2016 Race Results & Reports

Race Results and Reports from the 2016 944 Challenge Series.

2016 Season Wrap up

The 2016 944 Challenge yet again ran down to the wire in the last race, however there were three drivers who showed their strength through the year, sharing 80% of the podium results  and 18 of the 20 race wins this season.

Here is a brief summary on the seasons results, driver-by-driver. Congratulations to the series winners!

1st – Cameron Beller #55

Prevailing to take the 944 Series Title overall was Cameron Beller. After finishing runner-up to Adam Mills last year after a DNF in the final race for the season after a collision between the two ended his 2015 championship hopes. Beller was able to secure the 2016 season title with 2 round wins, 8 race wins, including 5 in a row at Sandown Raceway, 5 second places and 3 thirds from the 20 races.

While a poor result at Winton with a DNF and a 17th place finish with mechanical dramas put him on the back foot, he was able to drop this worst round to top the pointscore at the end of the year.

2nd – Vince Misuraca #15

Taking second outright for the series was Vince Misuraca, after a spin in the final race prevented him from taking the title, but his speed along with his consistency and reliability helped him take out the Vic State Title comfortably after Beller’s nightmare round at Winton made it a one horse race.

Vince took out 3 round wins, with 6 race wins, 6 second places and 4 thirds. In fact, Vinces’ worst race of the season was in the rainy Race 2 at Phillip Island in May, and he still finished 6th – his only non top 5 finish of the season!

3rd – Chris Lewis-Williams #37

Third outright for the season was Chris Lewis-Williams, the former series champ lost out on a chance to challenge for the State Series title when he was forced to miss the first Sandown event, but was also a model of consistency which kept him in the hunt for the title up to the last race. 1 Round win when he dominated the September Winton round and 4 race wins for the season was accompanied by 12 other podium finishes – in fact the only race that he started and didn’t finish on the podium, was Race 3 at Phillip Island in May, after recovering to 7th position after a spin while challenging for the lead of the race!

4th – Tony Westaway #50

Tony Westaway was fourth after a strong 2016 with highlights of two third place race finishes in the 2nd race at each of the Sandown events, and this helped him finish 3rd outright at the first Sandown round, despite a first corner spin in the last race! Tony backed this up with 8 top-5 finishes and 18 top-10s in the 20 races through the year.

5th – Michael Westaway #45

Michael Westaway started 2016 super strongly with a pair of 4th place finishes in the first two races at Winton, which he repeated two more times at Sandown and Winton later in the season. This helped him to record two outright fourth position results at the two rounds at the Winton long circuit, but he was unable to get himself onto the podium. 7 top 5’s, and 18 top 10s was enough to earn him 5th outright for the year, and was only four points behind Tony Westaway in 4th position.

6th – Brad Winter #22

Brads 2016 season improved as it went on as he came to grips with 944 racing, a 6th place in Race 1 of the season at Winton was not bettered until the 9th race of the season at Sandown – though this was then his best result of the year with a measured 3rd position finish. This turned his season around however, as he was not lower than 6th position in the remaining 8 races of the year, and he finished 6th outright in points with 7 top 5 race finishes, and was 4th outright in the last 3 rounds he competed in, a great springboard to a strong 2017 season.

7th – Mark Taubitz #74

2016 didn’t start out to plan for Mark, as a broken gearbox during the practice session for Round 1 at Winton meant he was starting with zero points after Round 1. He was fortunately able to finish every race after that, with the exception of Race 3 at Sandown when he was unable to refire the car after a touch with another car while defending 5th position on the penultimate lap of the race. A 4th place at Sandown was the highlight, with 7 top 5s and 15 top 10s from the 17 races he started, but fell a few points behind Winter in the outright series pointscore.

8th – Pedr James #98

Pedr’s 2017 season was another consistent showing, with a best round at Sandown in May, at which he was 7th outright with his best race finish of 6th in the final race of that weekend. Pedr finished every race that he started, and only missed the first race at Sandown in July after blowing an engine in qualifying – however he changed the engine overnight and was back for Sundays action which helped him to 8th outright, with 13 top 10s from 19 races along the way.

9th – Jason Miller #3

Jason Miller got off to a strong start in 2016 944 Challenge with a 4th in the final race of Round 1, to finish the round in 5th, before he broke through for his first win in the final race at Phillip Island, which also netted him the round win.

Two second place finishes in the next two races at Sandown and a fourth overall had him sitting third in points, however Miller then was forced to miss the next round due to conflicting work commitments. He returned for the next round at Winton, although work again meant he missed qualifying and only arrived at the track with literally minutes to spare and just managed to get into the car in time to start Race 1 from pitlane. Despite this, he moved up to finish 3rd by the end of the last race and was 6th for the weekend, but that would be the last race he would make for the year.

