Mark Laucke that won in a West WR1000, beating a Van Deiman F1000 and a RFR 1000. Racing hard, Laucke, Josh Townsand and Adam Cranston swapped the lead at almost every corner.

It is a clever rule book and a fun package to drive that allows for such racing.

Sam Tickell/RacerViews

The SportsRacer Category that runs with the Shannons Nationals pairs F1000 cars and sports prototype cars on track.  As front runner Aaron Steer says, they provide a lot of fun on not much of a budget.

“The cars are super exciting to drive and they sound great. They have paddle shift, they are pretty easy to drive.”

“The racing is generally pretty close. With the aero factor, when you sit behind someone you get a reasonable tow, through the corners you get dirty air, which makes it exciting.  The brakes too, everyone pushes each other pretty hard.

The cars are undoubtedly quick too, with the leading cars under 1:10 at Queensland Raceway – quicker than a V8 Supercar around the track. A considerable effort given that this track is less aero reliant than many other tracks hence not using all of the Sportsracer advantages.

“Last time we were here at Queensland Raceway a car did a low 1:08 which is pretty quick.  The car that did that last time was a $60000 car – which is great value.”

“Added to that they are cheap to run…and really reliable.”

The cars run a stock Kawasaki engine, gearbox and clutch – all of which are very affordable – around the $3000 mark and have an awesome sound. Which makes for great – and in motorsport terms, affordable racing.

“What we are seeing are two categories – we have Formula 1000 which is an open wheeler and a sportscar. They have the same motor, the open wheeler is slightly lighter. They lack the aero so are slightly slower in the corners but catch up on the straights. The Sportsracer has more aero, so through the fast corners they stick to the ground. They are more like a Le Mans style car.”

“They have a 2008 Kawasaki ZX10 – a really reliable motor.  They rev to 13200RPM so they sound pretty cool.”

Sam Tickell/RacerViews

In fact sportscar machines evoke a feeling of the past with open, low drag cars from Le Mans, with the rear wings set low, offering a streamlined machine.  Despite this look, however the cars generate quite a bit of downforce, meaning that classic circuits like Phillip Island and Sydney Motorsports Park very much suit the cars.

“Next year we are looking for a six round Championship around the country.”

And Steer is already looking forward to the big aero tracks.

“Phillip Island is an awesome track. It is so high speed. You get to use the diffuser and all the aero. It seems like a completely different car when you rock up there.”

In the end, the cars make a great alternative for many looking to go racing.  They don’t come with the cost and the complexity of many of the race cars we see these days – and from the side of the track, they look and sound the part.

By Sam Tickell, August 2015

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