Competing in the dual NSW Hillclimb Championship rounds at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama over the weekend, Mudgee’s Doug Barry didn’t make the return to the sport he wanted in the Bathurst Light Car Club-run event.
After a 12-month sabbatical from the sport, he finished third on the Esses in the championship’s opening round on Saturday in his Lola T8750, and was confident of improving on that in Sunday’s second round on the high-speed Mountain Straight course.
On his very first run of the day, however, everything came unstuck. The Mudgee grazier – who spends four days a week in Sydney running his Doug Barry Specials business – had a huge accident after clipping the wall through the notorious Reid Park left hander at 235km/h.
After the initial touch, the rear suspension and wheel were ripped off the car, and with the right rear dragging on the track, the front left wheel was lifted high off the ground, leaving Barry almost a passenger as he fought to bring it under control.
That proved almost impossible given that the brakes and steering were working on just one wheel as it careered out of control through the McPhillamy park gravel trap, picking up speed, skating on its undertray – and came to rest head on into the wall.
Barry escaped uninjured, but it could have been much worse.
“I’m so pleased I was in the Lola because it is very strong. When I purchased it I was looking at other cars, possibly quicker, but I chose this one because of its strength,” said Barry.
“I drive to the limit, and when you’re 100 per cent committed you must expect this sort of thing occasionally. Our speed when we hit the wall at McPhillamy Park was still 135km/h.
“We were having a good run because it had so much grip, but as we came out of the left hander there was a shadow on the track side of the wall.
“And as a result it was cold and had nowhere as much grip and the tail slipped out a bit, which caused the trouble, for I had wider rims than normal on the rear, and it just clipped the wall which started it all.
“There’s a lot of damage, but the chassis is not bent which is a real bonus. I’m guessing at this stage, but I’d estimate $10,000 worth of damage.
“We’ll start on repairing it next week. As we don’t have all the parts required we’ll need to get some manufactured.
“The plan is to have it finished and ready to run in the third round at Kempsey’s round at Cooperabung,” Barry said.
As the initial hit happened near the finish line, and fourth placed Dean Tighe, of Queensland, in his Dallara, was unable to lower his time throughout the day, the Mudgee driver still finished third behind defending NSW and Australian champion Malcolm Oastler in his OMS 28, and second placed Tim Edmondson (Gould GR55B).
Saturday’s first round of the championship on the 750 metre Esses course saw Barry finish a commendable third in the Lola, again behind Oastler, who won by just 2/10th over Edmondson, who was the 2012 Australian champion and record holder on both Bathurst hillclimb courses.