2017

Home/2017

News from 2017 relating to the 944 Challenge Series.

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?

         

Round 7. Phillip Island – Race 1

Race 1 was held just after lunchtime in warm conditions, thought the threat of rain was looming…

Two drivers werent able to take the start, as Marius Catrina lost drive on his way to pre-grid, along with Codey West who also was unable to take the start – though both would fortunately be back on the grid tomorrow for Race 2.

Getting the best jump off the line was Vince Misuraca who swept around the outside of Pole Sitter Cameron Beller to lead into Southern Loop corner, with Chris Lewis-Williams slotting in behind them. Brad Winter and Tony Westaway ran through Turn 1 alongside behind them, with Winter prevailing in fourth positionwith the inside running. Next in sixth position was Mark Taubitz after getting a good start, ahead of Ken Rowland, Paul Crocitti, Michael Westaway and Pedr James. Jim Gallahger was next through in eleventh position, ahead of Keith Marriner, Peter Doherty and Dick Howe – the latter after stalling from sixth position at the start sending him back down the field. Jim Mitchell was next ahead of Ken Knight, with Toni Andreevski and John Vainoras rounding out the field.

Beller took the wide line through Southern Loop in an attempt to move around Misuraca, but this allowed Lewis-Williams to sneak through on the inside and take the second position on the run to Stoner corner. Lewis-Williams moved to the left on the run to Honda corner and took the high line around the outside. He was able to remain alongside which gave him the inside run for Siberia corner, the prefered race line allowing him to move into the lead, with Beller following his move and moving into second at the same time, relegating Misuraca back to third.

Misuraca moved alongside Beller under brakes for MG corner to attempt to take the spot back, but Beller held on which gave him the inside line for Turn 11 and maintain the position.

Further back in the pack, Peter Doherty moved underneath Keith Marriner to take twelfth position under brakes for Honda corner, with Dick Howe following him through. Michael Westaway also made up a position with a pass for position on James under brakes for MG.

Across the line the first time it was Lewis-Williams, Beller, Misuraca, Winter, Tony Westaway, Taubitz, Rowland, Crocitti, Michael Westaway with James rounding out the top ten. Gallagher was next, with Howe passing Doherty for telfth down the straight. Marriner was next with Mitchell, Knight, Andreevski and Vainoras in behind.

Michael Westwawy was battling with Crocitti for position and went to the outside line of Honda corner, and was able to then convert that to the inside line for Siberia to allow him to take the eighth position. Up ahead. Rowland was shadowing Taubitz but had a big wiggle on the exit for MG, which caused him to lose momentum and allowed Westaway and Crocitti to get past, with James also getting past before turn 1, dropping Rowland back to tenth spot.

Rowland was keen to make the spot back and the three drivers ran three wide on the approach to Honda on lap 3, with James in between Crocitti and Rowland as the trio jumped onto the brakes. Rowland ran wide however, and stayed in tenth spot. Howe also made his way past Gallagher, moving up to eleventh, while Andreevski moved ahead of both Knight, and then Mitchell into fifteenth position.

Lap 4 and up front, and Beller continued to shadow Lewis-Williams, but was unable to find a way past, as the two edged away from Misuraca. Justbehind them, and disaster for Brad Winter as he slipped off the road at MG corner, slipping all the way back to tenth before he was back on the track and up to speed. He got one spot back the following lap, when Rowland started experiencing mechanical difficulties, which dropped him behind Winter and Howe before retiring. Joining him on the sidelines on lap 6 was his namesake, with Ken Kinght retiring with engine issues – unfortunately they would put an end to his weekend – a disappointment after venturing all the way down from NSW for the event.

Michael Westaway moved himself into the top 5 with a pass on Taubitz going into Turn to begin Lap 7, while both James and Winter dropped down the order, James back to tenth and Winter all the way back to thirteenth position.

Howe was able to move up to seventh position in a good recovery drive as he moved ahead of Crocitti on the final lap, with Taubitz moving alongside Michael Westaway under brakes for Honda corner for the last time, but couldn’t take the position.

