A beautiful Winton Summer’s day welcomed the field for Race 1 of the 944 Challenge for the weekend, and with the short circuit being used the field would be starting from the ‘old’ Start/Finish straight, with a short run into the right hander to start the lap.
It was Vince Misuraca who made the most of a good start to lead the field into Turn 1, Chris Lewis-Williams didn’t make the greatest of getaways and the second row cars of Cameron Beller and Brad Winter pulled alongside. There was slight contact between Beller and Winter as the three cars squeezed together but it was Beller who was able to sweep around the outside following Misuraca, with Lewis-Williams able to resist Winter on the inside line to hold onto third.
Winter slotted into fourth ahead of Mark Taubitz and Paul Crocitti who got the jump on Ken Rowland into the first corner to be 5th and 6th. John Goddard moved up to 7th ahead of Rowland, Tony Westaway and a fast starting Ross Millar. Pedr James followed, ahead of Michael Westaway, Greg Wood, Ben Raphael, Jim Gallagher in 15th after a bad start, Peter Doherty, Marius Catrina and John Vainoras.
Rowland made his way ahead of Goddard with a move going through Penrite corner, and Tony Westaway made his way through also up to 8th position, as Millar also lost positions to both James and Michael Westaway in the same spot.
The top 5 crossed the line to end the first of 8 laps in close proximity, with a small gap back to Crocitti in 6th, and a further gap back to Rowland and the rest of the pack, with Michael Westaway passing James for 10th into the final complex to complete the lap.
Gallagher recovered from his bad start and moved past Raphael on the 2nd lap under brakes for turn 1 to move into 14th position, while the following lap Michael Westaway moved ahead of Goddard for 9th under brakes for Penrite corner.
Up front the top three were circulating in close proximity as they circulated in the 1:05 second category as small gaps opened ahead of Winter and Taubitz who were lapping in the 6’s.
On lap 4 Rowland moved back past Crocitti under brakes for the first corner before there was drama at Penrite corner as James & Goddard came together with James car riding up onto the nose of the Plaza Auto Sales Porsche. Millar took to the outside grass to avoid further contact, as did Wood, with Gallagher being the biggest benefactor moving up to 10th position, with Millar now in 11th ahead of Raphael, Doherty, Catrina and the recovering James & Goddard, with Vainoras in 17th after Wood retires the #19 944 with some overheating issues.
Lap 5 and Crocitti made a mistake into the right hander at the end of the straight and went deep, allowing both Westaway’s through into 7th and 8th position.
At the back of the field, James & Goddard started their recoveries, with James passing Catrina on lap 6 to move back to 14th position, while Goddard then moves past both Catrina and James the lap later to himself move to 14th, with James then Catrina falling in behind.
Up front meanwhile, the top 3 are still circulating in one anothers wheel tracks, but no one able to make a move for position. This is how they would cross the line with Misuraca taking the win ahead of Beller, and Lewis-Williams, the three separated by less than half a second. Winter was a further 7 seconds behind in 4th, with Taubitz another 7 seconds adrift, a few seconds clear of the tight battle for 6th between Rowland and the Westaway brothers, with Ken 6th ahead of Tony & Michael. Crocitti crossed the line 9th ahead of Gallagher and then Millar just outside the top ten.
Some contact on the last lap between Doherty and Raphael ended Dohertys race prematurely, while this allowed Goddard back up to 12th position ahead of Raphael, with James 14th ahead of Catrina and Vainoras.
With a race win, Misuraca was able to close the points gap to Beller from 7 to 5, while moving himself 3 points ahead of Lewis-Williams with a few hours before the second race of the day!