The Griffiths Report Top Guns 1 2016

So here we are again in January at Oakleigh, meaning it’s time for Junior Top Guns. The track looked an absolute picture – the work the committee and members have put in over summer has transformed the place. Fresh bunting ringed the track, run offs freshly topped up, tyres renewed and painted, the grass was trimmed and all was in readiness for the heart starter of the karting year.

I won’t go on about the champions Oakleigh has produced (lots of them), the lively weather we usually get on Top Guns weekend (either flood or heatwave, but today perfect), or the great battles we have seen fought here over the years between young karters. Some of them have gone on to stellar careers in Motorsport and some have stayed in karts – but we hope that everyone who rolled up this weekend from near or far has fun, and we see some close racing.

KA4 Junior Light

Qualifying saw Jai Sparey ahead of Bradley James then Nicholas Schembri and Jai Stephenson – Sparey in the staggering time of 41.152. These new tyres are quick!!! As we got underway Sparey made a bit of a hash of the start and dropped to 3rd with James going to the lead. A lap or 2 later Sparey was back to 2nd with Finn Cassidy through to 3rd from 6th, so a bit of a jumble in the order. Lap 5 and Sparey had regained the lead, James, Cassidy, Stephenson and Schembri behind him. As things drew to a conclusion Sparey pulled clear with James not all that far back in end, then a gap to Schembri who got past Cassidy for 3rd behind them.

Sparey this time away to a great start as they bumped and bobbled around behind him, James and Schembri, Cassidy and Stephenson behind them, but disaster for James as he found himself in the air and then in the tyres at the Grid Hairpin; the one thing he wasn’t in any more was the race, so bad luck for him. Sparey continued to power away, but a gaggle formed for 2nd through 5th; Cassidy the leader of this group, Schembri, Beau Harris (who didn’t set a Qualifying time and didn’t run the first Heat, so through here from last), then Stephenson. This mob put on the battle as Sparey disappeared. Harris now leading the group in 2nd, then Cassidy, Stephenson, Schembri and Cooper Webster. They motored around in this order for a number laps, all the while trailing Sparey, until we began the final lap – surely someone would pull a move! Webster got past Schembri, but other than that no change as Sparey went to the line first.

So the Finals begin and KA4 Junior Light sees Sparey off pole then Cassidy, Schembri and Stephenson as the rest squabbled for a spot behind them after what seemed like a dozen roll arounds while karts were late out of the gate then others spun off and re-joined. Eventually Sparey took the lead and drew clear from Schembri and Hanson who had come through from 6th, then Webster and Stephenson, but Sparey was taking all before him. By about halfway Hanson had moved into 2nd, so a great result from where he started, but Sparey looked a speck on the horizon out in the lead, whereas Schembri loomed large in his mirrors in 3rd and Webster was also close behind 4th, so this group might deliver some excitement. Further back there was also passing aplenty as Harris and Upiter, then Baddeley-Thompson all on his own, then a group of 3 led by Tate Frost, James recovering next after his Heat 2 dnf, then Nicholas Trebilcock. Finally Sparey took an easy win, Hanson still 2nd and Harris moved through to 3rd after starting 9th, while Schembri had a last lap spin and dnf.

Cadet 9

Toby Dvorak off pole and qualified ½ second clear of P2 man Sebastian Manson, then Liam O’Donnell and Fraser Carr. As we got underway Dvorak took the sort of lead you would expect from a ½ second faster qualifier – Manson, Jesse Lacey, Ruby Gibson then the competitively named Ayrton Filippi. In the end Dvorak went from a huge lead to having some sort of issue and dropped back into the clutches of Manson. He was passed for the lead with half a lap to go, but struggled home in 2nd. A disappointing result when he had held such a commanding lead, but better than a dnf I guess.

