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Round 7. Winton – Race 3

Sunday morning dawned, with it all to play for in the race for the 2016 944 Challenge Series Title! If Cameron Beller finished second, he would secure the title ahead of Vince Misuraca by one solitary point. However, if Vince could win this race with Beller third, they would finish tied on points.
If this eventuated, there would be 7 wins apiece, so the winner of the series would thus be the driver with the most second place finishes – which would then be Misuraca, with 6 seconds to Bellers’ 5! And if the two of them encountered dramas, Chris Lewis- Williams would be potentially able to capitalise and swoop in to steal the spoils from under their noses…

There would be three cars missing from Sunday’s proceedings, with Ross Millar and Paul Crocitti unable to front for Sunday’s events, and John Goddard’s car suffering a damaged radiator in the Race 2 impact from Saturday keeping him from being able to race on Sunday also.

As the lights went out Beller got a great jump from the front row to sweep into the lead around the outside of turn 1, while Misuraca didn’t get the greatest of starts and had Chris Lewis-Williams and Brad Winter moving alongside to be 3 wide into the braking area for turn 1. Some slight contact on corner entry as Misuraca desperately tried to hold onto second, and Lewis-Williams and Winter eased out of the throttle to let Misuraca into the spot.

What they likely weren’t counting on was the fast starting Mark Taubitz, who followed in the tyre tracks of Misuraca and edged past Winter and alongside Lewis-Williams on the short tun into turn two, taking the position on the preferred line through the corner.

Not getting a good start from the third row was Tony Westaway, starting alongside Taubitz the Westbon Porsche stalled on the grid, and Tony eventually resumed to start chasing after the field.

Rowland also capitalised on the skirmish between those at the front and moved up into 5th past Winter going into turn 2 at the start, behind Winter was Michael Westaway, Jim Gallagher, Pedr James with Greg Wood rounding out the top ten. Peter Doherty was next ahead of Ben Raphael, John Vainoras and Marius Catrina, who also missed the start, then the medical car…. followed by Tony Westaway.

Catrina made his way past Vainoras for thirteenth into Penrite corner, while Winter also made his way back past Rowland coming onto the back straight for the first time.

Misuraca started chasing after Beller in the front as he knew his primary chance at taking the title was to get into the lead. At the start of lap 2, a small mistake by Taubitz into turn 1 allowed Lewis-Williams through to third to chase after his two title rivals in order to capitalise if some drama unfolded, while towards the back Tony Westaway caught and passed Vainoras.

Misuraca made his move on Beller to take the lead into Turn 1 starting lap 3, Beller not defending too hard as he knew that he only had to finish second, but if the two cars had issues and dropped down the order, the title could go to Misuraca or Lewis-Williams. Winter also made his move on Taubitz into Penrite corner to take the fourth position. Further down the field, Raphael dropped two spots to both Catrina and Westaway.

Chris Lewis-Williams began closing on the top 2 with the intention to do what he could to try to get past Beller to help his teammate Misuraca claim the title. The three were nose to tail midway through Lap 5 when the tension reached fever pitch with Vince spinning as the result of touch in the slow turn 6 section. Lewis-Williams took the grass in avoidance and resumed on the back straight behind Beller who was now back in the lead, with Winter now third ahead of Taubitz, Ken Rowland and Misuraca resuming in sixth position.

At the end of lap 5 Taubitz had a wobble through the final left hand corner which allowed Rowland to get a run on him down the front straight and take fourth position under brakes for turn 1. Tony Westaway continued his forward charge, passing Doherty and Catrina to move to 11th position, with Catrina also moving up a position passing himself Doherty also.

Misuraca started recovering ground as he moved back to fifth by passing Taubitz under brakes into turn 1, and then also past Rowland into Kitome corner later in the lap to move back up to fourth by the end of lap 7.

Up front it was Beller from Lewis-Williams, with Winter in third, until the end of the penultimate lap when Winter spun entering the esses to end the lap, dropping him back to sixth position behind Misuraca, Rowland and Taubitz. Jim Gallagher also moved himself up a position, passing Michael Westaway for seventh spot.

At the end of the final lap it was Beller who held on for the win in the race, and as a result, the 944 Series title for 2016, with Chris Lewis-Williams a close second, and also taking the new lap record for 944’s around the short Winton layout in the last race with a 1:05.0137 on the penultimate lap, and finish third in the 2016 pointscore.

Vince Misuraca recovered for third in the race, after doing all he could to try to take both titles for the year with a great consistent run throughout all race weekends during the year, he ultimately fell short in the 944 challenge series and had to settle for the runner-up spot behind Beller.

Fourth was a great result for Ken Rowland, his best race finish in his career to date, and sixth on points for the weekend, ahead of Mark Taubitz who recorded a consistent three fifth places for the weekend to finish the weekend fifth overall. Brad Winter recovered from his spin for sixth position, which was enough to secure fourth on points for the weekend.

Seventh was Jim Gallagher, a good recovery from the bad start to his weekend in qualifying, which helped him to a tenth position outright for the 2016 series points. He finished the race ahead of Michael Westaway who was eighth in both the race, and the points for the weekend, which was enough to secure him fifth place in the outright 944 series points.

Ninth and right on Michaels tail was Pedr James, which helped him secure tenth for the weekend, and eighth for the 2016 outright points. One spot behind in tenth was Tony Westaway, enough to secure seventh for the weekend which helped him to fourth outright in points for 2016.

