MONDAY 21 MARCH 2011
ALLAN REWARDED IN ADELAIDE DESPITE GEARBOX FAILURE
Allan was feeling quite upbeat about the impending 2011 sportscar season, as he winged his way to Adelaide, South Australia for the first of three Australian GT Championship Enduro co-driver races.

Even though he had been allocated seat 99Z, he didn't seem to mind the long flight. Only a few days ago, he and his regular Le Mans Series co-driver, Dominik Farnbacher, had topped the time sheets at the official LMS test day at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track. Team Hankook Farnbacher had yet to take delivery of their new Ferrari 458 GT2 (only 5 have been built so far – 2 for ESM, 1 for Risi and 1 for Luxury Racing in the ALMS, whilst in Europe only AF Corse had one, so their aging but effective 430 was utilsed at the test.

Hankook had been busy over the European winter and clearly the pace and consistency of their tyres had improved, in cooler weather at least.

Several pitboxs away was AF Corse debuting their 458 and the look on their drivers faces said it all – lots of potential but a heap of setup work to do. That was echoed at Sebring, which was held the same weekend as the Clipsal GT race, where most 458s struggled for pace against more established machinery like the Porsche 997 RSR and BMW M3. Never the less, the first LMS race was weeks away and Allan would be flying back from OZ to Germany for their first 458 test at the Nordschleife VLN event.

Only recently has OZ GT woken up to the fact that GT cars like to run endurance style events and Allan was joining his friend Nick O'Halloran in their also aging black Ferrari 430 GT3.


Allan didn't even get a single race lap in

Clipsal 500 Adelaide, or "The Clipsal" as it has become known is the traditional kick off point for the Australian racing season, with V8 Supercars headlining the act. That had been the case until the Middle East got involved by adding Bahrain, Abu Dhabi or both to the begining of the year. Still, traditionally speaking, The Clipsal was where it was at and Allan had won the GT event there no less than three times, still holding the lap record to this day.


A week later, Jason Richards drove to 2nd place in the V8 Supercar Main Game at the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Time is valuable at The Clipsal, with only 2 x 20 mins allocated for practice. Not that it mattered. Allan immediately set the fastest time, against much more modern equipment like the Audi R8 LMS being on hand.

O'Halloran could only manage a couple of laps before the red flag came out, ending the session – he'd use the 2nd to refamilarise himself with the car and track.

Both drivers needed to qualify – Nick set 17th, whilst Allan was 0.09sec off pole, in 2nd place.

Allan was only allowed to race the Friday twilight 1 hour race, with Nick driving the 2nd race on Sunday morning.

Alas, despite all the preparation, the geabox failed for O'Halloran on lap two and Allan found himself on the other side of the world, having been part of his shortest career GT enduro! Nick would drive a good race on Sunday, finishing 10th.

But just when you think it was a waste of time coming so far, Allan had the opportunity to meet one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet - Jason Richards. Jason is a full time V8 Supercar driver with Brad Jones Racing and is supremely talented. He'd also been diagnosed with a race cancer just after Bathurst last year, forcing him into temporary retirement.

Whilst Jason is yet to be cured, he took an unorthodox approach by actually using racing as a cure. At first it just looked as if Jason was going to have a bit of a punt in the second Maranello Motorsport run Ferrari 430, thanks for the generosity of Peter Edwards, in the Friday GT race. Not only did he do well, he also drove a V8 Supercar to victory the next day in the hotly fought Fujitsu V8 Series! That is a huge achievement

As yours truly drove Allan to the airport on Monday morning, we both were astounded by Jason's determination in the face of adversity. It makes one look at their own path in life and realise just how lucky we are to be free of illness.

Allan settled back into a new carbon fibre chair, aboard the new Qantas A380, for his trip back to Europe, feeling at home right away. He has a thing for chairs because it was the second time today he'd commented on how good they were – sitting in my Focus RS on the way to the airport.

"It says a lot to me immediately, said Allan.

"When you spend most of your career sitting down, I know chairs pretty well and it tells me a lot about a car. That RS is just spot on, even if you bought the wrong colour." (For the record, Allan went on and on about how the BP Ultimate Green, which I like and is the hero colour, was just awful and he'd buy a white one, because its the new black....blah blah blah...I should get a viynl wrap...blah blah blah...yes i will Allan, when you pay the $6K for it!)

He's never been on the A380 before so it was a novel experience, rather than focusing on that so necessary shower at the Singapore Qantas Club, just to break the journey. But suddenly, a few hours out from Singers, a bolt of lightening hit the plane, killing one of the four Rolls Royce engines. It was an unpleasant moment, but nothing compared to the pain and heartcase Jason Richards and his family would be enduring.

An important postscript:

A week now has passed since Clipsal and so it was only fitting to add yet another tale of success for Jason. On Saturday afternoon (26th), he finished 2nd at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix V8 race, having led the race after taking the fight straight up to Alex Davison and then Garth Tander. That is a supreme effort and everyone in the sport wishes Jason the quickest recovery.