The Griffiths Report Top Guns 2 2016

So Saturday dawned bright and sunny for the second round of Junior Top Guns at Oakleigh. We thought Friday was the perfect day for a kart race; that was until we saw the weather today. A beautiful sunny 24 degrees as I pulled in the gate about an hour before qualifying got underway. The blistering times that were set in all classes yesterday might not be repeated since competitors had to use the same tyres, but conditions were ideal and the track was in absolute top notch nick after yesterday’s racing.

KA4 Junior Light

Jai Sparey off Pole with a 41.220 against his own 41.152 yesterday, so not a great difference in times at all, if this class was any indication. Behind him was Nicholas Schembri, Bradley James again up there, then Kai Upiter, Finn Cassidy and Nicholas Trebilcock. Sparey didn’t quite get the start he wanted as Schembri got through, but only for a lap as Sparey regained the ascendancy, Upiter in 3rd, then  Webster and Trebilcock as they settled into a groove. Soon it was looking like last night as Sparey drove away, Schembri also pulled a gap in 2nd, then Webster, Upiter and Jay Hanson who had moved through from 8th. Finally Sparey took the win fairly easily ahead of Schembri, with Upiter an unfortunate dnf on the last lap.

Heat 2 and Sparey again away to the lead with Schembri, Upiter, Cassidy, Webster and Stephenson astern of him, James the loser as he dropped from 3rd to 7th on Lap 1. After 4 laps Sparey still had the lead, but Schembri was right with him, so not the sort of domination Sparey had shown yesterday. These 2 streaked away from the rest, who were led by Webster then Stephenson, and another gap to Cassidy and Harris, Upiter and James. Whatever Schembri had done, it was working – he was applying the blowtorch to Sparey. With 3 to go he was looking right and left for a way past, but Sparey wasn’t going to make it easy and then Schembri had a half look at Tony Kart but ended with 2 wheels on the grass and dropped right back, so Sparey probably a cruise to the flag with now 2 to go. A sort of a cruise as Sparey took the win by half a second from Schembri, Webster well back in 3rd.

A familiar start as Schembri took it up to Sparey and then Sparey got the lead back in the 1st lap, meanwhile Stephenson and Hanson came together in spectacular fashion at Tony Kart and both ended up out of the action, Hanson I think copping an accidental boot in the face from Stephenson as they came to rest one on op of the other – yet another of the hazards of karting! While all this was going on Sparey had pulled out the sort of lead we were used to seeing on Schembri, then Webster, Harris, Baddeley-Thompson, James, Frost and Rueben Goodall behind them. Webster and Harris in 3 and 4 were the nearest thing we had to a dice, so we watched them for a while – and 8 laps in Harris the big move up the inside at JSKC to take the spot and pull a little gap – but only a little one and soon Webster was breathing down his neck again – and James was closing in on these 2 as well. All Sparey out front, gap to Schembri the same as it had been – these 2 looked settled, but back in 3, 4 & 5 it was all happening as Webster moved through to 3rd, Harris now 4th and James right on them – then Harris and Webster swapped spots again – last lap so it was down to the wire! Webster held on for 3rd ahead of Harris and James, while Sparey and Schembri were back at the scales already.

Cadet 9

Same Pole man here too with Toby Dvorak setting the pace at 45.107 (yesterday 45.100 – so again, pretty close!!), then Ayrton Filippi, Liam O’Donnell and Ruby Gibson. Again like last night, Dvorak away to a good start, Filippi dropped into 2nd then O’Donnell, Gibson, Sam Whiteford, Fraser Carr and Jesse Lacey last after a spin at Tony Kart on Lap 1. Dvorak continued to drive away but Filippi was being put under the pump by O’Donnell, so maybe some action coming here; Gibson not a million miles back in 4th either. While we might have hoped something would happen – it didn’t. Dvorak took the win, Filippi then O’Donnell behind him.

Familiar scenes here as Dvorak pulls clear of Filippi, then O’Donnell, Gibson, Lacey and Carr – a lap in and O’Donnell got past Filippi for 2nd but otherwise no change was the order of the day. The only interest from then on was that Dvorak managed to better his qualifying time as the race went on – a 45.007 against a pole time of 45.107 – these tyres must get better as they get older! Quite some time later Dvorak took the win, O’Donnell 2nd and then Filippi who had fallen right back into the clutches of Gibson, but held on for 3rd.

