November Club Day means Class Titles at Oakleigh, so we gathered for the last time in 2015 for a Saturday Day / Night affair beginning with Qualifying, then 2 heats, a Pre Final and then the 18 lap Finals.
Putting in appearance for the last time at Oakleigh was Oscar Piastri who is bound for Europe to race in 2016. I was glad to see him turn up for one last crack at the place where it all started for him. As a number of people have said, Oscar looked like he would be something from the first time he rolled up at a Club Day, and we wish him well for the future.
Junior National Light / Junior National Heavy
Heat 1 and despite Light & Heavy being joined for today, it was the Heavy Bryce Woollard who found his way to the front in Heat 1 followed by another Heavy Benjamin D’Alia, Kyle Frencham and finally a Light in Callum Potter. Woollard and D’Alia pulled away and Potter got through to 2nd. D’Alia to the lead with 5 to go but Woollard stuck right on his crash bar for the next few laps, Potter now gaining in 3rd. With 2 to go D’Alia held a kart length lead and Potter was still gaining, but the front 2 would have to fight for him to get right on them, then suddenly (as it usually is) Woollard threw a chain so all over for him; D’Alia a comfortable winner followed home by Potter.
Woollard and Allan this time the front 2 after a lap, with D’Alia 3rd then Potter, Jack Martin and Kyle Frencham, then Riley Meens and Pearson Grant. Sadly Woollard dropped another chain on Lap 1, so D’Alia handed the lead, then Potter and Allan, Martin and Frencham. D’Alia soldiered on with Potter right on his hammer, the heavier D’Alia doing well to hold off the Light Potter, which he did until the flag.
Pre Finals begin and Potter the leading Light, D’Alia the same in Heavy. Potter and Allan putting on a show at the front of Light, D’Alia a lonelier run in Heavy, well clear of Martin and Frencham. Potter and Allan continued to saw away at each other, while D’Alia was through to 3rd overall and all alone in the lead of the Heavy race, and so they continued, Potter getting well clear in the end, as they saluted at the chequered flag.
Potter and Allan no surprise off the front in Light; D’Alia and Martin the front row in Heavy, but Woollard one to watch; fastest qualifier but DNF’d all three races so far, so nice fresh tyres! Allan and Grant after a Lap as Potter dropped back at the green, in Heavy D’Alia and Martin, then Frencham and Woollard, through to 4th from 6th. Potter set about getting to the front and chased down and passed Grant after 5 laps, D’Alia still leading Heavy. Lap 8 and Potter right on the hammer of Allan and looking for a way around him – and found it at MKC corner a few laps later. Back in Heavy Woollard was gaining on Frencham to take 3rd, but the lead looked a long way off, the green helmet of D’Alia a fluorescent speck on the horizon. With 5 to go Potter wasn’t clear of Allan out front, the 2 karts locked together as the laps peeled off. D’Alia meanwhile was going to move through to outright 3rd and a comfortable lead in Heavy – the interest was in Light where Potter still held sway, but not by much. Not much should have been enough, but Allan had a slightly clunky look on the last lap at the Grid Hairpin and went under Potter to take the win, D’Alia the Heavy victor. A subsequent review reversed the Light placings – Potter victorious ahead of Allan.
The unheralded Jensen Sawatzki on pole, followed by Steven Tsesmelis and Jack Lawson, but Lawson a very ambitious look up the inside on the grass at the green (must have been watching Jamie Whincup last Sunday) and he didn’t get through, so back to 2nd last with Toby Dvorak now last, meanwhile Sawatzki leading comfortably, now followed by Chloe Potter who had got through on Tsesmelis for 2nd, Lawson 3rd, then Tsesmelis, although this 3 a tight group. Eventually Lawson pulled clear in 2nd, but Sawatzki was gorn out front and took the win.