Eleventh was Marius Catrina, who was 12th for the weekend and finished 2016 twelfth in points, dropping 1 point behind Rowland. Finishing in twelfth was Peter Doherty who was hampered for the weekends points by his DNF in race 1, one spot behind was Ben Raphael who was eleventh for the weekend in a solid result, and showing big improvements throughout the year,

The final finisher was John Vainoras, keeping the car clean and straight throughout the weekend in a successful debut to finish all three races without a drama, and was thirteenth for the weekend in points.

An unfortunate DNF was Greg Wood, who encountered mechanical issues in the last race after breaking an alternator bracket which prevented him from finishing the last lap while he was running in a strong tenth.

So the points for 2016 was settled in the favour of Cameron Beller, who took the 944 series title for 2016 after finishing 2015 as the  runner up while securing the State Title. Vince Misuraca replicated Bellers results from 2015 this season, will he continue to replicate Beller’s performance and take the 2017 944 Challenge Championship, or will Beller be able to go back-to-back? There will be a host of other drivers on track to try to stop him!

But for now – there was one more race to go before the cars were packed away for 2016…. the final reverse grid, handicap race to be held for the Dennis O’Keefe Cup!

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Round 7. Winton – Race 2

Race 2 on Saturday afternoon saw Vince Misuraca and Cameron Beller starting alongside one another on the front row, with Chris Lewis-Williams in behind on row 2 alongside Brad Winter.

A very even start amongst the top group as they all left in unison off towards turn 1. With Misuraca on the inside for the start he was able to hold the line and maintain the lead, but he pushed slightly wide on the exit and slight contact was made with Beller’s nose against the rear of the United Petroleum Porsche. On the run to the left hand sweeper for the first time the headlight panel for Beller’s car went skywards like a rocket as Beller moved outside of the draft from Misuraca, but it fluttered back to ground and was swiftly recovered by the trackside marshals.

Lewis-Williams maintained his position ahead of Winter and Mark Taubitz in fifth, while Ken Rowland got a good initial jump but was passed by Tony Westawy for sixth position going into turn 2. Behind them was Paul Crocitti who also gained a position on Michael Westaway to be 8th, with Jim Gallagher behind the pair in 10th. John Goddard was 11th ahead of Ross Millar, Pedr James, Marius Catrina, Greg Wood, Ben Raphael, Peter Doherty and John Vainoras.

Misuraca this time was able to get a gap of a few car lengths from Beller, meanwhile Lewis-Williams had dropped off the tail from the top two and had Winter following in his tracks. Taubitz was following behind before a small mistake dropped him back a couple of seconds behind. Tony Westaway had also slipped back while he worked hard to keep Rowland behind him to defend the sixth position.

Michael Westaway made a move on Crocitti to go back into the 8th position into turn 1 at the start of Lap 4, while Catrina made an error and dropped back to 17th behind Wood, Raphael & Doherty.

On Lap 6 Crocitti had a big spin exiting the sweeper, and was missed by Gallagher who was following him as his car spun 360 degrees and returned back onto the track, though John Goddard who was next wasn’t so lucky and was left with nowhere to go apart from the rear of the Gasgep car, putting them both out of the race, and unfortunately neither would be seen on track for the rest of the weekend. Doherty was also able to make a move on Raphael and into the 13th position.

This was the way the field would cross the line to finish the 8 lap affair, with Misuraca crossing the line 4 tenths of a second ahead of Beller, with Lewis-Williams a small distance behind from Winter, and a gap back to Taubitz – the top 5 results the same as Race 1.

Tony Westaway held onto 6th from Rowland, with Michael Westaway and Jim Gallagher racing to the finish with some space on the track around them. Millar had his hands full to finish in 10th with James hot on his heels, holding out Wood who was closing rapidly and finished 12th.

Doherty was 13th after moving away from Raphael, with Catrina and Vainoras being the final finishers.

A second race win for Misuraca meant the gap to Beller in the series points was now only 3, and he was now 6 points ahead of Lewis-Williams with one final race for the series championship to be held at 10am Sunday morning!

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Round 7. Winton – Race 1

A beautiful Winton Summer’s day welcomed the field for Race 1 of the 944 Challenge for the weekend, and with the short circuit being used the field would be starting from the ‘old’ Start/Finish straight, with a short run into the right hander to start the lap.

It was Vince Misuraca who made the most of a good start to lead the field into Turn 1, Chris Lewis-Williams didn’t make the greatest of getaways and the second row cars of Cameron Beller and Brad Winter pulled alongside. There was slight contact between Beller and Winter as the three cars squeezed together but it was Beller who was able to sweep around the outside following Misuraca, with Lewis-Williams able to resist Winter on the inside line to hold onto third.

Winter slotted into fourth ahead of Mark Taubitz and Paul Crocitti who got the jump on Ken Rowland into the first corner to be 5th and 6th. John Goddard moved up to 7th ahead of Rowland, Tony Westaway and a fast starting Ross Millar. Pedr James followed, ahead of Michael Westaway, Greg Wood, Ben Raphael, Jim Gallagher in 15th after a bad start, Peter Doherty, Marius Catrina and John Vainoras.

Rowland made his way ahead of Goddard with a move going through Penrite corner, and Tony Westaway made his way through also up to 8th position, as Millar also lost positions to both James and Michael Westaway in the same spot.

The top 5 crossed the line to end the first of 8 laps in close proximity, with a small gap back to Crocitti in 6th, and a further gap back to Rowland and the rest of the pack, with Michael Westaway passing James for 10th into the final complex to complete the lap.

