1980 Australian Grand Prix
|Final round of the 1980 Australian Drivers' Championship|
|Date||November 16, 1980|
|Official name||XLV Australian Grand Prix|
|Location||Calder Park Raceway, Melbourne, Victoria|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.609 km (1.000 mi)
|Distance||95.000 laps, 152.855 km (95 mi)|
|Second||Bruno Giacomelli||Alfa Romeo|
It was the forty fifth Australian Grand Prix and it was open to cars complying with Australian Formula 1 regulations, which permitted international Formula One, Formula 5000 and Formula Pacific cars. The race was also the final round of the 1980 Australian Drivers' Championship.
The race was won by newly crowned 1980 Formula One World Drivers' Champion, Alan Jones, driving one of his championship winning Williams FW07 cars in front of an enthusiastic home crowd come to see their new Australian hero. Italian driver Bruno Giacomelli finished second in the only other International Formula One car in the race, an Alfa Romeo 179. Third was French driver Didier Pironi driving an Australian built Elfin MR8 Formula 5000.
Motorsport was in serious decline in Australia in 1980 with most domestic motor racing grids in sharp decline. Early in the season it was announced that the 1980 Australian Drivers' Championship technical regulations, then known as Australian Formula 1, but was essentially Formula 5000, would be expanded to allow for a more diverse array of machinery. The previous year Formula Pacific, the regional name for the Formula Atlantic category had already been allowed to enter, but the relative small cars were not a close match to the considerably more powerful Formula 5000 cars.
The addition was to allow Formula One cars, like those competing in the World Drivers Championship, or more optimistically second-hand cars like those in the British AFX Aurora series. The move however only attracted Guy Edwards driving a Fittipaldi.
Public interest in motor sport was at a new high after one of the darkest periods for the sport domestically early in 1980 as recession bit into fields. In the second half of the year Alan Jones closed in on winning the 1980 World Drivers' Championship, and was further increased by the hype after the 'rock incident' that befell touring car driver Dick Johnson at the 1980 Bathurst 1000.
It was announced that the newly crowned world champion, Alan Jones, would return to Australia in November, bringing with him one of the Cosworth powered Williams FW07Bs he used to win the world championship and would be the headline entry for the Australian Grand Prix extravaganza which was built up by Bob Jane who circumvented the rotational system of moving the Australian Grand Prix from state to state by securing it for his own race track, the tight confines of Calder Park Raceway. Jane's tyre retail company Bob Jane T-Marts became a sponsor of the Williams for the race.
Sadly only other Formula One car fronted for the race, a V12 powered Alfa Romeo 179 entered by the factory Alfa Romeo team for Italian Bruno Giacomelli to drive. Race promoter Bob Jane hoped the presence of Alfa Romeo, Giacomelli, and the 1980 Australian Drivers' Champion, Italian born Alfredo Costanzo, would entice members of Melbourne's large Italian community to attend the race.
French Ligier driver Didier Pironi would also be present, but he would race a Formula 5000, specifically the brand new Elfin MR9, the first and in the end only ground effect Formula 5000 constructed. The Adelaide based Ansett Team Elfin however ran behind and with the new MR9 untested prior to the race, team boss and Elfin designer Garrie Cooper decided he would race the car himself. Pironi would join regular team leader John Bowe in racing one of the team's older, more conventional Elfin MR8s.
Another Formula 1 car was entered, but the Leyland powered McLaren M26 (converted to Formula 5000 regulations) to be driven by former CAMS Gold Star winner John McCormack, would not make the start after being badly injured in a road crash when travelling from the team's base in Adelaide to Melbourne for the race. At the time in Australia there was a fuel strike which had grounded Airlines and McCormack, traveling with one of his mechanics, was a passenger in the car when the mechanic fell asleep at the wheel and the car ran off the road and hit a tree. McCormack, who was also asleep at the time, received a crack on the head, a broken left heel and some bruised ribs. His mechanic was seriously injured, though he also survived the accident.
The majority of the entry was made up of Lolas of varying ages, with number of locally constructed F5000s including Elfins, a Matich, some older British cars, and a trio of Formula Pacifics completing the entry.
As expected, the Formula One cars were a class above the Formula 5000s, with notice first served when people saw the differences in braking distances at the end of the front and back straights. The ground effect Williams and Alfa Romeo were also decidedly quicker through the corners, while the heavier F5000's were no match for the acceleration of the lighter and more highly developed F1 cars. Jones qualified his FW07B on pole in a time of 36.1 seconds, with Giacomelli only 0.2 seconds behind. Alfredo Costanzo was the fastest of the F5000 runners in third place, 1.8 seconds slower than Jones on the 1.609 km (1.000 mi) track. Didier Pironi qualified his Elfin MR8 in eighth place, some 4.1 seconds slower than Jones, though he was 0.3 seconds in front of temporary team mate Bowe who qualified ninth, despite the Frenchman only having driven the car once previously a few days before the race.
