General News about and relating to all aspects of the 944 Challenge Series.
With so little separating the front row protagonists in qualifying for Round 2, a lot would depend on who could get the best start on the way to Turn 1 for Race 1. Off the line it was Cameron Beller who prevailed after he and Chris Lewis-Williams ran side by side through turns 1 & 2, with Vince Misuraca following them through in third position.
The following quartet of Brad Winter, Robert Lange, Tony Westaway and Dick Howe all maintained their grid position off the start, with Mark Taubitz getting a good start from tenth on the grid to jump up to eighth position ahead of Michael Westaway and Pedr James in tenth.
Ken Rowland was next from Jim Gallagher, Peter Doherty, Rob Holding, Lyndon Watson, Marius Catrina, Ben Raphael, Jim Mitchell and John Vainoras as the field exited Southern Loop for the first time.
Howe made a move to the inside of Westaway under brakes into Honda for the first time, and the two ran side-by-side from Honda all the way through to Hayshed before Howe was able to take command of sixth position.
Behind them, James held on to the outside of Southern Loop alongside Michael Westaway and used the momentum to clear him on the run to Honda, towing Jim Gallagher along behind him, moving up to tenth position relegating Westaway to eleventh ahead of Rowland, Doherty, Holding and then Catrina ahead of Watson, after they swapped position on the run out of Southern Loop.
Gallagher moved up to ninth with a strong move under brakes into MG, moving underneath James which sent him back to tenth. It wasn’t over by a long shot though as James and Westaway moved either side of Gallagher on the run down the front straight into turn 1, though Gallagher held strong to maintain ninth for now. Behind him, Westaway made a last minute move under brakes into Honda corner to overtake James and move back to tenth position, and then repeated the move the following lap on Gallagher putting him ninth.
Behind them, Holding was looking to make a move on Doherty but overcooked it under brakes and gyrated the Pellicano Builders backed 944, dropping him to sixteenth position behind Catrina and Watson. Jim Mitchell also had an off road excursion at Honda corner, dropping him behind Vainroas.
Up front meanwhile, Winter also made a pass into Honda corner, passing Misuraca to move into a podium position.
Lap 4 and Michael Westaway continued his charge forward, passing Taubitz down the front straight to move him up to eighth position, while the following lap James moved back to tenth when he made a move under Gallagher under brakes for Honda corner.
As the field started lap 6 some raindrops started to appear on the windscreens of the cars as some backed off more than others, and Misuraca was able to make his way back into the third position when he passed Winter. Behind them, the #8 944 of Dick Howe found himself off the track exiting Southern Loop and into retirement, a great shame after a strong drive where he was able to keep Tony Westaway at bay for sixth position.
Up at the front, Beller was able to eke out a gap across the second half of the race with Lewis-Williams unable to stick with him, and consolidating for second place. Misuraca was able to keep Winter at bay for the final podium position, with Lange immediately on Winters’ tail, crossing the line in fifth.
The Westaway brothers were next, with Tony crossing the line in sixth ahead of Michael in seventh only a few seconds behind.
In the battle for eight position, James had honed onto the back of Taubitz and was looking to make a move for what was now eighth place after Howe’s retirement. He made a couple of attempts down the main straight as well as under brakes for MG corner on lap 7 before he was able to get a tow down the front straight as they started the last lap to take the position under brakes for turn 1, with Gallagher right in behind with a watching brief, ready to capitalise.
Taubitz had a strong run coming out of Southern Loop and was able to pull to the inside of James as they entered Honda for the final time, with Gallagher immediately behind. All three braked late, with Gallagher spinning off under brakes, as James also spun as he turned in with a little bit too much speed, leaving Taubitz to cruise through and take the eight position, with Ken Rowland the biggest winner, moving up to ninth place. James was able to recover to finish tenth, ahead of Gallagher in eleventh.
Peter Doherty was a few seconds behind Gallagher in twelfth position, with Watson in thirteenth, after managing to make his way past Catrina for the position on the final lap. Holding was next in fifteenth position, with a gap back to Raphael in sixteenth. Vainoras held on for seventeenth ahead of Mitchell who was the final finisher, with Howe the only DNF.
Two races were still to come on Sunday a quick 6 lap race in the morning with a longer 10 lap race in the afternoon.