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2019 Season – Round 2 Preview!

Less than one week remains until the 944 Challenge field set off to begin practice for Round 2 of the 2019 season at Phillip Island. 22 cars and drivers are entered, the highest field since Round 1 of the 2017 Season!

#1 Cameron Beller – Cameron continued on his winning ways at Round 1 of the season at Sandown with a perfect result with 3 wins from 3 races Will he be able to replicate this performance at Phillip Island?

#4 Ken Rowland – Ken showed impressive pace as he secured his first front row starting position and also his first podium finishes to make a strong start to the season after missing the first half of the 2018 season. Ken will be looking to keep the momentum up at Phillip Island, a track he historically has performed well at.

#31 Adam Brewer – Adam performed extremely well at his first outing at Sandown raceway at Round 1, and will be looking to repeat the performance as he returns to a track he has competed at previously in Phillip Island. One driver who suffered cooling dramas in the heat of the Sandown weekend, he will look to have put those issues behind him and improve further on his pace.

#3 Mark Taubitz – Mark was another who struggled with engine temperature and performance at Sandown which left him slightly off the pace he was expecting. He will also hope to have solved those issues for Phillip Island and will look to get onto the podium for the first time this weekend.

#66 Tim Wolfe – Tim was the highest placed of the 944 rookies who had their first outing at Sandown and performed extremely well in his first outing. Some further comfort tweaks in the gap between Rounds 1 & 2 will surely mean he will find some more pace on board the Pipecraft 944 as he has first outing at Phillip Island.

#64 Keith Marriner – Keith had a solid performance at PI, though a spin in Race 3 prevented him from having a better result for the round. Some vehicles upgrades have given Keith further confidence which will have him chasing some personal best records at Phillip Island this coming weekend.

#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim again had a solid weekend at Sandown to commence the first round, highlighted by a seventh position in Race 2 bookended by a pair of ninth place finishes after qualifying dramas saw him at the back of the pack. Jim will be looking for another trio of top ten finishes this weekend at PI.

#27 Toni Andreevski – Toni also had a strong opening round at Sandown as he improved throughout the weekend, culminating in an eighth place finish in the final race of the weekend, Toni will be returning for Round 2 as he attempts to complete as many rounds as possible this season.

#28 Tony Westaway – Tony was on track for a great weekend after finishing Race 1 in second position, however a part failure on the first corner of Race 2 put him out of that race, though recovered strongly to finish fifth in the final race. Tony will be hoping to retain the strong pace shown across to Phillip Island to move himself up the points order.

#98 Pedr James – Pedr ran his new car for the first time, as he acclimatised to left hand drive for the first time. Struggling with pace however, Pedr will no doubt have made some tweaks in an attempt to find some more speed for Round 2, at a track he has had good recent form at.

#57 Campbell Hammersley-Alderson – Taking over behind the wheels of Pedr’s familiar white & green PKJ Fencing 944, Campbell put on a good showing in his first round behind the wheel of a 944 – he will also be looking to close the gap on the mid pack as he gets more familiar with the car on his first visit to Phillip Island.

#33 Andy Jones – Andy also debuted with the series behind the wheel of a car returning to the series for the first time in 8 years – albeit with a number of upgrades. Andy also put on a good performance, battling with Campbell for the weekend and also improving as the weekend went on – Andy will also be looking to get more comfortable with the car as he improves his pace and move up the order this weekend.

#12 Marius Catrina – Marius put on a great performance in qualifying to slot himself sixth on the grid, unfortunately though a spin in Race 1 put him back in the pack, with a Race 3 DNF affecting his Round pointscore. Marius will be hoping to revisit that qualifying pace on his return to Phillip Island

#21 Clayton Sinclair – Clayton was another series debutante who performed very well – actually taking the gong of the highest qualifying of the four first time drivers on the weekend, but a race 2 engine blow up on the last lap ended his weekend early after a strong Race 1 on Saturday. Armed with a fresh engine, Clayton will be ready to hit the track and repeat the performance this weekend.

#32 John Vainoras – John had a disappointing weekend at Sandown as he struggled with car issues all weekend in the heat, only managing to complete the first race on Saturday with two DNF’s on Sunday – he will be hoping for a turnaround of fortunes this weekend and to finish all the sessions.

#8 Dick Howe – Dick was out of the Sandown weekend early, after an engine failure on Saturdays qualifying session both laid down an impressive smokescreen, but caused Dick to put the car on the trailer. Ready and raring for Round 2, Dick will be back to make amends for the early demise with a strong Round 2 showing.

#53 Peter Doherty – Packing up from the Sandown weekend even earlier was Peter Doherty, as persistent fuel pickup and misfire issues throughout Friday practice led Peter to pack up to take the car home to fix it properly – hopefully no further issues will befall Peter this weekend..

#14 Paul Greer – Paul has hopefully fixed his fuel issues on his 944, and returns to the circuit for the first time in a couple of years – the distinctive Tiger Mica coloured 944 a welcome return to the circuit, and will be looking for some reliability this weekend as he has hopefully solved the issues that have plagued him in recent showings.

#5 Lyndon Watson – Lyndon was a last minute withdrawal from Round 1, so will be looking to start his 2019 season at Phillip Island, a track where he showed good speed in 2018 and will no doubt have a podium finish in his sights for the weekend ahead.

#20 Andrew Jackman – Fresh from a run around the famed Mount Panorama circuit aboard his 944 as part of the Porsche regularity meeting, Andrew will also be starting his 2019 944 Challenge campaign at Phillip Island – another who has had some of his strongest finishes at the historic circuit, AJ will be looking to be firmly inside the top ten – and will be one smiling if the skies turn grey and the track turns wet…

#45 Michael Westaway – A trio of podium finishes was the results for Michael at his last outing – which having missed Round 1 this year, was achieved at the final round of the 2018 season – at Phillip Island… Michael will be another who will be surely looking to put himself back on the podium this weekend as he looks to make up for missing the first round.

#99 John Kennedy – Another series debutante this weekend comes in the form of John Kennedy – John is no stranger to pedalling a 944 around the race circuit however, as he has completed many track days in his 944 S2. How will John adapt to the lower powered 2.5 litre Challenge car? His new steed has got great form – having sat on the podium at Round 1 in the hands of its builder, Paul Crocitti.

