For 2014 Blend Line TV took the role of official television partner for the IXL OILS HQ Holden Nationals. Held at Morgan Park just outside Warwick, this event was bound to be one of the best race meetings of the year and it didn’t disappoint.
In order to ensure we could get every moment of footage possible, and because we could, the Blend Line team decided to camp at the race track across the weekend. It gave the team a great opportunity to hang out, meet a few racers and generally soak up the atmosphere of the event. Didn’t we enjoy it!
Starting the weekend off the team had the opportunity to enjoy Friday practice. During the day we soaked up some of the on track action while also taking the opportunity to walk around the track and check out possible camera locations. For the afternoon our attention shifted to the pit lane, with the team picking up their cameras for the first time to capture footage of teams preparing cars and general atmospheric shots of the event.
Friday evening saw the rest of the crew arrive, including our HQ Superstar Wayne Healey. Wayne especially was pumped for the weekend ahead and couldn’t wait to get out and interview a few drivers as well as watch the racing.
From the outset on Saturday morning, Bruce Heinrich looked fast. Posting times that were consistently faster than the rest of the field, he was making his intentions for a national title known early and the field was taking notice. Queenslander Jamie Furness was unfazed and set about dialling himself in for the weekend. At this early stage, everyone knew it was just about getting qualifying and the heat races out of the way. Heinrich could be worried about when the finals started.
While most events see drivers gradually finding their rhythm across the weekend, the 2014 HQ Holden Nationals were intense from the first heat. Everyone came out with all guns blazing, looking for positions and trying to gain the upper hand over their compatriots. Not unexpectedly, Bruce Heinrich took a comfortable victory in his two heats, cementing himself as the favourite for the event. Heat two of the weekend saw a great battle between Jamie Furness and John Carter. Carter gained the lead and did his best to protect the position until Furness seized his opportunity down into turn four to take the lead with just over a lap remaining.
HEAT 3: Atmospheric conditions on Saturday afternoon were heating up, and the on track battles followed suit as competitors continued to try and bank as many points as possible. Unfortunately for Howlett his race weekend heated up in entirely the wrong way, with engine failure on lap one leaving him stranded at the exit of turn six, waving his arms madly for the attention of a fire crew to stop the resulting grass fire under his HQ. Back at the front, Perry Bekkers was on fire, passing Jamie Furness around the outside into turn one. That move stamped Bekker’s authority on the race-long battle between himself, Furness, Neil Corey and David Parsons. Corey would try to emulate the feat later in the race, however, Furness was now awake to the possibility of the move and comfortably held the South Australian out to protect his third place. On the edge of the top ten, the battle between Joe Andriskie, Warren Trewin, Jason Brooker, Stuart Kenny and Tony Moloney was on in earnest as well. None shied away from panel contact, each of the guys willing to put their cars on the line to secure points. On the final lap, Trewin jetted himself off the track at turn ten, his fighter-inspired livery not doing enough to scare the guys around him. Giving Brooker position obviously spurred Trewin on and, with foot to the floor out of the final corner, he tried a last-ditch effort to regain the position, ultimately missing out tenth place by a nose length on the line. Overall the race ended with another easy victory for Bruce Heinrich with Perry Bekkers coming home 3.3 seconds later for second and Jamie Furness rounding out the top three.
HEAT 4: John Carter took an early lead in the heat with a great start away from the line. With Beggs settling into second Carter got his head down and set about trying to get home for a good haul of points. His endeavour was made easier with Beggs throwing it off at turn ten on the opening lap and plunging himself down the order. Finding himself behind both Kyle Lovering and Gavin Porteous on the return to the track, Beggs had it all to do. Halfway through the race Beggs found his chance as Porteous made a move on Lovering into turn ten. Sneaking himself into the gap made by Porteous, Beggs began his charge, hitching himself onto the South Australian’s bumper before trying his luck with a dive to the inside at turn four. Porteous would have nothing of it however, and the pair would run side by side through turns five, six and seven before Lovering decided to attempt a three-wide party through the turn eight sweeper. Eventually, Beggs was able to resolve the move when Porteous decided he didn’t want to try his luck on the outside at turn nine. This left Beggs with the opportunity to chase down John Wise up front, eventually falling short and settling for second place. As if the battles up front weren’t enough, Benn Wilson was putting in what was undoubtedly the drive of the race, passing Pratt for seventeenth on lap two before ultimately managing to catch Greg Wood for eleventh with a lap to go. As if to show how intense the fighting had been, Wilson started his climb from the race long battle group of Michael Pratt, Daniel Currens, Warren Wadley, David Rogers and Grant Ord. This five car battle pack, never separated by more than a car length each, were unable to find any movement on each other, Currens even attempting to plough his own new final corner into the circuit design in an impressive effort to make position. In front of that group Troy Stark, Greg Wood, Brian Goldfinch, Adam Butler and Graham Boulter were leaving nothing on the table as they fought for eleventh. Butler’s HQ sprayed fuel out of the fuel cap for the whole race, giving him some slippery moments. He wasn’t the only one with fuel issues either, as Brett Turner’s torrid weekend continued, forcing him to retire on the first lap. At the end of an intense 10 minutes it was John Carter who was rewarded with a comfortable 5 second victory from John Wise and fast-finishing Gary Beggs.
