This weekend at Sandown raceway we see the Porsche 944 Challenge return after a 3-month hiatus for the fourth round of the Viic State Racing Championships. A big field of 23 cars are entered for this round, including a returning series champion and another new driver making his debut this weekend. This round of the series is proudly presented by Poolmaster Bayside.
The third round of the 2022 944 Challenge season at Phillip Island saw a new round winner, with neither Jamie Westaway nor Cameron Beller taking the round honours. Rising to the occasion was Adam Brewer taking the round win by virtue of his victory in the final race to go along with a pair of third-place finishes. This has vaulted him to second in the season point score behind Jamie Westaway, who himself scored two wins and a fifth in the final race after there was contact between he and Cameron Beller at the start of Race 3.
The biggest loser in that incident was Beller, whose DNF in that third race as a result of the contact with Westaway led to broken steering has dropped him back to third position in the season points. He will be looking to bounce back this weekend at Sandown and take the fight back to Brewer and Westaway.
Mark Taubitz remained in fourth in the series points after Phillip Island, finishing in sixth in the points after struggling with straight-line speed in his #74 car, finishing the weekend in sixth position overall.
Static in fifth position in the series points is veteran Dick Howe – improving over the weekend after struggling in a wet qualifying session saw him start 14th, he recovered to finish 3rd in the final race and secure fifth outright for the weekend. Dick traditionally performs well at Sandown where he is never lacking for horsepower!
Making up after a poor Winton weekend is Tony Westaway, moving up to sixth position in the series points after a much more characteristic weekend where he was firmly planted in the 4th-5th positions over the weekend, holding out the charges of son Jamie in the final laps of the last race to hold out for fourth position for the race and the weekend.
Seventh position in the points is held by the Poolmaster himself, Andrew Jackman. A weekend where Andrew was unhappy with his pace, but also avoided any significant issues to come in tenth position for the weekend.
A baptism of fire for Mark Verdino in his first Phillip Island outing, Mark was unable to crack the top ten during the weekend, a damaged tyre in the final race meaning he limped home to the finish, he nevertheless scored points in all three races to finish thirteenth for the round to maintain eighth position in the series points, as he looks forward to his first time returning to a circuit he has raced at in his 944, with some pre-race testing pointing to an expectation for a strong weekend.
Michael Westaway returns for his second race meeting for the year after missing Sandown and Phillip Island – Michael is a perennial consistent performer and will no doubt be mixing it up at the front part of the field this weekend as he will look to move up from his current 11th place in the State Series Pointscore.
Keith Marriner also returns after missing the last round at Phillip Island dropped him out of the top ten in the series points, and he will look for a solid weekend with three finishes after a DNF in the first race at Sandown last time cost him a stronger round result as he aims to move back up the point score.
A frustrating weekend at Phillip Island for newcomer Carter Fox a persistent engine issue that wasn’t able to be solved meant he was out of Race 2 and rather than risk damage decided to park up for Race 3. The team are convinced they have solved the issues and will be looking forward to returning to the circuit he made his debut at in February and improving on those results.
Josh Brisbane had a better weekend with reliability at Phillip Island, finishing all three races for the first time this year in what is hopefully a turnaround in fortunes, he will look to repeat that record this weekend as he looks to score his first race finish at Sandown this year after enduring a weekend to forget at Round 1.
Vlad Kennedy is another rookie returning to a circuit for the first time this year, and feeling buoyed by some recent upgrades to his car which has yielded some encouraging times in testing. Vlad is hoping he will be able to improve on his performance at Phillip Island where he scored his first top ten in the final race and move up the points.
Tim Wolfe returns to Sandown for the first time in 2.5 years after a COVID-enforced absence prevented him from travelling over from WA, but a career-best weekend in his 944 at Phillip Island will have him confident of a strong showing this weekend – once he remembers which way the circuit goes!
Another having only his second outing of the year is Andy Jones (#33) – his last venture was at Sandown at Round 1, but this was the site of Andy’s career-best weekend also. A great increase in speed over the weekend was shown and Andy couldn’t wipe the smile off his face with a trio of ninth-place finishes as he showed a notable improvement as a result of some recent testing and setup work on his striking orange 944.
Toni Andreevski also will be having his second outing for the year in his stunning Purple 944, a great weekend at Phillip Island was highlighted with a fantastic third position in a wet qualifying session, but Toni slipped behind some of the others and he had to resort to battling for the 8th-10th positions for the rest of the weekend. With some wet weather forecast, smart money would be on car #27 scoring some strong results based on his wet weather form…
Andy Tudor also will be back for this round for his second event of the year after racing at Winton, and what will only be his second time at the Sandown circuit – he will use this weekend as a further development weekend as he continues to acclimatise himself with the track, and possibly the wet weather as well!
Jim Mitchell is yet another having just his second outing for the year, like Andy Jones – returning for the first time since the last time we were at Sandown for Round 1. Sandown has always been Jim’s strongest circuit, and he will be aiming for some solid results in the middle of the 23-car field this weekend.
A much more encouraging weekend at Phillip Island for John Vainoras after his nightmare first two rounds, finishing all three races and having some great battles throughout the weekend with Jack Atley. Unfortunately, breaking news is that John has tested positive to COVID, and is sadly a late withdrawal from the event.
Four drivers are competing in their first round for 2022 this weekend – Manny Mezzasalma wheels out his 944 for the first race weekend after some earlier attempts were aborted due to delays with getting parts to finalise a new engine.
Peter Doherty returns for the first time since the season-ending Island Magic event in November last year, some developments with the car giving him something to look forward to as he returns to Sandown.
New to the series in his first ever race is newcomer Joey Kellock – the world’s fastest lasagna delivery driver has jumped into the deep end with the 944 Challenge, wheeling the #35 car that was pedalled by Jack Atley for the first three rounds, Joey has jumped into the seat prior to him taking delivery of his new car for Round 5 in September.
And last but not least, we see the return of the 3-time 944 Challenge Champion, Chris Lewis-Williams. (#37) Back out on the race track after his stint as the Benalla Auto Club CEO for the first time in almost 4 years, Chris will not have forgotten how to drive his 944 very very fast, and he will no doubt be up the pointy end of the field during the weekend.
Unfortunately, we are missing Lyndon Watson and Jack Atley this weekend, but hopefully, we will see both of them, along with Clayton Sinclair, Rob Holding and Pedr James return to the series for Round 5 at Phillip Island in 6 weeks time.
If you like what you see on the circuit and want to get on board with the Porsche 944 Challenge series, the series is enjoying a resurgence with a number of new cars available and returning to competition, along with some freshly built cars being finalised with some of those for lease, or sale. Get in touch with the guys in the series if you’d like to get on track and join in the action.
A huge thanks as always to our series sponsors:
Porsche Cars Australia, 888 Home Loans, Advance Fitness Gyms, PoolMaster Bayside, Seat Time Race Solutions Simulator Hire, AVi Technology, Smiths TMP and Pit Lane Clothing.