As a result of the sale, missing from the round is Paul Crocitti on the heels of his best ever race and round results at Round 1 at Sandown, Paul will be on the sidelines and will wave goodbye to his second position in the points standings as a result. Hopefully we will see Paul on track behind the wheel of another car later on in the year…

944 Qualifying kicks off at 10:25am on Saturday morning with Race 1 at 2:25pm. Come on down to fantastic Phillip Island for a great weekend of racing!


By |April 27th, 2019|Categories: News, 2019|0 Comments

2019 Season – Round 1 Preview!

On the eve of Practice before the first round of the 2019 944 Challenge season, we will go through a quick preview of the drivers entered for Round 1 at Sandown – with a higher number of entries than any round in 2018 a positive way to start the new year!

#1 Cameron Beller – Cameron returns for 2019 after clinching his third consecutive 944 Challenge Series Championship – and will have his sights on Championship number 4 this year.

#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark was able to win the unofficial ‘over 20’s’ championship last year with third in the series behind Beller and Jamie Westaway. He will be looking to start his season strongly and will be aiming for podium finishes this weekend.

#64 Keith Marriner – Keith had a strong 2018 season with fourth in the season standings at the end of the year – some further upgrades to his car in the off season have taken place to help him as he attempts to repeat this result for the 2019 Championship.

#8 Dick Howe – Dick showed good speed at times throughout the year but was hampered by a couple of DNF’s that stopped him from placing higher in the points. He will be looking to get the season off on the right foot at Sandown this weekend.

#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim had another very consistent season and fought adversity with a number of mechanical issues to keep running all year – sixth in the pointscore a good reward for his efforts to keep the car on the circuit. With his best result of 2018 coming at Round 1 at Sandown, Jim will look to replicate that performance this weekend.

#98 Pedr James – A good season for Pedr with a season result of 7th despite missing two rounds of the season – he will hand over the reigns of his trusted 944 in exchange for the ex-Ryan Woods machine that Pedr will take control of, as he looks to become familiar with the Left Hand Drive configuration in anticipation of a new build in the works to come on circuit later in the year…

#4 Ken Rowland – Ken sat out the first half of the 2018 season, but proved he hadn’t lost any of his pace as he returned to the circuit in the second half of the year in anticipation for a full season campaign in 2019. Ken will have his eyes on some top 5 finishes this weekend at Sandown.

#32 John Vainoras – John was away from the championship for the second half of 2018, but returns at Sandown for Round 1 and will look for a good start to 2019 this weekend.

#27 Toni Andreevski – Toni only managed to attend three rounds last year, but is hoping to get to more rounds this season – and a good result as he unlocks more speed on his 944 will be the perfect way for him to start the season.

#28 Tony Westaway – Tony handed over the keys of his trusty 944 to son Jamie who took the car to the 2018 Vic State Championship and 2nd place in the 944 Challenge title. Tony only was able to get into the seat for the Tailem Bend round, where he showed he hasn’t lost his speed with a series of podiums on the weekend. He will return behind the wheel for the full season in 2019.

#12 Marius Catrina – Marius was only present for two rounds in 2018 at the start and end of the season, though encountered issues at the final round at Island Magic. He will look for some top tens at Sandown – a track he has had some good performances at in the past.

#31 Adam Brewer – Adam showed good pace in his first race at Island Magic and will be a force to be reckoned with as he gets more experience behind the wheel of his 944 and familiarises himself with the circuits. His first 944 race at Sandown this weekend will prove a new challenge, but Adam will no doubt be up to the task with results in the top half of the field as his intention for the weekend.

#16  Paul Crocitti – Paul sat out the majority of the 2018 season bar the Tailem Bend round – but returns for Round 1 of the 2019 season Paul has shown good speed at Sandown in events gone by, and will be another with aims of a top ten this weekend

#53 Peter Doherty – Peter attended a couple of rounds in 2018 in a season that was highlighted by taking out victory in the final race of the Dennis O Keeffe Cup at Winton. Fuel issues at Island Magic cut his weekend short, he will hope for more reliability this weekend.

#14 Paul Greer – Paul returns to the circuit for the first time in a couple of years – the distinctive Tiger Mica coloured 944 a welcome return to the circuit, and will be looking for some reliability this weekend as he has hopefully solved the issues that have plagued him in recent showings.

We have four drivers making their debut in the 944 Challenge this weekend!

#21 Clayton Sinclair – Clayton is behind the wheel of the Guards Red #21 944 that was last raced by Jim Gallagher and being run out of the Beller Motorsport camp. Clayton has had some track experience behind the wheel of a very potent Nissan – and will find a different experience racing the nimble but underpowered in comparison 944s!

#66 Tim Wolfe – Tim has purchased the ex-Vince Misuraca 944 and returns it to the track with #66 on the door. Coming over from Western Australia, Tim also has experience in WA, but is pumped at the prospect of close racing on the nations best circuits as he takes on the full 2019 season in his 944!

#57 Campbell Hammersley-Alderson – Taking over behind the wheels of Pedr’s familiar white & green PKJ Fencing 944, Campbell has had some experience getting used to the car he will be racing after helping Pedr with crewing on the car over the past couple of seasons before taking over behind the wheel!

#33 Andy Jones – Andy will also debut with the series behind the wheel of a car returning to the series for the first time in 8 years – albeit with a number of upgrades. Andy is also not a complete stranger to Porsches’ and the 944, having done track days in a club spec 944 before taking the plunge to purchase his new steed to get out for some door handle to door handle racing!

944 Qualifying kicks off at 9:10am on Saturday morning with Race 1 at 1:35pm. Come on down to fantastic Phillip Island for a great weekend of racing!

