The 944s drew the early slot with qualifying at 9:10 on Saturday. The ideal morning conditions saw times tumble from Friday practice, and it was very tight and competitive, with the top 9 covered by less than a second. CLW, Mills and Misuraca slotted into the top 3 spots, with Finn and Stutterd doing a good job to land fifth and seventh on the grid respectively.
Race 1 saw Misuraca rocket off the line into first by Turn 1, but chaos unfolded with Stanic, Beller and Imrie coming together into Turn 1, and the whole field dodged left and right to avoid the carnage. This allowed the leaders some space, with CLW and Misuraca engaging in a herculean struggle for the lead, which saw CLW misjudge an ambitious move into Turn 1 and slide off the track, giving Misuraca the win and allowing Mills to take second away from CLW in a close third.
Finn held on for a nice fourth, with Graham Smith not far behind, Anthony Westway and Petrusic kept out of trouble for a strong sixth and seventh, with Imrie and Stanic recovering to eigth and ninth
Happily, all cars knocked out in Race 1 could get onto the grid for Race 2, and the field was rewarded with a cleaner start. Misuraca and Mills pulled away off the line, and a fast starting Graham Smith stole into third. Mills passed Misuraca around the outside into the Dandenong Road corner for the lead, and CLW made his way back into third behind the leaders, where he and Misuraca resumed their battle from the previous race. The long time competitors and friends got a bit too friendly into Turn 1, with a slight touch causing Misuraca to spear off into the wall.
In the meantime, Stanic and Howe stopped on track due to separate incidents, and the resulting yellow flags made it very difficult for those trying to find a way past. Case in point was CLW all over the back of Mills, who was desperately trying to hold onto the lead, and a last lap lunge resulted in contact between the team mates, seeing Mills off and stuck deep in the gravel trap. CLW cruised through for the win, Finn scoring second place and Stutterd with a phenomenal drive from the back of the grid to third. A noteable mention was Catrina making it up into tenth.
The result of the third and final race was fully up in the air, and four cars contested the lead into Turn 1. Four into one didn’t work out well, with Finn and Stutterd coming together heavily, and both their weekends were finished. CLW and Imrie emerged from the chaos, with CLW edging away into the lead. Behind, Taubitz and Gallagher spent the race wheel to wheel in an evenly matched battle.
Ultimately CLW found his dominating form winning Race 3 by over five seconds, Imrie took second place and his maiden podium, and Beller fought through from his disastrous first race to claim the last step on the dais. Doug Smith and Michael Westaway scored an impressive fourth and fifth, with Stanic and Misuraca cutting through from the back of the grid into sixth and seventh. Millar was a notable top ten placing with ninth.
So all in all, an action-packed weekend which should provide some spectacular TV footage. And we’ll be back at Sandown to do it all again in two months!