Round 2. Phillip Island – Race 3

Round 2. Phillip Island – Race 3

The third and final race for the round promised to be the closest of the weekend – although the field size had depleted by two with Toni Andreevski unable to front for the weekend after his impromptu barbeque at the completion of Race 2, and Peter Doherty also not making it out for the final race.

Off the start, and Jamie Westaway got the jump off the start on Cameron Beller to lead into the first corner, the first time Beller hadn’t led into Turn 1 this year. Beller was on Westaway’s tail, with Lyndon Watson holding third position off the start with Brad Winter slotting in next in fourth position.

Tim Petrusic moved into fifth position, with Mark Taubitz in behind him after a strong start from eighth position saw him move ahead of Michael Westaway who slipped two positions back to seventh off the start, and Andrew Jackman in eighth position. Keith Marriner moved up to ninth position after a good start, ahead of Jim Mitchell, with Dick Howe back to eleventh after getting a tardy start, and John Vainoras in twelfth spot.

Into Honda corner and the positions remained the same as Westaway pulled a tiny gap on Beller, with Taubitz having a look on the inside of Petrusic, while Michael Westaway dove deep underbrakes on the outside, though slotted in behind the Zantek car once more. Dick Howe moved his way past Mitchell under brakes to move back into tenth position.

Through Hayshed corner and Tim Petrisuc had a mis-shift into fifth gear, and turned his dashboard into a Christmas tree of warning lights. Taubitz moved past and took the fifth position through Lukey Heights, while Westaway and Jackman also moved ahead into brakes for MG, as Howe, Marriner and Mitchell all followed through exiting MG as Petrusic recovered and got back into the gas and cleared the dash warning, now down to eleventh position.

Howe moved to the inside of Marriner into the final corner to take the position, thus it was Jamie Westaway, Beller, Watson, Winter and Taubitz across the line for the first time, ahead of Michael Westaway, Jackman, Howe, Marriner, Mitchell, Petrusic and Vainoras to complete the first of ten laps.

Westaway and Beller pulled a gap up front as Taubitz closed in slightly on the Watson/Winter battle for third position, as he pulled away from Westaway in sixth, who did the same to Jackman, who begun to have Howe to contest with. Petrusic started his recovery drive and moved past Mitchell who had fallen back from the bumper of Marriner.

Lap 3 and Howe moved ahead of Jackman to elevate himself to seventh, as Beller began to close on Westaway as he pulled alongside with the aid of the draft as the pair started their fourth lap. Westaway held the position though, but Beller was determined to take the lead and the two were side-by-side through Honda and Siberia, where Beller was able to get a superior run down the back section to move clear of Westaway once the got to Lukey Heights.

Further back meanwhile, and Petrusic moved up to ninth as he passed Marriner and set off after Jackman in eighth.

Lap 5, and Jackman had a big moment as he had a spin at Turn 1, thankfully avoiding any contact and was able to rectify himself and continue, albeit back to tenth position behind Petrusic and Marriner. Up front meanwhile, Westaway moved around the outside of Beller into Turn 1, but couldn’t quite make the move stick and had to stay in behind.

Status quo through the rest of the order as Beller led Westaway, while Watson was defending hard from a relentless Winter, looking at all angles to find a way past, with Taubitz unable to close the gap in fifth, with Michael Westaway back in sixth ahead of Howe, Petrusic, Marriner and Jackman, with Mitchell and Vainoras rounding out the field.

Lap 8 Westaway was right on Bellers’ bumper once again and wasn’t quite able to maket the pass down the straight, but was able to move past under brakes for Honda corner, though Beller was again able to repeat the over and under move and re-took the position down the run through the back part of the circuit to Lukey Heights.

Beller wasn’t able to hold the lead for long though as Westaway again drafted back onto the bumper and alongside Beller, this time clearing him as the pair rounded Turn 1. The batle for third behind them hadn’t eased, and as the dice between Watson and Winter rounded Southern Loop, Watson slipped off the circuit, and entered the coarse Phillip Island gravel trap sideways, immediately burying the car deep, Watson unable to recover and rejoin the race, a devastating DNF after what had been a great weekend to that point, and allowing Winter through to an uncontested third that he had battled hard to earn.

Next on the scene was Taubitz, who slowed substantially as the wind blew a large cloud of gravel dust across and onto the apex of the corner. This alowed Michael Westaway a sniff of what had now become fourth position as he closed the gap significantly.

All eyes thus turned to the action up front, as Beller pulled out of the draft on the run down the front straight to start the final lap, and reversed the move from Westaway on the previous lap as he swept around the outside to take the lead. Westaway was all over Beller like a cheap suit, but Beller drove a great defensive final lap and didn’t allow Westaway to stick a nose inside anywhere, and crossed the line to take the victory by a scant .12 of a second.

Third after a strong run was Brad Winter, which also earnt him third outright for the weekend, ahead of Mark Taubitz in fourth position, a result which put him up to third in the series pointscore. Michael Westaway was fifth, unable to quite close the gap enough to mount a challenge on Taubitz on the final lap.

Dick Howe was sixth – just – after dramas on the last lap slowed him down, he was able to cross the line just ahead of a recovering Tim Petrusic in seventh position, a good result in his return drive to the series.

Eighth across the line was Marriner, with Jim Mitchell moving up to ninth on the final lap after catching and overtaking the ailing Jackman, who was nursing home his car and D shaped tyres after his mid-race spin to finish tenth. The final finisher was John Vainoras who ran his fastest laps of the weekend as he found more speed and comfort with the new suspension in the Noras Distribution Porsche.

So Beller leaves Phillip Island undefeated so far in 2018, though with the series headed to the tight Winton venue for Round 3, will one of the three W’s – Westaway, Watson or Winter be able to prevent him from adding three more wins to his tally? Come down to Winton June 16-17 to watch all the action!

        

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