Gallagher recovered from his bad start and moved past Raphael on the 2nd lap under brakes for turn 1 to move into 14th position, while the following lap Michael Westaway moved ahead of Goddard for 9th under brakes for Penrite corner.

Up front the top three were circulating in close proximity as they circulated in the 1:05 second category as small gaps opened ahead of Winter and Taubitz who were lapping in the 6’s.

On lap 4 Rowland moved back past Crocitti under brakes for the first corner before there was drama at Penrite corner as James & Goddard came together with James car riding up onto the nose of the Plaza Auto Sales Porsche. Millar took to the outside grass to avoid further contact, as did Wood, with Gallagher being the biggest benefactor moving up to 10th position, with Millar now in 11th ahead of Raphael, Doherty, Catrina and the recovering James & Goddard, with Vainoras in 17th after Wood retires the #19 944 with some overheating issues.

Lap 5 and Crocitti made a mistake into the right hander at the end of the straight and went deep, allowing both Westaway’s through into 7th and 8th position.

At the back of the field, James & Goddard started their recoveries, with James passing Catrina on lap 6 to move back to 14th position, while Goddard then moves past both Catrina and James the lap later to himself move to 14th, with James then Catrina falling in behind.

Up front meanwhile, the top 3 are still circulating in one anothers wheel tracks, but no one able to make a move for position. This is how they would cross the line with Misuraca taking the win ahead of Beller, and Lewis-Williams, the three separated by less than half a second. Winter was a further 7 seconds behind in 4th, with Taubitz another 7 seconds adrift, a few seconds clear of the tight battle for 6th between Rowland and the Westaway brothers, with Ken 6th ahead of Tony & Michael. Crocitti crossed the line 9th ahead of Gallagher and then Millar just outside the top ten.

Some contact on the last lap between Doherty and Raphael ended Dohertys race prematurely, while this allowed Goddard back up to 12th position ahead of Raphael, with James 14th ahead of Catrina and Vainoras.

With a race win, Misuraca was able to close the points gap to Beller from 7 to 5, while moving himself 3 points ahead of Lewis-Williams with a few hours before the second race of the day!

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Round 7. Winton – Qualifying

Qualifying for the final round of the 944 challenge was held under beautiful sunny skies, and the three championship rivals again proved why they are the ones fighting for the series title, with all qualifying three drivers immediately jumping into the 1 minute 5 second bracket on their first flying laps.

Cameron Beller was quickest first up with a 1:05.3923, followed by Vince Misuraca on a 1:05.6679 and Chris Lewis-Williams just behind on a 1:05.6747.

Mark Taubitz was 4th fastest with a 1:06.6383 ahead of Brad Winter with a 1:06.8263. There was a gap back to Ken Rowland in 6th, recording a 1:08.2398 on his first lap, just ahead of John Goddard in his farewell round with 1:08.2482, and Paul Crocitti returning to the track for the first time since the first round slotting into 8th position with a 1:08.2877 opening lap.

Pedr James slotted into 9th with a 1:09.2808 ahead of Greg Wood in 10th with a 1:09.3668. Ross Millar was next in the lineup after lap 1 with a 1:09.8880 with Tony Westaway 12th with a 1:09.9434

Peter Doherty was 13th with 1:11.2012, with Ben Raphael behind him (1:11.2781) then Jim Gallagher (1:11.4097) Marius Catrina (1:11.5539) Michael Westaway (1:11.7880) and John Vainoras on a 1:15.1273 as he commenced his first qualifying session.

Misuraca improved his time slightly on lap 2 with a 1:05.5499, as Taubitz also lowered his time to a 1:06.3870, maintaining the 4th fastest spot ahead of Winter who lowered his time to 1:06.4323.

Pedr James moved into 6th fastest with a 1:07.8775 lap ahead of Crocitti who also moved into the 7’s with a 1:07.9407 to move into 7th position. Wood moved into 8th with 1:08.2314, and Gallagher went 9th quickest with a 1:08.2598 – but this would be the end of the session for Jim – as a broken gearbox put car #13 out for the rest of the session – but he would be back out in time for Race 1.

Peter Doherty moved to 12th with a 1:09.7345 ahead of Millar & Westaway, with Catrina recording a 1:10.2268 which moved him to 15th in what would be his fastest lap in a shortened session, Marius feeling extremely under the weather and pulling off the track a couple of laps later, as Vainoras lowered his time with a 1:14.5217.

A number of cars turned up the wick the following lap – Lewis-Williams moved ahead of Misuraca with a 1:05.5291 to get onto the front row, as Brad Winter moved onto the second row with a 1:06.1450 to be 4th fastest as Taubitz and then Misuraca both spun at Penrite corner.

Tony Westaway leapt up to 6th from 14th with a 1:07.0747, James and Crocitti improved with a 1:07.4524 and 1:07.6793 respectively to now share the fourth row of the grid, ahead of Goddard and Millar who now were sharing the fifth row positions after running 1:07.7595 and 1:07.8562 respectively.

Wood & Rowland also improved but were now 11th and 12th with 1:08.1729 and 1:08.2056 laps, with Michael Westaway improving to 14th with a 1:08.8407 to be behind Gallagher who had now slipped to 13th. Ben Raphael up to 16th ahead of Catrina and behind Doherty with a 1:10.2069 as Vainoras continued to acclimatise himself recording a 1:13.0696

Misuraca jumped up to top of the sheets with a 1:05.3665 the following lap, as Lewis-Williams improved marginally with a 1:05. 5088 though was now back to third. Michael Westaway now also put together a representative lap time and jumped into 8th with a 1:07.5088, as Crocitti went slightly quicker with a 1:07.5992 but slipped to 9th behind Westaway.

