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Round 2. Phillip Island – Qualifying

After a Friday Practice Day with four seasons worth of weather at Phillip Island, the rain clouds cleared in time for Saturday as we prepared for Round 2 of the 2018 Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships. With qualifying for the 944 Challenge taking place first up on Saturday morning, with four drivers which were not at Sandown for Round 1 heading out onto the track. An unfortunate absentee was Jim Gallagher, who was unable to make the round after having to cancel his racing plans at the last minute.

The early laps gave a good indication of who would be where on the grid, as Cameron Beller went to the top on the first lap with a 1:50.1551, ahead of Jamie Westaway into second with a 1:50.7059. Brad Winter moved into third position with his first lap of 1:51.7692, with Lyndon Watson fourth quickest after recording a 1:51.9883.

Mark Taubitz was fifth fastest with a 1:52.6618, with Dick Howe into sixth on a 1:52.7375 lap. Andrew Jackman was in seventh after recording a 1:55.7570 on his first, and what would turn out to be only fast lap as he pulled off track on the next lap, and would slide down the order as others got quicker throughout the session.

Keith Marriner was next in eighth with a 1:56.1450, with the returning Tim Petrusic in ninth position on a 1:56.3385, fractionally ahead of Peter Doherty with a 1:56.3440.

Easing into his first laps of 2018 was Michael Westaway as he moved into the eleventh position as he ran a 1:57.6794, with Toni Andreevski twelfth on his first lap after running a 2:00.3810. Rounding out the order after lap 1 was John Vainoras with a 2:08.8259, and Jim Mitchell with a 2:15.6991.

Lap 2 saw most of the field lower their times as Beller dropped right into the 1:48s with a 1:48.9806 lap, with Jamie Westaway recording a 1:49.9128, while Winter also improved with a 1:50.5777.

Taubitz and Howe both jumped ahead of Watson as they moved up to 4th and 5th with a 1:51.4452 and 1:51.5935 respectively, with Watson improving but now down to sixth with a 1:51.7891

Michael Westaway jumped up to seventh fastest with a 1:53.3098 lap, with Marriner and Doherty also improving with 1:54.2642 and 1:55.2223 laps, dropping Jackman back to tenth position.

Mitchell ran his first competitive lap with a 1:57.7081 to move up to twelfth, with Andreevski improving with a 1:58.7758, and Vainoras going faster with a 2:05.5069.

On Lap 3 and Westaway went faster with a 1:49.2930 lap, but he was not able to improve further on that lap in the remainder of the session. Michael Westaway also improved with a 1:52.7439 lap, while Petrusic jumped up to eighth fastest with a 1:53.1394. Toni Andreevski also went quicker with a 1:57.3762 to move him into twelfth fastest, with Vainoras running a 2:04.6462.

Brad Winter improved on the following lap with a 1:50.2891, a lap he was unable to better in the rest of the session, with Taubitz moving his benchmark down with a 1:50.9123. Marriner improved slightly with a 1:54.2551 in ninth place, with Doherty also going marginally quicker with a 1:55.1640 in tenth.

Toni Andreevski moved up to eleventh fastest with the fastest lap he would run in the session, a 1:55.4570, while Jim Mitchell also ran his fastest lap in a 1:56.6305, as Vainoras lowered his best time again with a 2:03.3045.

Taubitz ran his fastest lap for the session on the following circuit, a 1:50.5997, with Dick Howe also running his best lap just behind Taubitz, a 1:50.6642 for the pair to remain in 4th and 5th position, with Watson also running his best lap for the session that lap, a 1:50.9181 to remain in sixth spot.

Michael Westaway ran a 1:51.8812, as Petrusic also improved with a 1:52.6620 with both remaining seventh and eighth fastest respectively, while Marriner and Doherty ran their fastest laps for the session, a 1:54.0042 for Marriner in ninth position, and Doherty just behind in tenth with a 1:54.2406. Vainoras again improved with a 2:03.0790.

Beller ensured no one would be able to snatch pole position from him as he lowered the benchmark time with a 1:48.7935, and he then proceeded to park the #1 Porsche, his job done. Michael Westaway improved his time again as he ran his fastest time with a 1:51.5502 to lock in seventh position, ahead of Petrusic who ran his quickest time with a 1:52.5399 to be eighth fastest.

And with that, the field was set with Beller ahead of Jamie Westaway, with Winter and Taubitz both recording their best qualifying results in third and fourth respectively. Howe was next from Watson, Michael Westaway, Petrusic, Marriner and Doherty. Andreevski was next in eleventh, with Jackman, Mitchell and Vainoras rounding out the lineup after he was the last one to improve his times as he ran a 2:01.3598 on his final lap.

The 8 lap Race 1 was the first race of the weekend after lunch – there were some surprises in store!

2018 Season – Round 2 Preview!

Only 1 more sleep until the 944 Challenge hit the track for practice for the second round of the 2018 Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships!

Here is the preview for this second round of the series for 2018, with a few drivers returning for their first round for the season after missing the Sandown round in March.

#1 Cameron Beller – Cam started his 2018 with a perfect weekend at Sandown topping every session and winning all three races. The rest of the field will be looking to prevent him from doing a repeat performance this weekend.

#28 Jamie Westaway – Jamie had a fantastic first round in the 944 Challenge, finishing second for the weekend with a pair of second place finishes matched with a third place in the second race, and he will be looking forward to his first outing at the Phillip Island venue aboard father Tony’s 944.

#5 Lyndon Watson – Lyndon had his best weekend to date at Sandown with a third outright for the round, including a second place finish in Race 2 after pasing Westaway on the last lap. He will have his sights set on another podium finish this weekend.

#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark had a good round at Sandown despite a Race 1 spin, after which he was able to move back into the midpack and moved forward in the following races to finish fourth outright, and will be looking forward to a good weekend at Phillip Island.

#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim had a fantastic weekend at Sandown which left him sitting in fifth position in the points! If he can repeat that performance this weekend, Jim will no doubt be a very happy camper!

