Round 7. Phillip Island – Race 2

Round 7. Phillip Island – Race 2

The rainclouds descended across the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit overnight on Saturday and left a soaked and gloomy circuit to greet the 944 Challenge for their final race day for 2017.

The first race of the day would be a 5 lap dash, and it was Chris Lewis-Williams who leapt into the lead on a very wet track while Cameron Beller bogged down off the line. Getting a great start into second position from fifth on the grid was Michael Westaway, with Tony Westaway in third ahead of Vince Misuraca, Beller, and another fast starter in Paul Crocitti. Mark Taubitz was next in seventh position ahead of Dick Howe.

Jim Gallagher was next through with Brad Winter, Pedr James, Ken Rowland, Toni Andreevski, Peter Doherty, Codey West into fifteenth, followed by Marius Catrina, Keith Marriner, John Vainoras and Jim Mitchell.

Lewis-Williams immediately started pulling a gap on the field, clearly the car and driver most in tune with the wet track which was headed by Tony Westaway after Michael Westaway spun out of second position on the second last corner of the first lap, dropping him all the way to seventeenth position before he got back on the track and up to speed. Brad Winter also had a moment dropping him down to sixteenth just ahead of Westaway, while pulling in to retire at the end of the lap was Dick Howe, leaving eighteen runners in the race.

Across the line the first time it was Lewis-Williams comfortably ahead of Tony Westaway, Misuraca, Beller and Crocitti. Taubitz was next with Gallagher behind him, then James, Rowland and West up to tenth after moving ahead of Andreevski and Doherty. Doherty was next through ahead of Catrina and Marriner, with Andreevski following after a small moment, and Vainoras into fifteenth position ahead of Winter, Westaway and Mitchell.

Misuraca moved himself into second position ahead of Tony Westaway, as Gallagher made his way into sixth position as he pulled alongside Taubitz down the front straight, and then up to fifth when he passed Crocitti on the run to Stoner corner.  West also moved up into ninth position when he passed Rowland, who lost time while dicing with West and James for eighth position, while Winter began to move forward when he passed Vainoras, and then Andreevski, along with Michael Westaway also moved past Vainoras into sixteenth.

Codey West continued his charge forward as he made his way past James, and then ahead of Taubitz down the front straight to end Lap 3, and then up to sixth with a pass on Crocitti on the exit of Southern Loop through to Stoner corner. James had a moment and slipped down from ninth to thirteenth position, while Catrina passed Doherty to get into tenth position, with a great recovery from his rear of grid start. Winter also moved ahead of both Marriner, and then Doherty into eleventh position, with Doherty now twelfth and Marriner fourteenth behind James. Behind them Andreevski retired with the engine cutting out,moving Westaway Vainoras and Mitchell all up a position.

Chris Lewis-Williams meanwhile was in a class of his own, and crossed the line a massive 23 seconds ahead of Vince Misuraca in second position – a dominating performance in the wet. Tony Westaway crossed the line for third a couple of seconds adrift, with Beller hot on his tail, while Jim Gallagher rounded out the top 5 after a great drive.

Codey West was sixth, ahead of Paul Crocitti, with Brad Winter crossing the line eighth – Brad was able to just sneak past Taubitz on the run to the finish line when the latter had a moment coming into the final corner for the last time – the loss of momentum allowing Winter to cross the line a tenth of a second clear of Taubitz.

Rounding out the top ten was Peter Doherty, with James a few seconds behind in eleventh – both benefiting from Catrina having a lose on the last lap while running tenth, dropping him back to twelfth position across the line.

Keith Marriner was next in thirteenth, ahead of a disappointed Michael Westaway in fourteenth, with John Vainoras fifteenth ahead of the final finisher, Jim Mitchell in sixteenth.

Ken Rowland was unfortunately again a DNF after being in the heat of the mid pack battle in the wet conditions, he stopped on the last lap not making it to the chequered flag, joining Toni Andreevski and Dick Howe as DNF’s.

The very last race of 2017 was to follow, and the weather seemed it was there to stay. Could anyone challenge the webbed feet of Lewis-Williams in the final race for the year?


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