Again Sawatzki to the lead with this time Lawson behind him, then Tsesmelis, Dvorak, Liam O’Donnell, Potter, and Grady Woods at the tail. They settled into 2 groups of 3 with Sawatzki, Lawson, Tsesmelis; then Dvorak, O’Donnell Potter, then Woods in a group of 1 – if you can have such a thing. Despite lots of pressure from Hocking, Sawatzki held on for the win.
Sawatzki and Lawson the front pair showing the rest a clean pair of wheels as they took off, O’Donnell then Dvorak, Tsesmelis and Potter then Woods spread out behind them. Up front though Sawatzki and Hocking were putting on a show, 2/10ths between them with 8 to go. Eventually Sawatzki got clear and went on to take the win a couple of seconds ahead of Lawson.
Sawatzki and Lawson in a big tangle on the first attempt at a start so we had another go once they got themselves sorted, and second time around mucho better – Lawson to the lead, Sawatzki 2nd, then Dvorak and O’Donnell. Despite Sawatzki’s 3 wins so far, Lawson looked smooth and in control in front as he reeled out a few quick laps to establish a 1½ second lead after 6 laps. Sawatzki had an even bigger gap behind him in 2nd, so the winner should come from one of these 2 – Tsesmelis, O’Donnell, Dvorak and Potter circulating around behind them. Lawson now out to a nearly 3 second lead with 6 to go, so continuing to draw away. Draw away he did, and Lawson went on to take the win, Sawatzki and Tsesmelis in 2 and 3.
TAG 125 Light / TAG 125 Heavy
Michael Carless then Jamie Westaway and Daniel Griffin the front Lights; Dylan Slits, Justin Carless and Vern Kranz the only 3 Heavys, and going around in that order after a lap or 2. Gradually Carless Light (sounds like a drink!) pulled away to a healthy lead from Griffin, Westaway and Andrew Sotiropoulos, while Carless Heavy trailed Slits around and finally found a way past at about half race distance to take the lead here with Kranz back in 3rd, so a Carless double looked on the cards. Sure enough, that’s what we got: Carless Light, Griffin then Westaway; Carless Heavy, Slits and Kranz.
Carless Light away best ahead of Westaway and Griffin, Slits in Heavy, then Carless Heavy and Kranz. By halfway Carless Heavy had worked through to the lead of Heavy, while Carless Light continued out front of Light ahead of Westaway and Griffin, Frencham and Sotiropoulos. Like Heat 1, it was a Carless double again, Slits retiring in Heavy and giving 2nd to Kranz, Westaway and Griffin the minors in Light.
Carless Light then Westaway and Griffin again; and Slits, Carless Heavy and Kranz the order in the others. Lap 5 and Carless Heavy takes the lead from Slits, meanwhile Carless Light continues on his winning way out front of Westaway and Griffin – and so they continued to greet the finisher.
Westaway this time to the lead of Light ahead of Carless Light, then Griffin and Frencham; back in Heavy, Carless Heavy, Slits and Kranz. By halfway Carless Light was looming up on Westaway and Slits was closing on Carless Heavy, but otherwise positions looked settled – maybe Kovacs and Barnes were forming a queue behind Frencham in Light for 4th, but mostly things were serene. With 3 to go Carless Light was looking to move into the lead ahead of Westaway, but looking and achieving were 2 different things. Then at Tony Kart turn, looking became achieving as Carless Light slipped through and into the lead, meanwhile Carless Heavy was leading Slits and Kranz still, so a Carless double the result at the flag.
Clubman Heavy / Clubman Super Heavy
Set for a snooze fest here with 2 Heavys and 3 Lights, and Peter Gigis away ahead of Brenden Jenner in Heavy, then Aaron Hocking, David Martin and Darren Kemp in Super Heavy. No fault of the drivers who put on a great display of driving, but the class needs more entries to breathe some life into it. P Plater Hocking in Super Heavy looked like providing some excitement as he ranged up on the back of Jenner, but eventually they all just spread further apart and we started looking at flocks of birds and clouds and the grass growing as we waited for the chequered flag. Kemp and Martin ended up putting on a stoush for 2nd and 3rd in Super Heavy, with Martin getting the upper hand in the end, and finally the flag arrived to greet Gigis in Heavy and Hocking in Super Heavy, stand by for more excitement in Heat 2.