So no surprise to see Dvorak off pole for the Final, having taken all before him in the Heats – Filippi beside him then O’Donnell and Gibson and away we go again, Dvorak just lights the thing up on cold tyres and has over a one second gap after a lap. Behind him the familiar team of Filippi, O’Donnell and Gibson, but if all goes according to plan (at least to Dvorak’s plan) Dvorak will just keep driving away. O’Donnell gets under Filippi for 2nd – further back Whiteford in 5th has a look at Gibson through MKC and finds himself stranded sideways on the track after they touch wheels – Gibson continues unhindered – Whiteford eventually gets going again, well back in last. So from here on they pretty much just continued to circulate – Dvorak only raising a sweat worrying if something would go wrong. He set a quicker lap in this Final than he did in qualifying either today or yesterday, so the track, the tyres, the kart and driver were all working well. Then he bettered his best lap again, this time on Lap 15, so from up here these new tyres look OK. All this watching the lap times served to fill in the actual time until Dvorak took the chequered flag – well deserved after an almost clean sweep of both days of racing.

KA4 Junior Heavy

Fastest lap in qualifying today was significantly quicker than yesterday with Hollis setting a 41.549 against Benjamin D’Alia’s 42.131 on Friday, D’Alia 2nd then Jack Martin, Riley Meens, Naomi Brady and Nicholas Caruso. It was however D’Alia through to the lead at the green as Hollis dropped back to 3rd with Meens following through to 2nd. A few laps later Hollis had regained the lead ahead of Martin after they again tangled exiting JSKC, D’Alia back to 3rd, then Brady in 4th.  Hollis drew clear while Martin and D’Alia drew closer together – 2 and 3 looked like putting on a show – Hollis gone out front. Despite looking quicker, D’Alia couldn’t seem to find a way past Martin until he finally squeezed by at Tony Kart with 2 to go – Martin straight back at him though the Dipper, but D’Alia held on – and held on for the whole of the last lap, a little narrow here and there, but got the job done to take 2nd, Hollis across the line well ahead to take the win.

Hollis away at the green and as they arrived at JSKC D’Alia off 2nd and Meens off 4th tangled and D’Alia found himself stranded in the cut through – race over. This allowed Martin through to 2nd as Meens re-joined in 4th now behind Brady. 4 laps later Meens was right on Brady and looking for a spot to pass. For a few laps no spot appeared – although Meens wasn’t shy in looking; a couple of heart in mouth moments at JSKC, but several laps later he was still behind Brady. Hollis continued to lead, Martin well back in 2nd, Meens still looking either side of Brady without success. After what seemed like half a dozen looks at JSKC, Meens finally pulled it off at an unusual passing place – the old Canteen corner where you see very little overtaking usually – but there you go! Up front, no change: Hollis, Martin then Meens and Brady the result.

Hollis and Martin got things underway and got clear of Brady, D’Alia and Meens and it was these 3 that looked like putting on an exhibition, Dalia eventually squeezed past Brady at Arrow and then Meens worked away on the back of her to get past too – finally finding a way at the Carousel as Brady perhaps ran a touch wide. So now we had karts spread out everywhere: Hollis first, then a second back to Martin, another 5 seconds back to D’Alia, then another second to Meens and 3 more to Brady, Caruso then 7 seconds further in arrears. It looked like developing into a race that wasn’t very interesting from here on, and it did. Nevertheless, we paid careful attention in case something happened, and eventually a small bird hopped across the track just in front of the starter’s box. Once the bird flew away the excitement died back down again and we watched the go karts go around some more, then Hollis crossed the line first for the win.

Cadet 12

Pole man from yesterday Hugh Barter was a non-starter today, off to practice for Pro Tour I’m told, so his time of 43.615 might be safe, but Kai Allen took him to within 1/100th with a 43.633. Allen didn’t quite hold onto the lead at the green as Angus Giffin went through from 2nd, but a lap later Allen had set things right and retaken top spot, Giffin, then Fletcher Harris, Joshua Hocking and Ethan Church. They spread out around the track as we wound off the laps, Allen looking comfortable out front.  Eventually a bit of a bottleneck of karts established itself with Christian Cowie, Blake Purdie, Kobi Williams, James Whitbourn, Damon Woods and at the back of them Church who been caught up in things I hadn’t seen. This group swapped spots so many times I couldn’t keep up but Purdie popped out in the front in the end. Finally Allen took the win ahead of Griffin, Harris and Hocking, Matthew Domashenz behind them and then Purdie – the leader of the pack as it were!
Griffin again a better start and pulled the break on Allen and then as the field exited JSCK a huge mid pack tangle saw Zaiden Barry, Jobe Stewart, Joseph Fawcett, Tyler Knowles, Joshua D’Ambrosio and Chloe Potter at all sorts of angles all over the track and the grass, and out of the race. A few laps in and Allen regained the lead, Griffin, Harris, Whitbourn, Woods and Williams now lined up in his mirrors. Eventually Allen gained the upper hand and a bit of a lead ahead still of Griffin and Harris, but they were well apart. More dnf’s as Massimo Capitanio, Jack Lawson, Jett Wilson and Will Harper all either came together or expired – so the great finishing record this class saw yesterday more or less evaporated in one race. At the chequered flag lots of trolleys came out as Allen came in a winner. Better luck for all of them next time.

