The Gods smiled on Winton for the first time over the weekend, as the clouds split to miss the racetrack for the the final race, which would prove to be the closest and most exciting race of the weekend. That is, apart from for Michael Westaway – who ground to a halt on the warm up lap and was unable to take part in the final 10 lap affair. Lucky to be on the grid was Lyndon Watson, after his team managed to cobble together a makeshift setup to get the car running, the crew getting the car finished and onto pre-grid with seconds to spare.
As the lights went out, Jamie Westaway’s 944 went into wheel spin, then popped out of gear and stalled, requiring him to re-fire the car, dropping him to the back of the field by the time he did so. This allowed Mark Taubitz through into the lead, with Cameron Beller following in his wheel tracks as a drying line began to emerge.
Keith Marriner got a good start to leap into third position ahead of Andrew Jackman, with Lyndon Watson also starting well from the back of the field but unable to find a way past Jackman on the run to turn 1. Jim Mitchell was next through with Jamie Westaway leaving himself with a challenge as he got going at the back of the field.
Into Penrite corner for the first time and Jackman made a move for third position with a pass on Marriner under brakes to take the spot, with Jamie Westaway doing the same with a pass on Mitchell for sixth. Watson also followed Jackman through and around the long way around the gum tree before then sliding underneath Jackman into turn 9, taking third position as the pair made the run down the old back straight.
Westaway wasn’t messing around and he quickly ranged up on the back of the battling trio, passing Marriner on the run to turn 11, with supreme confidence under brakes on the still damp circuit, and with better power down, he moved alongside Jackman – taking fourth position down the main straight to end the first lap behind Taubitz, Beller and Watson.
Beller was sitting behind Taubitz as the pair had a decent gap over Watson in third, who was caught be Westaway by Lap 3, despite Jamie having a big moment into the first turn on lap 2 where he luckily kept the car on the tarmac. Westaway passed Watson as the pair crossed the old start/finish straight to move to third, and set off after the leading pair.
Up front, Beller could see the yellow car of Westaway now in his mirror, and realised he would have to get in front quickly to minimise his points loss from the first race. On lap 4, Beller pulled out from behind the Black Porsche across the old start/finish straight to take the lead into turn 3, and set off to maximise his gap on the flying Westaway.
Westaway closed in on Taubitz, and made the move under brakes into turn 1 to begin lap 7, and then charged off after Beller who had grown his lead to six seconds, as Taubitz began to struggle with a setup that was biased more to the wet conditions.
Westaway halved the gap to Beller on lap 8 and moved right onto the tail of the damaged #1 Porsche in the closing couple of corners in the race, but ran out of time to mount a challenge, as the pair crossed the line separated by only one tenth of a second. Showing how much of a drying line emerged, Westaway’s fastest race lap was only three seconds off of his qualifying times, with the times coming down by 9 seconds over the course of the race.
Taubitz crossed the line in third, rounding out a weekend with three podiums which gave him second overall for the weekend, with Watson in fourth, no doubt cursing his cruel luck in Race 2 which cost him the chance to be on the podium for both races on Sunday.
Rounding out the top 5 was Andrew Jackman, who had a lonely race after Lap 1 once Westaway moved ahead but circulated without drama for the 10 laps to finish ahead of Marriner in sixth, and Mitchell in seventh position, but importantly – all finishing the weekend without dramas and with straight race cars.
So after three races at Winton, we now have a new race winner, and a new leader at the top of the points ladder, proving that consistency and finishing races is the key to a good points position at the end of the year.
As the series heads back to Sandown for Round 4 in a months time, can Beller claw back the lost points to Westaway over the next six races for the Vic State Series, or will Westaway continue to add to his win tally?
Head down to Sandown Raceway on July 21-22 to watch all of the action!
More rain overnight meant a track that was just as wet and slippery as Race 1 would greet the field for the start of Race 2 on Sunday morning.
A big repair job began after Race 1 on the car of Cameron Beller aided by the contribution of a taillight and rear hatch glass courtesy of Pedr James who was fortunately still at the track and braving the cold to take in the Saturday action.