HEAT 5: Sunday morning and it was time for the competitors to think about balancing the attempt to get points with thoughts of the final in the afternoon, or so we imagined. In reality, the racing was more intense than ever. Howlett was the first casualty of the day, finding his way off track on lap two as his lunge on the outside of Trewin saw him miss a braking marker and spear off into the gravel trap. On track it was Lovering, Bekkers, Joel Heinrich and Brock Mitchell battling for fourth with Heinrich making the most noticeable impression, pushing his way to the front of the group. The battle was punctuated by a huge moment on lap three: Bekkers took an impromptu tour the turn two gravel trap while Heinrich was lucky not have a more intimate knowledge of Bekkers’ situation, barely keeping his car from following Bekkers into the sand. Meanwhile, it was a tussle for the ages in front with Parsons and Furness going toe-to-toe for second. Parsons was rubbing Furness’ rear bumper and trying every opportunity to pass. Eventually, Parsons seized his moment on lap six, pushing by at turn one and holding the inside for turn two. Furness wasn’t about to give up and kept his foot planted into the firewall, despite having all four wheels on the grass with the turn three wall rapidly approaching. Eventually Furness made the decision to lift out of the battle as the options between an impact with the wall or Parsons’ door were not going to do any positives to his points haul. Furness needn’t have worried, as Parsons handed the position back at turn six with a lockup. That mistake also allowed Heinrich and Lovering to join the group. A lap later and Parsons was back all over Furness, this time making an even more impressive move for position. Forcing the issue and making it two wide through turn eight, Parsons held the outside through nine, showing brilliant car control to claim the spot. Not wanting to be outdone Lovering also passed Heinrich around the outside, adding an extra degree of difficulty by putting a wheel into the grass on the braking approach to ten. A lap later and turn six would yet again foil Parsons with a lock up sending him off track and dropping him down to fifth place. Behind them, Troy Stark and Gary Spies came to blows in turn seven and their slow run onto the back straight gave Goldfinch an opportunity he couldn’t refuse, sneaking past Spies into turn eight. Not to be outdone, Trewin threw his hand up for biggest moment of the weekend as he slid his HQ around turn two with the rear wheels on the dirt while the fronts desperately tried to steer on the tarmac. NSW competitor Scott Cameron was lucky to avoid the conflict, passing Trewin as he slid sideways. Both would see further issues before the end of the race. Keeping everything straight, Bruce Heinrich secured his third victory for the weekend, Furness coming home for second with Lovering third.
HEAT 6: After the excitement for heat five, no-one thought the last heat of the weekend could get any better. How wrong we all were, with Corey, Beggs and Bonwick deciding to put on one of the best shows of HQ racing seen in Australia for many years. In the early stages, John Carter was part of the battle however, mechanical dramas early in the race unfortunately spelt the end of his challenge. From the earliest stages of the race it was obvious that Corey wanted victory, passing Wise with a strong move down into turn ten on lap two. Soon after Corey continued, running two wide with Beggs through turns one and two. Bonwick didn’t need a second invitation, taking the position before going around the outside of Beggs at four. The three of them swapped positions more times than could be counted, with every corner an opportunity for a pass. Down the order Andriske, Moloney, Wilson and Brooker were getting in on the two wide battles, also swapping positions throughout the race, rubbing panels and not lifting anywhere as they fought for supremacy in the group. Graham Boulter pushed a little too hard on the final lap, spearing off at turn ten. In a great display of car control, he was able to find his way back on track and finish without issue. At the flag it was Neil Corey who managed to take home another victory for the South Australians, holding on from Gary Bonwick who pipped Gary Beggs by half a car length at the line.
FINAL: The final race of the weekend saw an impressive 43 HQ Holdens take to the Morgan Park circuit. To watch the field take off on the first of twenty laps was a sight to behold, with the tail of the pack still approaching turn one as race leader Bruce Heinrich made his way under the bridge and down to turn four. In the early stages of the race it was Parsons against Beggs for fifth, with Wise buying into the battle as well. As the tussle heated up, Beggs attempted a lunge on Parsons into turn one, gaining the position. Yet the move caused a concertina effect with Lovering making contact with the rear of Wise as they entered the corner. The battle for fifth place would continue for the whole race, with a huge pack of cars running line astern throughout the event. Eventually it was Brock Mitchell who would find his way to the front of the pack as Gary Beggs met with a disastrous end, his HQ suffering a mechanical problem near the end of the race and forcing him into retirement. Just in front of that pack, Perry Bekkers and Neil Corey fought a race long battle for third place. After a small mistake in the second half of the race, Bekkers had his head down and was rapidly closing the gap to Corey. On the run to the line, Bekkers was close enough to make a lunge out of the final corner and at the flag he managed to inch ahead to steal third place. Unfortunately, post race scrutineering found a car irregularity which resulted in a penalty for Bekkers, handing the position back to Corey. That mattered little however, as at the front it was Bruce Heinrich who took home another comfortable victory, securing the National Title in style with a 100% success rate across the weekend. Jamie Furness managed to get home for second place, a great result for the young Queenslander.
To see all the action, tune in to Blend Line TV around Australia next week. We’ll also have full length DVDs of the event available, (featuring every lap of each race) after the show has gone to air. So make sure you check back to the website for more in the coming days.