A couple of extra roll arounds while they got settled, then we got a green and Domashenz found himself in the lead from 4th, but a lap later Allen was back in front where he started, then Giffin, Harris and Williams, while Domashenz went backwards as quickly as he had gone forwards. Behind him was Williams, Wharton, Hocking, Church and Barry. The first maybe 6 karts were all well-spaced, but the group led by Williams was looking menacing – although bit by bit they spread apart too. Well back in the field Jett Wilson lived up to his name as he launched himself over the back of Christian Cowie and Cowie out of action as a result, then Samuel Gibson and Jobe Stewart came together at MKC – Gibson in the dirt and Stewart a slow and dust shrouded re-entry to the track. All the while Allen was doing a great job and eventually took the win ahead of Purdie who had come through to 2nd while I was watching everything else that was going on.

KA4 Junior Light/Heavy C&P

A few more Lights qualified ahead of the first Heavy today with Callum Potter, Finn Cassidy, Nathan Skelton and Hamish Allan ahead of Heavy Jack Martin, and for both classes times very close together. Cassidy brave at the green and held on around the outside of Potter to lead at JSKC lap 1, then Allan, Angus Baddeley-Thompson and Skelton, then the 1st Heavy in Martin. All continued without incident until Martin tangled with Pearson Grant and both went out at Tony Kart turn – so like last night Brady now the only Heavy. Meanwhile Potter had come right up on the back of Cassidy – looking to return to the lead no doubt, Skelton was also not far behind these 2, so exciting times ahead perhaps. Last lap begins and this group of 3 tight together, then Skelton had a look at Potter and got past at JSKC, but this dropped them both right off Cassidy who could now cruise to the win.

Cassidy ahead of Potter, Baddeley-Thompson then Allen in the combined Light & Heavy C&P race. Jack Martin again the 1st Heavy, back in 6th overall. Cassidy drew away from Potter after a few laps and the rest of the field spread apart too. With 5 to go the gap at the front had narrowed and Potter was on the bumper of Cassidy and further back Allan was pressuring Baddeley-Thompson for 3rd. Martin meanwhile had gotten past Grant to move into 5th overall and the lead in Heavy. Allan had a potentially suicidal look at Baddeley-Thompson at JSKC from a mile back and didn’t pull it off; Potter meanwhile was putting the screws on Cassidy but with 2 to go needed to find a way past. Try as he might he could not find a way and Cassidy took the win.

Cassidy and Potter off the front, but Cassidy to the lead and Potter to the rear in an incident I didn’t see, Baddeley-Thompson now 2nd, Allan, then the first Heavy in Martin, the other Heavy Brady, then Grant and Hutchinson, then Potter and finally McNaught as Skelton gave it away after a lap with some sort of issue. By about halfway Cassidy had disappeared, now over 4 seconds clear – sadly for Potter he was doing quicker laps, but well back in 6th position. Between these 2 we had a battle raging for 2, 3 & 4 as Martin chased the lighter Allan and Baddeley-Thompson. While he chased, they set about passing each other and Baddeley-Thompson got to the front with 6 to go – and then Martin got through on Allan so the battle continues –and Potter joins the fray having got around Grant further back. Cassidy all alone in the lead while this going on, but then more action in the battle pack as they all came across a lapped kart at the one time and Martin popped out in the lead as they zigged and zagged to get around the slower competitor. So Cassidy took the win and Martin a great job to be 2nd overall and he winner of Heavy.