Heat 2 and had Dvorak found his mystery ailment? He certainly jumped clear at the green, but not by as much as in Heat 1; O’Donnell coming along for the ride this time, then a gap to Manson, Lacey and Ruby Gibson back in 5th. Ruby was having a more subdued Top Guns than she did last year where a spectacular exit from the kart saw her exit the racing altogether on night one, but put in a courageous effort to go around again on the Saturday night. This year she was circulating well and pressuring Manson and Lacey in 3rd and 4th. Dvorak though had rediscovered his form from Heat 1 and was pulling away, O’Donnell still in 2nd. Dvorak put in his fastest lap with 1 to go, so whatever slowed him up in Heat 1 was all behind him now as he went on to record the win.

Dvorak the #1 man here ahead of Manson, Lacey and O’Donnell and Dvorak away again well to clear the pack, Manson then Lacey behind him. An unfortunate tangle at Tony Kart on lap 1 saw Filippi and O’Donnell forced into retirement and Gibson lucky to continue, while out front Dvorak was coming under pressure from Manson, but these 2 had a good lead over Lacey and then Fraser Carr. With 9 to go the most interesting battle looked to be for 3 and 4 between Lacey and Carr, as Dvorak now grew another leg and pulled clear of Mawson – these 2 seemed to be joined by a rubber band – right on each other one minute, far apart the next. Then finally Dvorak did shake off Manson and looked like he would drive off into the now setting sun, and so he did – Mawson 2nd and Carr had also pulled clear in 3rd.

KA4 Junior Heavy

Benjamin D’Alia off pole – again a super quick 42.131, ahead of Jack Martin, Dylan Hollis and Riley Meens. After a lap it was Meens through to the lead ahead of D’Alia then Naomi Brady through from 5th, Martin and then Hollis. Hollis got up to 4th while Martin dropped further back. After 5 laps Meens was still out front but D’Alia had him earning it, pressuring him in 2nd. Behind them but a little back, Hollis and Martin put on a battle too – and then this pair started catching the front pair – 2 pairs would soon equal 4, and it did. D’Alai and Meens starting dicing and this closed them up even more – now 4 karts almost looked as one: Meens, Hollis, D’Alia and Martin the order. A lap later and Hollis to the lead, then Martin through to 2nd as Meens and D’Alia got up close and personal coming into Tony Kart and bounced through the grass before they re-joined well back in 4 and 5, Brady through to 3rd. Martin had Hollis in his sights as they approached the flag, but the former National Champion held on to take the win.

D’Alia this time to the lead ahead of Martin, Hollis and Meens, but Hollis through to 2nd on lap 1, and then through to the lead on Lap 2 as he went under D’Alia at Tony Kart turn. So the winner of Heat 1 hadn’t taken long to stamp his authority on Heat 2 as he led Martin and D’Alia, these 2 having swapped spots behind him. Then lap 7 and Martin squeezed up the inside of Hollis at JSKC and D’Alia followed him through into 2nd, so a shake up now. Martin was coming on now and set a quick lap or 2, but D’Alia and Hollis weren’t letting him get away. Then Hollis under D’Alia at JSKC so Martin got a small break as a result. Now would Hollis have enough time to catch Martin? With 2 laps he was maybe 4 kart lengths adrift and had a tenth or 2 on Martin. Last time around and Martin reeled off a smooth lap – despite one look over his shoulder – to take the win. Good job, ahead of Hollis and D’Alia.

Martin and Hollis, D’Alia and Meens the front 2 rows for the Final and Hollis at the green went off like a shot to take a handy lead, Martin then D’Alia behind him, then Brady, as Caruso had a coming together with Meens and dropped a chain soon after he got going again, Meens re-joining in last. After 5 laps Martin had reeled Hollis in just as fast as Hollis had pulled away at the start and Martin then spent a couple of laps assessing where to have a look. JSKC was his choice in the end, but he went in a bit hot and Hollis crossed back, not for long though as Martin again under him at Tony Kart and held on to lead for the next few laps. Martin never really pulled clear and with Hollis in your mirrors you would never feel that secure – he knows how to find a way past. This absorbing battle continued for a number of laps, although with the extra laps in the Final we still had 8 to go so no rush. Finally JSKC was the spot Hollis chose to reverse positions and re-take the lead.  Then it was his turn to not pull away, if you know what I mean – Martin all over the back of him for the next few laps. Hollis defensive for a bit now and when Martin had a look at JSKC, Hollis left little room for him on the way out and Martin had to recover from a spot out in the grass – which he did. Soon after he was serving it back up to Hollis and D’Alia had caught them too because of all this squabbling. D’Alia through to 2nd as they fought, and this would help Hollis – help him it did as he went on to take the flag, D’Alia and Martin behind him.

