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!