The Griffiths Report Victorian Karting Series Saturday June 18 2016

“Showers clearing, top of 13” according to the radio as I drove to the track early on Saturday morning, but the wipers told a different story as the rain pelted down during some parts of my trip. By the time we finished driver’s briefing and karters got ready for the Junior Practice Sessions and then Qualifying, the rain had indeed cleared, but it showed every sign of being a gloomy, chilly day all the same.

Practice and qualifying took us through to about midday and it looked like by the time we got to Heats it would be right for slicks, but sure enough KA3 Junior Qualifying saw a heavy rain shower arrive just as they went out the gate and we had a field half on slicks and half on wets and times all over the place. So racing got underway on a soaking wet track in the end.

TAG Masters

Water streamed across the track as we got Heat 1 underway – Heats now reduced to 10 laps. Steven Riddell getting to the lead after a couple of soggy and slippery laps, behind him Glenn Riddell, then Phil Smith recovering from a start where he was stuck behind a slow starting pole man in Stephen Simpson, Simpson now back in 4th. Steven Riddell had the conditions mastered, running around a second faster than anyone else, particularly brother Glenn who was still behind him in 2nd and Smith back in 3rd. Smith threw everything at Glenn Riddell in an attempt to take 2nd, but nearly fell back to 4th with a move at the Grid Hairpin that let Simpson through, but Smith drove out better and hung on for 3rd, Steven and Glenn Riddell 1 and 2.

Heat 2 and things still damp but better than Heat 1 as Simpson got away to a much better start and led them around – Glenn then Stephen Riddell, behind them Smith, until Smith backed it off the track at the Carousel and re-joined having lost only a little ground and a few positions. Mark Poole and Vern Kranz got past Smith but a few laps later Smith had set things right and got back to 4th, Simpson meanwhile was still leading but both Riddell’s were gaining so we might see a challenge before we’re done. Then again, we might not, as things seemed to settle down and Simpson took the win ahead of Glenn and then Stephen, Smith back in 4th.

KA4 Junior Light

Chaotic is probably the best description of the first few laps as karts spun and went off in the streaming wet conditions, Nicholas Schembri unluckiest of all starting 3rd and spinning into a DNF at the Dipper on Lap 1. Joshua Smith ended up popping into the lead ahead of Beau Harris then pole sitter Angelo Mouzouris by about the halfway mark. Behind them karts spread out all over the place as it became really hard to keep track of driver’s progress in all the spray. Harris had worked his way into the lead in the meantime and took the Heat win ahead of Smith.

Josh Smith got away best in Heat 2 and led for a lap but then Mouzouris took over and we saw Schembri through to 2nd, then Smith , Cooper Webster, Samuel Downing and then Jaxson Cox. A lap later it was Schembri in the lead, now Mouzouris and Smith behind him and these 3 looked like a well matched group, pulling ever so slightly clear of Downing and Webster, Matthew Hillyer and Jay Hanson. 4 to go and Schembri had established a good break, Smith now in 2nd and Mouzouris close behind him and that’s the way they stayed until the end.

KA3 Senior Heavy

Aaron Jackson off pole and after a couple of attempts at a start we got underway with Chris Thomas through from 2nd and into a good lead after a number of laps. Behind him Leigh Nicolaou, Daniel Webster, John Reynolds and then Jackson, dropped well back from his P1 starting position. Behind him we find Glenn Riddell, Peter Gigis, Justin Bonacci, Brenden Jenner and then the master himself, Remo Luciani slipping and sliding around in the wet conditions – not his favourite at all. Bringing up the rear was Dale Carpenter – another blast from the past and not relishing the slippery track either by the look of it.  Start of the 2nd  last lap and Webster is right on the back of Thomas and has a look at Grid Hairpin but Thomas holds him out – not so lucky next lap as Webster gets through on him and takes the win, Nicolaou looking on in 3rd.

Jackson and Thomas again do battle and Thomas gets a good start to lead Jackson around, followed by Reynolds and again Webster coming through from further back, and by halfway Webster has moved into 2nd ahead of Jackson, behind them now Nicolaou then Jackson, Reynolds, Carpenter and Luciani. Then Jackson back to 4th as Nicolaou moved through, while Thomas continued to hold a healthy lead and so they greeted the finisher a few laps later.

Cadet 9

Liam O’Donnell off Pole with Toby Dvorak beside him but Dvorak delayed out the gate then rushed to catch up to the pack and spun off at Arrow corner before we got going, so race over for him, Ayrton Filippi up from 3rd, then Cadel Ambrose, Jesse Lacey and Harry Arnett. Once we got underway O’Donnell drove away with it, Filippi 2nd then Fraser Carr through from 7th and Jesse Lacey then 4th.  Karts spread all over the track in the end, but no mistaking O’Donnell who was a mile in front. Lacey and Filippi swapped spots when they both spun at Canteen corner, but otherwise things remained unchanged and O’Donnell sailed way to take the win by an unbelievable 18 seconds!