KA3 Junior

Christian Pancione our Pole man today with a 40.427 (40.186 last night from Mouzouris) behind him Mouzouris, Jacob Dowson, Jordyn Sinni and Dylan Hollis, and at the green it was Pancione who got an excellent start to take the lead ahead of Mouzouris and held it for a lap until Mouzouris moved through, then Sinni, then Hollis followed him at the Dipper – so Pancione now 4th and needs to regroup and get back into a groove. A lap or 2 later and Hollis takes Sinni to go to 2nd and these 3, led by Mouzouris, are pulling clear of Pancione. Behind him there was Dowson, then Fraser, Nathan Williams, and Henry Johnstone behind them. Mouzouris was going to have his work cut out holding out Hollis and with 5 to Go Hollis took the lead at the Carousel in a move that upset the rhythm of Mouzouris as Sinni moved through too to take 2nd.  This allowed Pancione and Dowson to close up on the lead 3, but Hollis looked to have a small gap out front. The last 2 laps were edge of the seat stuff: Hollis, Sinni, Mouzouris, Pancione and Dowson nose to tail as they started the penultimate lap, then Pancione through on Mouzouris to take 3rd and Dowson through too. So last lap starts and Hollis led Sinni around and held on to take a narrow win with a gap back to Pancione and Dowson, then Mouzouris brought up the rear.

Heat 2 and Pancione away well again, leading Mouzouris, Dowson and Sinni around for a lap and then start of Lap 2 we had a collision and a roll at JSKC taking out Bailey Hume and Nathan Williams with Williams going over, but all walked away relatively OK after we red flagged the race. So a single file restart led by Pancione – and a great job he did to get them going again with Dowson behind him, but a lap later Sinni took 2nd and Hollis moved through on D’Alia to take 4th – a cracking race coming up here! Pancione getting clear out front, but behind him lots going on. Dowson the big loser, Hollis the big mover, and now Sinni looking like he would pressure Pancione. Sinni took the lead at JSKC then Pancione back at him, and then Hollis joins in and goes through to the lead as Sinni finds himself in the trap at the Carousel and out of the race – not happy. Hollis now leading with Mouzouris on his hammer and Pancione in 3rd until he had an ill judged look at Tony Kart and dropped well back; Johnstone through to 3rd and Dowson benefiting from everyone else’s mistakes to find himself in 4th. Last 2 laps looked they would be pearlers; Hollis, Mouzouris, Johnstone and Dowson nose to tail. No change for a lap, then start of the last and Hollis super narrow a JSKC and the same at Tony Kart meant the others were bottling right up behind him – Mouzouris looking left, right and behind, as he tried to both pass and protect his second spot – then Johnstone through from 3rd on Mouzouris which allowed Hollis the gap he needed, while Dowson tried to go around Mouzouris into the Carousel and found himself too wide and almost in the trap but kept going, although a spot down as Fraser moved through to 4th, Hollis the winner in the end.

Hollis away cleanly at the start of the final Final, then Mouzouris, Dowson, Pancione and Johnstone as they settled down for the journey – although they were only sort of settled, Mouzouris a wild ride through MCK on lap 3 and he bounced and bobbled between Hollis and Dowson – then Dowson dropped off and Mouzouris came right on to stick it to the crash bar (sorry, bumper) of Hollis for a few laps. A few laps later and Hollis caught a break when Mouzouris had another wild ride around Arrow corner but still held onto 2nd ahead of Dowson, Pancione and Johnstone – behind them Sinni, working his way through from 8th, then Fraser, D’Cruz and Williams. Halfway and Mouzouris was back on Hollis and then swept past at JSKC and Dowson followed him though as they queued up for a crack; Pancione, Johnstone and Sinni right behind him. Then with 5 to go Sinni got past Hollis and Johnstone looked awfully close to going under him too, but pulled out – meanwhile Mouzouris was going away with it ahead of Dowson, then Pancione and Sinni pulling clear of Hollis while Johnstone gained on him, but couldn’t get him in the end – Mouzouris a worthy winner.

So Junior Top Guns comes to an end for another year – tales of victory and hard luck stories alike being told in the pits as we pack up and head to the Club Rooms for a well-earned drink and the presentation.

Points for the Series are as follows:

KA4 Junior Light: 1. Sparey 2. Webster 3. Schembri

Cadet 9: 1. Dvorak 2. Gibson 3. O’Donnell

KA4 Junior Heavy: 1. Hollis 2. Martin 3. D’Alia

Cadet 12: 1. Allen 2. Hocking 3. Giffin

KA4 Junior Light C&P: 1. Cassidy 2. Baddeley-Thompson 3. Potter

KA4 Junior Heavy C&P: 1. Brady 2. Martin

KA3: 1. Mouzouris 2. Dowson 3. Hollis

Tyre draw winners for those classes that qualified were:

KA3: Henry Johnstone

KA4: Nicholas Caruso

Cadet 9: Ruby Gibson

Cadet 12: Blake Purdie

And finally the winner of the Arrow Go Kart, drawn at random from all entries, was: Matthew Hillyer from Cadet 12. Well done to him and thanks to DPE for their support of this meeting.