Immediately behind him, Millar and Goddard both improved their times with Millar staying in 10th with a 1:07.6925 in what would be his fastest time for the session, with Goddard recording a 1:07.7362 but slipping to 11th, while Doherty lowered his time further with a 1:09.4470.

Misuraca further improved his time with a 1:05.1871 the following lap, while Beller ran consecutive laps of 1:05.43, just slower than his fastest time to date, as Lewis-Williams, Winter & Taubitz all pitted to check and adjust tyre pressures. Rowland meanwhile jumped all the way up to 5th from 13th with a fantastic 1:06.2024 lap, as James also improved by three tenths of a second with a 1:07.1487, now sitting in 8th behind Taubitz and Tony Westaway, as Goddard moved into 9th behind him with a 1:07.1896 with Michael Westaway right behind him in 10th.

Rowland continued to improve and impress as he now moved up to 4th displacing Winter with a 1:06.0943, as Goddard jumped up to 7th with a 1:06.6710, both times would be the fastest these drivers would run for the qualifying session Crocitti improved marginally but was still 11th after running a 1:07.5185, as Peter Doherty dropped into the 8’s, running a 1:08.9876.

Lewis-Williams has a spin off into the Winton dust exiting turn 1 of the short circuit the following lap as Beller set his fastest time of 1:05.3228, a time he would be unable to top in the remainder of the session. Brad Winter moved himself back into 4th position with a 1:05.7998 lap, pushing Rowland back to 5th, with Taubitz improving slightly on the next lap with a 1:06.2499 in what would be his fastest lap for the session also.

Crocitti moved back into 10th with a 1:07.2583 ahead of Michael Westaway who also improved with a 1:07.2781, as Raphael lowered his best time into the 9’s with a 1:09.7712.

Lewis-Williams moved back onto the front row with a 1:05.1985, only one hundredth of a second off of Misuraca’s provisional pole time, and pushing Beller back to the second row. Tony Westaway dropped into the 6’s with a 1:06.7996 in what would be his fastest time for the session in 8th, as Ben Raphael also lowered his time by another 4 tenths of a second with a 1:09.3876 in what would be his fastest time for the session also.

Winter set his fastest time on lap 10 to consolidate his 4th position on the grid behind the top three championship protagonists with a 1:05.6119. Paul Crocitti moved up to 8th, displacing Tony Westaway with his fastest lap of 1:06.7240, as Doherty also dropped his best time by a further 3 tenths of a second with a 1:08.6991. John Vainoras also moved his marker down, getting into the 12’s with a 1:12.9406.

Pedr James circulated to record his fastest lap the following tour, a 1:07.0582 was the time he wouldn’t be able to better as the session ran on and had him in 10th position.

Misuraca improved his time slightly on lap 13, a 1:05.1787 – doubling his margin on Lewis-Williams to two hundredths of a second from one hundredth, which would secure him pole position in his quest to secure the 944 Challenge for 2016 to complement his Vic State Title.

Greg Wood and John Vainoras both improved their times, but not their positions with 1:08.0456 for Wood, with Vainoras dropping into the 11’s, with a 1:11.5484, a good showing from his first qualifying session with his new car.

The final change to the order would come from Michael Westaway, who snuck into the top 10 on his last lap, a 1:06.9147 just displacing James for the position.

Three races for points this weekend, and three drivers all with a chance for the title with Beller holding a small points margin from the two drivers who were tied on points starting in front of him.

Who would take the prize in Race 1?

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Round 7. Winton – Race Preview

This coming weekend will see the 944 Challenge series return to Winton Motor Raceway as part of the HQ 4 Hour Event for the final round of the 2016 944 Challenge Championship. Vince Misuraca sealed the State title at Phillip Island, but sits equal second in the 944 points battle going into the last round with Chris Lewis-Williams, the pair of them 7 points behind Cameron Beller. Throw in the special twist of the short circuit layout to be raced at Winton this weekend and it will be an exciting weekend of hard racing!

Once the points battle is wrapped up for the weekend,  there will be a special event to wrap up the years racing, with a 20 lap reverse grid handicap race which will be held for the Dennis O’Keefe Cup, this will surely be an exciting race to watch! Lets have a look at the entrants for the weekend:

#55 Cameron Beller.  Cameron Beller comes into the final round 7 points to the good, but won’t be able to take it easy with 78 points up for grabs over the weekend. After missing out on the overall title last year, Beller will be looking to make amends for that this weekend.

#15 Vince Misuraca. Vince comes into the final round equal second on points and with the State Series title under his belt and a Race win in the last race at Phillip Island. With Winton being one of his stronger tracks, Vince will be doing all he can to take both titles for 2016.

#37 Chris Lewis-Williams. Chris has had a very consistent season in 2016 and despite missing a round which kept him out of the State series race, the dropped worst round format of the 944 Challenge format means that Chris is right in the hunt for the overall championship equal on points for 2nd with Vince Misuraca. On recent Winton form, Chris won 3 from 3 at Winton in September…

#50 Tony Westaway. Tony is mathematically still in the title race going into the weekend, but would require a bad weekend for the top 3 to be able to capitalise. He is only 3 points ahead of his brother Michael and his focus will likely be to come out top in the family battle.