Chris Lewis-Williams was able to hold on to the lead, with Beller on his tail as the pair crossed the finish line, with Misuraca in third 7 seconds behind, just holding out Tony Westaway for the final podium position.

Michael Westaway rounded out the top 5, crossing the line less than a tenth of a second ahead of Taubitz in sixth, with Howe in seventh from Crocitti, Gallagher and James rounding out the top ten finishers.

Doherty was right on James’ bumper and narrowly missed out on a top ten, with a few seconds back to Marriner in twelfth position. A disappointed Brad Winter was next in thirteenth, with Andreevski in fourtheenth from Mitchell and Vainoras.

1 Race down for the weekend, with 2 remaining on Sunday to round out the 2017 season. And the weather forecast for Sunday wasn’t looking pleasant…

         

Round 7. Phillip Island – Qualifying

Qualifying for the Island Magic event was bright and early on Saturday morning as the 20 car field headed onto the circuit just after 9am.

Cameron Beller set the benchmark first up as he recorded a 1:50.4653 to top the times as the drivers set their first competitive lap, with Chris Lewis-Williams and Tony Westaway close together in second and third, with Chris’s 1:50.8269 just ahead of Tony’s 1:50.8873, with Vince Misuraca just behind in fourth with a 1:51.5914.

A small gap back to Brad Winter in fifth with a 1:52.5070, with Ken Rowland sixth on a 1:52.7637. Mark Taubitz was next in seventh position with a 1:53.2489, just ahead of Michael Westaway’s 1:53.2756, with Codey West (1:53.4850) and Dick Howe (1:53.7853) rounding out the top half of the field early on.

Jim Gallagher was eleventh with a 1:54.5303, ahead of Keith Marriner on a 1:55.6032, Marius Catrina (1:55.7580) Paul Crocitti (1:57.4298) and Ken Knight fifteenth after recording a 1:59.0622 lap. Pedr James was sixteenth with a 1:59.5012, ahead of Toni Andreevski (1:59.8340) Peter Doherty (2:00.5180) John Vainoras (2:07.1545)and Jim Mitchell, who was having engine cut off issues with his car as he recorded a 2:38.6168 before pulling off the circuit.

The top 5 all improved their times on the second lap, though the positions stayed the same, with Bellers fastest time now a 1:49.7070, from Lewis-Williams 1:49.7736, Westaway’s 1:49.8268, Misuraca’s 1:50.5769 and Winter’s 1:50.9391. Michael Westaway recorded a 1:51.1300 to move himself up to sixth, ahead of Taubitz who ran a 1:51.7553 and remianed seventh, with West running a 1:52.3243. Mechanical issues for West meant he was unable to continue and put an end to his session. Moving up to tenth was Gallagher after recording a 1:53.2066, putting him behind Rowland who slipped to ninth spot.

Crocitti moved up to eleventh as he improved with a 1:53.22518 to move ahead of Howe, with Catrina also improving with a 1:53.8737 to remain thirteenth for the time being, although he would not improve on this time throughout the session. James inproved to fourteenth spot with a 1:54.0139 with Marriner alsoimproving, but slipping to fifteenth with a 1:54.9578.

Knight was sixteenth with a 1:55.4846 as Doherty moved to seventeenth with a 1:56.4503 ahead of Andreevski on a 1:58.8351 and Vainoras now on a 2:03.4005.

Beller re-set the benchmark the following lap with a 1:49.2364, a time that he, no anyone else would beat for the remainder of the session as he secured Pole position. Lewis-Williams improved also with a 1:49.6309, with a time he would also be unable to improve on throughout the session. Brad Winter meanwhile, moved up into fourth position with a 1:50.1174, pushing Misuraca back to fifth.

Marriner also improved with a 1:53.8748 moving him to fourteenth between Catrina and James, while Vainoras lowered his time but remained nineteenth with a 2:02.4484.

