Race 1 for Round 4 was on Saturday afternoon over 9 laps in cool conditions at Sandown Raceway, and as the lights went out it was Cameron Beller who made the most of his pole position rto lead into the first corner, with Jamie Westaway pulling up alongside Lyndon Watson and taking second position as they moved into Turn 1, with Watson slotting behind in third ahead of Mark Taubitz behind him.
Michael Westaway was looking on the inside of Dick Howe under brakes, with the pair ultimately conceding to Keith Marriner who took the racing line to slot into fifth position ahead of Howe and Westaway, with Jim Mitchell following them through after one of his customary good starts from the back of the grid. Pedr James was next ahead of Toni Andreevski and John Vainoras.
Mitchell ran wide on the exit of turn 1 though head onto the eighth position, while Vainoras overtook Andreevski into Turn two for tenth spot. Onto the back straight and Howe pulled out from behind Marriner to move into fifth position, though by that stage had already lost a lot of ground to the quartet up front.
Westaway wasn’t letting Beller run away up front as the pair slowly edge away from Watson who was able to put some distance between himself and Taubitz. Howe put his head down to work on closing the gap to Taubitz in front of him, while Marriner tried to hold Michael Westaway behind him, though would ultimately lose the spot as Westaway moved past into sixth on lap 3. Mitchell was next with James in tow, while Andreevski also made a pass for position on Lap 3, moving back ahead of Vainoras for the tenth spot.
Up front was where the action was, as Beller and Westaway battled hard for the lead, and on lap 6 Westaway made a pass to take the top spot. He didn’t hold onto it for long however, as Beller made his way back past on the very next lap, setting his fastest lap of the race on the way to retake the lead.
Despite Westaway running the races fastest lap the next time around, he wasn’t able to pull off another pass and followed Beller across the line, with Watson a lonely third six seconds behind.
Taubitz was next a further 8 seconds behind, with Howe crossing the line right on his tail after having a couple of attempts to pass as he caught Taubitz on the penultimate lap, though was unable to pull off a pass – though Howe also carried a 5 second time penalty for rolling at the start – despite him making a slow getaway.
Michael Westaway was next in sixth position, with Marriner not letting him get too far away as he crossed the line 1.5 seconds adrift. Behind them was the battle for eighth between Mitchell and James, with Pedr unable to find a way past the Martini liveried 944 and had to settle for ninth, with a small gap back to Toni Andreevski who rounded out the top ten, and John Vainoras rounding out the finishers in eleventh position.
One race down, two to go on Sunday – would the tables turn at the top for Races 2 & 3?