The Winton weather forecast proved accurate for Saturday afternoon as the skies dumped a load of rain on the circuit to recreate the slippery track conditions from Friday practice.
It didn’t take long for the first surprise event to occur – in fact, treacherous turn two bit yet again, before the race would even begin. All were shocked as reigning champion and pole sitter Cameron Beller, testing the wet track on the warm up lap befell the same fate in the same way as those on Friday, as the car snapped sideways and slid into the old pit wall on the outlap, leaving car #1 on the sidelines for Race 1. We would certainly have a new race winner for Race 7 of the 2018 season!
This left Jamie Westwawy all alone on the front row of the grid, and as the lights went out he scampered off towards turn 1. Behind him, neither of the second row starters went anywhere. Codey West lost all drive off the line as the car rolled about 50 metres, his weekend over. Mark Taubitz who was starting alongside him, stalled as the lights went out. The rest of the field did a great job avoiding the two stricken Porsches and West & Taubitz were no doubt glad it was a small field and all made their way past without drama.
Thus it was Lyndon Watson who moved up to second, with Michael Westaway behind him in third position. Andrew Jackman moved up to fourth, with Jim Mitchell fifth, Keith Marriner in sixth position and Taubitz restarting and resuming behind Marriner at the tail of the field while the recovery crew did a great job to get West’s car off the circuit without interrupting the race.
Jamie Westaway immediately began to open up a gap to Watson and Michael Westaway, while Taubitz moved up to fifth position, passing Marriner around the outside of the sweeper and then Mitchell under brakes for Penrite corner.
Across the line the first time it was Jamie Westaway with a huge five second lead as Michael Wesaway began to close up to Watsons’ bumper, with Jackman being chased by Taubitz, while Mitchell was holding off Marriner.
Westaway continued to pull out a lead as he was comfortably the fastest car on the track, while Michael Westaway was looking for a way past Watson. Taubitz was turning the second fastest laps and was closing on Jackman, before AJ had a moment under brakes into Turn 1 on the fourth lap and went straight off the track, though he was able to rejoin the circuit only having lost the one position to Taubitz. Behind them, Mitchell had a spin which allowed Marriner to move through into sixth while Mitchell resumed.
The lead for Westaway continued to grow by five seconds a lap to Watson, while Michael Westaway was struggling to find a way to get past Watson, and Taubitz began closing on the pair of them. Lap 5 and Michael’s car burst into wheelspin exiting turn 4 and the orange 944 went sliding through the Winton infield, elevating Taubitz to third position while Michael was able to resume in fourth position ahead of Jackman.
Without the pressure of Westaway right behind him Watson was able to focus on his laptimes and maintained the gap to Taubitz behind him, who consolidated his third position in the final couple of laps.
As the race entered the closing stages, Andrew Jackman misjudged the extra speed he carried on that lap through turns 1 and 2 and went in too deep under brakes for Turn three, nosing into the kitty litter. Unable to get out to finish the race, a fifth position went begging.
And that would be the way the field would finish, with Jamie Westaway winning by over 30 seconds at the end from Lyndon Watson, with Mark Taubitz in third. Michael Westaway was fourth ahead of the lapped cars of Keith Marriner and Jim Mitchell in fifth and sixth positions respectively, with Jackman, West and Beller all classified as non finishers.
With action that no one could have predicted on Saturday, and some heavy rain predicted for Sunday, what further curveballs would Races 2 & 3 bring?