The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was bathed in sunshine when the field gridded up for the final round of the Victorian State Race Series just after midday, and the two State Title protagonists would line up side-by-side on the front row, with it all to play for… Vince Misuraca needed only a top 10 finish to secure the State Title, however he still had to give it his all to avoid losing ground in the 944 Series Pointscore.
Off the start it was Cameron Beller who led the field away, with Vince Misuraca ahead of Chris Lewis-Williams and Brad Winter. Tony Westaway jumped to fifth with Robert Lange right behind, then John Goddard and Michael Westaway down to eighth after losing a few spots on the run to the first corner.
Mark Taubitz was ninth, in front of Andrew Jackman, Ken Rowland, Pedr James, Keith Marriner and Ben Raphael as the field rounded Southern Loop towards Honda corner.
Misuraca had a big lock-up into Honda corner but pulled up for the corner and held onto the position as the top 3 skipped away from the next group of 6 cars, with a small gap back to the battle for tenth headed by Jackman, with James making his way past Rowland for eleventh.
Lap two and James moved his way into tenth with a move on Jackman, while Rowland also got past the Poolmaster Bayside 944 to get back into the eleventh position, Jackman now back to twelfth.
Misuraca made a move into the lead into Honda on Lap 3 to take the lead from Beller, meanwhile Taubitz encountered some car issues and slowed across the back of the circuit, James & Rowland passing him going into the final corner with Jackman, Marriner and Raphael all passing before Southern Loop while he tried to gauge the problems in the car before he picked up his pace, although now in last place. Rowland then moved his way up into ninth, passing James for the position before the end of the fourth lap.
The fight at the front though, was on in earnest – and Beller moved his way back into the lead, as Michael Westaway found a way past John Goddard to move into seventh position.
Misuraca was back in front on the next lap as the top three continued their battle, the points battle clearly top of Misuraca’s mind and not just taking it easy to collect the State Series title, and the following lap Lewis-Williams also made his way past Beller also to move into second position.
Jackman meanwhile had a spin at Southern Loop and allowed Marriner, Raphael and Taubitz through as Taubitz also moved past Raphael on the run to Honda corner as he tried to consolidate for his lost positions though still off the pace. Jackman also moved back past Raphael also down the front straight to complete the 7th lap.
Lewis-Williams then took his turn to lead up front and moved ahead of Misuraca as the battle for positions to 5-8 mixed right up with Lange dropping from sixth back to eighth position with a drama, which allowed Michael Westaway to leap into fifth position ahead of Tony Westaway in sixth and John Goddard moving up to seventh, which became sixth the next lap as Westaway struggled for pace in the last couple of laps.
James also got back past Rowland to be back into ninth position, as Jackman and Taubitz went side by side through Hayshed corner with Jackman prevailing in that battle to move back to twelfth on the road.
On the penultimate lap Misuraca moved his way back to the front for the third time in the race, that this time he would not relinquish and held on to secure a fitting victory to secure the State Series title, in what was his only win from the 5 round State Series. Closely following his across the line was Lewis-Williams in second, with Cameron Beller shadowing them in third position.
Only a few seconds behind the top three was Brad Winter, with Michael Westaway rounding out the top 5 with another solid weekend. John Goddard was sixth, with gaps back to Tony Westaway and Robert Lange after their issues in the last few laps.
James was in a comfortable ninth after Rowland dropped off the pace, though he still managed to finish the race in the final top 10 position. Eleventh was Marriner, with Jackman behind him chasing him down, but ran out of time to finish in twelfth position. Taubitz was the final finisher who backed right off the pace in the closing laps as Ben Raphael slowed and pulled off the track with mechanical issues.
Congratulations go out to Vince Misuraca on taking out the State Series title for 2016!
Can he go do the double with the 944 Challenge Series? With Beller only 7 points in front of Misuraca and Lewis-Williams who are tied for 2nd, it will likely come down to the wire at Winton Motor Raceway!
Come down to see all the action including a special 20 lap handicap race to finish off the season at Winton Motor Raceway on December 3 & 4!