#20 Andrew Jackman – Andrew had a solid weekend at Sandown as he got his best start to a season as he rounded out Round 1 in sixth position in the points – and will aim to try to break into the to 5 by the end of the PI weekend.

#64 Keith Marriner – Keith was another who had a solid Sandown weekend, and with some further tweaks to his car will look to continue to move his way further forward in the field this weekend at PI and move further up in the points from his current eighth position.

#32 John Vainoras – John had a drama free weekend at Sandown as he familiarised himself with his new suspension system – he will be hoping to improve on his previous best times at Phillip Island this weekend and stay inthetop ten in the series points.

#8 Dick Howe – Dick showed speed and started his weekend well with a fourth position finish in race 1, but his weekend was damaged with a DNF in race 2 after a damaged exhaust, though he recovered well to fifth in the final race. He will look to move up the points order with a reliable weekend this upcoming round.

#13 Jim Gallagher – Jims weekend came to an early end at Phillip Island with an engine blow up in Race 2 putiing him out for the rest of the weekend. He returns with a fresh mill, and should be a force to be reckoned with after posting strong results at Phillip Island previously.

#22 Brad Winter – Returning for his first round of 2018 is Brad Winter – fresh from a podium finish at the PI venue at his last time out in November last year, Brad will be looking to open his 2018 points account strongly with a good trio of results.

#45 Michael Westaway – Michael is also having his frist round for 2018 after crewing for nephew Jamie at Round 1, he will look to show the younger Westaway a clean pair of heels this weekend ashe looks to start his 2018 season strongly.

#53 Peter Doherty – The series veteran returns for his first round of 2018 and will also look for some good performance after some improvements to the #53 944 in the off season, and will be no doubt aiming for some top ten results this weekend.

#27 Toni Andreevski – Work commitments kept Toni away from Round 1 at Sandown, but he rejoins the series for Round 2 in his second visit to Phillip Island aboard his 944. Improvements also for Toni’s car will see him also hoping to be vying for a top ten throughtout the weekend.

#26 Tim Petrusic – A welcome return after a 3.5 year absence is Tim Petrusic. Extensive work to his car after a crash in 2018 will see Tim dipping his toe back in the water and not putting any pressure on himself for results this weekend – but that may change whenthe visor comes down and the lights go out!

Unpredicatble weather is forecast for the weekend, some will be hoping for rain while others will be doing an anti-rain dance! Qualifying kicks off at 9:10am on Saturday morning – come on down!

By |May 3rd, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

Round 1. Sandown – Race 3

A slightly depleted field of twelve cars fronted for the final 10 lap Race of the weekend, after the demise of Jim Gallagher’s #13 car in Race 2. Returning in time for the race having repaired his car, was Dick Howe – and he would start on the back row of the grid.

As it was in Races 1 & 2, Cameron Beller was able to get a good start to lead into the first corner, this time with Lyndon Watson in behind him, with Jamie Westaway and Mark Taubitz following through in third and fourth positions, with Andrew Jackman slotting into fifth spot.

Behind him was Jim Mitchell, from Marius Catrina and the fast starting Dick Howe coming off the back of the grid after his race 2 DNF. Rob Holding was next, with Keith Marriner in tenth, followed by Pedr James and John Vainoras. Howe moved past Catrina down the back straight and into seventh and set his sights on Mitchell.

Beller again started opening up his lead as he pulled away from the battle for second between Watson and Westaway, with Taubitz slowly dropping off of the battle for second, at the same time as pulling away from Jackman. A small mistake from Jackman into Dandenong Road corner on lap two allowed Mitchell and Howe to close right up to his bumper and make it a three way battle for fifth position.

Howe got the best run onto the straight to start lap 3 and was up to fifth position, with Mitchell also moving past Jackman, dropping him to seventh spot. Rob Holding meanwhile moved past Catrina into eighth position on lap 3.

Beller again was comfortable out front and continued to open up his gap on the battle for second position, with Westaway shadowing the second placed Watson, with Taubitz a few seconds adrift, with Howe also a few seconds back behind Taubitz in fifth. Mitchell was in sixth and defending from Jackman, Holding, Catrina and Marriner who was rounding out the top ten, with James right behind, with a small gap back to Vainoras.

On lap 6, Catrina was able to move past Holding to go back into eighth position, while James also moved ahead of Marriner and into the top ten.

One lap later, and dramas for Watson as he spun exiting the first corner with heavy pressure from Westaway, dropping him back to fourth as Taubitz flew past while Watson recovered to rejoin behind him. This left Beller with a 4 second gap back to Westaway, with Taubitz a further 7 seconds back in third, with Watson resuming 4 seconds behind Taubitz in fourth, with another 5 second back to Howe in fifth.

Behind them, Holding made his way back in front of Catrina again to move back into eighth position, with no one seemingly able to make their way past Mitchell.

The final few laps played out without any surprises, with Beller taking the win and a clean sweep of the weekend ahead of Westaway, with Taubitz crossing the line third, a few seconds ahead of Watson. A cruel blow for Taubitz however, who received a 5 second post race penalty for lining up outside of his grid box, relegating him back to fourth in the final results behind Watson. Howe was a lonely fifth position, with Mitchell holding on for sixth position.

Behind him though, dramas on the final lap for Jackman as he had a major moment which also caught out Catrina. This allowed Holding through to seventh position, with Jackman crossing the line in eighth – although Jackman would suffer the same fate as Taubitz, and received a 5 second post race penalty for being outside of his grid box also, which pushed him back two positions to tenth in the final classification.

This benefitted James, who after crossing the line ninth right on Jackman’s bumper, inherited the position post race, and also Marriner – who moved up from tenth to ninth position in the finals results. Catrina was fortunate to recover from his moment avoiding Jackman and to avoid any damage, and crossed the line in eleventh, with John Vainoras rounding out the finishers in twelfth position, after running his fastest times of the weekend in the final race.

