The Gods smiled on Winton for the first time over the weekend, as the clouds split to miss the racetrack for the the final race, which would prove to be the closest and most exciting race of the weekend. That is, apart from for Michael Westaway – who ground to a halt on the warm up lap and was unable to take part in the final 10 lap affair. Lucky to be on the grid was Lyndon Watson, after his team managed to cobble together a makeshift setup to get the car running, the crew getting the car finished and onto pre-grid with seconds to spare.
As the lights went out, Jamie Westaway’s 944 went into wheel spin, then popped out of gear and stalled, requiring him to re-fire the car, dropping him to the back of the field by the time he did so. This allowed Mark Taubitz through into the lead, with Cameron Beller following in his wheel tracks as a drying line began to emerge.
Keith Marriner got a good start to leap into third position ahead of Andrew Jackman, with Lyndon Watson also starting well from the back of the field but unable to find a way past Jackman on the run to turn 1. Jim Mitchell was next through with Jamie Westaway leaving himself with a challenge as he got going at the back of the field.
Into Penrite corner for the first time and Jackman made a move for third position with a pass on Marriner under brakes to take the spot, with Jamie Westaway doing the same with a pass on Mitchell for sixth. Watson also followed Jackman through and around the long way around the gum tree before then sliding underneath Jackman into turn 9, taking third position as the pair made the run down the old back straight.
Westaway wasn’t messing around and he quickly ranged up on the back of the battling trio, passing Marriner on the run to turn 11, with supreme confidence under brakes on the still damp circuit, and with better power down, he moved alongside Jackman – taking fourth position down the main straight to end the first lap behind Taubitz, Beller and Watson.
Beller was sitting behind Taubitz as the pair had a decent gap over Watson in third, who was caught be Westaway by Lap 3, despite Jamie having a big moment into the first turn on lap 2 where he luckily kept the car on the tarmac. Westaway passed Watson as the pair crossed the old start/finish straight to move to third, and set off after the leading pair.
Up front, Beller could see the yellow car of Westaway now in his mirror, and realised he would have to get in front quickly to minimise his points loss from the first race. On lap 4, Beller pulled out from behind the Black Porsche across the old start/finish straight to take the lead into turn 3, and set off to maximise his gap on the flying Westaway.
Westaway closed in on Taubitz, and made the move under brakes into turn 1 to begin lap 7, and then charged off after Beller who had grown his lead to six seconds, as Taubitz began to struggle with a setup that was biased more to the wet conditions.
Westaway halved the gap to Beller on lap 8 and moved right onto the tail of the damaged #1 Porsche in the closing couple of corners in the race, but ran out of time to mount a challenge, as the pair crossed the line separated by only one tenth of a second. Showing how much of a drying line emerged, Westaway’s fastest race lap was only three seconds off of his qualifying times, with the times coming down by 9 seconds over the course of the race.
Taubitz crossed the line in third, rounding out a weekend with three podiums which gave him second overall for the weekend, with Watson in fourth, no doubt cursing his cruel luck in Race 2 which cost him the chance to be on the podium for both races on Sunday.
Rounding out the top 5 was Andrew Jackman, who had a lonely race after Lap 1 once Westaway moved ahead but circulated without drama for the 10 laps to finish ahead of Marriner in sixth, and Mitchell in seventh position, but importantly – all finishing the weekend without dramas and with straight race cars.
So after three races at Winton, we now have a new race winner, and a new leader at the top of the points ladder, proving that consistency and finishing races is the key to a good points position at the end of the year.
As the series heads back to Sandown for Round 4 in a months time, can Beller claw back the lost points to Westaway over the next six races for the Vic State Series, or will Westaway continue to add to his win tally?
Head down to Sandown Raceway on July 21-22 to watch all of the action!