Gigis an absentee from Heat 2 so Jenner the only Heavy, pretty much assured of a place, while Hocking, Martin and Kemp were set to do battle in Super Heavy. No real battle ensued, with Hocking pulling well clear of the other 2, while Jenner went on to dominate the Heavy race. In the end Jenner swept to a convincing victory in Heavy, Hocking the same in Super Heavy, Martin and Kemp close together for 2 and 3, but well back from the lead.
Pre Final: they started – Gigis in Heavy, Hocking in Super Heavy. They finished – Gigis in Heavy, Hocking in Super Heavy. We await the final.
And so the Final begins – Super Heavy Hocking gets ahead of Heavy Jenner for a lap or 2, Gigis leads, Martin and Kemp further back in Super Heavy. Lap 4 and Jenner ranged up alongside Hocking to have a look at Tony Kart turn, but Super Heavy Hocking left little room for Heavy Jenner and Jenner found himself wide and into the grass then out of the action – so Gigis had Heavy all to himself now. For 9 more laps we watched as the 4 of them circulated – Gigis, Hocking, Martin and Kemp, the lone Heavy and the trio of Super Heavys. At the flag – no change. Bring on 2016 and some more interest in this once great class.
Christian Pancione the pole man here with a blistering 41.076 – I believe a new lap record, Benjamin D’Alia then David Huezo and finally, having had some sort of problem in Qualifying, Oscar Piastri off the back. Pancione away well and a lap in Piastri was through to 2n , but a lap or 2 later he was looking at Pancione some distance ahead, D’Alia and Huezo behind him. Eventually they settled into a rhythm and Pancione held on to take the win with Piastri just over a second in arrears, D’Alia and Huezo further back.
Like Heat 1 Pancione got away to a good start and Piastri took a lap to get around D’Alia and Huezo, who are not slouches in a go kart by any stretch, and by then Pancione was well off in the distance, so Piastri had his work ahead of him. 5 to go and Pancione and Piastri were evenly matched setting lap times within a tenth of each other, so the gap was not going to be easy to bridge. At the flag it was Pancione ahead of Piastri, further back D’Alia and then Huezo.
So Pancione now with Piastri beside him rather than behind him, and now D’Alia and Huezo row 2 as we go green, and away we go; Pancione again to the front but Piastri right with him from the start as they pulled clear of D’Alia and Huezo. A few laps in and Piastri still chasing Pancione around, Pancione holding a narrow lead, but this pair well ahead of D’Alia who was in turn well ahead of Huezo. Gradually Pancione pulled clear and with 6 to go had more than a ½ second lead, Piastri toiling away behind him. Piastri’s toil was in vain in the end as Pancione took the win, holding around the same ½ second gap at the flag. Good final coming up!
Finals time and Pancione got the jump from Pole, Piastri right with him, then D’Alia and Huezo. Lap 4 and Piastri makes a move into the Dipper and goes to the lead. Having not led a lap all day, now it’s time to turn it on, and he does – pulling 8/10ths in a couple of laps. Pancione has been great all day and fights on valiantly, but Piastri looks unstoppable even this far from the end. He didn’t stop, that’s for sure, but Pancione was only a second or so behind Piastri many laps later, so he didn’t exactly drive off into the sunset, but in the end Piastri a worthy winner. I have enjoyed watching him race at Oakleigh and along with the entire club, wish him well in Europe. Good luck Oscar, you won’t find many tracks like Oakleigh over there!