So a perfect first round for Beller as he scored three wins from three races. Will Jamie Westaway be able to step up in future rounds as he familiarises himself more with his car? Or will Watson, Howe or Taubitz be able to find a little bit of speed to give Beller a cause for concern?

Combined with the upcoming return to the track of others missing at Round 1 including Tony & Michael Westaway, Brad Winter and the returning Tim Petrusic – there should be a good field of 944’s on track for Round 2 @ Phillip Island in two months time!

            

Round 1 Meeting Points*

*Vic State Series Points shown above

Round 1. Sandown – Race 2

Sunday morning brought cooler temperatures as the 944 Challenge field set off for their second race for the weekend on Sunday morning for the second 8 lap shootout.

The battle off the front row was a carbon copy of race 1 with Cameron Beller and Jamie Westaway side by side on the run to turn 1, with Beller again holding the lead as the field entered the corner. Lyndon Watson held on to third position behind them, with Dick Howe initially getting a good start before slowing on the run to Turn 1, and actually pulling off the circuit instead of taking the first corner. The car was back on the trailer and off for some quick exhaust repairs before returning in time for Race 3.

Behind Watson therefore was Mark Taubitz after getting a good start from sixth position, with Jim Mitchell and Marius Catrina side by side on the run to Turn 2, with Mitchell emerging in front with the fifth position. Behind them there were dramas as Pedr James, eager to make up from his Race 1 issues got a great start from twelfth on the grid, but then looped the #98 car on entry to turn 1, causing the field to scatter around him. Andrew Jackman was next in line once everyone recovered, ahead of Jim Gallagher, Keith Marriner, John Vainoras and Rob Holding in eleventh, with James resuming at the back of the pack. Holding moved his way around Vainoras during the first lap to move into tenth position.

Beller was able to pull a gap up front, while Watson was able to stay in touch with Westaway in the battle for second. Taubitz was next in fourth position and begun pulling away from the battle for fifth between Mitchell and Catrina, while Gallagher passed Jackman and moved into seventh position.

The weekend ended for Jim Gallagher on lap 2, as the #13 car lost an engine down the back straight, a big smokescreen making things interesting for the cars behind him! A large hole in the engine block ended proceedings, with a missed gearshift the cause of the failure, a disappointing end to the weekend for the team.

Up front Beller continued to open his gap to Westaway, who had Watson hanging with him, while Taubitz settled in for a lonely race in fourth position, with a large gap developing behind him to Mitchell, with Catrina unable to find a way past him. On lap 3, Holding was able to move up to eighth position with a pass on Marriner, while James moved into the top ten when he caught onto the back of Vainoras and made the pass for position.

The cars battling for seventh managed to catch the fifth and sixth placed cars of Mitchell and Catrina, with Jackman moving past Catrina for sixth on Lap 4, with Holding making his way past Catrina the next lap to move up to seventh.

Beller had an even larger gap this race as Westaway had to concentrate more on looking in his mirrors than out of his windshield with Watson taking up his attention behind. Watson shadowed Westaway until the last lap when he successfully pulled off a pass for the second position under brakes for Turn 1, which he held to end of the race with Westaway crossing the line in third. A gap back to Taubitz who cruised around for fourth position, with a huge gap back to Mitchell, who held on for a fantastic fifth position.

Crossing the line behind him was Andrew Jackman for sixth on the final lap, with Rob Holding filling up the mirrors of the Poolmaster Bayside car as he crossed the line in seventh position, with Catrina right behind Holding in eighth.

Keith Marriner was a couple of seconds behind the battle in front as he crossed the line in ninth position, with Pedr James rounding out the top ten, ahead of the final finisher in John Vainoras.

Beller’s pace would be difficult to overcome, could someone throw a challenge down to him for the last, longer 10 lap race?

            

Round 1. Sandown – Race 1

The mercury had risen by the time the 944 Challenge field lined up for Race 1 of the 2018 season, and 13 cars lined up for the first 8 lap race. The front row starters of Cameron Beller and Jamie Westaway were even as they raced down to the first corner, with Dick Howe moving into third position ahead of Lyndon Watson and Mark Taubitz. Beller took the inside line to move into the lead through turn 1 ahead of Westaway, with Howe, Watson and Taubitz close behind.

In sixth position was Rob Holding, with Marius Catrina geting a great start to move up to eighth ahead of Andrew Jackman, Jim Gallagher and Jim Mitchell rounding out the top ten. Keith Marriner was next ahead of John Vainoras and Pedr James – who dropped to the back of the pack immediately off the start of the race, and struggled with the car after repairs from his qualifying incident.

Onto the back straight for the first time, and Dick Howe missed a gear change, allowing Watson to move comfortably past. Taubitz also had the momentum but was forced to take the inside line to the back esses with Howe holding his line but ultimately having to concede the position, though this allowed the front three to create a gap back to the next three with Holding on the back of Howe on the brakes for Dandenong Road corner.

So it was Beller, from Westaway, Watson, Taubitz, Howe, Holding, Catrina, Jackman, Gallagher and Mitchell the top ten across the line the first time, with Marriner just behind with a gap to Vainoras, with James struggling with his car at the back of the field.

Under brakes for Turn 1 at the start of Lap 2 and Howe had a look underneath Taubitz under brakes, but was unable to get through, and had to be careful not to lose the fifth position to Holding who was also right in the mix. Howe was able to get the run on Taubitz down the back straight, and reversed the move pulled on him the previous lap, and retook the fourth position. Gallagher meanwhile also moved up a position down the back straight, taking eighth from Jackman.

Taubitz wasn’t keen to let the fourth position go without a challenge, and looked to get a run on Howe onto the main straight, though a mistake throught the corner saw the black 944 loop around, with the rest of the field doing a great job to go either side of the #74 that was now facing the wrong way. This gave Howe some clear space behind him with Hoding and Catrina in fifth and sixth position, with Jackman up to seventh with Mitchell hot on his heels. Marriner moved up to ninth at the expense of Gallagher who lost all momentum swerving around Taubitz, who dropped to twelfth position behind Vainoras as he flicked the car around and resumed his race.