9th in the season standings do not reflect the speed shown by Miller during the year, but the difficulty in being able to attend the races meant the car was put up for sale, and will be in the hands of its new owner for 2017.

10th – Jim Gallagher #13

Jim Gallagher started his season with a 6th outright for the weekend at Winton with a 7th and 2 8th place finishes, before finishing 7th outright for the weekend the next round at Phillip Island with a career best 4th place finish in the final race, despite being spun around in the first race and finishing 14th.

He was forced to miss the first race at Sandown, but was up to 6th in the last race before a spin dropped him back to 13th. 8th outright for the next Sandown round kept him sitting in a good position in the points, but zero points after missing the next two events dropped him down the order.

9th outright for the final round kept him in the top ten in the standings and only two points behind Miller, and recorded 11 top 10s from the 15 races he started.

11th – Ken Rowland #4

After damaging his car at Phillip Island during practice for Round 2 in 2015, Ken Rowland undertook a rebuild and rolled out a new car for the same round in 2016. Ken came to grips with the car over this round and the next at Sandown but missed the second Sandown round before returning for Round 5 at Winton.

There was a huge improvement in speed and Ken finished 7 of the last 8 races of the season in the top 10, including a career best 5th place qualifying result and 4th place finish in the last race of the year at Winton in a fantastic show of speed, enough to earn him 6th for the round and move up to 11th outright in the points for the season.

12th – Marius Catrina #12

The highlight for the year for Marius Catrina would undoubtedly be his race win in the non-points race, the Dennis O’keefe cup held after the final race for the 944 Challenge at Winton in December after managing to hold out Jim Gallagher, and then Tony Westaway for the race win.

Winton proved to be the place for Marius’ best results, with the first round netting him his best points race result for the year with a 9th in the first race, and 10th for the round outright.

13th – Ben Raphael #29

Ben Raphael made his debut with the 944 Challenge at Phillip Island, and went about improving his speed in the car during the course of the year. After missing the third round of the series at Sandown, Ben managed to make the trek over from WA for the remaining rounds of the season, and finished with his strongest weekend with an 11th place outright for the round at the December Winton round.

14th – John Goddard #27

Johns first appearance for 2016 was at the Sandown round in May where he got his best race result for the season in the final race with a 4th place finish, and 6th outright for the weekend. John then scored a second top 5 in the final race at the following round at Sandown. The #27 car was entered for the last 5 rounds of the season, although John relinquished the drivers seat for the September Winton round to Lee Partridge who made a cameo appearance.

John in fact uniquely finished a race in each position from 4th through to 10th during the races he 8 completed through the season, along with a 12th place finish, with 2 DNF’s and a Did not start at the last race in Winton after sustaining too much damage during Race 2 to make the grid for the final.

15th – Dick Howe #8

Racing veteran Dick Howe had a season to forget in 2016 – it started off on the wrong foot with a shudder/vibration that he could not get rid of hampering him at Winton and he pulled out of the event as the car was undriveable, it was fixed for the second round at Phillip Island and he started the weekend well with a 7th place finish in Race 1, before a misfire reared its head on Sunday and brought two DNFS. The two Sandown events returned mixed results, though some reliability and good speed was shown, running in the top 5 at times, but an 8th place race finish was the highlight for each round.

Returning to Winton caused more head scratching as the car, a faulty alternator and no spare meant he headed home on Saturday before qualifying, but returned on Sunday with everything ready to go – or so it seemed, as further issues caused him to miss Race 2 on Sunday morning. He finally made it on track for the last race, and moved through the field to 9th.

The worst was unfortunately yet to come, after qualifying 11th at Phillip Island Dick missed the start and dropped to the back, and when resuming at the back of the field to make his way back through, his car was unsighted and the slightest of contact at the wrong point sent him to the outside tyre wall approaching hayshed corner.  The race was red flagged, and the heavily damaged car would not see the track again, and has since donated its heart and soul to Dick’s new ride which will debut in 2017. 5 top 10s from 11 starts will be the final statistics for Howe from 2016.

16th – Ross Millar #18

Returning to the track after sitting out the 2015 season was Ross Millar, the familiar Blue car a welcome sight back. Ross returned for the third round at Sandown, and netted a pair of 9th place finishes, which he replicated at the next Sandown round, earning 9th for the round in July when he matched that with an 11th place finish.

