A smaller entry field for Round 3 of the State Race Series with 14 cars entering for the weekend held under some very chilly, but clear skies – although only 13 cars would hit the track for qualifying early on Saturday morning:
In the pit paddock, but with no driver to be seen was the #74 Zantek car of Mark Taubitz – work commitments keeping him away from the circuit on Saturday, but he would make his way to the circuit on Sunday to line up from the back of the grid for Race 2.
Chris Lewis-Williams topped the time sheets as the first competitive laps were run with his 1:34.8293 edging out Cameron Bellers’ 1:35.0494 and Vince Misuraca in third with a 1:36.6437.
Debutante Codey West was an impressive fourth fastest with a 1:37.0399 ahead of Tony Westaway with a 1:38.9010, with Dick Howe sixth on a 1:39.9971.
Sam Rofe returned to the track for the first time in 18 months and was seventh quickest after his first lap, his 1:41.2786 edging out eighth fastest Pedr James with a 1:41.6161, and Michael Westaway ninth with a 1:42.3007
Tenth was Jim Mitchell with a 1:44.2406, just ahead of Keith Marriner in eleventh with a 1:44.3324. John Vainoras was twelfth with a 1:48.3947 with Lyndon Watson last with a 1:51.4660.
Beller moved to the top of the order on his second lap with a blistering 1:33.9777, dropping Lewis-Williams to second as he ran a 1:34.6199, while Misuraca improved to a 1:35.6636.
Tony Westaway improved to a 1:37.4348 but stayed fifth behind West, as Howe also stayed sixth despite his improvement with a 1:38.5776. Michael Westaway moved up to seventh with a 1:39.5082 ahead of Rofe and James, while Marriner moved to tenth with a 1:42.4199, just ahead of Mitchell now on a 1:43.0596 in eleventh.
Vainoras and Watson both improved with 1:47.4284 and 1:51.0829 laps respectively to hold their positions.
Beller improved by half a tenth of a second on his third fast lap with a 1:33.9229, while Misuraca moved to second as he ran a 1:34.2331 to displace Lewis-Williams who was now on a 1:34.6199.
Tony Westaway moved to fourth with a 1:35.5491, dropping West to fifth with a 1:36.4509. Michael Westaway found two seconds to move into sixth with a 1:37.4958, pushing Howe back to seventh after running a 1:37.8645.
Lyndon Watson vaulted into eighth with his first quick time, a 1:38.0233 to be just ahead of James, ninth with 1:38.0797. Rofe was tenth after turning a 1:39.2142, with Marriner improving to a 1:40.3842 in eleventh. Mitchell and Vainoras both continued to improve with respectively laps of 1:42.9377 and 1:46.6867.
Beller lowered his fastest time by a further two tenths of a second next time around with a 1:33.7195, while Misuraca also went quicker with a 1:34.0343, as did Lewis-Williams – only a hundredth of a second behind with a 1:34.0457. Lewis-Williams wasn’t able to improve on this time however, and would line up third on the grid for Race 1.
Tony Westaway and Codey West both lowered their times as they recorded 1:35.2279 and 1:36.0324 laps to retain their positions in fourth and fifth, while James moved up to sixth with a 1:36.8428.
Michael Westaway was now seventh, but improved his time with a 1:37.0503, with Howe also improving to a 1:37.2436, as did Mitchell (1:42.3077) and Vainoras (1:45.6726)
Next time around, Tony Westaway ran his fastest lap of the session with a 1:35.0373, while West improved to a 1:35.3891 in fifth. Rofe moved up to ninth position with a 1:37.5091 in what was his fastest lap for qualifying, as Mitchell again lapped a second quicker with a 1:41.2723.
Beller cemented his position at the front of the field as he lowered the marker by another half a tenth, a 1:33.6549 was enough to secure him the pole position spot for Race 1.
Michael Westaway recorded his fastest lap for the session as he went a further six tenths of a second quicker with a 1:36.4030 to move ahead of James to sixth, Howe improved marginally with a 1:37.2021, and Watson improved by half a second and secured his tenth position on the grid with a 1:37.5653 in his fastest time for the session.
Mitchell also improved again with a 1:41.0540, and the following lap moved to eleventh as he ran his fastest time for the session with a 1:39.6769, just ahead of Marriner who also dipped into the sub 1:40 bracket to be right behind Mitchell with a 1:39.6877, while Vainoras also further improved by another second with a 1:44.6769.
Codey West moved himself onto the second row of the grid on the following lap with a superb 1:34.8601 lap to put him into fourth, Howe moved up to seventh with a 1:36.4984 as James improved slightly with a 1:36.6693, though was pushed back to eighth, while Marriner also improved with a 1:38.9337.
Misuraca hadn’t given up on trying to snatch the pole spot from Beller, but while he improved with his fastest time on 1:33.9909, it wasn’t enough for the #1 spot and he would line up alongside Beller on the front row.
James also hadn’t given up, and improved to a 1:36.2504 to put him into an excellent sixth position, a great return after the unfortunate collision which sidelined him in Race 2 at Phillip Island, as Vainoras ran his fastest lap of qualifying, with a 1:43.6491.
The final couple of improvements by James and Marriner didnt change their positions in the order, as James recorded a 1:36.2247 and Marriner ran a 1:38.5017.
Race 1 would be 8 laps held on Saturday afternoon,with Beller and Misuraca on the front row ahead of Lewis-Williams and the impressive West. Who would take the first race win for the weekend?