As the lights went out it was Lyndon Watson who got the power down on the grippier right hand side of the track, while pole sitter Jamie Westaway struggled to get off the line and was rounded up by Jim Mitchell and Mark Taubitz, and slipped back to fourth position with Michael Westaway, Andrew Jackman, Cameron Beller and Keith Marriner rounding out the field as they tiptoed through Turns 1 & 2.
Watson began to bolt away while Taubitz looked underneath second placed Mitchell into Turn 4, but backed out of that move which allowed Jamie Westaway to sneak past around the outside of the snookered Taubitz in Turn 4. Jamie then scythed past Mitchell to move to second, and set off after Watson, who had already built a huge gap in the first half a lap.
Taubitz followed the younger Westaway through past Mitchell to move back into third position, upon when Mitchell had a moment getting onto the throttle a bit too early coming onto the old back straight, and skewed towards the grass allowing Michael Westaway, Jackman and Beller through while he held onto the spot in front of Marriner.
A mistake by Watson in the sweeper on Lap 2 allowed Westaway to pass and move back into the lead entering the top section of the circuit, with Taubitz closing up the gap to Watson also. Towards the back Mitchell had a big off track moment which allowed Marriner through to seventh positionas Mitchell lost a lot of time getting back onto the circuit.
Beller was being very careful after his Saturday mishap in a patched together car in the wet conditions, and he took his time getting past Jackman which he did on lap 3, and set off after Michael Westaway ahead of him. Up front meanwhile, Jamie Westaway continued to open up his lead over Watson, though not by as much as he was able to do on Saturday, though he was clearly comfortable running that pace out front.
The gap between second and third between Watson and Taubitz ebbed and flowed over the next few laps with Taubitz closing the gap slightly, before Watson had a big spin under brakes for the first corner to begin lap 7 – Watson spun to the infield but fortunately came to stop in between turns 1 & 2, at which point Taubitz scooted past in second position, with Watson able to resume behind him without losing any further positions. Michael Westaway was also delayed which allowed Beller to close right up onto the tail of him.
Jamie Westwaway was thus able to cruise to a second comfortable victory, with Taubitz coming home for second position. Behind him, Watson was able to resume on the pace after his spin and pursued after Taubitz, only for his car to come a cruel halt on the final corner on the last lap of the race, with a fuel pump failure – which also registered him as a DNF for the race.
Rounding out the podium as a result was Michael Westaway, Beller right beind him in fourth position, with Jackman rounding out the top 5 for the race. Rounding out the finishers were Keith Marriner in sixth, and Jim Mitchell in seventh position.
So Beller was back on track and starting towards the front of the field for the final, with Taubitz and Michael Westaway looking threatening while Jamie Westaway was the class of the first two races – and some angry, angry looking weather was headed to Winton before Race 3… anything could happen!
The Winton weather forecast proved accurate for Saturday afternoon as the skies dumped a load of rain on the circuit to recreate the slippery track conditions from Friday practice.
It didn’t take long for the first surprise event to occur – in fact, treacherous turn two bit yet again, before the race would even begin. All were shocked as reigning champion and pole sitter Cameron Beller, testing the wet track on the warm up lap befell the same fate in the same way as those on Friday, as the car snapped sideways and slid into the old pit wall on the outlap, leaving car #1 on the sidelines for Race 1. We would certainly have a new race winner for Race 7 of the 2018 season!
This left Jamie Westwawy all alone on the front row of the grid, and as the lights went out he scampered off towards turn 1. Behind him, neither of the second row starters went anywhere. Codey West lost all drive off the line as the car rolled about 50 metres, his weekend over. Mark Taubitz who was starting alongside him, stalled as the lights went out. The rest of the field did a great job avoiding the two stricken Porsches and West & Taubitz were no doubt glad it was a small field and all made their way past without drama.
