Round 2. Phillip Island – Race 1

Round 2. Phillip Island – Race 1

Race 1 from Round 2 of the 2016 944 Challenge promised to be a very close and exciting affair, and didn’t fail to deliver!

With such a close qualifying session, it was expected to be just as close in the race. As the Red lights went out Cameron Beller and Vince Misuraca got an even start and were side by side through turn 1 & 2 before
Beller edged ahead to lead out of Southern Loop, from John Stanic, Chris Lewis-Williams, Jason Miller, Tony Westaway & Dick Howe. Ryan Woods made a great start, and went around the outside of Brad Winter and Michael Westaway at Southern loop to jump into 8th ahead of Winter and Michael Westaway. Gallagher lost a couple of spots in the drag race from the start but passed Taubitz around the outside of Turn 2 to go back into 11th, with Taubitz following from James, Catrina, Rowland & Raphael.

Misuraca took the lead from Beller on the inside into Honda corner for the first time, but Beller retook lead again immediately after with a better run on the inside out of Siberia. Lewis-Williams also passed Stanic to get into the third position across the back of the track. Gallagher also made his way back into the top 10 with an outside pass of Michael Westaway under brakes at Honda, then made a move on the inside of Winter into MG – although Brad was able to make the cross-over move and get back around Gallagher around the outside of Turn 11. The order across the line was Beller, Misuraca, Lewis-Williams, Stanic, Miller, T.Westaway, Howe, Woods, Winter & Gallagher the top 10, ahead of M.Westaway, Taubitz, James, Catrina, Rowland & Raphael.

Lap 2 and the close battle continued up the front, as Chris Lewis-Williams set the races fastest lap in his pursuit of Beller & Misuraca, the strong headwinds meaning his 1:49.1169 was two seconds away from the lap record. Unfortunately for Gallagher, his charge ended with a small mistake from Westaway bumping the #13 car around under brakes into MG, both cars continued and finished the race without major damage. This elevated Taubitz into 10th,James in 11th, Catrina to 12th and Rowland to 13th. Westaway and Gallagher continued in 14th & 15th ahead of Raphael.

Woods made a move under Howe for 7th on the inside into MG, but wasn’t able to make it stick – some great dicing side by side which ultimately allowed Winter to get a run on the two cars in front and to get past Woods down the main straight for 8th place.

Up the front, and on Lap 4 Misuraca again passed Beller on the inside into Honda, and yet again Beller was able to get the lead back again coming out of Siberia on the inside, while Rowland also moved himself up to 12th position ahead of Catrina.

It was a case of deja vu the following lap for Misuraca and Beller as Vince again made the pass for the third time into Honda, though he was able to hold on around the back of the circuit this time to lead across the line, but Beller got a better run onto the main straight and took back the lead into turn 1.
The battle for 7th was also still running hot, as Woods made his way past Winter under brakes into MG. Michael Westaway continued his recovery and moved up to 12th displacing both Catrina and Rowland. Gallagher was in 15th ahead of Raphael who was improving his times with every lap.

Lap 6 Vince again got the inside pass again into Honda but Beller did the over and under and was then on the outside for Siberia. He managed to hold tough around the outside and used his better momentum to edge back in front on the inside through hayshed.

Lewis-Williams, Stanic and Miller were holding station in positions 3 to 5, with Tony Westaway a little bit behind in 6th, ahead of the intense battle for 7th – with Winter making the pass on Woods down the front straight to elevate himself to 8th to start the last lap, and set his sights on Howe in 7th. Taubitz was trying to chase the trio ahead from 10th place and had eased himself away from James, with Westaway closing the gap from 12th. Rowland and Catrina followed from Gallagher and Raphael.

Beller was able to hold station on the final lap to take the race win – dramas for Misuraca however, as he was baulked by a slower car coming into the last two corners on the last lap – this allowed Lewis-Williams and Stanic to sneak past coming to the chequered flag to claim the second and third placings – relegating Vince back to fourth – with 1 second covering the top four across the line, with Miller in a fantastic 5th only a further half a second behind in a great race with no paint being exchanged despite the intense battles throughout the packs.

Tony Westaway was a strong sixth in what was a relatively lonely race for him, ahead of the Howe/Winter/Woods battle, Howe held on across the line by less than half a tenth of a second from Winter with Woods also less than half a second behind them. Taubitz completed the top ten a few seconds behind, with similar gaps back to James, and the recovering Michael Westaway in 12th.

Drama also for Rowland, who encountered a stuck throttle on the last lap, but was fortunately able to arrest the situation and retire the car on the outside of southern loop. This elevated Catrina back to 13th, ahead of Gallagher, and Raphael who completed his first ever race!

A great first race for Round 2 – and with some wild weather predicted for Sundays races, who could tell what the results would be!

2016Rd2R1results 2016Rd2R1times 2016Rd2R1chart r2r1chart

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