Race 1 of the 4 races that made up Round 5 of the 944 Challenge was a quick 6 lap screamer held mid Saturday afternoon at Mallala Motorsport Park, the first race in 6 and a half years for the 944’s in South Australia. Unable to effect repairs in time for the race start was Pedr James, but the team hoped to line up for Race 2.
Cameron Beller led away from pole position to jump into the lead ahead of Chris Lewis-Williams, with Tony Westaway next from Michael Westaway and Paul Crocitti in fifth. Slow to get away from fifth on the grid was Mark Taubitz, moving away slowly and rolling straight into pit entry instead of taking the first corner to retire after he began experiencing a misfire on the warmup lap.
This moved Ken Rowland and Dick Howe up to sixth and seventh positions, ahead of Keith Marriner, and Ryan Woods who burst through from his start at the rear of the field. John Vainoras was next through in tenth position, ahead of Jim Mitchell and Toni Andreevski, while resuming at the back after stalling off the grid was Marius Catrina.
Crocitti moved up to fourth position with a pass on Michael Westaway when the latter missed a gear, while Howe moved his way past Rowland and up to sixth position, and Mitchell moved past Vainoras for tenth spot.
Up front Beller and Lewis-Williams started building a gap, while Tony Westaway focussed on keeping Crocitti behind him, while Michael Westaway was trying to find a way back past for fourth position. Jim Mitchell meanwhile experienced some clutch issues and dropped to the back of the pack, before pulling off to retire on lap 3.
Woods worked his way past Marriner on lap 3 and moved up to the eighth position and chased after the battle for sixth position between Howe and Rowland, while Andreevski passed Vainoras on lap 4 to move himself into the top 10.
Up front Chris Lewis-Williams set the races fastest lap, and a new lap record on lap 5 as he tried to pass Beller, but had to settle for second as Beller took the victory with Tony Westaway in third, still with Paul Crocitti in a Westaway sandwich in fourth position, with Michael Westaway in fifth.
Dick Howe was able to hold on for sixth position, with Ken Roland and Ryan Woods right behind, with Keith Marriner less than two seconds behind in ninth position.
Toni Andreevski held on to secure a top ten in his first race start, ahead of John Vainoras and Marius Catrina rounding out the finishers in twelfth.
Two DNF’s in this race with Mitchell retiring on lap 3, with Taubitz not making it past the first corner, hopefully both would return for Race 2 along with Pedr James.
A quick turn around before Race 2 which was only a couple hours later!