By |February 28th, 2019|Categories: News, 2019|0 Comments

2018 Season – Round 5 Preview!

We are on the eve of practice as the 944 Challenge hit the track to prepare for the fifth and final round of the 2018 Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships!
Here is the preview for this round as we look back to Round 2 of the series at Phillip Island in May this year as a form guide.
#28 Jamie Westaway – Jamie holds a slender points for the Vic State Series heading into the title deciding round, with a trio of third place finishes will be enough to secure him the title regardless of what title rival Cameron Beller can muster. Will Jamie run a conservative weekend to take the title, or will he fight hard to turn the tables from the earlier visit to Phillip Island in May?
#1 Cameron Beller – Cam has nothing to lose as he will have an attitude to repeat his earlier results from Phillip Island, and win all three races, and see what fate deals for the title results.
#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark had a strong run at Phillip Island in May, earning his first podium finish and now sits in a comfortable third position in the points. A consistent weekend will ensure he secures that position for the State Season pointscore.
#5 Lyndon Watson – Lyndon has shown plenty of speed and had some great results at Phillip Island in May, but some unreliability at Sandown has hampered his points tally, and he will need problems to befall Taubitz to have any chance of stealing third position in the points score from him. He will look for a strong result this weekend as a good springboard for season 2019. 
#64 Keith Marriner – Keith slipped back a couple of positions in the points after a DNF in the final race at Sandown, and leads the charge to fifth in the season points for the State Series for the year. He will need to fend off some stiff competition in Jim Mitchell and Dick Howe if he will do that however!
#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim enters the final round of the State Series a few points adrift of Marriner as he will look to take fifth for the season – but as well as overcome Marriner, Mitchell will also need to beat Dick Howe – with whom he is even on points going into the round! 
#8 Dick Howe – Dick missed the Winton round which has hurt his points tally, but nevertheless he is poised to fight for fifth in the State series points for the season. Dick has arguably the most speed amongst his rivals for the points position, but he will need to finish all three races to have a chance to take the outright result!
#98 Pedr James – Pedr missed the last round at Phillip Island and is thus mired back in the points for this season, but has always had good results at Phillip Island and will look to a good weekend and some good racing and to improve on his best race results of fifth that he has now achieved in back to back events at Sandown and Winton.
#27 Toni Andreevski – Toni returns after missing the Winton Shannons Invitational round for his second venture to Phillip Island. The last time here, Toni had an impromptu BBQ at the end of the second race which resulted in a birthday for his venerable #27 racer. He will now look to improve on his times and results this weekend and hope the only cooking on the weekend will be at dinner time away from the racetrack!
#4 Ken Rowland – Making his first outing for 2018 is Ken Rowland. Great to see Ken back on track in the Hire Depot car, at a track he historically performs well at. Will he have to blow off some cobwebs before he is in the thick of the action competing for a Top 5 result?
#31 Adam Brewer – A welcome new addition to the series is Adam Brewer – fresh from completing his OLT on Thursday, Adam is heading from Benalla to Phillip Island for practice on Friday for his first race event. Piloting the car at Winton, Manny Mezzasalma gave the car its first race weekend for 4 years at Winton, and now Adam makes his debut. Some impressive times at a Phillip Island test day should see Adam firmly in the thick of the action this weekend.
Missing for the round is Michael Westaway, who is venturing around on Holiday with brother Tony Westaway, with a number of other competitors saving their pennies to venture off to Tailem Bend in three weeks!
Mixed weather is forecast for the weekend, with rain scheduled for Friday practice… 944 Qualifying kicks off at 9:25am on Saturday morning with Race 1 at 1:25pm. Come on down!
By |September 27th, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

Shannons Nationals Invitational Round – Race 3

The third and final Race of the 944 Challenge event at the Shannons Nationals was run as a reverse grid handicap race, again over 9 laps on Sunday afternoon, with the grid and handicaps set by the fastest laps set during Saturdays first race.

Thus it was Jim Mitchell who would start from pole position, with Peter Doherty alongside him on the front row. The second row would consist of Manny Mezzasalma with Keith Marriner for company next to him in grid spot four.

There would be a 15 second delay before the second group would commence, with Dick Howe, Michael Westaway and Mark Taubitz in that group, with a five second gap before the next group would head off, with that group containing Pedr James, Paul Crocitti and Tony Westaway. There would then be a further 15 second gap before the final group of Rob Holding, Chris Lewis-Williams and Cameron Beller rounding out the final group.

Jim Mitchell took the lead off the start from Doherty, Mezzasalma and Marriner, though Doherty would make his way past Mitchell into the lead into turn three with Mitchell slotting into second position.

Howe, Michael Westaway and Taubitz were all ducking and weaving for the first half of the lap as all three wanted to be at the head of the pack before Westaway took the lead of the group from Howe & Taubitz. A heavily patched up car of Crocitti took the lead of group 3 from James and Tony Westaway, while Lewis-Williams again got a great start to take the lead in the final group from Beller and Holding.

The first position change was on lap 3 when Tony Westaway moved ahead of James for ninth position. Beller was desperately trying to find a way past Lewis-Williams, with Lewis-Williams defending just as fiercely – both drivers knowing that the higher placed of the two would likely take home the silverware for the weekend.

At the end of lap 5 and Doherty led Mitchell by a second, with Mezzasalma and Marriner both within a further second behind him. The gap to the next group was only a further four seconds, with Howe and Taubitz all within a second of the Orange Westbon car. Crocitti was a further three seconds away, though there was another five seconds between Crocitti and Tony Westaway. James was another two seconds behind with Lewis-Williams and Beller now right on James’ tail.

The groups started to condense as the race went on between the groups, though Howe was wide on the exit of Turn 4 on lap 6, and spun off to the infield and the back of the pack. Lewis-Williams and Beller both also overtook James at Penrite corner him on lap 6, now into  ninth and tenth positions respectively.

As lap 7 began, Taubitz moved past Michael Westaway the into turn 1, with Michael then slowing and retiring later in the lap with mechanical gremlins. Beller was still looking every which-way to get past Lewis-Williams, but couldn’t find a clean way to make a pass. As this group caught the slowing Michael Westaway at Penrite corner, dramas befell James who looped around, with Holding moving up to tenth position as a result, and Howe up to eleventh position, James back to twelfth. Lewis-Williams got a great run out of turn 10 and pulled alongside Tony Westaway with Beller in his slipstream, the paid moving past as Tony succumbed to the two faster cars – moving them up to seventh and eighth spot.

Up front meanwhile, and Taubitz had caught the back of the leading group – and made the pass on Marriner for fourth position in the final corner. Crocitti moved past Marriner also under brakes for turn 3 on the second last lap. Taubitz could see Doherty stretching the gap up front, and was keen to get past Mezzasalma and Mitchell to set after the leading 944 – though a small touch from Taubitz after poking his nose to the inside going into turn 9 sent the car of Mezzasalma into a slow spin – dropping him back down to eleventh position. 