Cadet 12

A huge train of 24 Cadet 12s were led by Hugh Barter then Joshua Hocking, Kobi Williams and Blake Purdie, so some familiar names up the front. At the green Hocking got the better of the start and Barter back to 2nd, then Purdie, Williams, James Wharton, the lyrically named Massimo Capitanio, Kai Allen and Angus Griffin. After 3 laps all 24 of them were still going around – a remarkable job by the 2nd littlest guys. Hocking had pulled a slight gap, but not for long as Barter zeroed in on his shiny, black, officially approved rear bumper. Then Williams pulled a move at JSKC and got to 2nd which gave Hocking a gap again, so the rest of them set out after him. With 4 to go they had settled into a rhythm and Hocking looked like he should be safe. Safe he was, taking a narrow win from Williams and Allen as all karts that started managed to finish – good job all round!

Barter again dropped back at the green as Hocking went to the lead ahead of Purdie and Williams, then Barter, Griffin, Allen, Wharton and Woods. Apart from Ethan Church who dropped a chain in the roll arounds, the entire field was on track, so more good work by the Cadet 12 crew. Hocking continued to lead, but only narrowly from Purdie and Allen still, then Barter and Williams after something of a shuffle around halfway. As we began the last few laps Hocking was getting clear; Allen had also gotten clear in 2nd and chased after him but Hocking looked pretty safe – pretty safe until the last half a lap when Allen closed right up, but Hocking held on to greet the finisher.

The giant train of Cadet 12’s was led away by Hocking then Allen, Williams then Barter, but not before a lot of roll arounds where karts went off and had to be re-started, then another lap 1 pile up at Tony Kart saw Will Harper, Jack Lawson and Christian Cowrie out of the race – meanwhile Allen had worked his way to the lead ahead now of Williams, as Hocking found himself back in 3rd, Purdie then Wharton behind him. Halfway and the front 3 were looking racy, Allan still in front but Williams and Hocking not too far distant behind him, then quite a gap back to Purdie. Then they seemed to settle for a few laps, Allen maybe 4 kart lengths on Williams and Hocking who were themselves very close together, until Hocking made a move at MKC with 6 to go and into 2nd, but this served also to increase Allan’s lead as they lapped the track in the deepening gloom. Hocking then pulled clear of Williams but wasn’t making any ground on Allen who looked like he might have things sewn up, even though 4 laps remained. Sure enough Allen led them to the line in fine style.

KA4 Junior Light/Heavy C&P

The C Grade and P Plater Lights & Heavies combined in KA4 and a mixture of Lights and Heavy in the order – Callum Potter off pole then Finn Cassidy, then Heavy Jack Martin, Angus Baddeley-Thompson, Hamish Allan, Cameron Hutchinson, another Heavy in Naomi Brady and at the green Cassidy the better of Potter and to the lead, then Baddeley-Thompson, Martin, Allan and Pearson Grant through from the rear. With 5 to go they had settled and the front pair of Cassidy and Potter looked like it would produce the winner, and so it did as Cassidy took the win ahead of Potter.

A frantic looking start to Heat 2 as Potter took the lead with Cassidy and Martin in behind him; lap 1 and Hutchinson wobbles to a halt on the infield with a bent axle after a coming together that I missed, but up front it’s still Potter, Cassidy and Martin locked in mortal combat, a large gap now to Brady and Grant, then another gap to Baddeley-Thompson and Allan. Then the combatants at the front were just a pair – Potter and Cassidy, as Martin dropped off – no wonder with an extra 15 odd kilos to cart around. With 4 to go Cassidy stuck it down the inside of Potter at JSKC so maybe we’re in for a repeat of Heat 1. Try as he might Potter couldn’t seem to bridge the gap and Cassidy held on for the win.