A spin into the Winton mud in Race 1 in September hindered his weekends results, and he was forced to miss the next round at Phillip Island. His fifth and final top 10 result for the season came in the last round at Winton in the second race, with 5 top 10s from 11 races his final results for the year.

17th – Andrew Jackman #20

Andrew Jackman joined the series for Round 4 at Sandown in the Poolmaster Bayside Porsche, and rounded out the event 12th overall. The following round at Winton Andrew earned an 11th place finish in race 1 before a spin in the final race meant a DNF.

A 10th in the following race at Phillip Island would be his best result to date in a good showing in his debut year, as he elected to miss the final round at Winton to begin preparation to solve understeer issues in the car for the 2017 season.

18th – Peter Doherty #53

Peter was forced to sit out the first half of the season and hit the track for the first time for the second Sandown round in July, where he netted a 12th place finish in a great first race after missing qualifying and starting from 20th position. Peter missed the Phillip Island round but returned for the final round at Winton and recorded a 13th and a 12th place finish in races 2 & 3 after DNF’ing in the first race.

19th – Ken Knight #88

Ken returned to the 944 Challange field at the second Round at Sandown for the first time since 2012. His weekend got off to a rough start with some engine issues in Friday practice and qualifying on Saturday morning, but he was able to solve them and complete all of the weekends races.

He also made the trek down from New South Wales for the Winton round in September, and had a pair 10th place finishes and a 10th place for the weekend overall in a solid result from his efforts.

20th – Robert Lange #6

Another driver who returned to the field for the first time since 2012 at Sandown was 4 time series champion Robert Lange. He showed he had lost none of his speed in qualifying, putting his car onto the front row of the grid in qualifying. He was running in second place early on in the first race before the car dropped speed and he dropped down the order, finishing in 10th. This was to be his only finish for the weekend, as some mechanical gremlins prevented him from crossing the line in either of Sundays races.

He returned to the track for the Phillip Island round, but was a bit further in the pack than he would have liked, qualifying in 8th position, and backed this up with a 7th and an 8th place finish from the weekends races.

21st – Ryan Woods #17

Ryan joined the series for Phillip Island in April, and immediately showed his competitiveness, qualifying in the top 10 and racing to 9th in his first race, battling hard with Brad Winter and Dick Howe in the first race. Race 2 was wet, and Ryan was able to capitalise on the advantages on the setup of his car, driving brilliantly to take a comfortable race win as the rest of the car struggled with the greasy track and could only watch as he moved from 9th to the lead and pulled away. Unfortunately, the final race netted a DNF for him.

Ryans only other entry for the year was at the following round at Sandown, but after struggling with a lack of horsepower down the straights at the Melbourne venue found himself with a 11th and 13th place finishes before again suffering a DNF in the final race, some car issues putting him out of the race, and the car didn’t return for the rest of the year.

22nd – Lee Partridge #27

The 2015 Rookie of the year winner managed to steal the keys to the Plaza Auto Sales 944 for the Winton weekend in September, and showed again that he hasn’t lost any of the speed that netted him 3rd in the series in 2015.

Lee was hoping to net the race win that eluded him last year, despite an outright round win at Phillip Island – but he wasn’t able to match the pace of Lewis-Williams and Misuraca, and came away with two 3rd places and a 7th to take home a 3rd place outright for his weekends efforts.

23rd – Keith Marriner #64

Another new driver to the 944 Challenge for 2016 was Keith Marriner. Keith debuted at the May Sandown round, and unfortunately missed the first race with some mechanical issues on the warm-up lap for the first race. He finished 14th in the weekends third race and repeated that result in the first race for the following round but a DNF with a gearbox issue put him out for the rest iof the weekend.

A pair of 16th place finishes at Winton in his first race weekend there were his results of record, before a testing weekend at Phillip Island in the last round of the State Series in his last outing for the year as he was forced to miss the final round at Winton.

24th – John Stanic #47

John Stanic put his racing on the back burner for 2016, and only ventured out once – at the April/May round at Phillip Island. He also showed no loss of speed, as he qualified only just off of Pole Position, and finished with two 3rd places along with an 11th after a miraculous spin at Hayshed corner, to place 5th outright for the weekend.

25th – Paul Crocitti #16

Pauls season started well initially at Winton in the first round with a pair of 5th place finishes in the first two races, and was running strongly in the final before a blown engine meant a DNF – and he didn’t return to the track until the final round of the series, again at Winton.

He again started well and was running strong in 6th position early in the race before dropping a few spots after a mistake under brakes to finish 9th. He was running in the same spot when he had a spin exiting the fast left hand sweeper in the second race, and was hit as the car came back onto the track which put him out of the race, and the weekend.