The most dramatic moment occurred a few corners later – as Marriner had a spin in turn 11 while sitting behind Crocitti, with the #64 PAS car stationary in the track as the pair of Lewis-Williams and Beller rounded to corner. Beller went to the left, and Lewis-WIlliams to the right – though it was Lewis-Williams who made contact with the right front of his car against Marriners – breaking his front suspension and putting him out of the race – and contention for the Dennis O’Keefe Cup immediately. CLW parked the car on the grass between the circuit and pit entry and walked to safety – a cruel blow as he looked poised to take home the prize for the weekend.

Up front and Taubitz was back onto the tail of Mitchell, and made hi move for the position on the exit of turn four, with Crocitti following him through into third position. Noone was catching Doherty up front however, as Peter crossed the line to take his first race victory by 2 seconds from Taubitz. A very popular result for the series veteran, which also earnt him third outright for the weekend – a great reward for a weekend of smart driving where he kept out of trouble without a mark on the car, and ran the consistent times and didn’t put a foot wrong when it mattered.

Second was a good result for Taubitz after his bad luck in Race 2, with the other driver who suffered poor fate in Race 2, Paul Crocitti – also taking home a well earnt podium result – his first in the 944 Challenge series – after showing great speed all weekend, only one second behind Taubitz at the end.

Holding onto fourth position was Mitchell – just – with Cameron Beller closing in and the pair crossing the line side-by-side  Mitchell getting the nod by only one hundredth of a second at the line! Beller would take solace in the fact that his fifth position finish was enough for him to take home the Dennis O’Keefe Cup courtesy of aPorschapart for the weekend.

Sixth position went to Tony Westaway, three second adrift of Beller, with Holding just behind him after showing very impressive speed all weekend – a second position for the weekend a great reward for the weekends efforts. Eighth was Dick Howe after his mid race spin, with Mezzasalma ninth and James tenth after they also had spins in the latter part of the race. Marriner was the final finisher a further twenty seconds back after his late race drama – with Chris Lewis Williams and Michael Westaway the two DNF’s for the round.

So the Shannons Nationals event was run and won – a huge thanks to CAMS, the Shannons Nationals series, Winton Raceway and the Benalla Auto Club for inviting us to be part of this great event. We can’t wait to come back for future events!

Next though, would be the final round of the Vic State Race Series on the final weekend of September, and Jamie Westaway will be back behind the wheel to try to protect his points lead from Cameron Beller – who will be looking to repeat his Phillip Island clean sweep from earlier in the year as he attempts to snatch back the title from Jamie’s grasp. Head down to Phillip Island on September 29/30 to watch all the action!

Shannons Nationals Invitational Round – Race 2

Race 2 of the 944 Challenge event at the Shannons Nationals was run as a reverse grid event over 9 laps on Sunday morning. As a result of Race 1’s finishing order, Tony Westaway lined up on the pole position, with Keith Marriner lining up alongside him on the front row with Manny Mezzasalma and Jim Mitchell lining up on the second row. Peter Doherty and Pedr James would share row 3, with Dick Howe and Michael Westaway on the fourth row. Row 5 would be made up of Mark Taubitz and Paul Crocitti, with the race 1 podium finishers Rob Holding, Chris Lewis-Williams and Cameron Beller rounding out the grid.

Jim Mitchell got his customary drag-car-like start off the line to split the front row starters and then dived to the inside of  Tony Westaway to lead into Turn 1. Keith Marriner slotted into third position with Mezzasalma fourth, and Doherty and James side by side through the first corner complex. Getting a fantastic start was Chris Lewis-Williams, who took the outside line to follow Doherty and was in seventh position already, with Dick Howe on his outside on the run to turn 3. Crocitti also got a good start down the outside and was next, with Holding also moving up a few spots. The biggest losers off the start were Michael Westaway who got an ordinary getaway, and Mark Taubitz who was boxed in behind him – Cameron Beller also suffered stuck behind those who were slower away, though was able to take the inside run on Taubitz and then out-run Michael Westaway under brakes for turn 3 to move to eleventh position.

Tony Westaway ranged up alongside Mitchell and took the lead under brakes into turn 3 with James pulling ahead of Doherty and into fifth position, with Howe also making the pass around the outside of turn three as Doherty was deciding discretion was the better part of valour, and chose to let the faster cars through then press on. Crocitti and Holding were side by side through turn 3, before Holding followed Lewis-Williams through with a pass around Doherty at turn 4, while Taubitz also followed Beller through and made the pass on the inside of Michael Westaway.

Thus on the run to the sweeper for the first time it was Tony Westaway from Mitchell, Marriner, Mezzasalma, James, Howe, Lewis-Williams, Holding, Doherty, Crocitti, Beller, Taubitz and Michael Westaway. Marriner had a look on the inside of Mitchell under brakes for Penrite corner but backed out of the move, while Lewis WIlliams was scything through the field, taking the long way around Penrite corner to pass Howe, then translated that to an inside move on James around the gumtree, and then again around the outside at turn 9, this time on Mezzasalma – putting him in an incredible fourth position!

Crocitti made a move to the inside of Doherty into Penrite but had to go around the outside of gumtree to complete the pass. Beller tucked in behind Doherty but Taubitz moved to the outside and passed Beller around gumtree which put him on the inside of Doherty for turn 9, putting him up to tenth position on Crocittis bumper, with Beller then following Taubitz through underneath Doherty.

Holding moved alongside Howe on the run to turn ten, with Howe running wide and allowing Crocitti to range up alongside on the run down the back straight. Taubitz was slightly baulked and Beller moved alongside and retook the position into brakes for turn 11.

At the end of lap 1 and Tony Westaway was extending his lead from Mitchell and Marriner, now with Lewis-Williams for company. A small gap to Mezzasalma who had James and Holding behind him, with Howe and Crocitti side by side through the final corner, and Crocitti put his left side tires into the dirt allowing Howe to move ahead. This baulked Beller slightly, and Taubitz took advantage to pull back alongside down the main straight on the far right of the track, three wise with Beller and Crocitti.

Lewis-Williams moved past Marriner under brakes for turn 1 and was up to third, while James did the same thing to Mezzasalma to move into fifth.

Beller could see there was trouble brewing and backed out of the three-wide situation – as Crocitti, seeing this moved across to take the racing line for turn 1 – unbeknownst to him though, Taubitz was in his blind spot of the far right of the track – and slight contact was the result. Crocitti did a masterful job to keep the car on track and not spin off, as his right rear wheel contacted Taubitz on the left front, sending Taubitz off into the grass. The impact broke the steering on Taubitz’s car, and he limped slowly around the pits.

