HardPark 2016 - One hell of a day! The biggest…
Hi, my name is Ben, better known to the Speedmagnet team as ‘Manager Mcbean’. Having been an avid car enthusiast for a number of years I have wanted to attend this event since it was first held. I have spoken with many people who have previously made the trip across the ditch and only heard good recounts of their experiences, so I had extremely high hopes for the weekend. I can assure you this event did not disappoint one bit!
Sydney is a short three hour flight for our team from Wellington and before we knew it we had our feet on foreign soil. After a solid days reconnaissance of the Eastern Creek raceway and our surroundings we were ready to face the challenge ahead of us.
Upon arrival at Eastern creek on Friday morning, we felt the vibe of this event immediately. There was no slow build up, people were running and busy unloading trucks full of brand new semi slicks. Time was a at a premium, not just for the drivers but for the crews too. There was so much to take in from minute one, we knew that if we lost focus for even a split second the team could miss a vital moment.
The standard of teams and drivers was incredible, this was the best of the best! Teams like Scorch Racing, Tilton Interiors, Willians Racing, PMQ Racing, HKS, and Top Secret. With drivers like Shane Van Gisbergen, Tarzan Yamada, Garth Walden, Nob Taniguchi, Max Orido and Under Suzuki all out to prove a point.
Setting the event alight was Mick Sigsworth with a blistering paced run of 1:25:27. What is significant about this was that Mick and his team were in PRO-AM class, registering a time faster than any of the top level PRO Class cars. This time set the standard for 2014 event and went to show that the cars were a step up from last year’s competition.
While roaming the pits in search of the famous Mazda 767b I heard a familiar sound. Brap brap brap braaaap, It felt like I was heading in the right direction. On this occasion it happened to be Mad Mike Whiddett’s ‘MADBUL’ RX7. This car drew the masses towards the Mazda stand throughout the event. It appeared that the symphony of the rotary engine is just as popular here as it is back home.
I didn’t have to wait long to hear the pinnacle of the event fire up for the first time. At noon the Mazda 767B was being warmed up in the pits to cheers from the crowd before heading out for its exhibition laps. The noise this machine makes was simply music. It was easily the most impressive vehicle I have had the pleasure of viewing in person. There was something about a watching a $2,000,000 piece of history fly around Sydney Motorsport Park that brought smiles to faces and cheers from the crowd as it screamed past, it was a few minutes that I will never forget. You would have expected Shenji Hoshino to have taken it easy given the vehicle he was driving, but he wasn’t shy and definitely brought the heat. I, like many others were already looking forward to seeing this car out on the track the following day.
The lunch time break for time attack drivers & teams spelled crowd pleasing action on the home straight, The Flying 500, Drift display & an event I had not heard about which was Alex Kelseys Gymkhana.
Having only heard about this car in the news, I only knew a little bit about the car and Alex but this was to be an unexpected treat and a real crowd pleaser.
On what looked like street tires Alex peddled the car for a full lap before performing high speed hand brakes & doughnuts on the home straight. This little car captured the surprise of the crowd with the roar of the Formula Renault engine which repeatedly spat flames out the tail. This 21 year old looked well and truly at home behind the wheel and with his performance I have no doubt that he has a big future in motorsport ahead.
The afternoon produced more time attack excitement especially in the GTR class. Tarzan Yamada & Nob Taniguchi had tough battles all day, but late in the afternoon session Taniguchi set a cracking pace and took #1 spot by more than a second. As the drivers became more comfortable with the track and their setup’s the lap times decreased under the hot afternoon sun.
At the end of day 1 the Pro AM driver Mick Sigsworth and the team of PMQ Racing still held the top spot with a time of 1:25:27, which is unheard of at these events and a first in history.
Saturday was an early start with all cars on the track for the lap of honor at 7:30am, which is a good chance for spectators to see the cars moving a little bit slower and in detail.
The pit area at this event provided plenty to keep people interested with an abundance of both local and international top quality parts on show. I felt the vibe of this event to be very different to New Zealand; it came with an overwhelming sense of excitement and a much larger crowd.
The standard of cars being displayed both in stands and in the show & shine event was second to none. A flawless RX3, Lamborghini Aventador, SR20DET swapped Honda Civic, Ferraris were just some of the vehicles that caught my attention.
Viewers of the Midday Madness Flying 500 were out of their chairs when Trent Whyte & the team from Mercury motorsport produced more than 300kph down the 500m straight.
The workshop hustle and bustle continued after the lunch time break as teams were getting down to their final runs and last chances to place on the leader board. With everyone working at such a pace you realize how well the event and competing teams are coordinated, as everything ran without a hitch.
The afternoon was firing on all cylinders and with plenty of action and breakages the afternoon session was running late and tensions were high. The final lap by Under Suzuki was within 0.04 seconds on his final near perfect lap but the Tilton Evo continued to set a blistering pace. A brilliant contest between the top cars in this division, anyone who left Eastern Creek early would surely regret the decision when arriving home to see the leaderboard shaken up in the dying minutes of this event.
As fast as good things occur, they end and these teams are extremely skilled in the art of an end of show. The teams and their cars are packed up as quickly as they arrived which sadly marks the end of a fantastic weekend.
Back at work and looking back at this event, I still cannot believe the high standard of event that Ian Barker (CEO) and his team achieved. Everything from the way each section was run to the live stream was amazing, the people, the cars I can assure every reader that I cannot wait to head back next year!