26th – Greg Wood #19

Greg also returned his 944 to the track for the first time since 2014, entering the September Winton round and running strongly to record 9th and 12th place finishes before a DNF while running strongly again in the final.

Greg returned for the December final round at Winton and was again speedy, but suffered two DNF’s bookending a 12th place finish in Race 2.

27th – Graham Smith #99

Graham’s Winton weekend got off to a bad start with a DNF in Race 1 at Winton, but he recovered strongly to reconcile with a move through the field to 6th place in Race 2 before finishing Race 3 in 5th.

Following this round, Graham ventured down a different path joining the Toyota 86 series, and sold his car, which we look forward to seeing back on track in 2017.

28th – John Vainoras #32

After closely following the 944 series for most of 2016, John Vainoras took the plunge into 944 racing in time for the final round at Winton, and eased himself in with a reliable and sensible weekend, finishing all three races as well as the fourth ‘not for points’ race on for the weekend.

He completed the weekend with a 14th place position and a pair of 16th place finishes, good enough for 13th outright for the weekend in a promising and encouraging start to his racing career.

29th – Brent Rose #38

The Rose brothers only ventured their very quick 944 out once in 2016, with Brent entering the first of the two Sandown rounds. He qualified strongly in 4th place, though he struggled with a misfire after running up in second place early in the race and finished in 13th.

In race 2 he moved up to 8th position before his misfire again surfaced as he struggled to finish 12th. In the Race 3 final Rose got a demon start and was up to an amazing 3rd place on the first lap,which he held up until the gremlins once again returned a little over halfway through the race, which this time stopped the car from finishing, the finishing results in no way reflecting the speed onboard car #38.

30th – Paul Greer #14

Paul Greer entered the second of the two Sandown rounds after undertaking some upgrades to his car, but was experiencing a big problem with fuel surge which plagued him in qualifying, unable to set a time, and again in the first race, unable to run at a representative pace. He thus put the car on the trailer and would focus on rectifying his issues before returning to the track for 2017.

Round 7. Winton – Race 4 – Dennis O’Keefe Cup

Now that the Championship for the 2016 944 Challenge had been decided, we moved onto the final race of the year, a Final 10 Lap, Reverse Grid Handicap race for the inaugural running of the Dennis O’Keefe Cup. There was action throughout the field as the fast cars moved their way through top 4 cars crossing the finish line separated by only 8 tenths of a second!

Due to the completion of the HQ 4 Hour event being run prior to the Dennis O Keefe cup a couple of drivers were unable to stay for the final afternoon race with Peter Doherty, Michael Westaway and Brad Winter all needing to make the trip back home, while the issues that stopped Greg Wood from finishing the final race prevented him from taking part also.

Nevertheless, 11 cars lined up on the Main front straight for a quick 10 lap blast around the tight short circuit layout.

John Vainoras was on Pole position alongside Ben Raphael with Marius Catrina right behind them, then a gap back to Jim Gallagher, Pedr James Tony Westaway, Mark Taubitz and Ken Rowland, with another gap to the three podium finishers in both the weekend and the season, Vince Misuraca, Chris Lewis-Williams and Cameron Beller.

As the lights went out the first three took off, with Catrina moving his way past the front row starters to lead into the first corner, with Raphael making his way into second ahead of Vainoras.
The sight of the front three racing off was too much for Jim Gallagher who took off just after the first group, while the rest of the second group waited until the lights went out and they gave chase, followed a short time later by the final trio as they set off from the startline.

Taubitz got the best start of the second group of runners to lead the second group into the first corner, though James got a better exit out and pulled to the inside to take 5th position going into the third corner, with Tony Westaway ahead of Rowland in 8th.

In the final group, Lewis-Williams were even in the drag race to the first corner, through Lewis-Williams prevailed in 9th position with the inside line to the corner, with Beller following him through and Misuraca giving chase to both. Misuraca then made a move past Beller into the following corner to move into 10th position.

Gallagher moved up to 3rd passing Vainoras into Kitome corner, then gave chase on Raphael & Catrina, as Catrina worked on building as big a gap as possible while he had clear track and a clear mirror.

Exiting Kitome corner, Taubitz pulled to the middle of the track but instead was swallowed up by Westaway and Rowland as they split the Zantek Porsche down the straight, dropping him back to 8th place.

The following lap, Gallagher moved up to 2nd position with a pass on Raphael for second position into the last corner complex, and then gave chase to Catrina.

The second group now caught Vainoras, and Westaway pounced on James under brakes for Turn 8 at the end of the back straight, as the quartet of Westaway, James Rowland and Taubitz all moved past Vainoras down the start/finish straight and into Turn 1.