Winter and Misuraca both improved on their times the next lap around, Winter with a 1:50.0532 with Misuraca running a 1:50.1361 while Taubitz also ran quicker with a 1:51.2001. Rowland slotted in behind Taubitz with a 1:51.7983 while Howe moved back up to tenth position behind West with a 1:52.4395.

James moved into thirteenth with a 1:53.8032 to be just ahead of Catrina and Marriner, while Knight and Doherty also both improved their times, with a 1:55.3277 and 1:56.0680 respectively.

Ken Rowland moved himself up to sixth on the next lap, running a 1:51.0114 to push back Westaway and Taubitz a position. James improved slightly with a 1:53.7001, while Knight recorded a 1:54.6557, though remained sixteenth, a time he was unable to improve on in the remaining laps. Vainoras lowered his best time again with a 2:01.9446.

Rownland improved again with a 1:50.8874, which would be his quickest time of the session, while Howe moved ahead of West into ninth spot with a 1:51.7855. Crocitti moved up to eleventh with a 1:52.4943, while James moved to twelfth with a 1:52.9232. Doherty (1:55.0749), Andreevski (1:55.7959) and Vainoras (2:00.3152) also all improved their best times, without a change of position.

Misuraca was able to pull out a great lap on the next time around, a 1:49.5340 which would move him up to second position alongside Beller, bumping Lewis-Williams back to third position where he would start alongside Tony Westaway for the afternoons first race. Winter also ran what would be his quickest time for the session, dipping under the 1:50’s with a 1:49.8507, just falling short from bumping Tony Westaway off the second row.

Howe moved himself up to sixth fastest when he recorded a 1:50.7303, while Crocitti moved himself into the top ten with a 1:52.2434 in his best lap for the session. James also recorded his best lap for the session with a 1:52.6940, though he would remain in twelfth position.

As the session wound down, Howe again lowered his benchmark with a 1:50.4537 to secure the sixth position on the grid for him, while Taubitz and Michael Westaway both ran their fastest laps also, thought Taubitz moved ahead fo Michael with a 1:50.9535 to a 1:51.0844 dropping Michael back to ninth fastest.

Marriner also moved up a few spots as he ran his best time of 1:52.8596 to moveup to thirteenth position, while Doherty also improved to sixteenth position with a 1:54.4083 – while Vainoras delighted himself when he ran his first sub 2 minute lap, recording a 1:59.6264.

The field was largely set as the session ended, with Gallagher running his fastest lap on the final lap, but his 1:53.1752 wasn’t able to promote him on the grid, while Doherty moved up one more spot to fifteenth as he ran a 1:53.5577 on his last lap.

So it was Beller and Misuraca on Row 1, ahead of Lewis-Williams sharing with Westaway on Row 2. Winter was next ahead of Howe, with Rowland and Taubitz sharing Row 4, with Westaway and Crocitti rounding out the first half of the field.

West would start eleventh and would no doubt move forward in the race, with James alongside him, with Marriner and Gallagher to share Row 7. Doherty was next with Catrina for company, while Knight, Andreevski, Vainoras and Mitchell would round out the grid.

An early Race 1 just after lunchtime – could Misuraca, Westaway or Winter finally break the streak of race wins for Beller & Lewis-Williams?

   

Historic Round Exhibition Event. Sandown – Race 3

The third and final race of the weekend saw a similar story at the start as the previous two races, with the BMW Super Tourer of Chris Oxley bogging down with the 944s leaping away, and Michael Holdcroft challenging. This time it was Jamie Westaway into the lead, with Holdcroft moving up to alongside around the entry to Turn 1, slotting in behind Westaway. Cameron Beller was next, with Oxley finding a wall of cars blocking in front of him once the car came up to power, and had to settle for fourth through Turn 1, with Mark Taubitz right on his bumper.

Alex Jory in the E30 was able to get ahead of Pedr James for sixth position in th Turn 2/3 complex after running side-by-side through Turn 1, with Jim Mitchell into eighth, Peter Doherty in ninth and Tim Freeman into tenth. Brian Bourke, John Vainoras and Dick Howe rounded out the field, but moved past Vainoras down the back straight in Lap 1.

