Phillip Island was the venue for the final round of the 2016 Victorian State Race Series, which doubled as the penultimate round for the 2016 Porsche 944 Challenge. Vince Misuraca was poised to seal the State Series Title, and only needs a consistent weekend in order to be able to do so, while it was close at the front of the overall 944 series pointscore once the dropped round is accounted for.
Qualifying was held first up on Saturday morning, and the top three in the series pointscore wasted no time asserting themselves at the top of the timesheets. It was Chris Lewis-Williams who jumped to the top of the time sheets with his first timed lap, a 1:48.9483, with Cameron Beller second fastest with a 1:49.2862 ahead of Vince Misuraca on a 1:49.6446.
Robert Lange was a welcome returnee to the flowing coastal track and was fourth fastest on his first flying lap with a 1:50.1145, but spent the rest of the session trying to better that time which he ran close to doing a number of times, but ultimately didn’t go faster than his first recorded time. Mark Taubitz was fifth with a 1:50.4397 ahead of Dick Howe who was sixth fastest with a 1:50.5886 in what would also be his fastest time for the session, just ahead of John Goddard in seventh with a 1:50.6000.
Eighth was Tony Westaway with a 1:51.0095 ahead of Brad Winter with a 1:51.8681 in ninth and Ken Rowland tenth fastest with a 1:53.7788.
Right behind was Michael Westaway in eleventh on his first lap, a 1:53.8818 with Pedr James right behind with a 1:53.8940 to be 12th. Andrew Jackman was 13th with a 1:54.3471, then Keith Marriner with a 1:56.4968 a Ben Raphael with a 1:57.5956, also recording what would be his fastest lap on this lap.
Second lap around and Beller and Misuraca both jumped ahead of Lewis-Williams to drop him to third, Bellers’ 1:48.7661 just ahead of Misuracas’ 1:48.9364
Taubitz moved up to fourth, recording a 1:50.0421 moving Lange to fifth, with Winter going sixth fastest with a 1:50.1987 just ahead of John Goddard still seventh fastest with a 1:50.2209, just ahead of Michael Westaway in eighth with a 1:50.2471. Dick Howe slipped back to ninth ahead of Tony Westaway in tenth.
Ken Rowland lowered his time to 1:52.0629 but was now eleventh, with Pedr James twelfth after recording a 1:52.8612, a lap he was unable to better through the rest of the session.
Andrew Jackman was thirteenth fastest after crossing the line in 1:53.1867, this was his fastest lap for the session as well, just ahead of Marriner who lowered his time to a 1:55.0909.
Lewis-Williams jumped back into the #1 spot on his third lap with a 1:48.4623, just ahead of Bellers new fastest time of 1:48.5229. Brad Winter was the fourth man into the sub 1 minute 50 second bracket with a 1:49.7629, while Tony Westaway moved to ninth ahead of Dick Howe as he ran a 1:50.4388 lap.
Ken Rowland improved on his times and ran a 1:51.6636, as did Keith Marriner who ran his fastest time for the session with a 1:54.3782 retain his 14th fastest time.
Beller lowered the mark further again with a 1:48.3334, as Misuraca recorded a 1:48.7356 to consolidate their top 3 positions. Taubitz meanwhile, managed to find the gravel trap on the exit of Southern Loop, and found himself spectating for the rest of the session while his closest rivals lowered their times – Tony Westaway vaulted to fourth with a 1:49.4177 – a time that would be his best for the session, while Winter also ran marginally quicker with a 1:49.7001.
Beller pitted to adjust tyre pressures as the rest of the field prepared themselves for a final flying lap, but ultimately none of the top 3 were able to improve and thus it was Beller on pole from Lewis-Williams and Misuraca in third. Michael Westaway pulled a rabbit out of the hat and improved by almost a second to vault from ninth to fourth with a stunning 1:49.3112, just quicker than Winter with a 1:49.3622. These two both relegated Tony Westaway back to 6th position, with Taubitz and Lange seventh and eighth ahead of Goddard in ninth, who found a tenth on his last lap but just missed out on pushing Lange off the fourth row by three ten thousandths of a second with a 1:50.1178.
Tenth would go to Ken Rowland, who just got the spot on his last lap with a 1:50.5650 to push Dick Howe out of the top ten. Alongside Howe would be James, with Jackman, Marriner and Raphael rounding out the field.
The first race was to be held just after lunch, and all eyes would be on the battle at the front to see what would happen among the chief title protagonists!