Again O’Donnell away well, this time Dvorak goes with him for a bit, but Filippi the unlucky one dropping back at the start from P3 and retiring a lap later. Lacey through to 3rd, then Ambrose, but Lacey suddenly at the rear following an incident I didn’t see, with Ambrose into 3rd, then Ruby Gibson, Arnett, Carr and Sam Whiteford – O’Donnell heading towards another triumph as he drove away with it. Then it was Dvorak way back in the field in another incident that happened while I wasn’t watching (I’ll get a gig as a steward at this rate!) so Ambrose now into 2nd but no one was catching O’Donnell. Ambrose however had a spin last lap and allowed Gibson through to take 2nd, Ambrose recovering for 3rd, while O’Donnell victorious.

TAG 125 Light

Morgan Feast our Pole sitter and beside him Matthew Beninca and then Daniel Griffin, Leigh Nicolaou and Troy Alger – and at the green Feast was demoted for one corner but then took the lead back at JSKC and drove away, Nicolaou working through to 2nd after a couple of laps, then Alger and Nathan Grover through from 7th. A few laps later it was Alger through to 2nd but Feast was well clear in the lead. Further back in the field we find Beninca and Griffin in 6th and 7th, then Corey Arnett and Olivia Dalla-Zuanna behind them, then Jack Scanlan and Ray-Yu Wang. At the flag it was Feast with Alger well behind him, then Nicolaou on the last lap went from 3rd to 5th in 2 easy corners as Soutar and Grover got through on him to take 3rd and 4th.

After a number of roll up laps (and a DNS for Leigh Nicolaou) we got away with Feast losing and then regaining the lead from Beninca, but it was Alger and then Arnett who worked through into 2 and 3 while Beninca dropped back to 4th ahead then of Zac Soutar and Griffin, who had dropped back from his P3 start position. Halfway and Feast was streaking away, Alger a lonely 2nd and then a gaggle of them lead by Arnett, now ahead of Soutar and Beninca. Feast led them to the flag, Alger 2nd and Beninca a popped into 3rd ahead now of Soutar, Griffin and Arnett.

KA4 Junior Heavy

Benjamin D’Alia and Jack Martin the front row, then Riley Meens and Lukas Janev behind them as we got underway. D’Alia got underway best of all and went to the front, then Martin, Janev and Jackson Rice through to 4th as Meens drops back a couple. Once they settled D’Alia was still out front but Martin was within striking distance a couple of kart lengths back – and as the laps wound down Martin got closer, with 4 to go he was under half a second behind D’Alia. Then he mounted his attack, having a look at the Dipper and then getting past at the old Canteen, but D’Alia took the lead back on the way out – 2 laps to go and we were set for a tight finish. Martin right on the tail of D’Alia  as they began the penultimate lap, until Martin got him at Tony Kart, but not for long as D’Alia got him back when Martin slid wide at the Grid Hairpin. From there D’Alia got the job done, holding Martin at bay as they crossed the line, Rice through in 3rd then Janev and Meens.

D’Alia got the jump on Martin and took the lead as we started Heat 2, behind them we find Meens, Janev, Rice and Alexander Grutteria as they settle down for the run.  A few laps in and Martin was right on the hammer of D’Alia as these 2 had a good gap on the field, then had a look into the Dipper but D’Alia too good on the way out and took back the lead. Good battles further back too as Grutteria went to 3rd ahead of Meens and Janev – then our leaders started swapping spots again; D’Alia back to the front in the Dipper with 5 to go.  A lap later and Martin was in front and had a reasonable lead by the standards of this race – 0.6 sec. Another lap and his lead was out to 1.1 sec, so Martin looked like he might drive away. Drive away he did – 2 to go and nearly a 2 sec lead from D’Alia, a bigger gap back to Grutteria then Janev, Meens, Naomi Brady, Coady Gorringe and Jackson Rice – Martin our winner in the end.

TAG 125 Heavy

Aaron Hindle off Pole with Max Carter beside him, but Justin Carless through to the lead at the green as he shot through from 4th. Hindle though not fazed and worked back into the lead and drew away, then Carless, then Aron Lawrence, Scott King, Carter, Aaron Jackson and Daniel Rethus. Hindle meanwhile was driving off onto the afternoon gloom, with Carless a distant 2nd, then another gap to Lawrence and Co. Hindle victorious in the end ahead of Carless.

