Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Oct Nov 2016 Issue 95 Contents 76
Walkinshaw, clear out while the Austral-
ians, Volvos and BMWs struggled to get
heat into their tyres and fell back.
When the showers stopped, though, the
Commodores became a big threat. First
Grice then Brock closed in on Walkinshaw.
Then they both passed the TWR team boss.
That gave us the sight of Holden Commo-
dores running first and second.
But then the rain came back. And went.
And came back. Grice, struggling with his
tyres, fell back into second for a good chunk
of the race. Then Bailey dropped the Com-
modore into a sandpit again. Game over.
Brock lost ground with tyre issues and
wrong calls. But he kept going and Moffat,
on a drying track, climbed back through the
field in the last stint. He was fifth and clos-
ing on fourth when the laps ran out.
Round 3 – Hockenheim, Germany, April 13
Grice had a troubled weekend, colliding with
a Toyota Corolla then having a front strut go.
The all-white Commodore started the race
sans headlights and plastered with race tape.
But Grice again surprised the Europeans with
his pace, holding pole until the Walkinshaw
and Schlesser TWR Rovers threw tyres at the
problem and went faster in the dying min-
utes, bumping him back to the third. Brock
and Moffat, content to let others steal the
qualifying headlines, ended up 11th.
Grice was similarly feisty on race day. He
and the Cecotto/Lindstrom and Granberg/
Olofsson Volvos disposed of the Rovers early
on, by lap two he was in front. He then bat-
tled with Granberg for the lead for more than
20 laps while Cecotto shadowed.
But on lap 26 the leading trio came up to
lap some battling class cars that were about
to get into a spin. The Volvos zigged and
made it through the malarkey. Grice zagged
straight into a VW Golf. Out on the spot.
Brock got up to sixth by lap four and
then passed a couple of TWR Rovers to run
a strong third. But a run-in with another
errant backmarker resulted in damage to
HDT car’s sump. He and Moffat finished
fifth, just 3.5 seconds behind fourth and
seven seconds off third despite having to
make unscheduled stops to top up the oil.
1986 SPA 24 HOURS
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, August 2-3
This was the big one and the Australians
didn’t mess around. The HDT outfit ran
a 24-hour dress rehearsal at Calder and
brought two team cars to the race, John
Harvey joined his boss and Moffat in
the lead car, while Lowe, Neal and fellow
Kiwis Graeme Bowkett and Kent Baigent
drove the second car.
Grice, meanwhile, having sharpened
his claws in the eighth round of the series
at the Nurburgring in Germany on July
13, arrived at Spa with a new race engine,
a smattering of additional sponsorship
and Belgians Michel Delcourt and Alex
Guyaux on the driving roster.
Grice bagged seventh in qualifying,
Brock 13th. The second HDT car, on a
more steady-as-she-goes strategy, was
Any hope of an against-the-odds
Australian win, however, went out the
window early on. Grice made it up to a
strong third in the opening hour then
broke a wheel, forcing a slow trip back to
pits and a long stop. Suspension and elec-
trical issues, plus a broken driver’s seat,
further blunted his charge.
Brock got up to a comfortable seventh
nearing the end of the first hour, but then
Grice originally envisioned his 1986 European assault
with big sponsors and a roster of star drivers. That
didn’t happen and he and long-time car-preparer Les
Small had to cobble together a more modest attack
with part-time racer/businessman Graeme Bailey, who
kicked the tin with sponsorship from his successful
Chickadee chicken concern. But Grice impressed the
Europeans with his speed. In 1987 he would get a call
from factory BMW outfit Schnitzer to contest the 1987
Spa 24 Hours with them. The following year he would
race in Europe for Nissan.
Running at the front straight up at Monza...
“We had no idea (how competitive we’d be). It shook
the shit out of the Europeans, I can tell you. First of all,
I think they’d never seen a car that had no signwriting
on it, except for Yokohama! The other thing they found
interesting was the sound. We had by far the most
interested fans because of the sound of the car; it just
sounded so different and so ballsy.”
Why he loved the European style of racing...
“There was this kind of understanding in Australia then
where if you qualified somewhere in the latter part of
the top 10 and you went around nice and gently and
didn’t lock anything up or go across any kerbs and two
cars blew up, another crashed and another went home
because his mother rang up, you could inherit the lead
and you were brilliant, your strategy was just wonderful.
That was not my way of going motor racing. I’d never
entered a reliability trial. When I got to Europe with that
attitude, well, I was justified. There you’d walk back in
and tell the team manager it’s in the wall at turn five
and they’d say, ‘Righto, we’ll get another one out!’”
The saviour of his 1986 plans, Graeme Bailey...
“Graeme was paying a lot of the bills. He went off the
track at the first couple of races and bogged it in the
sand but I was never upset with him or had a bad word
to say about it because he was a businessman who
was helping out. He didn’t want to go in the sand! I was
never dark with him because he did his best; I did my
best and where we ended up was where we ended up.”
Making the most of the situation...
“We realised pretty early on we were always going to
be handicapped... the factory cars, the Benzes, BMWs,
Rovers, Volvos, they had two first-grade drivers. We
were never going to win a race, so all we could do was
get in and do the best we could. It was good, though, to
put the wind up them. We were certainly the boys from
out of town with the arse out of our pants!”
The things that happen in a Spa 24 Hours...
“We had a broken seat. Les (Small), he went to Brock’s
mob to borrow a seat and they did have a spare one but
they said, ‘No, you can’t have it because we might need
it’. Fair enough. So then we asked Walkinshaw because
they had spare everything and they said no. So then one
of our blokes got a set of Walkinshaw overalls and went
into where the show car was on display and unbolted
the seat and brought it back.
“Then, later, a HDT bloke came up to us when it was
possible that we would win the King’s Cup, he came up
to Les and said, ‘Do you want to borrow that seat now?’
Les said, ‘No, you can stick it up your big, fat arse!’”
Winning the King’s Cup with arch-rivals HDT...
“I still don’t place much value on finishing 23rd but
the Europeans, for some reason, really regard it as a
highlight. To win the race is number one but they had a
lot of emphasis on the King’s Cup, on the team result.
It’s all about soldiering on, fixing the cars and just
keeping on going on.”
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