Another ordinary lot of roll arounds with karts spearing off and some out before we even got going, but we got a green at last and Cassidy to the lead as P2 man Potter found himself well back and P3 man Martin was out even before the green, so high attrition here! Behind Cassidy we had a good battle between Grant and Baddeley-Thompson for 2 and 3, Brady behind them looking a certain winner in Heavy as the only one left out there. So Cassidy drove away with it, Grant and Baddeley-Thompson battled on behind him, never a kart length between them and Brady trailed them around – this looked like how it might all end. No it wouldn’t; Baddeley-Thompson had a look at Grant at JSKC and pulled it off to move into 2nd. Baddeley-Thompson then went on with it and pulled away from Grant as Cassidy out front lapped the P Plater McNaught. Finally the chequered flag arrived to greet Cassidy, Baddeley-Thompson and Grant in 2nd and 3rd behind him.

KA3 Junior

Another blistering pole time of 40.186 by Angelo Mouzouris. If this is the new look Junior Clubman, it makes Dave Sera’s long standing lap record of 40.962 look positively Stone Age! Mouzouris dropped back to 2nd at the start behind Jacob Dowson but after a few laps he was back in the lead followed now by Jordyn Sinni, Dowson, David Huezo and Dylan Hollis. Mouzouris and Sinni then cleared out on the rest, Hollis leading the chasing pack with Dowson, Benjamin D’Alia and Nathan Williams behind him as Huezo took a trip into the dirt at the Carousel and dropped back. Finally Mouzouris pulled a little clear, helped by Sinni running wide as he exited the Grid Hairpin as they began the last lap, so although he wasn’t miles back on Mouzouris, it was a comfortable win in the end.

Mouzouris off to the lead in Heat 2 then Dowson, then Christian Pancione who was nowhere in Heat 1 was through now to 3rd, Sinni in 4th then Huezo and Henry Johnstone. The frantic pace continued as the laps rolled down – the extra speed of this class was evident just looking at the way they rocketed around the tight Oakleigh track. Halfway and Mouzouris now slightly clear in the lead, but Dowson, Pancione and Sinni a great dice for 2, 3 and 4, further back Hollis was working through, but he had a bit to do to catch the leaders. Behind him was D’Alia, Marcus Fraser, Nathan Williams and Johnstone who must have encountered an obstacle along the way to have dropped so far back. Up front Mouzouris, behind him Sinni had moved into 3rd ahead of Pancione, Dowson still 2nd. Not surprisingly Mouzouris took the win and so we looked forward to the Finals.

And so to the last Final with Mouzouris and Sinni the front pair, Dowson and Hollis behind them and away we go…Mouzouris to the front, but a queue of karts behind him led by Dowson then Hollis, Sinni then Pancione , Williams and Johnstone. Hollis then through to 2nd and set sail after Mouzouris who had found a gap, but Sinni had other ideas as he threw it under Hollis, as did Pancione – so Hollis now 4th. Then catastrophe for Mouzouris who was suddenly rolling very slowly out of JSKC until he came to a halt at Tony Kart – a mechanical gremlin of some sort brings his night to an end – a real shame considering how well he had gone. So Sinni now in the lead, Pancione through to 2nd, Williams, Dowson, Johnstone, Huezo and finally Hollis who had been shedding places at a rate of knots, not sure why. 7 to go and Sinni had maybe a kart length on Pancione but this was the lap, as Pancione went under him in the Dipper and to the lead. Would he pull clear? Yes, a little bit, after a lap, then a bit more after 2 laps, so maybe Pancione was tonight’s man in KA3 – we’ll see. Hollis meanwhile continued his run backwards through the field, now behind D’Alia. At the end Pancione took the win ahead of Sinni, Dowson 3rd after some sort of tangle between Williams and Johnstone saw Williams dnf at MKC – and so night number 1 comes to an end.

Stay tuned for more action tomorrow night!!