Lewis-Williams continued his onslaught, and passed Mitchell for second position into turn three, while Beller made his way past Crocitti, and Michael Westaway passed Doherty. Holding was trying to find a way around Mezzasalma, which allowed Howe to sneak inside on the run to turn 9, escorting Holding wide. This allowed Beller to move inside and overtake the pair of them, moving him to seventh position, while Holding sliopped back behind Howe, Crocitti and Michael Westaway to eleventh position.

Up front, and Lewis-Williams put himself into the lead with a pass on Tony Westaway on the run to turn 10 – a very impressive two laps from the three time series champion. Beller pulled past Mezzasalma under brakes for turn 10 also, while Howe followed him through, as did Crocitti. Michael Westaway was the next one to make the pass on the run to turn 11, with Holding also finally getting past to move back to tenth position.

So at the end of lap 2 it was now Lewis-Williams opening up a gap from Tony Westaway, Mitchell, Marriner, James and Beller, with Howe, Crocitti, Michael Westaway, Holding, Mezzasalma and Doherty rounding out the field.

Beller moved into the top 5 when he passed James into turn 3, and quickly ranged up to the tail of Marriner who was still staring at the tail of Mitchell. Holding managed to find a way around Michael Westaway to go back to ninth position, while Beller then passed Marriner under brakes for turn 10, and did the same to Mitchell one corner later.

Doherty made a move past Mezzasalma under brakes for turn 1, while he battle for fourth was now heating up as James, Howe and Crocitti closed up to Mitchell and Marriner, though into turn three Howe exited the battle when his car spun to the inside of the circuit. Crocitti was right behind and went to the dirt on the outside of the circuit.

Beller continued his charge forward and passed Tony Westaway under brakes for turn 10 and began his chase of Lewis-Williams. Behind him, there was dramas as Marriner looked to challenge Mitchell for position, with Mitchell spinning under brakes, with Crocitti being unsighted running into the back of Marriner, which caused some significant damage to the front of the Gasgep machine. James was the biggest benefactor as he moved past both of them into fourth position, with Holding also taking advantage and into fifth. Michael Westaway moved up to sixth, ahead of Doherty, and Mezzasalma, and the wounded Marriner. Mitchell re-joined to tenth with Howe next after recovering from his spin, with Crocitti pitting to have a flailing front guard attended to. Marriner was severely off the pace after the contact and circulated slowly to finish the race, dropping behind Mitchell and Howe on the next lap.

At the end of lap 5 it was now Lewis-Williams from Beller, Tony Westaway, James, Holding, Michael Westaway, Doherty, Mezzasalma, Mitchell, Howe, Marriner and Crocitti with Taubitz still in pit lane.

Beller was closing on Lewis-Williams as the gap was now 3.3 seconds, while Holding was harassing James for fourth position, ultimately making the pass under brakes for Penrite corner on lap 6. The main action was now at the head of the field, with Beller breaking the lap record on consecutive laps on laps 6 & 7 in his pursuit of CLW. By the end of lap the pair were separated by less than half a second, with Tony Westaway a further  seconds back in third, with a further 5 seconds hack to Holding in fourth. James and Michael Westaway weren’t too far adrift, with a large gap back to Doherty, a couple seconds ahead of Mezzasalma in eighth position. Mitchell was a further few seconds back, with a 9 second gap back to Howe who was also nursing an ailing car, and the wounded Marriner, and the battle scarred Crocitti. Taubitz meanwhile ventured back out onto the circuit on the penultimate lap to slowly complete the final lap and take the chequered flag.

Try as he might, Beller was unable to find a way past Lewis-Williams and crossed the line .2 of a second behind, with a huge 16 second gap back to Tony Westaway, with Holding only a second behind him at the end in fourth. James and Michael Westaway were close together a further fixe seconds back at the finish, with Doherty, Mezzasalma, Mitchell and Howe rounding out the top ten. Marriner and Crocitti were both a lap down, with Taubitz 6 laps down.

So it was a win apiece, and a second apiece between Lewis-Williams and Beller in the quest for the Dennis O’Keefe Cup on offer this weekend. The higher of the two finishers in the final race would likely take the Cup – though if problems befell them from making their way through the pack in the final handicap race, could one of the other competitors swoop in to steal the prize?

Shannons Nationals Invitational Round – Race 1

Race 1 of the 944 Challenge event at the Shannons Nationals was on Saturday afternoon and the only chance for the fastest runners to lead from the start, with Sundays races consisting of a reverse grid, and then a handicap race to round out the event.

Off the start it was Chris Lewis-Williams who led into Turn 1 after just edging Cameron Beller in the short drag racce off the start, with ROb Holding, Tony Westaway side by side behind them, with Mark Taubitz and Paul Crocitti side by side right behind them as they ran through turns 1 & 2. Michael Westaway was next edging ahead of Dick Howe, with Jim Mitchell in behind them, with Pedr James, Keith Marriner, Manny Mezzasalma and Peter Doherty rounding out the field.

Lewis-Williams and Beller had a small gap while Holding took the inside line to sweep into third position. Taubitz tried to follow him through into turn 4 but had the door firmly shut on him by Tony Westaway – leaving him vulnerable to Crocitti. H0we moved back ahead of Michael Westaway, and then passed Crocitti into turn 9 to take the sixth position.

As the field crossed the line to end lap 1, Beller pulled alongside Lewis-Williams and took the lead under brakes into turn 1, with Holding and Tony Westaway now right behind them. a small gap back to Taubitz, Howe, Crocitti, Michael Westaway, Mitchell, James, Marriner, Mezzasalma and Doherty.

The top three were nose to tail, with Tony Westaway and Taubitz just off the back of the lead trio. Howe and Crocitti continued to battle with Westaway tagging onto the back of the pair. Doherty meanwhile took Mezzasalma for twelfth position.

James was the next driver to make progress, as he moved ahead of Mitchell on lap 3 to take the ninth position.

Lewis-Williams returned serve on Beller at the beginning of lap 4 and took the lead under brakes for turn 1, with Holding continue to shadow the multi-time champions closely. Tony Westaway had a drama in turn 9 and spun the Westbon 944, dropping him all the way to then end of the pack. His spin delayed Taubitz who was right behind, which allowed Howe to spring a move to take fourth position from Taubitz on the run to turn 10.