#45 Michael Westaway. Micheal sits in fifth in the series points after a very strong season so far which netted him fifth in the State Series. While he the fifth and last car that could mathematically take the Series title this weekend, like Tony he could only benefit from a disaster for the top 3 in points. His aim will be to finish in front of Tony this weekend to steal 4th in the series title.

#22 Brad Winter. Brad sits in sixth in the series points, also benefitting from the dropped worst round point structure after missing the previous round held at Winton which kept him in eighth in the start series pointscore, he will be looking for an opportunity to crack into the top 5.

#74 Mark Taubitz. A tough weekend at Phillip Island for Taubitz with car dramas saw him drop behind Winter in the overall series points, although he was able to secure 6th in the State series due to the fact that his dropped worst round was the first round of the series at Winton which wasn’t part of the state series. He will now be looking for a strong weekend to overhaul Brad Winter and secure a pair of 6th series results for the year.

#98 Pedr James. Pedr sits in 9th in the series points going into the last round, but is poised to move up to 8th due to the non appearance of Jason Miller for this round. Following on from a good last round at Winton he will be hoping to end his season strongly.

#13 Jim Gallagher. Jim has suffered in the pointscore due to missing the last two rounds, but has the potential to move up to 9th in the series with a strong result this weekend, and will be looking to make the most of the final round for 2016.

#12 Marius Catrina. Marius also missed the previous round at Phillip Island which kept him out of the top in series points, but a solid weekend could allow him to move back up into the top 10 for the outright series.

#27 John Goddard. One of the stalwarts of the 944 Challenge series, John Goddard has said that Winton will be his swansong event in the 944 Challenge as he hangs up the helmet, and he will be looking to go out with a strong end to his 944 career this weekend, but will hopefully be a feature around the paddock for years to come!

#4 Ken Rowland returns to Winton where he has a very strong round in September, and will be looking to repeat that effort this weekend as he sits as an outside chance to sneak into the top 10 on points if some fortune goes his way!

#29 Ben Raphael.  Ben is coming back to Winton for the second time after a good showing in the September round here, and will be looking to continue his move up the field in the 944 Challenge series.

#18 Ross Millar. Ross Millar is back after missing the Phillip Island round and will be relishing getting back behind the wheel – fortunately, there should be no mud on the infield this weekend should Ross decide to take his 944 four wheel driving again as he did back in September!

#53 Peter Doherty. Peter has been enjoying some recent updates to his car and also returns to the track at Winton after missing the Phillip Island round, and will be hoping for a solid weekend to give him a springboard to the 2017 season.

#16 Paul Crocitti. Paul hasn’t been seen on track since the Winton Round in March, when engine dramas ended hsi final race early while running strongly, and he has spent the time rebuilding the engine and upgrading his car ready for his on track return. Look for the 2015 Winton 300 victor to pull a surprise this weekend!

#19 Greg Wood. Another welcome return is Greg Wood, after running the September Winton round Greg acquitted himself very well after being out of the car for a couple of years, and will no doubt be looking forward to a good weekend at his home track in what will hopefully be a good precursor to seeing him on track more regularly throughout 2017.

#32 John Vainoras. Another new driver making his race debut, John has been a regular around the pit area of the 944 series over the past 18 months, learning lots about the 944 series before purchasing the ex Craig Green car and getting his licence to join in the action himself. John will be looking to pace himself as he gets himself out for his first race weekend and will no doubt be loving every minute of it!

We have a few regulars who will be unfortunately absent for this round, Dick Howe who is busy building up his new car for the 2017 season after his unfortunate Phillip Island crash, Andrew Jackman who has started a refresh on his car to come back with a fresh attack for 2017 also. and Keith Marriner who is unable to attend due to work commitments.

Another fantastic round of the 944 Challenge beckons this weekend as we wait to see who will take the 2016 Title, come along and enjoy the sights, smells, and the sounds of some fantastic close racing as the 944’s battle around the historic track at Winton!

By |December 1st, 2016|News, 2016|0 Comments|

Round 6. Phillip Island – Race 3

The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was bathed in sunshine when the field gridded up for the final round of the Victorian State Race Series just after midday, and the two State Title protagonists would line up side-by-side on the front row, with it all to play for… Vince Misuraca needed only a top 10 finish to secure the State Title, however he still had to give it his all to avoid losing ground in the 944 Series Pointscore.

Off the start it was Cameron Beller who led the field away, with Vince Misuraca ahead of Chris Lewis-Williams and Brad Winter. Tony Westaway jumped to fifth with Robert Lange right behind, then John Goddard and Michael Westaway down to eighth after losing a few spots on the run to the first corner.

Mark Taubitz was ninth, in front of Andrew Jackman, Ken Rowland, Pedr James, Keith Marriner and Ben Raphael as the field rounded Southern Loop towards Honda corner.

Misuraca had a big lock-up into Honda corner but pulled up for the corner and held onto the position as the top 3 skipped away from the next group of 6 cars, with a small gap back to the battle for tenth headed by Jackman, with James making his way past Rowland for eleventh.

Lap two and James moved his way into tenth with a move on Jackman, while Rowland also got past the Poolmaster Bayside 944 to get back into the eleventh position, Jackman now back to twelfth.

Misuraca made a move into the lead into Honda on Lap 3 to take the lead from Beller, meanwhile Taubitz encountered some car issues and slowed across the back of the circuit, James & Rowland passing him going into the final corner with Jackman, Marriner and Raphael all passing before Southern Loop while he tried to gauge the problems in the car before he picked up his pace, although now in last place. Rowland then moved his way up into ninth, passing James for the position before the end of the fourth lap.