Down the back straight for the first time and Beller made his way past Holdcroft into second position, and was then gifted the lead when Westaway went into Dandenong Road corner a little too deep under brakes, and went wide allowing Beller through. Holdcroft pulled alongside as Westaway rejoined the track but slightly compromised his run – this allowed Oxley to dart to the left and the three ran side-by-side-by-side to the final two corners, with Taubitz right behind waiting to capitalise on the battle in front. Oxley was able to round up the pair before braking for the final corner, with Holdcroft going through in third ahead of Westaway and Taubitz, the four covered by a tiny margin while Beller attempted to clear off in front.

Westaway didn’t want to hang around though and was back into third immediately, pulling alongside and taking the position under brakes into Turn 1 to begin the second lap. Taubitz was then right on Holdcrofts bumper and pulled alongside when Holdcroft replicated Westaway from the previous lap and drifted wide exiting Dandenong Road corner. The two raced side by side down to Turn 11 with Taubitz holding the line around the outside to come out in front and take the fourth position.

Behind them, James moved alongside Jory down the straight to start Lap 2 to move to fifth position, and moved alongside Holdcroft into fifth position when Holdcroft seemed to slow briefly coming onto the main straight after what appeared to be a missed gear change. The following lap however, Holdcroft moved alongside James and took back the fifth position again.

James was unable to mount a serious comeback however as he was forced to retire at the end of the lap with a busted gearbox. Behind them, Howe had moved past Bourke on Lap 3, and then ahead of Freeman, and Doherty into what became eighth position after James’ retirement, with Mitchell making his way ahead of Jory in the latter part of the fourth lap, which moved him to sixth position.

Up front meanwhile, Oxley was on a charge and was able to move alongside Beller down the front straight as the pair began Lap 4 and took the lead, the superior power of the E36 Super Tourer proving too much to overcome down Sandowns two long straights. Beller did not let Oxley escape anywhere and was shadowing him, but unable to find an opportunity to retake the lead.

Mitchell dropped back behnd Jory and Howe on Lap 5, slipping to eighth position, although when Holdcroft slowed down the front straight to begin the sixth lap, Mitchell was able to get back past Howe and Jory, and was now into fifth place. Freeman also passed Doherty and into eighth as Holdcroft retired. Another retirement was Dick Howe, not finishing the final lap.

So Oxley was able to hold on to take the win from Beller, with Westaway third, Taubitz in a lonely fourth position after his potential challengers dropped out, with Mitchell in a fantastic fifth position outright! Jory and Freeman were sixth and seventh and the first E30 BMW’s home, with Peter Doherty mixed in with them in eighth position in his 944, just ahead of Bourke with Vainoras rounding out the Top Ten.

So a fun and successful outing with the BMWs led to some different challenges overcoming the speed differences between the different cars, and a big thanks to the E30 series organisers, as well as the Vic Historic Racing Series for allowing us to be part of it!

Thanks also as always to all the flag marshalls at Victorian Flagmarshalling Team, and all of the organisers, volunteers, media, team medical and all of those in the grandstands who came to watch us over the weekend!

One round left at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as the 944 Challenge finalise the pointscore for season 2017 on the weekend of the 25th-26th November as we return to the famed Island Magic event!

         

Historic Round Exhibition Event. Sandown – Race 2

Race 2 on Sunday morning saw Cameron Beller again get a good jump to lead away, before Chris Oxley’s BMW was able to use its superior power to move past totake the lead into Turn 1 ahead of Beller. Michael Holdcroft also got a great start and charged between the second row cars of Jamie Westaway and Mark Taubitz to be third into Turn 1, with Westaway and Taubitz following.

Pedr James made a strong start and pulled alongside Taubitz under brakes for Turn 1, but settled in for sixth ahead of Peter Doherty, Jim Mitchell, with Brian Bourke and Alex Jory roundingout the top ten. Dick Howe was next with Tim Freeman, Rory Plant and John Vainoras rounding out the field, though Plant would not complete the lap before retiring.

