An early start for Qualifying for Round 6 at Phillip Island for the 944 Challenge field, as the the first class to hit the track for the morning. After some heavy overnight rain, they were also the pioneers to see how much it had dried in the following couple of hours.
Watching qualifying from the sidelines was Andrew Jackman. After an overrev during Friday practice bent some valves, a lot of assistance that evening and the following morning from a number of other teams would see the cylinder head replaced, and some other niggles sorted – although with not enough time to see the car make the 9am qualifying session.
Chris Lewis-Williams topped the time sheets initially after running a 1:51.2947 ahead of Cameron Beller with a 1:52.1639. The field were adapting to the track conditions with varying degrees of success behind them, Tony Westaway ran the third fastest time early on with a 1:54.6491, with Ken Rowland fourth on a 1:54.8813. Jim Gallagher was fifth quickest after recording a 1:55.9323, with Mark Taubitz next on a 1:56.2816.
Seventh was Keith Marriner, a 1:57.7752 his fastest time, ahead of Dick Howe’s 1:58.4734, Lyndon Watson ninth (1:58.8651) and Michael Westaway rounding out the top ten with a 1:59.5104.
Codey West was eleventh fastest (1:59.6761) and the last of those who recorded a sub 2 minute lap on their first recordedtime. Rob Holding was twelfth with a 2:03.0201, then Marius Catrina in thirteenth (2:03.8390) John Vainoras in fourteenth (2:09.4821) and Jim Mitchell fifteenth with a slow 2:25.2115.
Lewis-Williams and Beller both lowered their times next lap around, with Bellers 1:50.7160 edging him int provisional pole ahead of Lewis-Williams’ 1:50.8124. Ken Rowland moved himself up to third fastest with a 1:52.5700, while Gallagher also improved his time to 1:54.9910 to remain in fifth.
Dick Howe moved up to sixth fastest with a 1:55.2216,just ahead of Michael Westaway’s 1:55.2511. Marriner was now eighth with a 1:55.3973, ahead of Catrina up to ninth with a 1:55.8017 and Codey West now up to tenth after recording a 1:55.9055.
Taubitz and Watson both slid down the order with Holding running a 1:59.6902 in thirteenth. Mitchell moved to fourteenth with a 2:04.5489 while Vainoras improved with a 2:06.3092
The top two further improved as the track was virtually dry on the racing line, as Beller ran a 1:49.9739, just ahead of Lewis-Williams 1:50.1622. Rowland and Tony Westaway remined in third and fourth while improving their times to a 1:51.8851 and 1:51.8868 respectively. Dick Howe moved up to fifth with a 1:52.4623 ahead of Lyndon Watson up to sixth with a 1:52.8721, which would be his fastest time for the remainder of the session.
Michael Westaway was now seventh with a 1:53.0427 ahead of a close pack headed by Catrina (1:54.2032) Marriner (1:54.3628) and Gallagher in tenth (1:54.4071)
West was back to eleventh as he continued to familiarise himself with the Phillip Island layout with a 1:54.5030, while Mitchell improved significantly with a 2:00.0716, though remained fourteenth, behind Taubitz and Holding. Vainoras also found another second with a 2:05.2552.
Tony Westaway moved himself up to third on the following lap after he recorded a 1:51.4154, just ahead of Rowland’s 1:51.5173 and Michael Westaway who moved to fifth with a 1:51.5227. Taubitz moved up to seventh with a 1:52.6443, just ahead of West with a 1:52.6460 in eighth position. Catrina slipped to tenth position, despite running his fastest lap of 1:53.3750 that lap.
Gallagher improved his time of 1:53.8078 in eleventh, while Holding also improved to a 1:57.2840 in thirteenth.
The next lap Lewis-Williams pulled out a great lap to go a tiny bit quicker than Beller, and moving back into the #1 spot with a 1:49.9548. Howe meanwhile moved into the third position with a 1:51.0699, with Rowland remaining fourth with a quicker 1:51.1615, and West moving up to fifth with a 1:51.3263, dropping the Westaway brothers out of the top 5.
Gallagher moved back into the top ten when he ran a 1:53.2938, as Holding again further improved with a 1:56.8176
Tony Westaway moved back into third the next lap as he dropped into the 50’s, recording a 1:50.9477 while Taubitz improved marginally with a 1:52.6142 to remain in eighth. Gallagher also improved slightly again with a 1:53.1754 as he consolidated tenth position. Marriner made the smallest of improvements with a 1:54.3611 in twelfth position, while Mitchell recorded a 1:59.0151, and Vainoras improved with a 2:04.4284.
Tony Westaway recorded his fastest lap for the session the following lap with a 1:50.7887 as Michael Westaway moved up into fourth position with a 1:51.0559. Holding continued to improve as he ran a 1:56.5326, as Vainoras ran his fastest lap of 2:03.2913 in his last lap of the session.
As the session drew to a close, it was Chris Lewis-Williams who held onto the top spot – just – from Cameron Beller and Westaway – though it was Michael who leapfrogged Tony on his last lap with a very impressive 1:50.5705 on his final lap, relegating Tony to fourth position.
Howe was next, with Rowland, West, Taubitz, Watson and Gallagher rounding out the top ten positions.
Catrina would lie up eleventh, with Marriner next to him. Thirteenth was Holding, who again improved on his final lap to record a 1:55.6505, ahead of Mitchell and Vainoras, who would line up alongside Jackman for Race 1 which was scheduled for 12:45pm.