Craillsy’s Column: Phillip Island

I do not mean to alarm you, but it’s September. 

If you’re like me, that may come as a shock because I could have been convinced easily that it was still June about a week ago. 

How on earth have we got to this point so quickly? It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all gathering for the season opener, all bright eyed and bushy tailed for a new season. 

And now, as I write this, the footy finals are starting, tickets for the ‘summer of cricket’ are just about sold out and Bathurst is just around the corner. 

Yesterday, tickets for a concert I quite badly want to attend went on sale. I wasn’t going to bother buying them until later in the year until I was reminded that ‘I’d better get in quickly because it’s in February and that’s not far away.

February? Feels like there’s a lifetime to go before I even consider February. 

Oh, and I hate to do this but I’ll get it out of the way, but there’s just over 100 days until Christmas and if that didn’t hurt you as much as it did me when I realised it, you’re a better person than I. 

When you’re young and innocent the grown-ups would always say how quickly time seemed to pass, but when your sole focus is on finding new and inventive ways to get out of doing your school homework you don’t pay attention to that kind of thing. 

Now it’s a world of paying the mortgage, getting quotes for new air conditioning and working as much as possible so you can find new and inventive ways to afford a trip to the Daytona 500 next February. Priorities, priorities… 

Anyway, this brings me (in an admittedly not-so direct way) to this weekend’s Shannons Nationals round at Phillip Island. 

Of the five categories on track this weekend, two will conclude their seasons and the other three are in their penultimate events. This weekend really is the beginning of the end for a motor sport season that feels like it only commenced on Monday last week. 

The GT3 Cup Challenge is traditionally the first major national series to wrap things up each year and they do a day early by finishing on Saturday. 

In concept, it’s a great idea because it allows for a gigantic party on Saturday night to celebrate the year.

It’s been an interesting season of Porsche racing, with new names and faces doing impressive things in both the outright and Elite classes. There’s a real chance we’ll see four or five guys from this year’s GT3 Cup Challenge crop elevated into Carrera Cup next year and that’s a testament to the structure Porsche has established here. 

While I’d suggest young West Aussie gun Jordan Love is going to be hard to beat for the overall title, the Elite class fight between Sam Shahin and Anthony Gilbertson will be a belter. 

The Prototype Series also wraps things up this weekend and that has the potential to be very interesting – and it’s likely to be the Phillip Island weather that creates some of that intrigue. 

That will be more so in the APS than any other series, too, because of the fact it’s a last bastion of different cars with different specifications racing each other. 

In the dry the lightweight, speedy Wests should have the advantage at Phillip Island because they’re a cross between a Superkart and a Formula car. 

But when it rains the Radicals are very hard to beat because they’re heavier and much more stable in the rain. A look back to the season opener at Sandown – where the Wests dominated in the sun on Saturday and the Radicals trounced them when the heavens opened a day later – is an example of that. 

So picking any one of the five drivers in contention for the title may come down to what the notoriously fickle Phillip Island weather does this weekend, which won’t be stressful at all for those involved, I’m sure.

Because I spent so long ruminating on the passage of time, I’ve only got a few words to sum up the other categories (now there’s irony for you) but I can say that both the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series, the Australian Production Car Series and Australian GT Trophy Series should all provide great racing. 

The Kumho series has already been to Phillip Island once this year and it was almost as dramatic as their big Supercars brothers, so expect fireworks. 

The APC four-hour enduro has been a bit of a Phillip Island staple over the years and should be an interesting strategic fight between the main players. 

And GT3 cars are the closest thing to watching proper wings ‘n’ slicks open wheelers at the Island so a stout AGT Trophy series grid will provide entertainment. 

It should be a cracking weekend and I’d heartily advise that you get down there, or get on Sunday’s free live stream here at speedseries.com.au

Phillip Island truly is one of the best places in Australia and every trip there is special, so make sure you’re on board. 

It might just help you pass the time that bit easier before Christmas comes… which is tomorrow, apparently.