The first round of the 2020 Porsche 944 Challenge is set to be held this weekend at the Sandown Motor Raceway as part of the Victorian State Race Series and will be presented by Smiths TMP. Over 250 cars are competing this weekend with 19 944 Challenge cars set to take the course for qualifying this afternoon, with a couple of new additions to the field for the first event of the year. With a number of quick drivers, cracking the top 10 will be an achievement for all drivers this round!
Here is a run – down of the entrants for this weekend:
#1 Cameron Beller – Cameron Beller comes fresh from securing both titles for the 2019 Championship and looks to get a strong start to retain his championship. However he will face his strongest opposition for this in recent years – will his new fatherhood status slow him down? The rest of the field will be hoping so!
#2 Tony Westaway – Tony secured a strong second position finish in the points in 2019 and will look to continue on that form in 2020. To do so, he will have a few extra competitors to beat, including his son and his brother!
#99 John Kennedy – John secured a third place outright in the Vic State Championship last year despite missing the first round of the series at Sandown in 2019 – but showed great speed from his first time in the car and secured his first race win in the final race at Island Magic despite a DNF in Race 1. Some further upgrades to his car in the off season including a conversion to left hand drive could help – or hinder his forward progression? Time will tell!
#27 Toni Andreevski – Toni had a fantastic 2019 season and showed how important consistency and finishing every race is to your points tally as he secured fourth position in the 2019 944 Challenge championship. Improving his speed all the time last year, Toni will look to continue that upswing in performance and to fight for more podium finishes during the year.
#31 Adam Brewer – Adam performed brilliantly during the 2019 season and scored his first podium finished at Winton, with only some bad luck and unfortunate DNF’s preventing him from scoring a higher position in the final points tally than 5th. More podiums, and a debut race win would surely be on Adams radar during the 2020 season – will he get them at Sandown this weekend?
#8 Dick Howe – Dick ended 2019 in thew best possible way, taking the round win at Island Magic with a win and a pair of second place finished in the three races. Will he be able to continue that form into 2020? There is no reason why not..
#66 Tim Wolfe- Tim has had a solid first year to the 944 Challenge this year, and has wheeled out a different car from which he contended the 2019 season in, with a striking new yellow and black livery. If Tim continues his forward trend expect to see him secure his first top 5 finish this season.
#45 Michael Westaway – Michael was again at the pointy end of the field last season, and would have featured more strongly in the season pointscore had he not missed a few rounds during the year. With his nephew and brother to contend with all season, will the orange Westaway car be the one on the top of the trio at the end of this weekend to earn bragging rights at the dinner table on Sunday night?
#98 Pedr James – Pedr had some great speed at certain points last year as he accustomed to left hand drive in his silver and black car, taking the race win in the final race at the Shannons Nationals Round to take thew Dennis O’Keefe Cup for 2019. With a new car not quite being finalised for Round 1, Pedr will look at giving this car a strong outing in its swansong performance.
#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim returns for 2020 after just missing out on a top ten in the points in 2019. With the long straights at Sandown complementing Jim’s car and driving best of the circuits, expect to see the Martini liveried car getting some good results this weekend.
#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark returns after a horror 2019 season which resulted in him missing Island Magic after a crash in the final State Series round. Back to his regular #74 after running #3 last year, Mark will be hoping that a new look to the car in a tribute to the Porsche Australia backed 1981 Le Mans entry of Peter Brock, Colin Bond & Jim Richards will help bring him some luck to start 2020!
#32 John Vainoras – John had his best ever round at Phillip Island for the State Series round and was looking to improve further on that at Island Magic but had engine dramas in qualifying which put him out before the weekend. He will be looking to continue his upward swing this weekend at Sandown and set some personal best times.
#64 Keith Marriner – Keith returns after handing the keys to his car over to Jamie Westaway at Island Magic, and will pedal the Seat Time Race Solutions 944 around the circuit for Race 1. After some dramas on his last visit here in July Keith will want to keep the car straight and clean and lock away some good results this weekend to start his 2020 season off the right way.
#33 Andy Jones – Andy also found some improvements last time out at Phillip Island and will no doubt improve substantially on his debut performance at Sandown last year. A solid debut season for Andy last year, his second season will see him move further forward on the grid as he gains more experience around the circuits and with his car.
#12 Marius Catrina – Marius returns for round 1 after missing a few events in 2019, and will look to replicate his qualifying performance from last year to start his weekend off strongly and get some good points for the start of the year.
#97 Rob Holding – Rob has shown great pace during his couple of appearances last year, and he is working on a full season tilt in 2020. Expect Rob to feature solidly in the top 10 throughout this weekend and get his season off to a strong start.
#64 Jamie Westaway – Rounding out the trio of Westaway’s for the weekend will be the 2018 State Series champion in 944’s, Jamie Westaway. Jamie returns behind the wheel of the ex-Paul Greer car and will no doubt be up the pointy end immediately after an impressive showing at Island Magic behind the wheel of Keith Marriner’s car before encountering mechanical issues. Jamie will be looking to add another gold trophy to his 2018 championship and will have to fight Beller, Kennedy, Brewer as well as his Dad and Uncle for it!
#15 Andy Tudor – Andy entered Island Magic last year but mechanical issues ended his weekend midway through Race 1 – so he will be looking for a longer weekend of action for Round 1 as he will have a tilt at Rookie of the year status for 2020.
#19 John Morrow – John is another new driver to the series having purchased the ex-Greg Wood car in the off season, and will be having his debut race this weekend. Keeping the car straight and pointing the right way will be the key goal, and get some points as he contends with his fellow West Australia Andy Tudor for the Rookie of the Year status.
Missing this round will be Peter Doherty who was unable to make it to this round, as well as Clayton Sinclair and Daniel Petselis. Also absent behind the wheel, but at the circuit will be Andrew Jackman as he prepares for Round 2 with his new race car.
Huge thanks to all of our 2020 Series Sponsors:
Porsche Cars Australia
Advance Fitness Australia
Bayside Commercial Real Estate
Seat Time Race Solutions
and a special mention to our naming rights sponsor for this weekend, Smiths TMP
Traction Tyre & Suspension
Yokohama Advan Tyres
Hawk Brake Pads
Sydney Shock Absorbers