A good field of Cadet 12’s led away by Kobi Williams, then Joshua Hocking, Matthew Hillyer, Damon Woods and Kristian Mastroianni, but Williams and Hocking looked like setting the tempo out front, although Hillyer and Woods were close behind – the first 4 a tight bunch. Laps later they remained a tight bunch, but still led by Williams, although only just from Hocking and Hillyer. Despite never getting more than a kart length apart, this 4 held on in the same order at the flag: Williams, Hocking, Hillyer and Woods.
Williams again to the lead from Hillyer and Hocking, Woods and Ethan Church behind them as they settled down for the run. Settle down they did –as no changes occurred in the first group for many laps. Although they were close, Williams continued to lead from Hillyer, Hocking and Woods; just a shade over ½ a second covered all 4 of them. Perhaps they’re all keeping their powder dry for the final – for 4 laps they continued this way and no passing did they make; Williams the victor.
Williams and Woods at the green here, then Church and Gibson, as a lap 1 tangle at JSKC saw Hillyer relegated to last place, then worse to come on lap 2 as Hillyer ditched it at the same corner and out of the race. Williams meanwhile was motoring off in the afternoon sunshine, Woods and Church trailing behind him in 2 and 3, Mastroianni through to 4th as Gibson and Bradley James also tangled at JSKC and both out of contention as well. Williams meanwhile sailed to a comfortable victory.
Williams again, Woods and Church, Kai Upiter and Mastroianni, as Hocking and Gibson continue their run of bad luck, out at Tony Kart turn on Lap 1 after DNFing the Pre Final too. Woods now was closing on Williams who had had things all to himself in earlier races – and these 2 well clear of the bobbing bouncing pack further back who were led by Church then Mastroianni, Hillyer, Upiter and Joshua D’Ambrosio. Still Williams and Woods out front, Williams by 2/10ths with 9 to go. Much later the difference was not much greater, but still Williams held sway and he went on to take the win ahead of Woods, much further back to Hillyer in 3rd.
Restricted 125 Heavy
Kim Sherlock the pole man ahead of Peter Gigis, Thomas Martin, Rafe Todd and Joshua O’Connor, and Sherlock away at the green with Gigis close behind, a gap back to Martin and Todd. Gradually Sherlock drew away, but only so far – with 4 to go Gigis was not out of it by any means. Last 2 laps and Gigis really set about getting past Sherlock, but out of the Dipper disaster as Gigis suddenly facing the wrong way, his attack on Sherlock over, and Sherlock through to a comfortable win ahead of Martin and Todd.
Gigis absent from Heat 2 here, so Sherlock, Martin, Todd and O’Connor now the front 4. After a couple of aborted attempts at a start we got away and Sherlock the leader from Martin and Todd. Sherlock then pulled clear while Martin and Todd engaged in more of a battle, and a number of spot fires broke out behind them, but Sherlock continued on his winning way to the flag.
Sherlock and Martin the front row for the Pre Final, behind them Todd and O’Connor, one to watch: Gigis off 8 having missed Heat 2. Sherlock and Martin the leaders, Gigis in 5th after a lap, chasing O’Connor and Todd in 3 and 4. With 11 to go Gigis is on the back of the front 4 and looking to move through, Sherlock still leading them around. Catching them proves easier than passing them for Gigis as several laps later he is still looking at Todd’s crash bar and in 5th spot. Then Gigis up the inside at the Grid Hairpin to take 4th, Sherlock, Martin and O’Connor still ahead – and while I was noting all this, O’Connor and Martin must have tangled as Gigis suddenly found himself in 2nd with Todd behind him, Gigis’ sights now set on Sherlock. Sights set, but laps ran out as Sherlock took the win by half a second, Todd 3rd then O’Connor and Martin.
A fierce battle here as Sherlock and Gigis, then Todd and O’Connor turned on a great stoush for the first 7 laps of the Final, Sherlock holding a slender lead – the whole 4 of them covered by less than a second at the halfway mark. A lap later Todd and O’Connor pirouette around together at Tony Kart and re-join losing a spot each as Martin moves through to 3rd, Sherlock and Gigis still at it out front. Gigis has a couple of attempts but Sherlock good enough to hang on and take the win in the end, Martin 3rd.