Thus it was Lyndon Watson who moved up to second, with Michael Westaway behind him in third position. Andrew Jackman moved up to fourth, with Jim Mitchell fifth, Keith Marriner in sixth position and Taubitz restarting and resuming behind Marriner at the tail of the field while the recovery crew did a great job to get West’s car off the circuit without interrupting the race.
Jamie Westaway immediately began to open up a gap to Watson and Michael Westaway, while Taubitz moved up to fifth position, passing Marriner around the outside of the sweeper and then Mitchell under brakes for Penrite corner.
Across the line the first time it was Jamie Westaway with a huge five second lead as Michael Wesaway began to close up to Watsons’ bumper, with Jackman being chased by Taubitz, while Mitchell was holding off Marriner.
Westaway continued to pull out a lead as he was comfortably the fastest car on the track, while Michael Westaway was looking for a way past Watson. Taubitz was turning the second fastest laps and was closing on Jackman, before AJ had a moment under brakes into Turn 1 on the fourth lap and went straight off the track, though he was able to rejoin the circuit only having lost the one position to Taubitz. Behind them, Mitchell had a spin which allowed Marriner to move through into sixth while Mitchell resumed.
The lead for Westaway continued to grow by five seconds a lap to Watson, while Michael Westaway was struggling to find a way to get past Watson, and Taubitz began closing on the pair of them. Lap 5 and Michael’s car burst into wheelspin exiting turn 4 and the orange 944 went sliding through the Winton infield, elevating Taubitz to third position while Michael was able to resume in fourth position ahead of Jackman.
Without the pressure of Westaway right behind him Watson was able to focus on his laptimes and maintained the gap to Taubitz behind him, who consolidated his third position in the final couple of laps.
As the race entered the closing stages, Andrew Jackman misjudged the extra speed he carried on that lap through turns 1 and 2 and went in too deep under brakes for Turn three, nosing into the kitty litter. Unable to get out to finish the race, a fifth position went begging.
And that would be the way the field would finish, with Jamie Westaway winning by over 30 seconds at the end from Lyndon Watson, with Mark Taubitz in third. Michael Westaway was fourth ahead of the lapped cars of Keith Marriner and Jim Mitchell in fifth and sixth positions respectively, with Jackman, West and Beller all classified as non finishers.
With action that no one could have predicted on Saturday, and some heavy rain predicted for Sunday, what further curveballs would Races 2 & 3 bring?
With weather suitable only for ducks on Friday causing havoc, the 13 car entry field was down to only 9 cars that could front up for qualifying for Round 3 of the 2018 944 Challenge at Winton Motor Raceway.
Dick Howe, Tim Petrusic, Pedr James and Jim Gallagher all would not take any part in the weekend’s racing, the latter three all out after making contact with the unforgiving concrete walls exiting the treacherous slippery surface out of Turn 2.
The 944 field were first up on track on Saturday morning, with the track still wet from overnight rains, though the rain held off, which allowed for some competitive times toward the end of the session.
Cameron Beller was the most daring on his first flying lap, and ran a time 5 seconds faster than the next closest lap, his 1:39.4810 was a huge distance ahead of second fastest Lyndon Watson who ran a 1:44.4680. Jamie Westaway was third quickest with a 1:44.9126 with Mark Taubitz fourth with a 1:46.2488. Michael Westaway was a little further behind in fifth with a 1:49.7221 ahead of the returning Codey West sixth with a 1:49.9751, just ahead of Andrew Jackman in seventh with a 1:49.9805. Keith Marriner was next with a 1:53.5259, with Jim Mitchell rounding out the runners with a 1:53.9574.
Beller lowered his time on the second lap with a 1:37.4997 as the track started to get some temperature in it, with the remainder of the field starting to shrink the gap to they flying #1. Jamie Westaway moved into second position with a 1:41.8091, with Watson dropping to third with a 1:42.9497. Codey West moved up to fourth position with a 1:45.9631 with Taubitz dropping back to fifth after having a spin in the sweeper as he pushed the limits of the track grip, but found his way back onto the circuit to resume without any further incident.