Taubitz and Westaway ran side by side through Turns two and three before Taubitz prevailed in fourth position, although Westaway was able to get in the slipstream down the back straight and pulled alongside Taubitz, taking fourth position back entering the esses.

Behind them, Howe made his way past the two E30’s of Jory and Bourke down the back straight, before passing Mitchell for eighth position on the run out of Dandenong Road corner, with Bourke also passing Mitchell down the front straight. Howe continued to move forward as he passed Doherty down the back straight on lap two and set his sights on James in front. Further up the order, Westaway repeated his move from the previous lap on Holdcroft, moving up to third while Beller was all over Oxley trying to find an advantage on the BMW.

Howe closed up to James and was on his rear bumper exiting Dandenong Road corner, before he suddenly pulled into pitlane to retire at the end of lap 3

At the end of lap 4 it was Oxley from Beller, Westaway, Holdcroft, Taubitz, James, Doherty, Bourke, Mitchell, Jory, Freeman and Vainoras.

Westaway moved himself up to second position on Lap 5 as he again made a pass down the back straight, this time on Beller to try to find a way past Oxley. Doherty meanwhile found himself coming out on the losing side after a touch from Bourke in the E30, dropping him from seventh position back to eleventh behind Mitchell, Jory and Freeman.

Westaway was unable to find a way past Oxley and would follow him across the line again, this time earning the second position with no time penalties and taking consolation in securing the fastest race lap. Beller was third right behind Westaway, Holdcroft was fourth in the first E30 BMW, with Taubitz in fifth position.

James slipped away from Taubitz’s bumper to finish an uncontested sixth, with Bourke, Mitchell, Jory and Freeman rounding out the Top Ten, with Doherty finishing eleventh ahead of Vainoras in twelfth position.

1 race to go, could the ‘David’ Porsches conquer the ‘Goliath’ BTCC winning BMW in the final race??

         

Historic Round Exhibition Event. Sandown – Race 1

Race 1 for the weekend was under clear warm skies and it was Jamie Westaway who got the best start off the front row of the grid, with Michael Holdcroft also getting a great start from fourth and challenged for the lead but ultimately slotted into second through turn 1 behind Westaway. Pole sitter Chris Oxley was rounded up after a tardy start by Cameron Beller and Dick Howe, though the superior power of the ex BTCC car helped him gather speed and move back past through the middle of the two 944s and slot into third behind Holdcroft, with Beller and Howe following through.

Mark Taubitz was in sixth position, with Peter Doherty into seventh after a great start. Pedr James moved inside Jim Mitchell under brakes for turn 1 to slot into eighth position with Brian Bourke rounding out the top ten behind Mitchell. Tim Freeman was next from Alex Jory, John Vainoras and Rory Plant.

Taubitz moved past Howe under brakes on the inside for Turn 2, but Howe was able to power past down the back straight before the esses, while Oxley also used his superior straightline speed to round up Holdcroft to move into second.

Into Turn 1 to start the second lap and Oxley again was able to utilise his power advantage to move ahead of Westaway into the lead, though the more nimble 944’s and E30 were able to monster him in the corners and under brakes.

Howe was agressive through turns 2 and 3 as he tried to stick right with Beller to attempt to be able to make a pass down the back straight, however the concertina effect caused by the train of cars headed by Oxley braking for Turn 4 earlier than expected caught him out. Howe stood on the brakes, and with the right rear wheel on the outside ripplestrip, Howe spun his way through Turn 4, nudging the barrier lightly with the rear of the car, and dropping to the back of the pack in fourteenth position.

Beller made his move into third position under brakes for Turn 1 at the start of Lap 3, getting ahead of Holdcroft, while Howe moved ahead of Plant, who subsequently retired the following lap.

Oxley was keeping Westaway at bay with Beller a couple of seconds adrift while Holdcroft fell into the clutches of Taubitz. Doherty and James were running in close quarters in sixth and seventh, with Mitchell a few seconds back holding off Bourke, with Freeman just behind the pair in tenth position. Jory was just behind him while Howe moved himself into twelfth ahead of Vainoras.