Mitchell was able to move his way into the seventh position ahead of Jackman on lap 3, while Gallagher moved back ahead of Marriner also, and then up to eighth position ahead of Jackman as the pack started lap 4. Taubitz was beginning his recovery as he passed Vainoras for eleventh position at the end of the back straight on Lap 4 and started chasing the 4 car battle in front of him.

Up front meanwhile, Beller was eking out his gap over Westaway, with Watson dropping off the tail of the two in front of him. Howe was in a similar position, though Holding in fifth began closing the gap up on him before a cruel blow for Holding, the exhaust detaching itself from the car and Rob having to retire at the end of lap 5.

His bad luck benefitted those behind, especially Marius Catrina who found himself in fifth position! This put Mitchell into sixth, ahead of Gallagher, Jackman, Marriner, Taubitz, with Vainoras eleventh and James in twelfth.

Gallagher made a mistake on lap 5 leading onto the back straight, mounting the exit kerb, which allowed Jackman, Marriner and Taubitz to all get past him, dropping him back to tenth position again!

With Beller now enjoying a 3 second lead to Westaway, and about 5 further seconds to Watson, the top three positions looked like they were set, as were fourth and fifth positions with Howe and Catrina both about six seconds behind the car in front, and Catrina seven seconds clear of the battle for sixth and pulling away.

This meant all the attention was on the battle for sixth, with Mitchell holding off Jackman, and Marriner, with Taubitz and Gallagher trying to find their way back through. Taubitz made his way past Marriner, and then Jackman to move onto the tail of Mitchell, though Jackman wasn’t conceding easily, and made a decisive move under Taubitz under brakes for Turn 2 while Taubitz was busy lining up Mitchell to retake the position. Unfortunately for Jackman he wasn’t able to hold on as Taubitz made his way back past Jackman down the back straight.

Mitchell was benefitting from some excellent straight line handling down the long Sandown straights, and the pack of five were separated by just over a second as they commenced the last lap.

Up front it was all Beller, who took out the first race win of the year, ahead of Westaway and Watson, with Howe and Catrina rounding out the top 5.

Behind them, Taubitz was doing his best to move ahead of Mitchell, and after a great job all race defending, Mitchell made it easy for him on the last corner when he ran wide, allowing Taubitz through for sixth, a good recovery drive. Mitchell recovered for seventh, just holding out Jackman, Marriner and Gallagher – these five crossing the line 1.5 seconds apart! Vainoras held on for eleventh position ahead of James in twelfth, and with some work to do on car #98 to get it back onto its regular pace, but he importantly collected some points for finishing the race…

The only DNF of the race was Rob Holding – after being on track to equal his best race finish to date of fifth position as he sat unchallenged between Howe and Catrina – a cruel blow, but he would fix it and return to the track for Race 2.

Some cooler conditions tomorrow would mean some quicker lap times, would we see a shake up of the results from Race 1?

            

 

Round 1. Sandown – Qualifying

An absolutely spectacular day in Melbourne for Round 1 of the Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships for 2018 – with qualifying for the 944 Challenge taking place early in the morning – with all cars bar one running the new control suspension package for 2018.

Cameron Beller was the favourite for Pole Position, with his recent primary rivals Chris Lewis-Williams, and Vince Misuraca not entering for this round. Jamie Westaway would take the reigns of father Tony’s 944, and look to challenge Beller, with Lyndon Watson the sole representative for the Hi Torque Performace team for this round with Brad Winter sitting out the round. Michael Westaway was another regular who was absent for Round 1,  with regulars Mark Taubitz and Dick Howe setting their eyes on a good result for the round.

Beller jumped to the top of the timesheets from the outset, his first timed lap of 1:25.6153 actually being good enough for pole position. Jamie Westaway confirmed himself as the biggest rival for Beller with a 1:26.1291 on his first lap. Lyndon Watson was third quickest with a 1:27.1577, from Dick Howe in fourth with a 1:28.7082.

Jim Gallagher moved into fifth position with a 1:29.5097 ahead of Mark Taubitz on a 1:29.8614 in sixth position. Jim Mitchell was seventh fastest with a 1:30.2898, with Keith Marriner eighth (1:30.4276) Andrew Jackman ninth (1:30.6456) and Pedr James rounding out the top ten with a 1:31.5573. Rob Holding slotted into eleventh with a 1:31.8203, from Marius Catrina on a 1:32.1110, and John Vainoras thirteenth with a 1:39.8231.

Beller dropped the hammer for his next lap and cemented in pole position, recording a 1:25.1748. He wasn’t able to improve on that lap for the rest of the session, but it was enought for a comfortable pole position.

Lyndon Watson moved onto the bumper of Westaway with a 1:26.2059 on his second lap, while Howe bettered his time with a 1:27.3345. Taubitz moved up to fifth position with a 1:28.2807, with Rob Holding jumping into sixth with a 1:28.6391. Jim Gallagher improved his time with a 1:29.2286 but slipped to seventh position, with Jim Mitchell back to eighth with a 1:29.5335 – which he was unable to improve on throughout the rest of the session.

Pedr James moved to ninth with a 1:29.7242, with Jackman squeaking into the 29’s with a 1:29.9672 in tenth fastest, while Catrina recorded a 1:30.4975 tobe behind Marriner who slipped to eleventh fastest, with Vainoras also improving with a 1:35.7594.

Westaway improved marginally with a 1:26.0609 on the next lap, as did Taubitz who recorded a 1:27.4778 though remained in fifth position. Holding improved by a further half a second with a 1:28.1375, as did Jim Gallagher in seventh with a 1:28.5414 in seventh. Keith Marriner jumped up to eighth with a 1:29.0401 in what would be his fastest time for the session, with Andrew Jackman back up to ninth with a 1:29.4332. Pedr James improved marginally with a 1:29.7037 but slipped to eleventh, with Catrina also bettering his time with a 1:30.3082, and Vainoras recording a 1:33.9227.

