A slightly depleted field of twelve cars fronted for the final 10 lap Race of the weekend, after the demise of Jim Gallagher’s #13 car in Race 2. Returning in time for the race having repaired his car, was Dick Howe – and he would start on the back row of the grid.
As it was in Races 1 & 2, Cameron Beller was able to get a good start to lead into the first corner, this time with Lyndon Watson in behind him, with Jamie Westaway and Mark Taubitz following through in third and fourth positions, with Andrew Jackman slotting into fifth spot.
Behind him was Jim Mitchell, from Marius Catrina and the fast starting Dick Howe coming off the back of the grid after his race 2 DNF. Rob Holding was next, with Keith Marriner in tenth, followed by Pedr James and John Vainoras. Howe moved past Catrina down the back straight and into seventh and set his sights on Mitchell.
Beller again started opening up his lead as he pulled away from the battle for second between Watson and Westaway, with Taubitz slowly dropping off of the battle for second, at the same time as pulling away from Jackman. A small mistake from Jackman into Dandenong Road corner on lap two allowed Mitchell and Howe to close right up to his bumper and make it a three way battle for fifth position.
Howe got the best run onto the straight to start lap 3 and was up to fifth position, with Mitchell also moving past Jackman, dropping him to seventh spot. Rob Holding meanwhile moved past Catrina into eighth position on lap 3.
Beller again was comfortable out front and continued to open up his gap on the battle for second position, with Westaway shadowing the second placed Watson, with Taubitz a few seconds adrift, with Howe also a few seconds back behind Taubitz in fifth. Mitchell was in sixth and defending from Jackman, Holding, Catrina and Marriner who was rounding out the top ten, with James right behind, with a small gap back to Vainoras.
On lap 6, Catrina was able to move past Holding to go back into eighth position, while James also moved ahead of Marriner and into the top ten.
One lap later, and dramas for Watson as he spun exiting the first corner with heavy pressure from Westaway, dropping him back to fourth as Taubitz flew past while Watson recovered to rejoin behind him. This left Beller with a 4 second gap back to Westaway, with Taubitz a further 7 seconds back in third, with Watson resuming 4 seconds behind Taubitz in fourth, with another 5 second back to Howe in fifth.
Behind them, Holding made his way back in front of Catrina again to move back into eighth position, with no one seemingly able to make their way past Mitchell.
The final few laps played out without any surprises, with Beller taking the win and a clean sweep of the weekend ahead of Westaway, with Taubitz crossing the line third, a few seconds ahead of Watson. A cruel blow for Taubitz however, who received a 5 second post race penalty for lining up outside of his grid box, relegating him back to fourth in the final results behind Watson. Howe was a lonely fifth position, with Mitchell holding on for sixth position.
Behind him though, dramas on the final lap for Jackman as he had a major moment which also caught out Catrina. This allowed Holding through to seventh position, with Jackman crossing the line in eighth – although Jackman would suffer the same fate as Taubitz, and received a 5 second post race penalty for being outside of his grid box also, which pushed him back two positions to tenth in the final classification.
This benefitted James, who after crossing the line ninth right on Jackman’s bumper, inherited the position post race, and also Marriner – who moved up from tenth to ninth position in the finals results. Catrina was fortunate to recover from his moment avoiding Jackman and to avoid any damage, and crossed the line in eleventh, with John Vainoras rounding out the finishers in twelfth position, after running his fastest times of the weekend in the final race.
So a perfect first round for Beller as he scored three wins from three races. Will Jamie Westaway be able to step up in future rounds as he familiarises himself more with his car? Or will Watson, Howe or Taubitz be able to find a little bit of speed to give Beller a cause for concern?
Combined with the upcoming return to the track of others missing at Round 1 including Tony & Michael Westaway, Brad Winter and the returning Tim Petrusic – there should be a good field of 944’s on track for Round 2 @ Phillip Island in two months time!
Round 1 Meeting Points*
*Vic State Series Points shown above