Andrew Jackman moved to sixth with a 1:46.4752 ahead of Michael Westaway’s 1:47.2640. Mitchell moved to eighth with a 1:50.2064 with Marriner back to ninth with a 1:51.1749
Beller lowered his benchmark by a further two tenths of a second on his third lap with a 1:37.2090, while Jamie Westaway closed the gap significantly with a 1:38.4531. Watson recorded a 1:41.7479 to just remain ahead of Taubitz who moved back to fourth with a 1:41.8044, with West back to fifth with a 1:43.2724. Michael Westaway moved back to sixth with a 1:44.4286 while Jackman recorded a 1:45.6592 back in seventh, ahead of Mitchell who recorded a 1:46.6299 with Marriner running a 1:50.5012 in ninth.
Westaway closed the gap to Beller to less than a second on his fourth lap with a 1:38.1080, while Watson, Taubitz and West all improved but remained in the same positions, though much closer now as Watson’s 1:41.2286 headed Taubitz’s 1:41.5453 and West closing the margin with a 1:41.9005. Michael Westaway also closed the gap right up with a 1:42.0189, with Jackman remaining seventh with a 1:44.9665, while Marriner dipped under the 1:50’s with a 1:49.9320.
Beller was pushing the limits also in his attempt to find more speed and also had a spin at the sweeper, also rejoining with no issues but chose to pit to re-pressurise his tyres, while Jamie Westaway closed the gap to less than two tenths of a second with a 1:37.3751 time.
The battle for third continued to be closely fought as Watson lowered his time with a 1:40.3904, with West up to fourth with a 1:40.7111 ahead of Taubitz who slipped back to fifth with a 1:40.8304. Michael Westaway was just behind with a 1:41.6511, while Jim Mitchell moved up to seventh with a 1:44.6800, displacing Jackman to eighth.
West moved himself up to third position next time around as he was the next to dip under the 1:40 second bracket with a 1:39.8744, while Watson pitted and Michael Westaway moved right behind Taubitz with a 1:40.9368. Jackman moved back to seventh with a 1:43.4583, just ahead of Mitchell who ran a 1:43.5357 in what would be his best lap, unable to better that over his next few laps. Marriner was slowly lowering his times as he ran a 1:49.5644, still in nith position.
Jamie Westaway moved into the top spot on the next lap as he moved ahead of Beller with a 1:37.0214, while Taubitz moved up to third with a 1:38.9372. West improved further with a 1:39.4774, with Michael Westaway improving slightly with a 1:40.8179. Marriner began to find some more pace as he ran a 1:46.0306 though remained in ninth.
Beller was quick to respond and recorded his fastest lap with 1 :36.4019 to reclaim the provisional pole position with a time he wouldn’t improve on in his remaining two laps. West moved himself just ahead of Taubitz on his next lap with a 1:38.9155 in his best time for the session, with Watson running a 1:39.5185 in fifth position with Michael Westaway running a 1:40.0012 still in sixth. Jackman improved slightly with a 1:43.2450 to strengthen his hold on seventh spot.
Jamie Westaway improved again running a 1:36.6834 to close to within a quarter of a second to Beller, with Watson improving his time with a 1:39.0628 in his fastest lap for the session, just behind West & Taubitz. Marriner meanwhile found another half a second to run a 1:45.5603. West & Taubitz meanwhile were running line astern and both on track for fast laps when they both slipped off the circuit on the penultimate corner, with both choosing to enter pit lane.
The chequered flag flew soon after, and Jamie Westaways final lap was a further improvement, though not enough to best Beller, his 1:36.5686 falling just short of a maiden Pole Position which went to Beller yet again, with West and Taubitz rounding out the second row. Michael Westaway improved on his final lap, though his 1:39.2337 wasn’t enough to bounce Watson out of fifth position, and he would remain in sixth.
Jackman ran his fastest lap on the final circuit with a 1:43.0228, with Keith Marriner pushing his way ahead of Jim Mitchell on his last lap with a two second improvement, a 1:43.2997 moving him to eighth position.