The fight at the front though, was on in earnest – and Beller moved his way back into the lead, as Michael Westaway found a way past John Goddard to move into seventh position.

Misuraca was back in front on the next lap as the top three continued their battle, the points battle clearly top of Misuraca’s mind and not just taking it easy to collect the State Series title, and the following lap Lewis-Williams also made his way past Beller also to move into second position.

Jackman meanwhile had a spin at Southern Loop and allowed Marriner, Raphael and Taubitz through as Taubitz also moved past Raphael on the run to Honda corner as he tried to consolidate for his lost positions though still off the pace. Jackman also moved back past Raphael also down the front straight to complete the 7th lap.

Lewis-Williams then took his turn to lead up front and moved ahead of Misuraca as the battle for positions to 5-8 mixed right up with Lange dropping from sixth back to eighth position with a drama, which allowed Michael Westaway to leap into fifth position ahead of Tony Westaway in sixth and John Goddard moving up to seventh, which became sixth the next lap as Westaway struggled for pace in the last couple of laps.

James also got back past Rowland to be back into ninth position, as Jackman and Taubitz went side by side through Hayshed corner with Jackman prevailing in that battle to move back to twelfth on the road.

On the penultimate lap Misuraca moved his way back to the front for the third time in the race, that this time he would not relinquish and held on to secure a fitting victory to secure the State Series title, in what was his only win from the 5 round State Series. Closely following his across the line was Lewis-Williams in second, with Cameron Beller shadowing them in third position.

Only a few seconds behind the top three was Brad Winter, with Michael Westaway rounding out the top 5 with another solid weekend. John Goddard was sixth, with gaps back to Tony Westaway and Robert Lange after their issues in the last few laps.

James was in a comfortable ninth after Rowland dropped off the pace, though he still managed to finish the race in the final top 10 position. Eleventh was Marriner, with Jackman behind him chasing him down, but ran out of time to finish in twelfth position. Taubitz was the final finisher who backed right off the pace in the closing laps as Ben Raphael slowed and pulled off the track with mechanical issues.

Congratulations go out to Vince Misuraca on taking out the State Series title for 2016!

Can he go do the double with the 944 Challenge Series? With Beller only 7 points in front of Misuraca and Lewis-Williams who are tied for 2nd, it will likely come down to the wire at Winton Motor Raceway!

Come down to see all the action including a special 20 lap handicap race to finish off the season at Winton Motor Raceway on December 3 & 4!

 

2016r6r3results 2016r6r3times 2016r6r3chart 2016r6points r6r3chart

Round 6. Phillip Island – Race 2

Despite the predictions for no rain until later on Sunday afternoon, there was a sprinkling on the Sunday morning – and as the first class to hit the track an hour later, there were still some wet patches on the track as the reduced 14 car field of Porsche 944s set off for what would be their first race for the weekend.

As the lights went out it was Cameron Beller who made the best start and led into Turn 1 ahead of Vince Misuraca in second and Chris Lewis-Williams in third. Brad Winter moved into fourth position ahead of Michael Westaway, with Robert Lange making a great start and moving up to sixth place in front of Tony Westaway.

John Goddard prevailed from the side-by-side battle he had through Turn 1 with Mark Taubitz to move into eighth with Ken Rowland slotting into the tenth position. Andrew Jackman was next through in eleventh ahead of Ben Raphael who got the jump on Keith Marriner. Pedr James started from pit lane after his overnight gearbox swap and was the last of the runners on the first lap.

Lange made his move into the Top 5 with a pass on Michael Westaway under brakes for Honda corner for the first time as Beller started to eke out a small gap up front.

Lap 2 and Ken Rowland made a strong move on Taubitz around the outside of Lukey Heights and into braking for MG to take the ninth position, meanwhile Lange had a drama coming around the final two corners and dropped two positions behind the Westaway brothers again, and set about trying to close that gap again.

Marriner moved himself into twelfth position on Lap 3 with a move past Raphael as Beller dipped into the 1:49 second category – the lap times a bit slower than usual due to some dampness through the last few corners ensuring there would be no new lap records set this race!

The next move for position was Pedr James catching and passing Raphael to move into thirteenth position on lap 5. Up front the battle for 2nd position remained close with Lewis-Williams trying to find a way past Misuraca, and for fourth Michael and Tony Westaway closed up to the back of Brad Winter to make it a three car battle.

The positions would remain as they were however, with Beller taking the win at the end of the 7 laps 4 seconds clear of the Misuraca/Lewis-Williams battle which was settled in Misuracas favour. Winter held on for fourth position with both Michael and Tony Westaway with less than a second covering the three cars across the line.

Lange was seventh and unable to close up to the battle in front of him, but held a comfortable gap to Goddard behind him. In ninth position was Taubitz, unhappy with the handling of the car but was gifted the position back by Ken Rowland after he had a spin at Siberia on the last lap. This also allowed Andrew Jackman through, who crossed the line right on the tail of Taubitz for his first top ten finish in the series.

Rowland recovered for eleventh position, with Marriner in twelfth, and James and Raphael rounding out the field.

In the battle for the Victorian State Race Series,, this meant that all Misuraca had to do was finish 10th or higher in the last race to secure the State Championship – however this is Motor Racing, and anything can happen….