Simon Fallon and Michael Carless both pleased I imagine to out qualify recently crowned National Champ James Sera who started 3rd, followed by Mark Appleby and Ben Mouritz. Once the flag dropped however, Sera was through to the lead within a lap and took off into the distance – by lap 5 he was 2 ½ seconds clear of now Fallon and Carless in 2 and 3, then Appleby and Angelo D’Ettorre through from 6th. Sera cruised through to the win followed by Fallon and Carless.
Sera again to the lead after a lap, ahead of Fallon and Carless, then Appleby and Mouritz, D’Ettorre and Matt Lane. Like Heat 1 it didn’t take long for the smooth style of Sera to see him draw slightly away, but Fallon and Carless were keeping him in sight, and sure enough Fallon back under for the lead at Tony Kart turn a lap or 2 later, then Carless too, so James not having it all his own way. Soon after it was Carless to the lead, Sera to 2nd and Fallon back to 3rd in some sort of touch coming into the Dipper that I didn’t see. So now Carless and Sera took off, Fallon with the chasing ahead of him, behind this squabbling group Appleby wasn’t completely out of it, nor Mouritz or Lane. The last 2 laps were a fascinating duel as Sera ranged up on Carless then dropped back, Fallon watching on in 3rd, until finally Sera went the old move up the inside at the grid hairpin, positioning the kart just right coming out of the corner to stop Carless doubling back, and went on to take the win.
Sera off ahead of Carless and Fallon, Appleby and Mouritz. These 5 pulled away, but Sera pulled away most, as they spread out ahead of the rest of the field. Spread out they continued to do, although Mouritz was pressing on the back of Appleby, but Sera took the flag, Carless, Fallon, Appleby and Mouritz behind him.
Sera off ahead of Fallon and Carless, then Mouritz and Appleby, D’Ettorre and Lane as the shadows lengthened across the track. Like the shadows, Sera’s lead lengthened for a while, then the gap settled and perhaps Fallon started reeling him back in, pulling clear of Carless and closer to Sera. Then things started moving in the opposite direction; Sera’s gap now extended and Fallon back in the clutches of Carless, and Carless through to 2nd with 8 to go, Mouritz and Appleby battling away further back. At the chequered flag, the shiny new number 1 of Sera was first to greet the finisher, then Carless and Fallon in 2 and 3.
Restricted 125 Light
Jack Scanlan off pole with Lucas Filikotzias beside him and Filikotzias the jump at the green with Hirotaka Chong behind them in 3rd. 4 laps in and Chong moved through to 2nd but Filikotzias was motoring clear out front. Scanlan got back past Chong but Filikotzias continued on his winning way in the lead and went on to greet the finisher.
Scanlan away and to the lead in Heat 2 ahead of Filikotzias, but a couple of laps in it was Filikotzias in the lead, then Scanlan, Chong watching on in 3rd, then a gap back to David Hutchinson, David Dvorak, Chris Mitchell and Shannon Ryan. Filikotzias, Scanlan and Chong then drew clear to put on a show – and some show it was as they diced and duked and squeezed past each other, one minute Scanlan, the next Filikotzias A tight finish was on the horizon but Scanlan had other ideas as he found the smallest gap on Chong, then just as suddenly it disappeared and he looked under threat again – Chong drifting up beside at JSKC with one to go, but then Scanlan took advantage of a squabble between Chong and Filikotzias and grabbed a gap to take the win.
Scanlan away well as Filikotzias drops back to 4th with Chong and Hutchinson ahead of him, but not for long as he gets past Hutchinson and looks to re-join the leaders. Scanlan and Chong put on a mighty battle for a lap or 2 out front while Filikotzias reels them in to make a group of 3. Some group – they looked like a little train for a while, Chong having a look at JSKC here and there, and then Filikotzias derailed things by getting under Chong in the Dipper, but taking a corner or 2 to pull it off completely, which gave Scanlan a breather out front. Scanlan made the most of this and maintained the gap for the next half dozen laps to take the win.