Westaway dipped into the 25’s the next time around with a 1:25.9296 on his next lap, while Taubitz jumped into fourth with a 1:27.0696, leapfrogging Howe who also improved with a 1:27.1227 though dropped back to fifth. Gallagher ran his fastest lap of the session when he improved by a thousandth of a second, a 1:28.5404, with James jumping up to eighth with a 1:28.6309, with Catrina up to tenth with a 1:29.3855, dropping Jackman to eleventh and Mitchell to twelfth.

The battle for fourth on the grid closed up further, with Howe stealing it back from Taubitz the next lap, his 1:26.8670 just besting Taubitz’s 1:26.8876. Holding improved with a 1:28.0427 also, as did Jackman who moved back to tenth with a 1:29.0689, while Vainoras recorded his best time for the session, a 1:33.5498 which would see him line up in thirteenth, behind Mitchell in twelfth.

Watson wasn’t done with chasing after Westaway, with his next lap on Lap 7 of a 1:26.0672, although he wouldn’t be able to improve on that time for the rest of the session. Holding also ran his best lap for the session of 1:27.6729.

As the session wound down, James turned up the wick and ran a 1:27.8165 to move up to seventh position, dropping Gallagher back to eighth, with Catrina improving with a 1:29.1661 in his fastest lap for the session, but remained in eleventh position behind Marriner.

Westaway improved slightly on his next lap with a 1:25.8688, but he wasn’t able to threaten Beller who secured Pole Position, though he would start alongside him on the front row for Race 1. Howe and Taubitz weren’t finished with their battle, Taubitz taking fourth back with a 1:26.7936, before Howe took it back for good on his final lap with a 1:26.4797 to share the second row with Watson, leaving Taubitz in fifth position.

James improved by a tenth with a 1:27.7026, leaving him only a few hundredths of a second behind Holding. He continued to try to improve on his next lap, but unfortunately got loose on the Turn 1 exit and looped the car, coming into contact with the barrier on the right side of the car. Some quick repairs would see James back on the grid for Race 1 however.

On the final lap the only change was for Jackman, who improved marginally with a 1:29.0296, though it was enough to put him ahead of Marriner in ninth position.

Conditions were warming up for the first race of the year that was held at 1:40pm! Who would take out Race 1?

 

     

 

 

2018 Season – Round 1 Preview!

Only 1 more sleep until the 944 Challenge hit the track for the first time in 2018 in practice for the first round of the 2018 Victorian State Circuit Racing Championships!

Here is the Preview for the first round of the series for 2018. A smaller than usual field for this round, though we should see an increase in numbers with some new and returning cars due to enter for Round 2!

#1 Cameron Beller – Cameron is returning in an attempt to secure a third consecutive championship in 2018. With Cameron being the only race winner from 2017 to line up for the first round, he will be entering as odds on favourite to set the pace.

#28 Jamie Westaway – Jamie again has commandeered the keys to Tony’s 944 after his successful outing at the non points Historic round in November – and he will be hoping to challenge Beller again as he returns to the Melbourne venue in his first 944 Challenge Race weekend.

#74 Mark Taubitz – Mark had a 2017 season which left him feeling unsatisfied with some up and down results through the year, and he will be looking for a strong weekend to get his 2018 season off on the right foot.

#8 Dick Howe – Dick showed some good speed during 2017 season, especially at Phillip Island where he earnt a third place finish in October. He will also look to get a strong start in 2018 at Sandown.

#64 Keith Marriner – Keith had a good 2017 season as he completed his first full year in the 944 Challenge, and with a number of upgrades in the off season for car #64, he will look to move further up the order at the start of his 2018 season.

 #32 John Vainoras – John also had his first full season in 2017 and showed good reliability and scored consistent points as he made progress with his times throughout the course of the year. He will look to improve further in 2018.

#13 Jim Gallagher – Jim missed a couple of rounds in 2017, but he will hopefully be at all rounds in 2018 as he looks to find the podium during the season with a number of strong performances to build on to help propel him further up the order!

#5 Lyndon Watson – Lyndon joined the series in 2017 and was quickly on the pace, and found himself on the edge of a podium result – something he will hope to earn early on in the 2018 season as he continues to further improve as he grows more familiar with the car.

#97 Rob Holding – Rob was another new driver for 2017 season who also showed good signs of improvement as he also strived to find the keys to speed in his 944. A season best finish of 5th at Sandown will be the benchmark Rob will look to improve on during his 2018 campaign.

#12 Marius Catrina – Marius also missed a couple of events during the year but the series veteran will be back for a full campaign for 2018. Some refinement in the off season will hopefully help Marius unlock some more lap speed on board car #12 at Sandown this weekend.

#46 Jim Mitchell – Jim enjoyed his first season, though he suffered from some reliability issues throughout the year, he put in some strong runs throughout the year. With some experience through the year, he will be buoyed by a strong performance last time at Sandown for the Historic non points round as he looks for a good start to 2018.

#98 Pedr James – Pedr also missed a few rounds, and suffered from some unreliability – but the PKJ Fencing car will be back, and having received a birthday, look for Pedr to have some extra pep as he hits the track for the first round, and will clearly have a result well into the top ten as his aim for the weekend.

#20 Andrew Jackman – Andrew also missed a couple of rounds in 2017, and also had some unfortunate luck with tested him during the season. He will look to have exorcised his reliability demons when the cars hit the track this weekend as he will also look to convert the encouraging speed into race results during the first round.

 

By |March 1st, 2018|Categories: News|0 Comments

2017 Season Review

The 2017 944 Challenge season was largely dominated by two drivers – with Cameron Beller and Chris Lewis-Williams sharing 21 wins of the 22 races held through the 2017 season between them.  