All on slicks here for Heat 2 as things finally dried up a bit – very cold and no wind meant it was a slow process. Aaron Jackson got a flier of a start and looked like he had picked the set-up correctly as he drove away in the early laps; 6 seconds clear after 4 laps. Behind him Scott King, Vern Kranz, then pole sitter Hindle, Lawrence, Carter and Brad Henderson, but no one was getting near Jackson, now just had to maintain his healthy gap to the end. Hindle back to 3rd and set out after King, still Jackson powers away – and all the way to the flag he goes, nearly 7 seconds to the good from King and Hindle.

KA3 Junior

Taine Venables with Angelo Mouzouris beside him as a big field of KA3 Junior got underway – one to watch; Dylan Hollis off the back after not registering a time in Qualifying. At the green Venables got away well and Domenic Romeo through to 2nd as Mouzouris dropped to 3rd, then Jordyn Sinni in 4th  Nicholas Schembri 5th and a few laps later he was followed by Hollis, doing a great job to be through to 6th. He was followed by Jordan Dudfield then Jay Coul, Thomas Smith and Christian Pancione as the laps wound down. Venables had it all to himself in the lead with 4 to go, but a box on behind him between Romeo, Mouzouris, Schembri, Hollis and Sinni with Hollis emerging the best of this group as they began the last lap, behind him Schembri, Sinni then Mouzouris. Venables took the win in the end, unchanged for the rest behind him.

First attempt at a Heat 2 start was aborted and they were all sent back in, so came out as the last class of all, for another go just as the gloom really descended. Mouzouris away like a shot at the green, Venables dropped back to 2nd then they were all jumbled up behind these 2 as a couple of lap 1 incidents shuffled the field. Perhaps as a result of the wet/dry qualifying session, there were some fast guys at the back and so the order changed dramatically as the race went on.  Marcus Fraser and Nathan Williams moved into 3 and 4 from well back in the pack early on. Behind them Schembri and Pancione were doing battle, then David Huezo, and coming through from the very back of the field, Dylan Hollis into 8th.  Mouzouris however was untouchable in the lead – now 5 seconds clear of Venables and Fraser in 2 and 3 and that’s the way they finished up.

KA3 Senior Light

James Sera and Jordan Nicolaou then Jack Bell and Matt McLean as we got KA3 Senior Light underway and Sera away well leaving Nicolaou  in his spray, then Bell and Cody Donald through from 6th, Ben Mouritz and then McLean. Once they settled down it was a bit of a procession, although Donald got through on Bell for 3rd with 4 to go, but Sera looked comfortable out front and Nicolaou was untroubled in 2nd – although maybe Donald was gaining on him slowly.  Sure enough, 2nd last lap and Donald into 2nd with a dive into the Dipper, so Nicolaou now 3rd, Sera still well out on front – and that’s the way they crossed the line.

A messy start to Heat 2 as Sera dropped back behind Nicolaou and trailed him around for the 1st lap and then he got under him at the eponymous JSKC corner, Bell in 3rd and then into 2nd as he rounded up Nicolaou , Carless then 4th, then Justin Francis and Ben Mouritz – but all Sera out front. A few laps later the battle for 2, 3 and 4 was hotting up – Nicolaou a now into 2nd ahead of Carless and Bell 4th. Then it was Nicolaou 2nd, Bell 3rd and Carless nowhere as he got shuffled back – really hard to keep track of it all, but the one constant was Sera who took the win in the end.

Cadet 12

Fletcher Harris and Joshua Hocking the front pair and Harris away well, while Hocking had a trip down the grass along the finish straight and ended up well back in the big field, then spun again on lap 2 to end up right at the back; he had the job ahead of him now. Meanwhile Harris leads comfortably, Kobi Williams 2nd, then Nicholas Sacco, James Wharton, Damon Woods and Kai Allen as they spread out around the damp track. Harris did a great job as the laps counted off and kept circulating clear of the rest of them ending up victorious ahead of Williams and Sacco.

Another wild and woolly start as we swapped leaders a few times in the opening laps but eventually Hugo Simpson took the lead ahead Kobi Williams, then Harris in 3rd, Joshua D’Ambrosio 4th. Things settled a bit, then Will Harper moved into 4th behind Williams but Simpson and Harris were clearing out up front – and Harris took over the lead with 5 to go with a nice move through the high speed Arrow corner. Harper meanwhile disappeared from the screen so the order at the top was Harris, Simpson, Williams and Wharton.

We look forward to seeing the finals decided tomorrow and let’s hope the forecast of 14 with a possible late shower sees the shower arrive late enough that we get all the racing done in the dry. Slippery conditions made some classes a lottery today, although as often happens, most times the cream rose to the top.