Taubitz moved ahead of Holdcroft as they ran to the end of the back straight on Lap 5, while James moved past Doherty at the start of the lap to move into the sixth position.

At the end of the six laps it was Oxley who crossed the line narrowly ahead of Westaway, with Beller acouple of seconds behind. It was decreed however that Westaway jumped the start, and was handed a 5 second time penalty. This dropped him behind Beller, though still stayed third ahead of Taubitz who crossed the line fourth, with Holdcroft crossing the line fifth, the first of the E30 series runners.

James was sixth from Doherty, with Mitchell in eighth from Bourke and Freeman, the second and third E30’s in ninth and tenth outright. Jory, the recovering Howe and Vainoras were the final finishers.

The power of the newer BMW E36 BTCC car would prove tough to overcome, but the 944 field will be giving it their best shot to prevail with two races to come on Sunday!

         

Historic Round Exhibition Event. Sandown – Qualifying

The 944 Challenge was fortunate to be invited to attend the Historic Sandown Round in November, in a combined race with the competitors of the BMW E30 series and Super Tourer fields. Unfortunately there was only one Super Touring car competing, but it happened to be the 1992 BTCC winning BMW raced that year by Tim Harvey and Steve Soper, this weekend being driven by Chris Oxley.

Qualifying was held under sunny Melbourne skies, and as the combined field completed their first flying laps it was Cameron Beller who was quickest straight up with a 1:28.1664. Mark Taubitz was second quickest with a 1:29.7957, followed by Chris Oxley’s Super Tourer with a 1:29.8189. Jamie Westaway was fourth in his father Tony’s 944 with a 1:30.9023 with Pedr James fifth quickest on 1:31.3814. Michael Holdcroft was the first of theE30 BMW’s in sixth with a 1:33.6091, ahead of Dick Howe’s 1:33.6108.

Peter Doherty was eighth with a 1:34.0356 with Tim Freeman next in the second E30 with a 1:35.0391. Jim Mitchell rounded out the top 10 with a 1:35.2717, ahead of Brian Bourke’s E30 with a 1:35.5921 and John Vainoras twelfth with a 1:35.9296. Thirteenth quickest, but only managing an out lap was Rory Plant in an E30, recording a 1:50.8375 he would finish the session in thirteenth, with Alex Jory in his E30 not venturing out for qualifying.

Beller recorded a 1:27.6135 on his second lap, while Taubitz closed the gap with a 1:28.3539 on his lap to remain second quickest. Westaway moved into third with a 1:28.9084, with Michael Holdcroft up to fourth with a 1:29.2658. James inproved with a 1:30.6921 but slipped down to sixth spot, with Howe up to seventh with a 1:31.4939.

Beller went faster again the next lap with a 1:27.0065, a time he wouldn’t beat for the remainder of the session. Jumping up to second quickest was Oxley with a 1:27.6371, with Holdcroft moving to third with a 1:27.7285, besting Taubitz by half a hundredth of a second with a 1:27.7339 slipping back to fourth. Westaway also improved further with a 1:28.0084 but dropped back to fifth in the order. Dick Howe recorded a 1:29.4416 to move up to sixth, swapping spots with James who ran a 1:30.1411.

Peter Doherty remained eighth with a 1:31.2585, just ahead of Tim Freeman who recorded a 1:31.2842 which would be his fastest time for the session. Brian Bourke was just behind in tenth with a 1:31.3177, with Mitchell in eleventh improving to a 1:32.8689.

Oxley closed on Beller’s fastest time next lap around with a 1:27.1058, with Westaway moving up to third with a 1:27.3019. Holdcroft and Taubitz both ran faster, with the gap between them closing to only three ten thousandths of a second, a 1:27.4578 to a 1:27.4581 in what would be the fastest times for both drivers. Howe continued to improve as he recorded a 1:28.8946 while James also ran his fastest time for qualifying in a 1:29.9850. Bourke ran a 1:30.4965 to move up to eighth ahead of Doherty who improved slightly with a 1:30.9781. Mitchell went faster with a 1:31.5343, while Vainoras ran a 1:32.6021 which he wouldn’tbe able to improve on.