1st position for 2017 ultimately went the way of Cameron Beller with 452 points – although it was ultimately by a scant 2 points over Lewis-Williams after all drivers dropped the points for their ‘worst round’, the title was decided in Beller’s favour after in a consistent season meant he was unable to be caught in the points going into the final round. Ironically, this was his worst round of the season, and the only time he went winless during the weekend for the year. 11 wins, 7 second places, 2 third places and 2 fourth places, finishing every one of the 22 races (one of only two drivers to record this statistic) are testament to his second 944 Challenge Championship.  

2nd for 2017 was Chris Lewis-Williams, the only person who could go toe-to-toe with Beller for the entire season, finishing with 450 points. Chris’ season was ultimately unfortunately dealt a critical blow with an engine failure on the opening lap of the first race at the third round at Winton automatically becoming his worst round and unable to miss a beat for the rest of the year.  

Lewis-Williams did his best to overcome the gap, and actually won the next four rounds outright, taking nine further race wins to go along with his race win in Race 3 of Round 2 at Phillip Island, but was unable to overcome the losses incurred earlier in the year, finishing the year with 10 race wins, 7 second places and 2 third places – placing on the podium in every race that he greeted the chequered flag – an impressive statistic! 

3rd position went the way of Tony Westaway, after a great season in which he was the only other driver alongside Beller to finish every one of the 22 championship races held in 2017 and end the year with 392 points. Unfortunately Tony wasn’t able to best the two drivers finishing ahead of him in the championship, but 10 podium appearances (all with third place finishes) is another impressive set of results which helped him to third outright in the season for 2017. 

4th position outright was Vince Misuraca, losing the chance to challenge for the series title with Beller and Lewis-Williams after he was forced to miss the fifth and sixth rounds at Mallala and Phillip Island, he finished with 353 points for the year. Vince was the only driver to take a race victory in 2017 when he triumphed at the season opening race at Sandown, and also recorded 7 second place finishes along with 5 third places as he finished fourth outright in the season, with Vince finishing every race that he started in the top 4 positions. 

5th was 2017 was Michael Westaway with 345 points, in a season that saw some fantastic performances, but was hampered from a higher season finish with a couple of DNF’s, both times at Sandown, however in different rounds hurting his tally when dropping his worst round meant a DNF result was still in his final points total. Unfortunately Michael didn’t get onto the podium in 2017, but recorded 6 fourth place finishes during the year, including a trifecta at Winton at Round 3.  

6th position outright was Mark Taubitz on 281 points after an up and down season including a qualifying accident as Sandown put him out for the weekend, and mechanical issues while showing encouraging pace at Mallala preventing him from moving higher up the order. His best results for the year was a pair of fifth place finishes at Winton, ironically when he started at the rear of the grid on Race 2 after missing qualifying and the first race. 

7th was Dick Howe, the veteran scoring 222 points after having a season peppered with some strong results at various points of the year, including a third place finish in the final race – and for the round outright at Phillip Island in October the highlights of his 2017 season. 

8th for the year was Keith Marriner, with 215 points just securing him the position after showing signs of improvement throughout the year, with a 7th place finish in Race 2 at Winton , as well as the round outright being his highlights for the season.  

9th in 2017 was John Vainoras after a consistent season which saw John close the gap to those ahead markedly in the final few rounds of the year. 20 Race finishers saw him rack up 213 points which kept him only 2 points out of 8th position. A 9th position finish in Race 1 at Winton was his highest finish of the season. 

Rounding out the top ten for the year was Brad Winter with 210 points – Brad showed plenty of speed during the year but was only able to compete at four of the seven rounds through the year. Brad showed good results in those rounds he attended, with 3 podium finishes from 11 races he started with a 2nd place at Phillip Island in May, along with 3rd place finishes at Sandown and Phillip Island being his season highlights. 

11th with 208 points for the year was Jim Gallagher, after missing two rounds at Winton & Mallala, Gallagher’s season was highlighted with a 5th place finish in the wet second race at Phillip Island during the Island Magic event, though 3 DNF’s prevented him from finishing higher up in the points for the year. 

12th position went to Lyndon Watson with 195 points, after a great first season which saw plenty of speed onboard car #5. Lyndon’s highlight was a 4th place finish at the July Sandown round, along with a handful of sixth place finishes on record. 

13th for the year was another debutante in Codey West, Codey first joined the series at round 3 and immediately showed great speed, and scored a 5th place finish in his first race. Codey never finished a race outside of the top ten, but a DNS and DNF at Island Magic kept him with 191 points and unable to move up higher in the points. 

14th was Ken Rowland, who showed flashes of great speed on the Hire Depot car on his way to scoring 181 points for the season after the five rounds he entered – though 4 DNF’s cost him valuable series points, with a 4th place finish at Mallala being his highlight for the season. 

Paul Crocitti was 15th with 164 points after entering 4 rounds during the year, though a couple of DNF’s at Sandown and Phillip Island, along with engine issues keeping him out of Sunday’s action at Mallala hurt his final points tally. Paul had his breakout performance at Mallala with two 4th place finishes from Saturdays two races before retiring from the weekend before Race 3. 

Rob Holding was another new driver for 2017, and he finished 16th for the year with 161 points from the four rounds he attended during the year. A 5th place finish in the wet at Sandown in July was his highlight as he came to grips with the car throughout the season. 

17th in the points was Marius Catrina with 159 points, further down than previous years after missing rounds at Winton and Sandown in the middle of the year, Marius had two 9th place finishes as his best results for the season. 

18th was Jim Mitchell, who despite entering every round had a number of mechanical dramas which kept his race finishes down to only 12, leaving him with 138 points. 2 10th place finishes at Winton and Sandown were his best two results for the season. 

Pedr James was another who ran a shortened season missing the mid season Sandown and Philiip Island events while engine woes put him out at Mallala during qualifying – leaving him in 19th for the year with 122 points. Pedr ended his year strongly however with a 6th place finish in the wet at Phillip Island while running as high as 4th a couple laps from the end. 

