Round 3. Sandown – Race 1

Round 3. Sandown – Race 1

Race 1 was a 10 lap affair held in the early afternoon on Saturday – there was an empty place on Grid spot 10 where Jim Gallagher was unable to make the Saturday afternoon race due to some previous commitments, but he would be back for Race 2 on Sunday. The excitement of the first race in many years appeared to be too much for the left rear suspension of Keith Marriner’s 944 to handle, as it collapsed on the warm up lap! Keith’s first race start would have to wait until Sunday morning unfortunately.

15 cars then moved away when the red lights extinguished, and it was Vince Misuraca who got the best jump, getting the holeshot on Cameron Beller from his 2nd position on the grid to lead into Turn 1. Brent Rose got a great start from the 4th position on the grid, and took the inside running on Beller into turn 1 to take second position. Beller slotted in to third, while behind him there was a gaggle of cars with Brad Winter, Jason Miller who had a poor start, Tony Westaway and John Goddard who both had good starts, and Mark Taubitz who got a good initial jump, but then spun the wheels all in very close proximitiy on the run to Turn 1. Winter would emerge ahead of this group in 4th, while Miller, Goddard and Westaway went three wide – without any contact in Turn 1. Miller was 5th ahead of Goddard, Westaway and Taubitz in 8th. Michael Westaway slotted into 9th while Pedr James took advantage of the empty spot in front of him to slot into 10th. Next was Millar in 11th then Catrina, Woods, Rowland and Howe. Miller overtook Winter for 4th place down the back straight for the first time, while Howe got around both Rowland and then Woods to get up to 13th.

Down the front straight to end the first lap Tony Westaway pulled alongside Goddard and made the pass into turn 1. Goddard didn’t want to give up that easily however and fought back on the run to turn 2 and attempted to sneak back down the inside – slight contact with Westaway though and car #27 rotated around and dropped back to the tail of the field once he got himself facing the right way again.

On Lap 3, Beller made his move into 2nd place ahead of Rose down the back straight into the esses, and then took the lead from Misuraca into turn 1 the following lap, as Miller performed the same manoeuvre on Rose at Turn 1 to move to third. Misuraca didn’t give up however, and took the lead back from Beller again down the back straight, while Howe also continued his progression, passing Catrina to move to 11th. Beller returned serve the next time down the front straight into turn 1 to get back into the lead again.

Disaster for Winter coming into the final turn as his car careered off on the outside of the turn, and he would ultimately retire. Problems also for Ken Rowland who retired around the same time, a Blown Head Gasket the problem onboard car #4. Howe was able to pass Millar and moved up to 9th in conjunction with Winters misfortune, while Woods and Goddard both moved past Catrina.

Lap 6 and Miller moved up to 2nd, passing Misuraca as well into Turn 1, while on the next lap Tony Westaway moved up to 4th by passing Rose under brakes for Turn 11 as Rose was struggling with a misfire, he was then passed by Taubitz, Westaway and James the following lap, as his times dropped by over 10 seconds a lap. He would drop to 13th to ultimately finish last, but still classified as a finisher at the end of 10 laps.

Beller set the races fastest lap on lap 8 – a 1:25.1492 on his way to victory, 4.4 seconds clear of Miller with a great drive into second, crossing the line 0.4 of a second clear of Misuraca in third. Tony Westaway was 4th from Taubitz, who was less than half a second ahead of Michael Westaway in 6th at the chequered flag.

Pedr James crossed the line 7th, equalling his best result to date ahead of Howe with a good recovery drive after his qualifying dramas into 8th, Millar – a great return drive into 9th position, and Goddard who moved back to 10th – across the line a tenth of a second clear of 11th placed Woods. Catrina crossed the line in 12th place, ahead of the ailing Rose in 13th.

A great battle throughout the field, with the promise of more to come with two races on Sunday!

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