Oxley recorded the fastest time to move to provisional pole the next lap with a 1:26.9889, while Howe also improved again, a 1:28.1695 this time. Jim Mitchell jumped up to seventh position with a 1:29.6715, just ahead of Bourke who was up to eighth with a 1:29.7720. Doherty also ran his fastest time with a 1:30.2502 which moved him to tenth position behind James.

Westaway impressed as he jumped to the top of the timesheets the next lap with a 1:26.5489, a great performance in his first competitive outing in the car, as Howe also continued to lower his times, now into the 27’s with a 1:27.8073, before running his best time the following lap in a 1:27.4614, but remaining sixth behind Holdcroft and Taubitz – only .0036 of a second covering these three cars.

Bourke improved by a tiny margin with a 1:29.7459 but stayed in eighth, and it appeared the field was set – thatwas until Oxley gained over six tenths of a second on his final lap to take pole with a 1:26.3444, demoting Westaway to second on the grid.

Beller wouldlineup third alongside Holdcroft in the first of the E30 Bimmers. Taubitz and Howe were on the third row, with Mitchell on Row 4 alongside Bourke in the second E30. James and Doherty would fill Row 5, with Freeman in the third E30 filling the sixth row with Vainoras. Plant and Jory would line up on the final row of the grid.

As this wasn’t a points round, the 944 Challenge rules didn’t apply, therefore some cars used the opportunity to experiment with their cars and setups a fraction! An exciting race was promised to come!

   

Round 6. Phillip Island – Race 3

The final race of the weekend, and the final race of the 2017 Vic State Series saw 14 cars line up on the grid, after the demise of John Vainoras with overheating issues, and Jim Mitchell after suffering damage in his incident at Honda in Race 2 being too great to repair before the last race.

With Cameron Beller and Chris Lewis-Williams tied for points with a win and second place each, the round win would go to the higher placed finisher, and it was Chris Lewis-Williams who got the jump off the line ahead of Beller to lead through into turn 1 with Beller on his tail. Howe moved into the third position ahead of Tony Westaway, wih Michael Westaway next, followed by Codey West.

Jumping up into seventh into Turn 1 was Mark Taubitz after another good start to move ahead of Andrew Jackman and Ken Rowland who followed him through with Gallagher holding onto tenth position. Rob Holding was next through with Keith Marriner, Lyndon Watson and Marius Catrina all in tow.

Rowland moved alongside Jackman on the exit of Southern Loop to gain the spot on the run to Stoner corner while Catrina made a move past Watson under brakes for Honda corner to slot in behind Marriner.

Gallagher made his way past Jackman as the pair ran down the front straight to commence Lap 2, while Rowland passed Taubitz under brakes for MG corner and Marriner was overtaken by both Catrina, and Watson during the second lap. Taubitz attempted an over and under passon Rowland buy backed out of it, allowing Gallagher to move past into Turn 1 due to the slight loss of momentum onto the main straight.

Up front Lewis-Williams and Beller again manage to pull a gap on the 4 car battle behind them, with Howe heading the Westaway brothers and West, with Rowland attempting to hunt them down. Gallagher was next with Taubitz right behind him, while Jackman began to struggle with gear shifting issues, allowing Rob Holding to make a pass around the outside on the approach to Turn 2. Behind him, Watson moved past Catrina into twlefth position, with Marriner in fourteenth, while Taubitz moved back past Gallagher after positioning himself on the outside of Stoner corner to make a move under brakes for Honda to take the spot back.

As the front runners began to lap some of the slower MG’s on track, Michael Westaway was able to make a move on his brother Tony in between Turns 1 & 2 as Tony was baulked trying to navigate the lapped traffic. West also began to struggle with gearbox issues, and Rowland pounced under brakes for Honda and took sixth position.