20th for the season was Robert Lange with 115 points – despite only entering the first two rounds, Lange put his car on Pole Position before a spin in Race 1 dropped him back in the field, though he managed a 4th place finish in the final race. Some engine woes after the second round kept him away from the track for the remainder of the year however. 

Andrew Jackman was 21st after only competing in two rounds during the year, damage during practice for Round 1 kept the Poolmaster away before returning for Round 4 at Sandown where he scored his best result of 7th in the final race, while he finished 8th in the second race at the other event he competed in at Phillip Island later in the season, finishing with 94 points. 

22nd in points for the year was Peter Doherty, also finishing with 94 points after entering three events, however a couple of DNF’s prevented him from entering the top 20 in points. Peter’s best result was 10th in the wet second race at Island Magic at the end of the season. 

Toni Andreevski was another new driver who joined the series in the second half of the season with Mallala his first race event, and also entered the Island Magic event at the end of the year. Toni’s best event was 9th in the final race of the Mallala event on his way to 23rd with 76 points. 

Ben Raphael finished the season in 24th position after only competing in the first two rounds of the year before venturing on holiday, and incurring an injury which kept him out of the seat for the rest of the year. Ben’s 62 points was by virtue of a best race position of 11th in the final race at Round 2 at Phillip Island. 

Ryan Woods was scored as the best of the drivers who only competed in a single round, when Ryan ventured across to Mallala to join in the fun around the tight South Australian venue. Ryan was involved in some great racing on his way to a 5th, 6th and 8th place finishes for the weekend to finish with 59 points for the weekend in 25th outright. 

Sam Rofe also only competed in the single event in 2017, making the trip to Winton for Round 3 of the series in June. A best finish during the event of 7th earnt Sam 52 points for the event as he finished the season 26th in points for the year. 

Ross Millar entered the first round of the season at Sandown, and a best finish of 11th in the third race with an entry field of 23 for the weekend was a good showing, and earnt Ross 39 points for the weekend in what was unfortunately his only outing for the year, leaving him 27th in points. 

Two further drivers entered a round during the 2017 season, though unfortunately neither scored any points. Paul Greer entered the first round and while he again showed plenty of speed and flair, he wasn’t able to sort his engine cut-off issues which hampered him in each race, causing him DNF’s – while Ken Knight entered the final round at Island Magic, but terminal engine issues in the first race ended his weekend early. 

Congratulations to every driver and team who entered throughout the year, hopefully we will see some big fields entered for the 2018 season!

Round 1 preview to follow shortly! 

 

Round 7. Phillip Island – Race 3

The storm clouds refused to leave for the final race for the 2017 season, as another increase in the severity of the rain while the field waited in pre-grid ensured it would be another slippery affair for the scheduled 10 laps.

Vince Misuraca got the better start off the soaking start line to lead into the first corner from Chris Lewis-Williams and Tony Westaway.  Dropping right back at the start was Cameron Beller, who didn’t move off the line as he stalled and bogged down on the grid, allowing most of the field passed while he restarted and got moving. Codey West capitalised moving into fourth, ahead of Brad Winter and Paul Crocitti, who went either side of Jim Gallagher who was also slow to get away and slipped back to seventh position. Peter Doherty got a great start and was up to eighth through the first corner, ahead of Pedr James, Michael Westaway and an extra conservative Mark Taubitz.

Marius Catrina was next in twelfth position, ahead of Ken Rowland, the recovering Beller, Keith Marriner, John Vainoras Dick Howe and Toni Andreevski. Not moving off the start line at all was Jim Mitchell,  pulling his car off onto the grass and retiring without crossing the start line.

The field tippy-toed through turns one and two, with Peter Doherty spinning out of eighth position at Southern Loop, into the outside grass where he got bogged, with Marius Catrina also spinning on the inside on the exit of the corner, dropping him back down the order but was able to resume in fourteenth position. Another retirement was that of Howe, who pulled into the pits without completing a lap.

Beller moved his way past Rowland, and then past Taubitz into Turn 1 at the beginning of Lap 2, moving him back into the Top ten, just before the yellow flags waved to signal the safety car was out to help resume the stricken car of Doherty.

As racing resumed at the start of Lap 4 it was Misuraca from Lewis-Williams, Tony Westaway, West, Winter, Crocitti, Gallagher, James, Michael Westaway and Beller in tenth. Taubitz was next from Rowland, Marriner, Catrina, Andreevski and Vainoras.

A heart stopping moment in Turn 1 for West, who while alongside with Westaway, spun and found himself stranded sideways in the middle of the corner as the rest of the field emerged from the spray. The field did a fantastic job to avoid the #77 Porsche, with Taubitz spinning as he went to the inside to try to avoid him, sliding through the grass and to the back of the field, while West was able to resume.

This allowed Winter to move up to third position, behind new leader Lewis-Williams, who passed Misuraca for the top spot. Crocitti and Gallagher moved up before contact between the pair dropped them both down the order.

James was the big mover in the melee and was up to fourth position, with Beller moving up to fifth ahead of Michael Westaway, Rowland, the recovering West, Catrina and Marriner. Tony Westaway was recovering in eleventh position ahead of Crocitti and Gallagher, with Andreevski the next through ahead of Taubitz and Vainoras.

West’s resurgence didn’t last long however, as he slipped off the road at MG corner and slid down the hill on the wet grass into the tyre wall, and into retirement.

Beller moved past James on lap 5 into the fourth position, while Michael Westaway also made his way ahead into fifth. Tony Westaway meanwhile continued his recovery and passed Marriner, and then Catrina into eighth position.

Retirement next befell Jim Gallagher, who after losing his nosecone which flew off and cracked his windscreen, was finding it very difficult to see where he was going, and spun out of twelfth position exiting Honda corner, and also found himself bogged and out of the race.

