The fourth round of the 2017 944 Challenge is looming, and a field of 17 drivers are getting prepared for a big weekend of action at Sandown Raceway this weekend.
Here is a quick preview of who to look out for..
#1 Cameron Beller – A clean sweep for Beller at Winton marks him as the favourite for this weekend at Sandown, but Sandown is a very different circuit to Winton – he might not have things all his own way this time around..
#15 Vince Misuraca – A great points haul for Vince at Winton, though was unable to break through on Bellers’ dominant performance at the last round. He will have his eyes set on turning that around at Sandown!
#50 Tony Westaway – Another great solid points weekend with a hat trick of podiums sees Tony third outright in the points. Can he move up another step or two on the podium this weekend??
#45 Michael Westaway – Michael was a last minute entry to the Winton field, something he no doubt was glad for as a trio of fourth place finishes proved to be a worthy exercise! Now into fourth outright in the series pointscore, Michael will need more strong results this weekend to maintain that position and challenge the top 3!
#37 Chris Lewis-Williams – Disaster for Lewis-Williams with an engine letting go before completing one racing lap, has put him virtually out of contention for the State Series Title for 2017, unless some drama affects those ahead of him in the points. He will need a strong showing at each remaining round for the year to be able to drop the Winton round from the pointscore to put him back in the running for the 944 Title for 2017.
#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark missed race 1 at Winton, but recovered strongly to record a pair of fifth places on Sunday to give him some strong momentum heading to Sandown this weekend.
#22 Brad Winter – Brad was a last minute cancellation for Winton, and like Lewis-Williams, needs to now not have a bad round for the rest of the year for the 944 Challenge Series pointscore.
#5 Lyndon Watson – Lyndon had another great weekend at Winton Raceway, knocking on the door of a Top 5 finish at various points over the weekend. His debut at Sandown will be another learning experience, one he will no doubt adapt to strongly!
#8 Dick Howe – Dick yet again showed great pace, but suffered with DNF’s at Winton with a DNF and a DNS. His final race was a cracker though, as he moved up to sixth from the last position after going off road and spinning to the back on the opening lap. Dicks car was very quick at Sandown in Round 1, and he will be hunting a Top 5 finish this weekend.
#32 John Vainoras – John returns to Sandown and will be looking to close the gap to the cars in front with some recent testing on board his car at Sandown, and will be looking to set some personal best times over the weekend.
#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim will be hoping to have solved his gearbox issues in his 944 as he returns to Sandown, where he showed some good speed at Round 1, and will hope to string together some reliability over the weekend.
#13 Jim Gallagher – Jim returns to Sandown after missing the Winton round, on the back of a good showing at the previous visit to Sandown at Round 1 – up until his cross country excursion in Race 3 cut his weekend short. A solid weekend of three finishes will be on his agenda for this weekend!
#97 Rob Holding – Rob also missed the Winton weekend due to an overseas trip, which he cut short to return in time for Round 4 at Sandown! His first return visit to a circuit, Rob will no doubt be finding an increase in speed over his first race earlier this year and will look to add to his first top 10 finish at the last round at Phillip Island!
#4 Ken Rowland – Kens car is repaired and ready to race after his Race 2 mishap at Phillip Island kept him away from Winton as repairs were carried out. Ken has also shown some fantastic speed in the last 12 months, and will also have his eyes on some top 10 results this weekend.
#77 Codey West – A very impressive debut for 2nd generation Porsche driver Codey West at Winton, saw him qualify fourth with plenty of speed onboard car #77. His first race at Sandown will present some new challenges which he will no doubt quickly adapt to and be in the thick of the action this weekend!
#16 Paul Crocitti – Paul has missed the last two rounds since he was last seen at Sandown for Round 1, where he showed strong speed and personal best times in his car as he tested the new 944 Challenge Control Suspension package and put it through its paces in March this year. Paul will look to further lower his benchmark time and replicate his top 10 results this weekend.
#20 Andrew Jackman – Andrews car was last seen on track Friday for practice for Round 1 where a mishap ended his weekend and involved repairs to the Poolmaster 944. Andrew used the opportunity to update the car with a fresh drivetrain combination, and a sharp new paintscheme for car #20 – if it goes as fast as it looks, Andrew should win the races comfortably! He will look to have a solid drama free weekend for his return and putting a straight car back on the trailer on Sunday afternoon – with a Top 10 in his pocket will be the plan!
A number of regulars will unfortunately be missing this round for various reasons – but we expect to see a good turnout for the following round at Mallala Raceway, South Australia in August as the 944 Challenge visits SA for the first time in 6 years!
#98 Pedr James – Pedr is traversing the country and will be meeting the series at Mallala in August for Round 5, and will hope to turn around his recent bout of bad luck!
#64 Keith Marriner – Keith will also miss this round with some work commitments but will be also returning for the Mallala round.
Other notable drivers who we hope to see at Mallala include #29 Ben Raphael, #6 Robert Lange, #12 Marius Catrina, #53 Peter Doherty, and #18 Ross Millar – along with the returning Ryan Woods in #17, and the expected debut race for Toni Andreevski aboard the ex-John Goddard #27!
But first – we have an exciting weekend to be had at Sandown!
Qualifying commences at 14:45pm on Saturday with Race 1 at 3:25pm.
Sunday will see the 11 lap feature held at 11:35, before a 9 lap race at 3:40pm. Come on down!