2016r6r2results 2016r6r2times 2016r6r2chart r6r2chart

Round 6. Phillip Island – Race 1

The start for the first race commenced just after lunchtime on Saturday, and it was an even start off the line as Cameron Beller and Chris Lewis-Williams were side by side through turn one and two, with Beller able to prevail and take the lead exiting Southern Loop, with Vince Misuraca following close behind. Michael Westaway lost a few spots on the run to turn one with Brad Winter and Tony Westaway moving past and then Robert Lange scooting through on the inside with a fantastic start through turn 1, leaving Michael in 7th ahead of Mark Taubitz, with John Goddard and Ken Rowland rounding out the top 10. In 11th was Andrew Jackman, ahead of Keith Marriner and Ben Raphael.

Missing the start and dropping to the back of the pack was Dick Howe, meanwhile Pedr James was unable to make the start of the race after damaging his gearbox in the sports car qualifying session that was run following the 944 qualifying session. His crew got close, but couldn’t get the replacement gearbox back in in time for the race start.

Coming into Honda corner for the first time and there was a big moment for Tony Westaway, locking up the brakes and looping the Westbon Management 944 down the inside of the track, fortunately not coming into contact with any other cars, although this dropped him back to 14th and last position.

Howe had moved his way past Raphael, and then moved alongside Marriner coming out of Siberia corner. Unfortunately for Howe, he was unsighted by Marriner and a small touch between the two sent the #8 MPC Porsche off the track, and on the damp grass Dick was unable to regain control on the short trip to the tyre wall, the resultant contact would bring out the safety car as the field returned to this section of the track on lap 2.

The order was Beller, Lewis-Wililams, Misuraca, Winter, Lange, Michael Westaway, Goddard (after passing Taubitz into Turn 1) Taubitz, Rowland, Jackman, Marriner, Raphael and Tony Westaway.

A couple of laps were completed under safety car before the yellow flags were replaced with Red, as the race was called off as a result of the damage and recovery time required to repair the damaged tyre wall on the entrance to Hayshed corner.

The teams packed up for the day and returned for some social activities and trophy presentations for the previous round in preparation for the two races on Sunday, with the points position remaining the same as they were coming into the day, with now only 2 races for Beller to close the points gap to Misuraca.

Round 6. Phillip Island – Qualifying

Phillip Island was the venue for the final round of the 2016 Victorian State Race Series, which doubled as the penultimate round for the 2016 Porsche 944 Challenge. Vince Misuraca was poised to seal the State Series Title, and only needs a consistent weekend in order to be able to do so, while it was close at the front of the overall 944 series pointscore once the dropped round is accounted for.

Qualifying was held first up on Saturday morning, and the top three in the series pointscore wasted no time asserting themselves at the top of the timesheets. It was Chris Lewis-Williams who jumped to the top of the time sheets with his first timed lap, a 1:48.9483, with Cameron Beller second fastest with a 1:49.2862 ahead of Vince Misuraca on a 1:49.6446.

Robert Lange was a welcome returnee to the flowing coastal track and was fourth fastest on his first flying lap with a 1:50.1145, but spent the rest of the session trying to better that time which he ran close to doing a number of times, but ultimately didn’t go faster than his first recorded time. Mark Taubitz was fifth with a 1:50.4397 ahead of Dick Howe who was sixth fastest with a 1:50.5886 in what would also be his fastest time for the session, just ahead of John Goddard in seventh with a 1:50.6000.

Eighth was Tony Westaway with a 1:51.0095 ahead of Brad Winter with a 1:51.8681 in ninth and Ken Rowland tenth fastest with a 1:53.7788.

Right behind was Michael Westaway in eleventh on his first lap, a 1:53.8818 with Pedr James right behind with a 1:53.8940 to be 12th. Andrew Jackman was 13th with a 1:54.3471, then Keith Marriner with a 1:56.4968 a Ben Raphael with a 1:57.5956, also recording what would be his fastest lap on this lap.

Second lap around and Beller and Misuraca both jumped ahead of Lewis-Williams to drop him to third, Bellers’ 1:48.7661 just ahead of Misuracas’ 1:48.9364

Taubitz moved up to fourth, recording a 1:50.0421 moving Lange to fifth, with Winter going sixth fastest with a 1:50.1987 just ahead of John Goddard still seventh fastest with a 1:50.2209, just ahead of Michael Westaway in eighth with a 1:50.2471. Dick Howe slipped back to ninth ahead of Tony Westaway in tenth.

Ken Rowland lowered his time to 1:52.0629 but was now eleventh, with Pedr James twelfth after recording a 1:52.8612, a lap he was unable to better through the rest of the session.

Andrew Jackman was thirteenth fastest after crossing the line in 1:53.1867, this was his fastest lap for the session as well, just ahead of Marriner who lowered his time to a 1:55.0909.

Lewis-Williams jumped back into the #1 spot on his third lap with a 1:48.4623, just ahead of Bellers new fastest time of 1:48.5229. Brad Winter was the fourth man into the sub 1 minute 50 second bracket with a 1:49.7629, while Tony Westaway moved to ninth ahead of Dick Howe as he ran a 1:50.4388 lap.

Ken Rowland improved on his times and ran a 1:51.6636, as did Keith Marriner who ran his fastest time for the session with a 1:54.3782 retain his 14th fastest time.

Beller lowered the mark further again with a 1:48.3334, as Misuraca recorded a 1:48.7356 to consolidate their top 3 positions. Taubitz meanwhile, managed to find the gravel trap on the exit of Southern Loop, and found himself spectating for the rest of the session while his closest rivals lowered their times – Tony Westaway vaulted to fourth with a 1:49.4177 – a time that would be his best for the session, while Winter also ran marginally quicker with a 1:49.7001.