The upcoming weather forecast was looking bleak, so setups and tyre pressures for the first nine lap race of the weekend would be crucial!
The third and final race for the round promised to be the closest of the weekend – although the field size had depleted by two with Toni Andreevski unable to front for the weekend after his impromptu barbeque at the completion of Race 2, and Peter Doherty also not making it out for the final race.
Off the start, and Jamie Westaway got the jump off the start on Cameron Beller to lead into the first corner, the first time Beller hadn’t led into Turn 1 this year. Beller was on Westaway’s tail, with Lyndon Watson holding third position off the start with Brad Winter slotting in next in fourth position.
Tim Petrusic moved into fifth position, with Mark Taubitz in behind him after a strong start from eighth position saw him move ahead of Michael Westaway who slipped two positions back to seventh off the start, and Andrew Jackman in eighth position. Keith Marriner moved up to ninth position after a good start, ahead of Jim Mitchell, with Dick Howe back to eleventh after getting a tardy start, and John Vainoras in twelfth spot.
Into Honda corner and the positions remained the same as Westaway pulled a tiny gap on Beller, with Taubitz having a look on the inside of Petrusic, while Michael Westaway dove deep underbrakes on the outside, though slotted in behind the Zantek car once more. Dick Howe moved his way past Mitchell under brakes to move back into tenth position.
Through Hayshed corner and Tim Petrisuc had a mis-shift into fifth gear, and turned his dashboard into a Christmas tree of warning lights. Taubitz moved past and took the fifth position through Lukey Heights, while Westaway and Jackman also moved ahead into brakes for MG, as Howe, Marriner and Mitchell all followed through exiting MG as Petrusic recovered and got back into the gas and cleared the dash warning, now down to eleventh position.
Howe moved to the inside of Marriner into the final corner to take the position, thus it was Jamie Westaway, Beller, Watson, Winter and Taubitz across the line for the first time, ahead of Michael Westaway, Jackman, Howe, Marriner, Mitchell, Petrusic and Vainoras to complete the first of ten laps.
Westaway and Beller pulled a gap up front as Taubitz closed in slightly on the Watson/Winter battle for third position, as he pulled away from Westaway in sixth, who did the same to Jackman, who begun to have Howe to contest with. Petrusic started his recovery drive and moved past Mitchell who had fallen back from the bumper of Marriner.
Lap 3 and Howe moved ahead of Jackman to elevate himself to seventh, as Beller began to close on Westaway as he pulled alongside with the aid of the draft as the pair started their fourth lap. Westaway held the position though, but Beller was determined to take the lead and the two were side-by-side through Honda and Siberia, where Beller was able to get a superior run down the back section to move clear of Westaway once the got to Lukey Heights.
Further back meanwhile, and Petrusic moved up to ninth as he passed Marriner and set off after Jackman in eighth.
Lap 5, and Jackman had a big moment as he had a spin at Turn 1, thankfully avoiding any contact and was able to rectify himself and continue, albeit back to tenth position behind Petrusic and Marriner. Up front meanwhile, Westaway moved around the outside of Beller into Turn 1, but couldn’t quite make the move stick and had to stay in behind.
Status quo through the rest of the order as Beller led Westaway, while Watson was defending hard from a relentless Winter, looking at all angles to find a way past, with Taubitz unable to close the gap in fifth, with Michael Westaway back in sixth ahead of Howe, Petrusic, Marriner and Jackman, with Mitchell and Vainoras rounding out the field.
Lap 8 Westaway was right on Bellers’ bumper once again and wasn’t quite able to maket the pass down the straight, but was able to move past under brakes for Honda corner, though Beller was again able to repeat the over and under move and re-took the position down the run through the back part of the circuit to Lukey Heights.