Marriner was the next one to have issues as he dropped positions at the end of lap 5, allowing Doherty into the top ten, with Mazzasalma to eleventh and Westaway to twelfth as Marriner now re-joined at the back of the pack.

Beller took the lead again as the field commenced lap 6, and this time began to build a small gap to Lewis-Williams, setting the races fastest lap on lap 7 on the way. The battle for fourth position behind them was raging, with Howe defending from Taubitz who was also having to deal with Crocitti behind him, until Crocitti made his way past for fifth position on lap 7. Tony Westaway also moved up another position when he passed Mezzasalma on that lap.

Crocitti made a move on Howe into Penrite corner, and the pair battled fiercely for the next few corners, with Howe ultimately coming off second best when he slid wide as he pulled alongside Crocitti under braking on the outside for turn 10 later in the lap, sending him wide and dropping him back to seventh place behind the pursuing Taubitz and Michael Westaway.

Tony Westaway also made further progress, moving up to ninth passing both Doherty, and then Mitchell, while James had put the hammer down and was reeling off a string of quick times in the 37’s as he chased after the battle for fourth through to seventh position.

At the end it was Beller who won by 2.5 seconds from Lewis-Williams, with Holding an impressive third a further 2.5 seconds back. Fourth position went to Crocitti in an impressive performance with Taubitz right behind him, and Michael Westaway right on his tail, with Howe another second adrift from James, who closed to only a second off of Howe’s tail also.

On the last corner, and Tony Westaway spun, allowing Peter Doherty, who had just passed Mitchell earlier in the lap, through for ninth position, with Mitchell rounding out the top ten. Mezzasalma was eleventh just behind Mitchell in his debut race, with Marriner a few seconds behind. Crossing the line as the final finisher after recovering from his spin was Tony Westaway. With the next race a reverse grid race, questions were asked as to whether Tony was foxing in an attempt to gain the pole position for this race! Tony denied this sheepishly..

Would this starting position prove to work for Tony with Holding, Beller & Lewis-Williams starting off the back?

Shannons Nationals Invitational Round – Qualifying

The 944 challenge field rolled out for qualifying on Saturday morning for the Shannon’s Nationals round, and proving he hasn’t lost his speed despite not turning a wheel in the past ten months was Chris Lewis-Williams who set the fastest lap first up with a 1:36.2726. Mark Taubitz was second quickest with a 1:37.5693 on his first fast lap, ahead of Cameron Beller third with a 1:38.7129 in third, with Tony Westaway fourth with a 1:39.4822.

Dick Howe was fifth fastest with a 1:40.3904 from Paul Crocitti on a 1:41.5013, with Peter Doherty seventh fastest with a 1:42.6179 and Michael Westaway just behind with a 1:42.6892. Jim Mitchell was ninth with a first lap of 1:45.4529 from Manny Mezzasalma, tenth quickest with a 1:46.2730 with Pedr James, Keith Marriner and Rob Holding rounding out the runners with all three not running a representative time on their first laps.

Beller moved himself into second position on his next lap when he ran a 1:36..7372 on his next lap, while Tony Westaway improved his best time with a 1:39.0906. Howe improved in fifth with a 1:39.1899 , as did Crocitti behind him with a 1:39.5737. Doherty also improved with a 1:40.7660 lap to remain in seventh position. Mitchell also improved his time with a 1:43.6399 while James moved to tenth quickest with a 1:44.3737 and Holding up to eleventh with a 1:46.0733 moving Mazzasalma back to twelfth ahead of Marriner with a 1:48.6943.

Beller improved again next time around with a 1:36.1396, while Holding leapt up to fourth fastest with a 1:38.0625. Howe also improved with a 1:38.2680 in what would be his best time for the session though remained in fifth position. Crocitti remained sixth with a 1:38.8707, with Michael Westaway also displacing his brother with a 1:38.9504 to go to seventh, dropping Tony to eighth.

Mitchell was still tenth, now with a 1:41.8584 ahead of Marriner with a 1:42.1178, James on a 1:42.9105 and Mezzasalma in thirteenth.

Beller took the top spot on the next lap with a 1:35.4449, with Lewis-Williams also improving with a 1:36.0622 though slipped back to second fastest. Crocitti moved to third fastest with a 1:37.5224 pushing Taubitz, Holding and Howe back down the order, with Tony Westaway moving back ahead of Michael with a 1:38.2698, just behind Howe. James moved up to ninth with a 1:39.8623 ahead of Mitchell who again improved with a 1:40.2257, while Doherty again improved also, though slipped back to eleventh with a 1:40.5616. Marriner also improved slightly with a 1:41.8950 in twelfth position.

Beller continued his streak of improving his lap times, and his next 1:34.9431 put himself safely at the top, as Lewis-Williams improved again with a 1:35.8562 next time around. Tony Westaway leapt up the order with a 1:37.2345 to move up to third fastest, while Michael Westaway also went quicker with a 1:38.0569 which put him into seventh position ahead of Howe – a time he wouldn’t improve on. Mitchell also improved again, thought just slightly  with a 1:40.1124, while Mezzasalma improved his time with a 1:44.4233.

Beller ran one more lap, and went quicker again with a 1:34.7701 – and then parked it – confident that his one second advantage would secure the pole position for him. Holding improved his time with a 1:37.9509 to remain in sixth position, while James also went faster with a 1:39.0975 in ninth position, his fastest time for the session. Marriner moved up to eleventh with a 1:40.1328, while Doherty ran a 1:40.3861 though he slipped to twelfth position.

Rob Holding raised eyebrows as he ran a blistering 1:36.5544 to vault him into third position, while Tony Westaway moved to fourth as he ran a 1:36.8942. Taubitz put a lap together as he improved on his early time with a 1:37.0346 though was now fifth, Marriner dipped under the 1 minute 40s as he ran a 1:39.6276 in his fastest lap to move him into tenth position ahead of Mitchell and Doherty, while Mezzasalma also started to turn some quicker laps as he grew comfortable with the car, running a 1:42.1414.