Gallagher again got the slipstream down the straight and retook the position from Taubitz entering Turn 1 while Jackman continued to struggle to find gears, and the delay exiting MG corner at the end of lap 4 allowed Watson to move past before Turn 12, and Catrina to drive past down the front straight, relegating him to thirteenth position into Turn 1.

Lap 5,  and Taubitz was able to turn the tables of the past two laps back on Gallagher, and got the slipstream and took back the eighth position going into Turn 1. Gallagher got the better run exiting Southern Loop however and pulled alongside. Neither driver wanted to giveup on the spot however, and the pair ran sided by side all the way through from Stoner corner to Lukey Heights where Gallagher just nosed ahead and held the spot out of MG. While this was going on, Watson overtook Holding under brakes for position at MG.

In front of all of them, Michael Westaway made a couple of attempts to move past Howe under brakes for Honda, and MG corners – but wasn’t able to pull them off – the latter leaving his compromised for the run fown the straight, allowing Tony to sweep past to re-take fourth position. Tony continued his surge forward a few corners later, taking Howe for third position under brakes for Honda corner.

Lap 6 Catrina made a pass for position on Holding under brakes for Honda corner, but Holding didn’t give up easily and took the inside line on Catrina exiting Siberia, and was able to retake the position by the time they reached MG after they ran side-by-side through Hayshed and Lukey Heights. A little further up the track, Taubitz again repeated his move into Turn 1 after slipstreaming Gallagher and moving back into eighth, this time he was able to pull a small gap to give himself some breathing space.

Further up front, Howe wasn’t going to let go of his hard earned third position, and used the slipstream to swep back past Westaway into Turn 1. In a continued reversal of events of the previous lap, Michael Westaway passed Tony in the same way Tony gained position the lap, before – under brakes for Honda, dropping Tony back to fifth position. All the battling for these positions allowed Ken Rowland to sneak onto the back of the trio.

At the front, Lewis-Williams and Beller were running line astern, with Beller seemingly content with second position, knowing that was enough to secure the series title for the year. Further back, Catrina continued to try to find a way past Holding and tried again at Honda the next lap – on the outside this time -but ran wide, allowing Jackman to close back in on his bumper. The chase would only last until Lukey Heights however, before Catrina spun entering the fast left hander, with Jackman taking avoiding action by veering to the right – through the gravel trap, dropping behind Marriner by the time he resumed, with Catrina retiring as a result.

As the last lap started, another change of position as Tony Westaway again moved back past his brother on the run to Turn 1, and began attacking Howe immediately. Michael didn’t lie down though, and in a repeat of his move the previous lap, again outbraked Tony into Honda and prevailed again with fourth position. Howe had to defend fiercly, though held on for the third position, with a second covering the time across the line for Howe, Michael and Tony Westaway and Ken Rowland in sixth.

Ahead of them, Lewis-Williams took the victory by just under a second from Beller, with Howe rounding out the podium followed by the Westaway brothers and Rowland.

West managed to holdon for seventh as Taubitz closed in but ran out of time to mount a challenge, crossing the line 0.4 of a second behind. Watson was able to move past Gallagher on the final lap for ninth position, with Gallagher rounding out the Top Ten. Holding was eleventh, with a large gap back to Marriner, and Jackman a few seconds back the final finisher for the race.

So the 2017 Vic State Series came to a close – thank you to all of the competitors,and their crew and supporters, Vic State Race Series Organisers, Victorian Flagmarshalling Team, Fire & Rescue and Team Medical for all their assistance to allow us to all go racing throughout the year!

Congratulations to all of those who raced throughout the year!

Congratulations also Cameron Beller who secured the 2017 Vic State Race Series Title, to Chris Lewis-Williams who was second, and Tony Westaway for third position. A fantastic effort from all three drivers and their teams.

Two more Race events for the year still to come, with the special event at Historic Sandown on November 11-12, before the final round for the 2017 944 Challenge at Island Magic on November 25-26!