Beller wasn’t able to hold the lead for long though as Westaway again drafted back onto the bumper and alongside Beller, this time clearing him as the pair rounded Turn 1. The batle for third behind them hadn’t eased, and as the dice between Watson and Winter rounded Southern Loop, Watson slipped off the circuit, and entered the coarse Phillip Island gravel trap sideways, immediately burying the car deep, Watson unable to recover and rejoin the race, a devastating DNF after what had been a great weekend to that point, and allowing Winter through to an uncontested third that he had battled hard to earn.
Next on the scene was Taubitz, who slowed substantially as the wind blew a large cloud of gravel dust across and onto the apex of the corner. This alowed Michael Westaway a sniff of what had now become fourth position as he closed the gap significantly.
All eyes thus turned to the action up front, as Beller pulled out of the draft on the run down the front straight to start the final lap, and reversed the move from Westaway on the previous lap as he swept around the outside to take the lead. Westaway was all over Beller like a cheap suit, but Beller drove a great defensive final lap and didn’t allow Westaway to stick a nose inside anywhere, and crossed the line to take the victory by a scant .12 of a second.
Third after a strong run was Brad Winter, which also earnt him third outright for the weekend, ahead of Mark Taubitz in fourth position, a result which put him up to third in the series pointscore. Michael Westaway was fifth, unable to quite close the gap enough to mount a challenge on Taubitz on the final lap.
Dick Howe was sixth – just – after dramas on the last lap slowed him down, he was able to cross the line just ahead of a recovering Tim Petrusic in seventh position, a good result in his return drive to the series.
Eighth across the line was Marriner, with Jim Mitchell moving up to ninth on the final lap after catching and overtaking the ailing Jackman, who was nursing home his car and D shaped tyres after his mid-race spin to finish tenth. The final finisher was John Vainoras who ran his fastest laps of the weekend as he found more speed and comfort with the new suspension in the Noras Distribution Porsche.
So Beller leaves Phillip Island undefeated so far in 2018, though with the series headed to the tight Winton venue for Round 3, will one of the three W’s – Westaway, Watson or Winter be able to prevent him from adding three more wins to his tally? Come down to Winton June 16-17 to watch all the action!
Race 2 of Round 2 was early on Sunday morning – as the lights went out it was Cameron Beller who jumped away off the start, with Mark Taubitz getting a good jump to out drag front row starter Jamie Westaway to move into second into Turn 1, with Westaway slotting into third with Lyndon Watson next through in fourth position. Brad Winter was next in fifth position, ahead of Michael Westaway and Tim Petrusic with Dick Howe in eighth position as most of the field held their position from the start.
Andrew Jackman was ninth, ahead of Keith Marriner and the fast starting Jim Mitchell from the back of the grid. with Peter Doherty in behind, ahead of John Vainoras and Toni Andreevski who missed a gear change on the run off the line, though he was able to move past Vainoras exiting the first corner.
Jamie Westaway didn’t want to lose touch with Beller, and was able to get a stronger run than Taubitz coming out of Southern Loop and took the second position back on the run around Stoner corner, with Mitchell moving into the top ten around the outside of Marriner.
As the field ended Lap 1, Watson ranged up onto the tail of Taubitz as the pair came down the straight, and moved to the inside to take the third position into Turn 1. Taubitz then shadowed Watson for the rest of the lap and made a move back down the inside under brakes for MG corner later in the lap. The two cars ran side-by-side through Turn 11 before Taubitz conceded to draft Watson down the straight, while Jamie Westaway was doing the same to Beller further up the road.
Howe meanwhile moved himself up to seventh position as he moved himself past ahead of Petrusic down the main straight to end the second lap.
Taubitz was eager to move back into a podium spot back past Watson, but pinched a brake on the entrance to Southern Loop and sailed off the corner into the grass, and nosed into the gravel trap. He was able to stick the boot in and got the car out and back onto the track, albeit dropping down to ninth position behind Jackman, and just managing to stay ahead of the battle for tenth with Mitchell, Marriner, Doherty and Andreevski.