Beller pitted to adjust tyre pressures as the rest of the field prepared themselves for a final flying lap, but ultimately none of the top 3 were able to improve and thus it was Beller on pole from Lewis-Williams and Misuraca in third. Michael Westaway pulled a rabbit out of the hat and improved by almost a second to vault from ninth to fourth with a stunning 1:49.3112, just quicker than Winter with a 1:49.3622. These two both relegated Tony Westaway back to 6th position, with Taubitz and Lange seventh and eighth ahead of Goddard in ninth, who found a tenth on his last lap but just missed out on pushing Lange off the fourth row by three ten thousandths of a second with a 1:50.1178.

Tenth would go to Ken Rowland, who just got the spot on his last lap with a 1:50.5650 to push Dick Howe out of the top ten. Alongside Howe would be James, with Jackman, Marriner and Raphael rounding out the field.

The first race was to be held just after lunch, and all eyes would be on the battle at the front to see what would happen among the chief title protagonists!

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Round 6. Phillip Island – Race Preview

This coming weekend will see a return to Phillip Island for the last round of the 2016 Victorian State Race Championships – now that the MotoGP guys are done racing there, let’s check out who is making the trip to the iconic track in the hope of claiming a trophy or two for this round..

#15 Vince Misuraca. Vince comes into the final round of the State series with the upper hand in points after the dramas for Cameron Beller at Winton, and needs a quick, safe, consistant, trouble-free weekend  in order to be able to clinch the 2016 State Series.

#55 Cameron Beller.  Cameron Beller had a horror weekend at Winton with one DNF and also losing a 2nd place finish with mechanical dramas, and will come out all guns blazing in an attempt to secure as many race wins as possible to try to secure back-to-back Vic State Series Titles.

#37 Chris Lewis-Williams. While mathematically still in the fight for the State Series Title, the missed Sandown round meant there would have to be major dramas for the top 2 for Chris to be able to swoop on the State Series Title. In the 944 Pointscore however, the dropped worst round means the battle between he and Beller & Misruaca is very close, and up for grabs for anyone, so every position will count as in the last 6 races for the 944 Challenge Title.

#50 Tony Westaway. Tony is the last driver with a mathematical chance at the State series going into the round, but would also need to benefit from misfortune for the top, along with topping Lewis-Williams for the weekend in order to capitalise. He will be looking to extend a small gap in the overall series points over Michael Westaway however with some good results at Phillip Island.

#45 Michael Westaway. Micheal remains in fifth in the series points after a strong season so far, although the previous round held at Phillip Island was the worst round of his season to date. He will be hoping to turn that form around for this weekend as he attempts to overcome a small gap to Tony Westaway in the series points to move into fourth in the Series points, while he will look to finish ahead of Mark Taubitz this weekend in order to claim 5th in the State Series Pointscore.

#74 Mark Taubitz. Another solid weekend at Winton with a 5th position for the round for Taubitz, he will be hoping to finish ahead of Michael Westaway in order to snare the 5th place in the State Series for 2016.

#98 Pedr James. Pedr sits in 8th in the series points going into the last round, and will be coming off a good last round at Winton where he will be hoping to consolidate that position, and perhaps sneak up one spot in the final pointscore.

#22 Brad Winter. Brad suffered in the points after missing the Winton round, but may still be able to move a couple of spots up from 9th if he has a strong weekend. The dropped worst round will help him in the 944 Series points however, with a 6th position achievable with a couple of strong rounds.

#8 Richard Howe. Dick Howe only managed to compete in the final race at Winton with a couple of niggling dramas affecting his weekend, so reliability will be top of his agenda. There will be a battle of pride on the line as Dick will want to ensure he finishes in the State Series pointscore against….

#27 John Goddard. John has taken back the keys to the Plaza Auto Sales Porsche from Lee Partridge, fresh from getting the car onto the podium at Winton. John has only been at two rounds this year so far but strong finishes in both rounds see him knocking on the door to take a 10 in state series points if he can have another solid weekend.

#4 Ken Rowland returns to the Phillip Island where he debuted his new car earlier this year, and based on his great results and speed at Winton, he will be competing to have the car much closer to the front this time out!

#29 Ben Raphael.  Ben is coming back to the scene of his 944 debut in April, and has made huge strides with his speed since then – as a result we will see a big improvement in his lap times as he again doubles up with a cross entry into sports cars to increase his track time.

#20 Andrew Jackman. Andrew makes his debut at Phillip Island with his 944 and will hope for a trouble free weekend after his dramas in the final race at Winton saw him record a DNF.

#64 Keith Marriner. Keith is also making his Phillip Island debut this weekend, and will look to duking it out with the other 944 series regulars as he acclimatises himself with the picturesque track!

#6 Robert Lange. Robert returns for his second round for 2016 after he encountered some mechanical issues at his first round in 4 years at Sandown. A front row qualifying spot however showed he, and his car have lost none of their series winning speed. While obviously not in contention for this years title, he may prove a factor in deciding the results as he will be battling at the pointy end of the field!

We have a few regulars who will be unfortunately absent for this round, Jason Miller who is unable to make the trip down to Victoria due to work commitments, Jim Gallagher, Marius Catrina and Ross Millar who are all out of the country on business commitments as well as Peter Doherty with family commitments.

Another fantastic round of motorsport is promised this weekend, come on down and enjoy the sights, smells, and the sounds of some fantastic close racing as the 944’s are joined at Phillip Island along with the rest of the State Series brigade!

By |October 23rd, 2016|News, 2016|0 Comments|