Scanlan away best and held Filikotzias out at JSKC lap 1, they were followed by Chong and Hutchinson, then Dvorak, Mitchell and Ryan as they completed the first circumnavigation. Then Filikotzias through to the lead as he, Scanlan and Chong looked like putting on a similar battle to the Pre Final. A few laps later Scanlan was back in the lead, but the 3 of them still looked tethered together with a rubber band. For a few laps they held station, then 9 to go and Filikotzias goes through again at Arrow, Scanlan and Chong now queued behind him. Then 2 laps later and Scanlan through at Tony Kart – Chong watching a great show here from 3rd – then Filikotzias back again at Arrow, now 6 to go. Scanlan back to the lead at the Dipper a lap later, this is great stuff to watch! A lap without a pass – what’s gone wrong? So still Scanlan, Filikotzias, Chong – we wait as they motor around. Chong through to 2nd as Filikotzias misjudges a move at Arrow, but Scanlan didn’t get much of an advantage – Chong right on him. Last lap and they go around while we hold our breath – finally Scanlan holds on, Chong 2nd and Filikotzias 3rd in a great display of what karting should be all about. Well done to all 3 of them.
Vern Kranz and Anthony Westaway, then Robert Barnes and the returning Richard Matera, Mick Fisher and Steve Griffin the entire TAG Masters class – and Kranz away ahead of Westaway, but not very far ahead, and Barnes locked on the back of this pair too, then Matera, Fisher and Griffin a second tight bunch, so a good race ahead we hope. A good race is what we got as Kranz continued to lead but Westaway right there and Barnes only a kart length or 2 behind – plenty of pressure on Kranz. Finally with 4 to go Kranz had pulled clear and gradually eased away from Westaway, who in turn had a slight gap on Barnes, further back Matera, Fisher then Griffin. By the last lap Kranz was back under some pressure from Westaway who had grown another leg, but Kranz held on to take the win.
Kranz and Westaway away well from Barnes and Matera then Griffin, with Fisher bogging down at the green and taking a while to clear it, so the field well ahead of him. Westaway to the front on Lap 2, Kranz following close behind as these 2 pulled slightly clear of the rest. By halfway it was still Westaway and Kranz now ½ a second adrift, with Barnes another ½ sec behind him and Matera about the same again, so evenly spaced at the pointy end. Kranz drew right up on the last lap but Westaway was good enough to hold on for the win.
Kranz off again, with Westaway and Barnes in his wake, then Matera, Fisher and Griffin. This time Westaway really putting the pressure on Kranz and looking to repeat his heat 2 result, but Kranz up to the task for the moment. As the laps wore down Kranz continued to lead, Westaway continued to chase, Barnes looked on in 3rd. Despite much promise, no change eventuated and they finished in this order.
Last time for the day and the year, and Kranz leads them off, Westaway then Barnes, Matera then Griffin and Fisher. Unlike earlier races, they spread out pretty evenly and maybe Kranz was set for a cruise. Halfway and no change, so I don’t know if Kranz was cruising, but he wasn’t under a lot of pressure – nor were any of them as the spread continued. Westaway was perhaps sneaking a bit closer in 2nd, so with 7 to go Kranz now had reason to spark up a bit, but then gap seemed stuck on about a second for a few laps, so maybe they had equalled out again. Sure enough Kranz saluted with a lead of a couple of seconds in the end ahead of Westaway and Barnes home in 3rd.
So 2015 Club Days come to an end on a delightful sunny Saturday afternoon. Thanks to all the Club Officials who give up their time so you can all race, the canteen crew so ably led by Sam Sera, all the volunteers and helpers that pitch in to keep the show on the road – we look forward to seeing you all again in 2016.