Just ahead on the track, Howe was looking to find a way past Michael Westaway for what became fifth position, however he ended up going down the escape road at Honda corner, plonking him back right amongst the aforementioned battle with Mitchell and co as they found themselves now fighting for ninth, with Howe behind Mitchell, Marriner and Doherty with Andreevski right on his tail as the group rounded Siberia corner.
As the halfway point was reached it was Beller with Jamie Westaway up front, with an increasing gap back to Watson, and then Winter who began to slowly shrink the gap between the two. Michael Westaway and Petrusic were next as they started pulling a gap on Jackman in seventh position. Taubitz was next as he looked to chase down Jackman and pull away from the battle behind him.
Howe quickly made his way to the front of that pack as he moved ahead of Doherty first through Hayshed corner, followed by a move on Marriner under brakes for MG, and then past Mitchell on the inside of the final corner and he set his sights on Taubitz up ahead. Mitchell was then tenth, with Marriner and Andreevski next having past Doherty down the straight to move up to twelfth, with Vainoras in fourteenth a small distance behind.
Beller wasn’t getting any rest with Westaway right behind him in the most exciting battle on track, while Andreevski was re-passed for the twelfth position by Doherty when he returned the favour played on him from the previous lap by getting a superior run onto the straight to move ahead.
Lap 5 and for the first time this year, Bellers’ name wasn’t on the top of the lap scoring as Westaway made his move past to lead across the line to commence the final lap. Beller though was able to play the race back to his advantage as he retook the lead on the final circuit to take a narrow victory, crossing the line less than two tenths of a second ahead of the younger Westaway, with Watson rounding out the podium finishers, a little over a second ahead of the closing Brad Winter.
Michael Westaway was able to hold out Tim Petrusic to round out the top 5, with Andrew Jackman having to deal with Taubitz who closed on him on the final circuit to challenge for the spot, ultimately falling just short as Jackman crossed the line .05 of a second ahead in seventh position, with Taubitz eighth. Dick Howe was ninth a further five seconds ahead in a lonely second half of the race, with Jim Mitchell able to hold onto the tenth position ahead of Keith Marriner and Peter Doherty.
Thirteenth place went the way of John Vainoras, passing Toni Andreevski for the position after the latter began suffering with a misfire on the penultimate lap, though he was able to limp home to complete the race distance in fourteenth position.
That wasn’t the worst part for Andreevski though, as smoke filled the cabin of the car on the return to the pits after the race, a wiring short the culprit. Damage was fortunately minimised, apart from to the wiring inside the car, which would rule Toni out for the final race of the weekend.
The challenge to Beller was getting stronger, could he continue his winning streak in the last race, or could Westaway (or someone else) be able to bring it to an end in the final race?
Race 1 commenced just after lunch and it was an even start by the front row combatants Cameron Beller and Jamie Westaway running side by side through Turn 1 before Beller edged ahead into Southern Loop corner.
Mark Taubitz got the jump ahead of Brad Winter to slot into third, with Dick Howe also getting a great start to slot into fourth position, with Lyndon Watson moving into fifth position ahead of Winter dropping back to sixth spot. Tim Petrusic was seventh in line with Michael Westaway in eighth position.
Keith Marriner was ninth into Turn 1, with Andrew Jackman alongside – and Jim Mitchell in his mirrors as both got a good start behind him, as did John Vainoras who jumped up to twelfth at the expense of Peter Doherty – who bogged down off the start, and Toni Andreevski who was slow away and rounded out the 944 field into the first corner.
Exiting Southern Loop corner, Westaway was able to get the better run on Beller and pulled alongside as the pair braked for Honda corner. Westaway went in a little too deep however, and drifted through the corner, skillfully controlling the car, though allowed Beller to move back past, with Taubitz also capitalising and moving ahead into the second position as they raced towards Siberia corner.
Behind the leading trio, Winter moved back around Watson on the outside on the exit from Southern Loop corner to move back to fifth position, while it was a three wide battle into the corner for ninth position, with Jackman prevailing and moving into the spot, though Mitchell was fighting him hard for it, with Marriner slipping behind the duo. Doherty also moved ahead of Vainoras, with Andreevski doing the same around the outside of Southern Loop. Mitchell then was able to power past Jackman on the run to Honda corner, and moved into the ninth position.