Coming to complete lap 4 and Raphael had now been caught by the second group, as Tony Westaway pulled out to pass Raphael for third place as they crossed the line to complete the fourth lap. Rowland meanwhile moved up to 5th with a big move under brakes for Turn 8 at the end of the back straight to pass James, which also helped allow Taubitz capitalise and take 6th position from James under brakes for turn 1.

Behind them, the final group had caught Vainoras, as Lewis-Williams made the pass entering Kitome corner, and Misuraca and Beller also completed the passes before the end of the lap.

Rowland and Taubitz both moved underneath Raphael into Penrite corner, with James following them through into the next left hander back to 6th position. The following lap, Rownald made a mistake exiting Kitome corner understeering off into the Winton dust, allowing Taubitz and James to both move past him on the run down the back straight.

At the end of lap 6 there were fairly even gaps from leader Catrina to 2nd place Gallagher who was catching him by about half a second a lap, with Tony Westaway third who was closing by an additional second a lap, with Taubitz, James & Rowland a small gap behind, and all running similar times. Raphael was 7th, with Lewis-Williams and Misuraca running in close succession chasing him down, with Beller just behind them, and Vainoras at the back of the pack.

Lewis Williams made his way up to 7th with a pass on Raphael into the sweeper on Lap 7, then Misuraca was through into Penrite, with Beller making his move in the final corner complex

Up front Catrina ran lap 7 in 1:09.5, and Gallagher behind him caught 1.5 seconds, while Westaway ran his fastest lap of the race and gained 1.5 seconds on Gallagher and 3 seconds on Catrina. This was shaping up to be coming down to the wire! Taubitz ran a lap 1 tenth of a second slower than Westaway, and had now eked out a small gap to James & Rowland. The final group led by Lewis-Williams was closing on this duo with Misuraca and Beller in tow.

Gallagher ran his fastest lap of the race on lap 8 and closed the gap to Catrina by another 1.8 seconds, but now had Westaway on his bumper by the end of the lap, as Taubitz ran his fastest race lap of 1:06.5 to close the gap to Gallagher by 1.5 seconds.

The top 3 were nose to tail by the time they reached the left hand sweeper on the penultimate lap as Gallagher had a look inside under brakes into Penrite corner but was unable to move past. Behind them, Rowland moved back into 5th with a pass on James under brakes at the end of the back straight, which helped Lewis-Williams get onto the bumper of James.

As the cars jockeyed for track position to cross the line to start the last lap Catrina moved to the inside line to defend the lead into turn 1. Gallagher then moved to the inside to try an under and over move, but was then vulnerable to Westaway who lunged down the inside and completed the pass on a surprised Gallagher. This leading trio then became a quartet as Taubitz was now on the bumper of Gallagher as the top 4 ran down to the sweeper for the final time.

Lewis-Williams made his pass on James under brakes into turn 1 for the final time, elevating him to 6th position, which then became 5th when Rowland made a mistake into Penrite corner which also allowed James back up to 6th position. Rowland then dropped off the pace, which allowed Misuraca and Beller to both be able to move past also, dropping Rowland back to 9th position.

For the lead, all four cars were trying various lines to find a way past to get an advantage on the car in front, while defending from the car behind. Ultimately, Catrina was able to protect the position and crossed the line to take the victory by just over a tenth of a second from Westaway in a thrilling finish. Gallagher was only 4 tenths behind Westaway, with Taubitz only another 3 tenths of a second behind him in 4th place.

Lewis-Williams was 5th, only 1.5 seconds off the race win, with James crossing the line 6th a couple of seconds ahead of Misuraca in 7th, and Beller in 8th. Rowland limped across to finish in 9th, ahead of Raphael & Vainoras. With the top 4 crossing the line in 8 tenths of a second, and only 8 seconds covering the top 8 cars, the reverse grid was deemed a great spectacle and a huge success – a very entertaining way to round out the racing for 2016, well done to all drivers and teams for the 2016 season.

Congratulations go to Cameron Beller for taking out the 944 Challenge for 2016, to Vince Misuraca for winning the 2016 State Series Title for the 944 Challenge, as well as the Winton weekend outright and runner-up position in the 944 Challenge Series, and to Chris Lewis-Williams for his third place finish in the 944 Challenge Series.

Also, to Marius Catrina on his first race win, and earning the inaugural Dennis O’Keefe Cup!

Now the countdown begins to the first round for 2017! Look forward to getting back on track at Sandown!

2016R7R4results 2016R7R4times 2016R7R4chart r7r4chart

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 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!

 

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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….

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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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