The fastest of the Formula Pacific cars was local star John Smith driving a Ralt RT1. Smith was surprisingly quick in the Ralt with its 1.6L 4cyl Ford engine, qualifying only 5.3 seconds behind the Formula One cars. As the team only finished the car on the morning of qualifying, Ansett Team Elfin boss Garrie Cooper did not practice the ground effect MR9 and was allowed to start from 20th and last.
The race was almost made infamous after Jones almost lost the race. Giacomelli was surprisingly fast and determined with the two F1s actually clashing and spearing off track together, emerging with the Alfa in the lead. Jones then knuckled down to race and after regaining the lead, pulled steadily clear to win by over a lap from Giacomelli.
Four laps down at the finish, Pironi raced his Elfin steadily ahead of the local Formula 5000 racers to finish in third position and allow the imported Formula 1 drivers to clean sweep the podium.
Reliability plagued the local cars with many of the fancied drivers striking problems. In the end Alfredo Costanzo was three laps clear of the nearest domestic competitor, Chas Talbot's Lola, enough to clinch his first Australian Drivers' Championship.
Garrie Cooper drove a steady race in the ground effect MR9s first time on track and finished in seventh place, 10 laps adrift of Alan Jones.
Alan Jones set Calder Park's outright lap record during the race with a lap of 36.9 seconds (which would have placed him third on the grid). As of 2014, Jones' record still stands for the Calder Park Short Circuit (Calder was extended to 2.280 km (1.417 mi) in 1986).
Results as follows:
|1||27||Alan Jones||Williams FW07B / Ford 3.0L V8||0:36.1||—|
|2||23||Bruno Giacomelli||Alfa Romeo 179 / Alfa Romeo 3.0L V12||0:36.3||+0.2|
|3||84||Alfredo Costanzo||Lola T430 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:37.9||+1.8|
|4||76||John Wright||Lola T400 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:38.8||+2.7|
|5||4||Jon Davison||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:39.7||+3.6|
|6||10||Rob Butcher||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:40.0||+3.9|
|7||7||Chas Talbot||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:40.0||+3.9|
|8||25||Didier Pironi||Elfin MR8 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:40.2||+4.1|
|9||11||John Bowe||Elfin MR8 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:40.5||+4.4|
|10||17||Mel McEwin||Matich A53 / Repco Holden 5.0L V8||0:40.8||+4.7|
|11||21||Peter Edwards||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:41.1||+5.0|
|12||71||John Smith||Ralt RT1 / Ford 1.6L I4||0:41.4||+5.3|
|13||38||Ivan Tighe||Chevron B37 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:41.6||+5.5|
|14||33||Tim Slako||Elfin MR6 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:42.0||+5.9|
|15||8||Ian Adams||Lola T330 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:42.0||+5.9|
|16||16||Barry Singleton||Gardos GL1 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:42.2||+6.1|
|17||34||Colin Trengove||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||0:42.3||+6.2|
|18||77||Peter Williamson||Galloway HG1 / Ford 1.6L I4||0:42.6||+6.5|
|19||48||Ray Hangar||March 77B / Ford 1.6L I4||0:43.5||+7.4|
|20||12||Garrie Cooper||Elfin MR9 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||DNP|
|1||27||Alan Jones||Williams FW07B / Ford 3.0L V8||95||1:00:16.4|
|2||23||Bruno Giacomelli||Alfa Romeo 179 / Alfa Romeo 3.0L V12||94||+ 1 Lap|
|3||25||Didier Pironi||Elfin MR8 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||91||+ 4 Laps|
|4||84||Alfredo Costanzo||Lola T430 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||90||+ 5 Laps|
|5||7||Chas Talbot||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||87||+ 8 Laps|
|6||10||Rob Butcher||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||85||+ 10 Laps|
|7||12||Garrie Cooper||Elfin MR9 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||85||+ 10 Laps|
|8||34||Colin Trengove||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||84||+ 11 Laps|
|9||21||Peter Edwards||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||84||+ 11 Laps|
|10||38||Ivan Tighe||Chevron B37 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||83||+ 12 Laps|
|11||11||John Bowe||Elfin MR8 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||79||+ 16 Laps|
|Ret||76||John Wright||Lola T400 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||70|
|Ret||4||Jon Davison||Lola T332 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||68|
|Ret||8||Ian Adams||Lola T330 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||60|
|Ret||17||Mel McEwin||Matich A53 / Repco Holden 5.0L V8||33|
|Ret||77||Peter Williamson||Galloway HG1 / Ford 1.6L I4||27|
|Ret||33||Tim Slako||Elfin MR6 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||17|
|Ret||16||Barry Singleton||Gardos GL1 / Chevrolet 5.0L V8||6|
|Ret||71||John Smith||Ralt RT1 / Ford 1.6L I4||1|
|DNS||48||Ray Hangar||March 77B / Ford 1.6L I4|
- Pole Position: Alan Jones - 36.1
- Fastest Lap: Alan Jones - 36.9
1979 Australian Grand Prix
|Australian Grand Prix
1981 Australian Grand Prix