Across the line for the first time it was Beller from Taubiitz and Jamie Westaway, though the latter was able to draft past and take the second position back down the straight to start the second lap, with Howe sitting in behind in fourth place, and a small gap back to the next quartet of Winter, Watson, Petrusic and Michael Westaway. A gap before the next pack led by Mitchell in ninth, with Jackman, Marriner, Doherty, Andreevski and Vainoras all in tow.
Michael Westaway was the next to make a pass for position, as he passed Petrusic under brakes for Honda corner on the second lap. Jackman was determined to get around Mitchell, and also made the move under brakes for Honda on the inside, taking until the Hayshed to finally clear the Martini liveried racer for ninth position and started to build a gap. Andreevski meanwhile got a better run onto the main straight to end Lap 2 and moved past Doherty for twelfth position.
Beller had worked out a comfortable lead to Westaway who was edging away from Taubitz, while Winter closed in on Howe, and passed for the fourth position, also under brakes for Honda corner on Lap 3. Andreevski also made up a further position as he moved past Marriner exiting Southern Loop, with Doherty also moving past Marriner under brakes for Honda, dropping Marriner to thirteenth position.
At the start of Lap 4, and Howe drafted his way up to and alongside Winter down the straight, and swept in front to take back the fourth spot, with Winter having an issue through Hayshed allowing Watson to move past also to move into fifth position. Doherty also moved back ahead of Andreevski as the pair diced for eleventh position, while trying to find a way past Mitchell in front of them. Doherty was baulked as he tried in vain to get around Mitchell, allowing Andreevski back past under brakes for Turn 1. Both drivers were trying to gain the upper hand to be able to move ahead of Mitchell, and unfortunately for Doherty a spin and some light contact under brakes for Honda on Lap 5 took him out of the battle, though he resumed in thirteenth.
Beller was comfortable out in front as he continued to open up his gap to Westaway, who did the same back to Taubitz in third, who also was easing away from the Howe/Watson/Winter battle. Westaway and Petrusic were circulating together a short distance behind, with Jackman having a lonely race behind them having dispatched of Mitchell. Mitchell was next from Andreevski, Marriner, Doherty and Vainoras.
Lap 6 and with the battle for fourth still on in earnest between Howe, Watson and Winter, Howe had an issue going through Lukey Heights and dropped back all the way to eighth position, allowing Watson, Winter, the Michael flavoured Westaway and Petrusic to all be promoted a spot. Andreevski pulled alongside Mitchell down the front straight as the pair finished the sixth lap, though Mitchell retained the position entering Turn 2. Andreevski continued to fight for the spot, and on the last lap was able to pull alongside Mitchell exiting Southern Loop for the final time.
Side-by-side under brakes though, and Mitchell locked up the rear brakes and gyrated in front of Andreevski as he turned in, the noses of both cars just making slight contact. Andreevski continued on with a nosecone that threatened to come adrift and was flapping about, and he lowered his speed as a result, allowing Marriner to inherit the final position in the top ten, while Mitchell retired.
At the end of the 8 laps it was Beller who took the victory by over four seconds from Westaway, with Taubitz in third securing his first podium finish. Watson closed the gap in the last two laps but ran out of time to mount a challenge and settled for fourth, with Winter rounding out the top 5, a further four seconds off of Watson.
Michael Westaway was sixth, with Petrusic close behind in seventh, and Howe a few seconds back in eighth after his off. Rounding out the Top ten was Andrew Jackman a further 8.5 seconds behind Howe in ninth, and Marriner another fourteen seconds behind Jackman in tenth. Andreevski consolidated to be classified eleventh with his wounded car, with Doherty a few seconds behind in twelfth. Vainoras was the final finisher, with Mitchell not classified after failing to greet the chequered flag.
Two races on the Sunday, would we see some different results play out over the two events?
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!