Tony Westaway pulled out one last quick lap to displace Holding with a 1:36.4920 for third fastest, displacing Holding who went within half a tenth of a second of his best lap, but slipped to fourth. Taubitz ran his best lap on the last tour with a 1:36.9136 to stay fifth, ahead of Crocitti who also improved with a 1:37.3120 but remained in sixth.

Doherty pulled one out of the bag as he went over a second quicker to vault him up to ninth position with a 1:38.9869 on his final lap, pushing James back to tenth ahead of Marriner and Mitchell who also dipped under the 1:40’s on his last lap with a 1:39.8636. Mezzasalma also improved again on his last lap with a 1:41.8898 lap, a good effort in his first 944 challenge session.

The last lap was run by Lewis-Williams, who improved in a last ditch effort at pole, but a 1:35.3785 wasn’t able to do it, though cemented his spot on the front row of the grid alongside Beller for Race 1.

9 Laps would follow later in the day – who would take first blood for the weekend??

2018 Season – Shannons Nationals Invitational Round Preview!

The 944 Challenge drivers hit the track in a few days as part of a special invitation to join in with Round 5 of the Shannons Nationals series. Here is a preview for this event which is being proudly presented by aPorschapart, which will see the Dennis O’Keefe Cup presented to the round winner. With no points on the line for this round, to mix things up – the race format will include a reverse grid Race 2, with a handicap Race 3 to give all drivers a great chance of taking home the top prize for the weekend!
With free entry for the weekend, make sure you head down to view all the action! Or for those that can’t make it down, make sure you tune into the Shannons Nationals Livestream on Sunday for all the action! Saturdays qualifying session starts at 9:50, with Race 1 at 12:55 that day. Sundays Reverse grid race is at 10:40am, with the Handicap race finale at 13:35.  Below is a list of those competing this weekend:
#28 Tony Westaway – Tony is making his first outing in 2018 after handing the keys over to son Jamie for an assault on the 2018 series championship – Tony will be looking to refamiliarize himself with his championship leading car for the weekend and look to take home some silverware! 
#1 Cameron Beller – Cam made an uncharacteristic mistake last time out at Winton, but redeemed himself with a victory in the final race. He will be looking to avoid dramas this weekend and to make up for that indiscretion with some race victories this round.
#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark had a great run at the Winton round earning a trio of podium finishes to strengthen his third position in the points. Can he keep that momentum going on his return to Winton and improve on those race results?
#64 Keith Marriner – Keith is another who had his best result to date at Winton, with three consistent finishes to earn him third outright for the round. He will be hoping he can improve on this result this weekend!
#37 Chris Lewis-Williams – Dusting off the cobwebs on his 944 racer, Chris has been lured out of his season sabbatical to join the field for this event. No doubt he will have lost none of his speed and will be around the top of the time sheets come qualifying, and get an opportunity to brush up on his overtaking skills in Sundays races!
#16 Paul Crocitti – Paul makes a welcome return to the track for the first time in 2018 after repairing his car after his final race crash in the wet at Island Magic in 2017. Paul has great form at Winton with a Winton 300 victory and numerous top 5 results  – and will have a great opportunity to record even better 944 Challenge results this weekend.
#53 Peter Doherty – Peter returns to the track for the second time this season after missing the previous round at Winton and Sandown, and will be another who will enjoy the mix up of the race format and will be aiming to spend some time at the front of the field this weekend!
#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim showed off his race start skills last time out at Winton and if he can replicate those this weekend, he stands an excellent chance of being at the pointy end of the field at the end of the weekends racing.
#45 Michael Westaway – Michael also showed good speed at Winton despite a race 1 spin was on track for a great weekend with a 4th and 3rd place finishes in races 1 & 2 before his car came to a halt on the warm up lap for Race 3. He will be in with a strong chance of being up front all weekend at a track he traditionally has shown some standout performances at.
#8 Dick Howe – Dick missed the Winton Points round in June, but will be back for this round and will look to continue the strong weekend he had at Sandown with a third place finish outright for the round.
#10 Manny Mezzasalma – A welcome addition to the 944 Challenge field, Manny joins the 944 grid in the newly acquired ex Danny Stutterd car he will share driving duties of with Adam Brewer. WIth plenty of Porsche experience, Manny could provide a surprise this weekend!
#98 Pedr James – Pedr was one of a few drivers who came unstuck at Winton at the very slippery Turn 2 area on Friday practice and having burnt the midnight oil to get his car repaired in time for Sandown this weekend where he had a career best result for the round and final race with fifth place. Pedr stands a strong chance to improve on that best result this weekend.
#97 Rob Holding – Rob makes his debut race event at Winton this weekend so will be a bit of an unknown quantity at the track, but after a strong showing at his last round at Sandown Round 1 where he ran in a strong fifth place before a gear linkage disconnected, he stands every chance of improving on his career best result of fifth position last year at Sandown.
The weather at this point looks to be a mixed bag with rain forecast for Saturday, but dry weather for Sunday – which could really mix things up even more! Come on down!
By |August 29th, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

Round 4. Sandown – Race 3

Race 3 of the weekend would be critical for the two chief title protagonists for the Vic State Series title, with Cameron Beller needing to win the final race to tie round points with Jamie Westaway to give him a chance to race for the title at Phillip Island without having to rely on luck to fall his way. Missing would be Lyndon Watson, the gearbox issues in race 2 unfortunately causing him to pack up early.

Off the line and the front row combatants jumped off together, but it was Beller who took the lead when Westaway again struggled going through the gears at the start of the race, though Jamie muscled his way past his uncle Michael with the slightest of touches in turn 1 to hold onto the third position behind Beller and the fast starting Dick Howe. Michael Westaway slotted in behind his nephew with Mark Taubitz right behind after getting a good start but finding himself on the inside of both Westaway’s heading to turn 1 – and wisely backed out early to avoid what would have been inevitable contact.

Pedr James was next through in sixth, with Mitchell getting another of his customary bullet starts to move into seventh on the run to the first corner, though Keith Marriner diving deeper under brakes to take seventh position through turn 1, with Michell slotting into eighth. Behind him were Toni Andreevski and John Vainoras after both getting a less than ideal getaway.

Jamie Westaway quickly moved ahead of Howe on the run down the back straight to move into second position and again chase after Beller, with Howe back to third. Taubitz was hounding Michael Westaway, and on the run down the back straight he made the pass for position into the esses on the second lap. He didn’t hold onto the position for long though, as he set off after Howe in front, but carried too much speed into turn 1 and lost the rear of his car, spinning to the outside of the circuit.

