When Tasmania’s Bruce Banks heads to Mallala Motorsport Park later this week for round one of the 2014 Kerrick Sports Sedan Series (25-27 April), he will be hoping recent changes to his Mazda RX7 help improve his track record at the notoriously challenging SA circuit.
Banks is no stranger to challenges, taking out the 2013 Kerrick Sports Sedan National Championship in no less than three different race vehicles. One such vehicle – lent to Banks by Sports Sedan identity Steve Vigurs during the 2013 title chase – saw him enjoy his best performance at Mallala to date.
Across the off-season, the director of BJ Banks Electrical and his team have taken the opportunity to make a range of improvements to his trusty Mazda RX7 to improve its comfort and driveability ahead of Mallala’s season opener.
“I really haven’t run well at Mallala in the past, to be honest the best I results I have ever had there was last year when I was racing Steve Vigur’s Chev Camaro V8!” said Banks, who is supported on-track by BJ Banks Electrical, Rinag Engineering and MMEM.
“I guess you could say now that our luck at Mallala has already started to turn around with last year’s top five performance, but we have been working hard over the off-season to make sure we can return in the Mazda with the best chance of success.
“While my car was out of commission during 2013 we took the chance to conduct some significant work to it which has now been finalised over the summer break – most importantly we have been able to remove some major vibration issues caused by the engine not being straight in the car previously, while further upping the comfort level by putting on bigger wheels and tyres.
“You might not think comfort in a race car is really a priority, but these changes make a massive difference to the driveability of the car and when you are travelling at speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour, the distraction and workload of a vibration is not something you want to deal with.”
The last time Banks was on track at Mallala was at the wheel of a Chev Camaro V8 – one of three race cars he used to claim a tumultuous 2013 Kerrick Sports Sedan National Championship.
“I certainly did not expect to win the championship and it wasn’t until the very last round where I went in leading the points that I thought I had any hope of a chance,” said Banks, who has also previously raced go-karts and improved production racers, taking the 1995 Tasmanian Sports Sedan State Championship and the 1983 2L Improved Production Title.
“Before the start of the season I found myself looking fruitlessly for a replacement upright for my Mazda and it looked like I had no hope of being on track for round one when Steve Vigurs offered the Chev Camaro to me for the first three rounds.
“For the penultimate round at Phillip Island I was back in my own car and with a solid performance and by virtue of having finished every race of the season amongst the front-runners I found myself in the box seat heading in to the season finale.
“You wouldn’t believe it, but during first qualifying for the finale my Mazda’s engine expired and I thought I was surely all out of luck.
“But then my fellow competitor Dean Camm offered me his car, insisting when I protested that I had to take it as he wanted me to win the title. When the rest of the field gave me their blessing we got back on track and the rest is history.
“I never thought I would take out the national championship, but 2013 just goes to show the importance of finishing every race and the value of consistent results when it comes to Sports Sedan racing – anything can happen!”
Taking the championship was a truly indescribable moment for the Tasmanian racer, whose team - which includes Bank’s son Josh - is made up of volunteers who, by virtue of their Tasmanian residence, have to travel to each and every round.
“To be honest I didn’t expect to win the championship, so to take it out was a feeling that I still even now really can’t explain,” said Banks.
“It was incredible not just for me but also for my crew – they are an incredible group who volunteer their time to allow me to go racing and winning the championship had as much to do with them as it did with me. I really can’t thank them all enough for their help.”
Banks will be joined on track at Mallala Motorsport Park by ten other racers, including South Australia’s Simon Pfitzner, Victoria’s Darren Hossack, Steven Tamasi, Michael Robinson and Bruce Henley and Queensland’s Phil Crompton, Colin Smith, Shane Bradford and Charlie Senese.
The Kerrick Sports Sedan Series is one of the most exciting on the annual Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals calendar, pitting a range of ‘wild and winged’ modified sports sedans and trans-ams against each other. Part of The Nationals since its inception in 2006, the Kerrick Sports Sedans represent the fastest tin-tops in Australia and in some cases, the fastest outright cars on a number of national circuits. In 2014, the Kerrick Sports Sedan Series will contest five national circuit racing events across four states:
|1. April 1-3 Sandown Motor Raceway|
|2. June 10-12 Winton Motor Raceway|
|3. July 29-31 Queensland Raceway|
|4. Sep. 9-11 Phillip Island GP Circuit|
|5. Nov. 11-13 Sydney Motorsport Park|