Round 4. Sandown – Race 3

Round 4. Sandown – Race 3

Race 3 of the weekend would be critical for the two chief title protagonists for the Vic State Series title, with Cameron Beller needing to win the final race to tie round points with Jamie Westaway to give him a chance to race for the title at Phillip Island without having to rely on luck to fall his way. Missing would be Lyndon Watson, the gearbox issues in race 2 unfortunately causing him to pack up early.

Off the line and the front row combatants jumped off together, but it was Beller who took the lead when Westaway again struggled going through the gears at the start of the race, though Jamie muscled his way past his uncle Michael with the slightest of touches in turn 1 to hold onto the third position behind Beller and the fast starting Dick Howe. Michael Westaway slotted in behind his nephew with Mark Taubitz right behind after getting a good start but finding himself on the inside of both Westaway’s heading to turn 1 – and wisely backed out early to avoid what would have been inevitable contact.

Pedr James was next through in sixth, with Mitchell getting another of his customary bullet starts to move into seventh on the run to the first corner, though Keith Marriner diving deeper under brakes to take seventh position through turn 1, with Michell slotting into eighth. Behind him were Toni Andreevski and John Vainoras after both getting a less than ideal getaway.

Jamie Westaway quickly moved ahead of Howe on the run down the back straight to move into second position and again chase after Beller, with Howe back to third. Taubitz was hounding Michael Westaway, and on the run down the back straight he made the pass for position into the esses on the second lap. He didn’t hold onto the position for long though, as he set off after Howe in front, but carried too much speed into turn 1 and lost the rear of his car, spinning to the outside of the circuit.

He recovered quickly and got going behind the battle between James, Marriner, Mitchell and Andreevski, though this became a three way battle only seconds later as Marriner’s car slowed immediately after passing Taubitz and pulled off circuit on the grass between turns three and four to retire. This allowed James to build a small buffer, to sixth placed driver Mitchell, which became sixth placed Andreevski when Mitchell ran wide coming onto the front straight at the end of the lap, allowing Andreevski through for the position.

Up front, and Jamie Westaway had caught Beller, and took the lead on the fourth lap, as Beller was not feeling completely comfortable with his car. Beller set the fastest lap of the race the following lap with the aid of the draft from Westaway’s car, but was unable to challenge for position. Further back, and Michael Westaway slowly started shrinking the gap to Howe in front of him, while Taubitz moved past Mitchell at the end of lap 4 and set off after James and Andreevski.

Andreevski began closing the gap to James in front, while Taubitz was closing in behind him – until the #74 Porsche suddenly slowed on lap 6, pulling into pit lane with a broken exhaust dragging under the car – no doubt caused from his earlier spin over the ripplestrip at turn 1.

This left three separate battles throughout the field, with Jamie Westaway and Beller up front, Howe defending from Michael Westaway and James doing the same against Andreevski – with Mitchell and Vainoras having dropped off and circulating on their own.

Try as they might, neither of the pursuers were successfully able to mount a challenge for position, and this was the finishing order at the end of the 9 laps with Jamie Westaway taking the win from Beller, with Howe completing a strong weekend for third, just ahead of Michael Westaway. James crossed the line fifth in his best weekend result to date with fifth for the race and outright for the round, with Andreevski also earning his best race and round result thus far with sixth. Mitchell and Vainoras rounded out the finishers in seventh and eighth position respectively.

So with one round of the State Championships left to go, Jamie Westaway holds a 18 point advantage over Beller – enough that he can take the title with a trio of second places, but one bad result could change things significantly. Though the 944 Series points still has Beller in front due to the dropped worst round rule, though Westaway was close behind with only 6 points separating the pair with 9 races remaining for the outright title. Will someone else throw a spanner in the works for the title protagonists? Head down to Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit September 29/30 to watch all of the action!

Before that however, the 944 Racing Association Inc series heads to Winton on September 1 & 2 to compete at the Shannons Nationals round! Come down for a great weekend of racing including Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia, the Australian GT Trophy Series, Australian Formula 4 Championship and the Australian Production Cars Series! With free entry for spectators, a few drivers making their first starts for 2018 and a reverse grid as well as a handicap race in the schedule, there’s no excuse not to come on down to watch some exciting racing!

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