Paul Crocitti was the next out of the race half a lap later whenhe replicated Codey West’s misfortune, slipping off the track and aquaplaning under brakes for MG corner, sliding down the hill in the grass. The greatest tragedy was that as he replicated West’s slide, that meant that he found West’s car, making contact with the stranded car as West could only look helplessly with the flag marshals as Crocitti’s race also came to an end.

The race came to an early close on as Chris Lewis-Williams crossed the line the next time around at the end of Lap 7, a comfortable 10.5 seconds clear of second placed Misuraca after only 4 green flag laps once the safety car pulled off the circuit.

Brad Winter was a further 7 seconds adrift, a great podium result in his return round after missing the previous events, with another 15 seconds back to Cameron Beller in fourth spot, with Michael Westaway rounding out the top five – a good final result after sitting so strongly in Race 2 earlier in the day.

Sixth position was a great result for Pedr James after what can be described as a trying season with a number of mechanical failures and finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Right on Pedr’s tail was his adversary Ken Rowland, with Tony Westaway catching the pair but unable to mount a challenge to get past as the race came to a close.

Ninth position, and only just behind Westaway was a great result for Marius Catrina, one of his best results of the season, despite his Lap 1 spin! Keith Marriner was a distant tenth position, ahead of Toni Andreevski in twelfth after a sensible race, and Mark Taubitz in thirteenth – ensuring he made it to the finish without further incident, while John Vainoras was the final finisher one lap down.

 

So at the end of 22 races, it was Cameron Beller who secured the 2017 944 Challenge Triphy for the second time, ultimately securing the title by a mere two points ahead of Chris Lewis-Williams – 452 to 450 with Tony Westaway a great third place after a very strong and consistant season.

Stay tuned for a detailed season review of the 2017 season, and a preview for 2018 as the field look to fitting the new control suspension package for next season!

Thanks to all competitors, teams, crew, officials and supporters for their efforts in 2017! Next season promises to be even better!

         

Round 7. Phillip Island – Race 2

The rainclouds descended across the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit overnight on Saturday and left a soaked and gloomy circuit to greet the 944 Challenge for their final race day for 2017.

The first race of the day would be a 5 lap dash, and it was Chris Lewis-Williams who leapt into the lead on a very wet track while Cameron Beller bogged down off the line. Getting a great start into second position from fifth on the grid was Michael Westaway, with Tony Westaway in third ahead of Vince Misuraca, Beller, and another fast starter in Paul Crocitti. Mark Taubitz was next in seventh position ahead of Dick Howe.

Jim Gallagher was next through with Brad Winter, Pedr James, Ken Rowland, Toni Andreevski, Peter Doherty, Codey West into fifteenth, followed by Marius Catrina, Keith Marriner, John Vainoras and Jim Mitchell.

Lewis-Williams immediately started pulling a gap on the field, clearly the car and driver most in tune with the wet track which was headed by Tony Westaway after Michael Westaway spun out of second position on the second last corner of the first lap, dropping him all the way to seventeenth position before he got back on the track and up to speed. Brad Winter also had a moment dropping him down to sixteenth just ahead of Westaway, while pulling in to retire at the end of the lap was Dick Howe, leaving eighteen runners in the race.

Across the line the first time it was Lewis-Williams comfortably ahead of Tony Westaway, Misuraca, Beller and Crocitti. Taubitz was next with Gallagher behind him, then James, Rowland and West up to tenth after moving ahead of Andreevski and Doherty. Doherty was next through ahead of Catrina and Marriner, with Andreevski following after a small moment, and Vainoras into fifteenth position ahead of Winter, Westaway and Mitchell.

Misuraca moved himself into second position ahead of Tony Westaway, as Gallagher made his way into sixth position as he pulled alongside Taubitz down the front straight, and then up to fifth when he passed Crocitti on the run to Stoner corner.  West also moved up into ninth position when he passed Rowland, who lost time while dicing with West and James for eighth position, while Winter began to move forward when he passed Vainoras, and then Andreevski, along with Michael Westaway also moved past Vainoras into sixteenth.

Codey West continued his charge forward as he made his way past James, and then ahead of Taubitz down the front straight to end Lap 3, and then up to sixth with a pass on Crocitti on the exit of Southern Loop through to Stoner corner. James had a moment and slipped down from ninth to thirteenth position, while Catrina passed Doherty to get into tenth position, with a great recovery from his rear of grid start. Winter also moved ahead of both Marriner, and then Doherty into eleventh position, with Doherty now twelfth and Marriner fourteenth behind James. Behind them Andreevski retired with the engine cutting out,moving Westaway Vainoras and Mitchell all up a position.

Chris Lewis-Williams meanwhile was in a class of his own, and crossed the line a massive 23 seconds ahead of Vince Misuraca in second position – a dominating performance in the wet. Tony Westaway crossed the line for third a couple of seconds adrift, with Beller hot on his tail, while Jim Gallagher rounded out the top 5 after a great drive.

Codey West was sixth, ahead of Paul Crocitti, with Brad Winter crossing the line eighth – Brad was able to just sneak past Taubitz on the run to the finish line when the latter had a moment coming into the final corner for the last time – the loss of momentum allowing Winter to cross the line a tenth of a second clear of Taubitz.

Rounding out the top ten was Peter Doherty, with James a few seconds behind in eleventh – both benefiting from Catrina having a lose on the last lap while running tenth, dropping him back to twelfth position across the line.

Keith Marriner was next in thirteenth, ahead of a disappointed Michael Westaway in fourteenth, with John Vainoras fifteenth ahead of the final finisher, Jim Mitchell in sixteenth.

Ken Rowland was unfortunately again a DNF after being in the heat of the mid pack battle in the wet conditions, he stopped on the last lap not making it to the chequered flag, joining Toni Andreevski and Dick Howe as DNF’s.

The very last race of 2017 was to follow, and the weather seemed it was there to stay. Could anyone challenge the webbed feet of Lewis-Williams in the final race for the year?