Tru Blu Racing has completed a hat-trick of victories at Wonthaggi, capturing a third straight and fourth overall win at the 24 hour GP.
The team arrived at the race with one of its strongest lineups in recent years, with riders coming off a good summer of riding and trike sessions at Casey Fields. Having decided not to compete at the first Casey 6 hour race to focus on Wonthaggi, we were keen to see how our slightly refined vehicle would perform under race conditions on a rougher and more challenging track. Early signs were good, as we were able to post a time in practice that was good enough for pole position, albeit slightly slower than last year’s time due to rain falling during the practice session. Recent Casey winners Platt Racing also showed that they were up for the fight, posting the second best time, less than half a second behind.
After taking a break from race starting duties at Murray Bridge last year, our ever-reliable race starter Paul was back in the driver’s seat and ready to get us off to a strong start. This plan was temporarily derailed however, as after leading the field around the oval on lap 1, he was nowhere to be seen on lap 2. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long for him to come around, but it was evident that some sort of incident had taken place, with one side of the vehicle heavily scarred. We later found out that our vehicle has a speed limit for entering the chicane off the oval, and to be wary of a small patch of repaired road on the entry, that at high speed had sent the vehicle up on two wheels and straight into the barrier on the bend’s exit. Not that this had any affect on Paul, who proceeded to ride his way back into the race lead and put in a 90 minute stint that would set us up for the rest of the race.
Over the next few hours we were able to build a substantial lead, thanks to some extremely strong riding in the top order, which took a little bit of pressure off and allowed us to settle into a good rhythm and stretch our stint times out a bit. Racing at Wonthaggi never seems to be without its challenges in terms of the weather though, and the rain that had been threatening since the start of the race finally arrived. Thankfully the showers subsided after 30-40 minutes but this was enough to cause some visibility issues and a few minor incidents, which included the front panel that holds the headlight in place falling out and needing to be remounted. Once we’d made it through this difficult period, it was fairly smooth sailing for the rest of the night, and we like all other teams were happy that we could get back to racing full tilt.
By the time the sun started to rise we had pushed our lead out to 25 laps over Trisled, with Platt Racing in third after suffering from some mechanical issues earlier in the race. At this point we were well in front of our riding schedule compared to previous races, largely due to an epic 2.5 hour stint from Matt in the early hours of the morning. With a number of 2 hour stint attempts hampered by various issues in the past, he decided he might as well stretch it out to an even 100km while the going was good. Why not?
The last quarter of the race always seems to be helped along by the fact that the night stint has been dealt with, and with some relatively fresh legs still available, we were able to keep pushing hard to try and further the distance covered in 2013. When the chequered flag was dropped at 12pm, we had completed 10 more laps than our record from last year, which really capped off a great weekend of racing for the team.
We would like to thank the event organisers for putting on a fantastic race once again. Wonthaggi is a special race for us, being the first event we ever competed in, and it’s great to see it getting bigger and better every year.
Full results can be viewed here.
Photos courtesy of Emily Platt and Victorian HPV Series.