He recovered quickly and got going behind the battle between James, Marriner, Mitchell and Andreevski, though this became a three way battle only seconds later as Marriner’s car slowed immediately after passing Taubitz and pulled off circuit on the grass between turns three and four to retire. This allowed James to build a small buffer, to sixth placed driver Mitchell, which became sixth placed Andreevski when Mitchell ran wide coming onto the front straight at the end of the lap, allowing Andreevski through for the position.

Up front, and Jamie Westaway had caught Beller, and took the lead on the fourth lap, as Beller was not feeling completely comfortable with his car. Beller set the fastest lap of the race the following lap with the aid of the draft from Westaway’s car, but was unable to challenge for position. Further back, and Michael Westaway slowly started shrinking the gap to Howe in front of him, while Taubitz moved past Mitchell at the end of lap 4 and set off after James and Andreevski.

Andreevski began closing the gap to James in front, while Taubitz was closing in behind him – until the #74 Porsche suddenly slowed on lap 6, pulling into pit lane with a broken exhaust dragging under the car – no doubt caused from his earlier spin over the ripplestrip at turn 1.

This left three separate battles throughout the field, with Jamie Westaway and Beller up front, Howe defending from Michael Westaway and James doing the same against Andreevski – with Mitchell and Vainoras having dropped off and circulating on their own.

Try as they might, neither of the pursuers were successfully able to mount a challenge for position, and this was the finishing order at the end of the 9 laps with Jamie Westaway taking the win from Beller, with Howe completing a strong weekend for third, just ahead of Michael Westaway. James crossed the line fifth in his best weekend result to date with fifth for the race and outright for the round, with Andreevski also earning his best race and round result thus far with sixth. Mitchell and Vainoras rounded out the finishers in seventh and eighth position respectively.

So with one round of the State Championships left to go, Jamie Westaway holds a 18 point advantage over Beller – enough that he can take the title with a trio of second places, but one bad result could change things significantly. Though the 944 Series points still has Beller in front due to the dropped worst round rule, though Westaway was close behind with only 6 points separating the pair with 9 races remaining for the outright title. Will someone else throw a spanner in the works for the title protagonists? Head down to Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit September 29/30 to watch all of the action!

Before that however, the 944 Racing Association Inc series heads to Winton on September 1 & 2 to compete at the Shannons Nationals round! Come down for a great weekend of racing including Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia, the Australian GT Trophy Series, Australian Formula 4 Championship and the Australian Production Cars Series! With free entry for spectators, a few drivers making their first starts for 2018 and a reverse grid as well as a handicap race in the schedule, there’s no excuse not to come on down to watch some exciting racing!

Round 4. Sandown – Race 2

Race 2 of the weekend was held as the longer 11 lap feature race for the weekend, which involved higher points for this race. Jim Mitchell was a no show for this race but would return for the final race of the weekend.

Wanting to make the most of his Pole position, Cameron Beller leapt away from the start with Jamie Westaway being slowed as he encountered issues finding third gear, allowing Taubitz and Watson to stream past, dragging Dick Howe and Michael Westaway along for the ride. With Beller clear in front, Watson and Taubitz were side by side under brakes for Turn 1, with Watson holding tough around the outside to take the second position with Taubitz slotting in behind him. Behind the top 6, Pedr James was alongside Keith Marriner into turn 1, with James also taking the position around the outside with Toni Andreevski and John Vainoras rounding out the field.

Jamie Westaway wasn’t in the mood to mess around and quickly dived inside his Uncle Michael to take back second position under brakes for turn 2, while Taubitz had a small moment in turn 4 which allowed Howe to comfortably move past into third position as the pair moved through the kink onto the back straight. Jamie Westaway continued his recovery as he moved past Taubitz under brakes for turn 1 to begin the second lap, with Taubitz then dropping back a further spot after clipping the kerb on the inside of turn 4, fortunately not looping the car, but costing him another spot as Michael Westaway also drove past by the time they got to the kink on the back straight.

Beller had cleared out up front with Watson on his own while Howe was defending the podium position from Jamie Westaway. Michael Westaway had a second gap on Taubitz with James a similar distance behind in seventh position, Marriner was right behind him in eighth, with Andreevski on his tail while Vainoras had dropped back slightly.

As the field commenced the fourth lap the Safety car boards came out due to one of the E30 BMW’s that slipped off the circuit on the turn 4 exit, neutralising and bunching up the field.

The lights were out on the safety car on lap 6, and the field resumed racing at the end of the lap. Controversially, it was deemed that Beller resumed back to racing speed too early, and was handed a 5 second penalty. Watson was doing his best to stick with Beller while Jamie Westaway passed Howe down the back straight to take the third position. Vainoras meanwhile had a spin at turn 1 once racing resumed, dropping him behind the remaining E30 runners by the time he resumed.

Beller worked on trying to create a gap that he needed to retain the lead after his post race penalty would be issued, while Jamie Westaway closed on the back of Watson. The trio of Howe, Michael Westaway and Taubitz remained in close proximity while James wasn’t able to keep up and slipped off the back of this little pack, though he was able to gap Marriner who was dealing with Andreevski on his bumper.

Westaway moved himself up to second position on lap 9 when he passed Watson down the back straight, which left him three seconds behind Beller as he crossed the line. The battle for fourth was still on in earnest between Howe Michael Westaway and Taubitz – though this became for third position when Lyndon Watson encountered gearbox issues as he exited turn 4 on the final lap – cruelly preventing him from collecting points as he was unable to cross the line and recorded a DNF.

Up front, Westaway was able to peg the gap between he and Beller so while Beller crossed the line first, he would be demoted to second with his 5 second post race penalty. He had a big enough gap over third placed Howe to retain the second position though, with Michael Westaway able to resist the pressure from Taubitz on the final lap to hold him out for fourth place.

James was unable to challenge Taubitz and dropped back after the safety car came in, and was followed across the line at the end of the race by Marriner with Andreevski staying on his tail, the trio crossing the line covered by only a second – with Vainoras the final finisher a little further back after his spin.

With the penalty issued to Beller effectively resulting in an 8 point swing in the State Series points, and only four races remaining, every race for both he and Jamie Westaway would be crucial in deciding who would win the State Series Championship! What would happen in the final race for the weekend?