The Griffiths Report Southern City Classic 2016

Oakleigh’s Southern City Classic got underway on a sunny Sunday morning as Melbourne began to get into spring weather in earnest with a hot 31 degrees forecast – the first warm weather racing we had seen for some time. Showers and thunderstorms were also forecast for later in the day which might liven things up towards the end, but as the morning rolled on we ran qualifying and then got into the heats.

Cadet 12

Samuel Gibson off pole with Damon Woods beside him and Steve Tsesmelis and Brodie Thomson behind him, but Lap 1 of Heat 1 we have a red flag as Jett Wilson and Hugo Simpson tangle exiting JSKC corner and need some attention. They both prove to be fine, but subsequently we have a full restart minus the pair of them. Gibson away well and leads Woods and Thompson, Joshua D’Ambrosio working up into 4th then Isaac Woodhouse, Tyler Knowles and Liam O’Donnell as Tsesmelis dropped back with an issue I missed. With 3 to go Gibson, Thomson and Woods had shown the rest a clean set of wheels and pulled away considerably, Thomson then closing on Gibson as Woods dropped off the lead pair. Second last lap and Thompson gets under Gibson at the Grid Hairpin but Gibson gets him back at JSKC – all this brings Woods onto the scene and as they reach Page Bros corner last lap he takes Thomson and almost gets past Gibson at the finish line, but Gibson held on by 0.06.

Heat 2 and Gibson to the lead ahead of Woods, D’Ambrosio and Thomson and after a few laps a group of 6 was going around at the front so a good race looked likely – Gibson, Thomson, Woods, D’Ambrosio, Simpson, returned from his Heat 1 DNF, and O’Donnell. 3 laps in and Woods and Thomson were swapping paint and swapping spots in front while the rest queued up behind, Gibson now back in 5th. Eventually the front pair stopped dicing and pulled away – Thomson now in front of Woods. Last lap and Thomson leads comfortably ahead of Woods, a further gap to Simpson then D’Ambrosio and Woodhouse.

Woods our pole man for the Final and he led away Woodhouse and Thomson, they were followed by Simpson and D’Ambrosio as we got down the business. A shuffle in the pack behind Woods saw Thomson now 2nd then Simpson and Woodhouse back to 4th, but plenty of laps to go to make up spots. As those laps rolled by Woods’ lead gradually disappeared and he started coming under pressure from Thomson, Simpson and then Woodhouse back in 4th.  Sure enough, with 12 to go Thomson gets to the lead and Simpson follows him through as Woods is now 3rd with Woodhouse breathing down his race suit. Then Simpson got past Thomson at JSKC but Thomson back under him a couple of corners later and this closed the front 4 up again. Meanwhile D’Ambrosio, O’Donnell and Gibson were engaged in a battle of their own for 5th , 6th  and 7th, behind them lurked Knowles and Wilson, but it was out front where all the interest lay – Thomson now a small gap in the lead. A small gap turned into a big gap as Thomson powered away. Woods and Simpson swapped spots a couple of times but Simpson got the better of it in the end to take 2nd, Thomson well ahead at the chequered flag.

KA3 Junior

Only the 4 today with Jack Martin off pole then Jaylyn Robotham, Nicholas Schembri and Callum Potter bringing up the rear, and at the green Martin away well and a few laps in has pulled a good lead, Robotham and Schembri in a dice for 2 and 3, and Potter further back behind them. Eventually Schembri won the tussle for 2nd but by now Martin was well ahead in the lead and went on to take a comfortable win.

Martin away again in Heat 2 ahead of Robotham, Schembri and Potter as they settled in for the run. Settle in and spread out seemed to be the way to go here as Martin ended up winning comfortably.

A 20 lap Final with 4 karts threatened to be mind-numbingly boring, but the start was lively enough – Schembri through to 2nd,Potter 3rd and Robotham back in 4th– although Martin already well clear in the lead. Eventually though we settled in to a rhythm and they all spaced out apart from Potter and Robotham who boxed on for 3rd and 4th, Robotham eventually getting past into the Dipper and started to pull clear, so then we had just 4 karts driving around – all well apart from each other. Martin held an 8 second lead ahead of Schembri, another 5 seconds back to Robotham in 3rd – then the close one – 2 seconds between Robotham and Potter. Unsurprisingly, Martin was the eventual winner, now more than 10 seconds in the clear.

KA3 Senior Light

James Sera and Ben Mouritz then Michael Carless, Simon Fallon, Bryce Fullwood and Jack Bell – so some quality steerers here. Mouritz got the jump at the green but Sera soon set things right and got back to the front. A lap in and Fallon had found his way to the lead then Bell through to 2nd, so plenty happening. From there it seemed to settle for a while; Fallon, Bell, Sera, Mouritz, Carless and Fullwood the order up front, behind them Blake Kolar, Jake Congdon, Adam Pasek, Caleb Citrine, Andrew Sotiropoulos and finally Mannon Houssaye. 4 to go and Sera back into 2nd but Fallon looked a long way clear out front; 2 to go and Sera was after him; 3/10ths in it as they crossed the line for the 2nd last time. Nose to tail next time around so stand by for a last lap battle; Sera had a look at One Tree hill then dropped back a bit; Fallon got a gap and could then go a bit narrow so held on for the win, Sera, Bell and Mouritz behind him.

Sera got the jump on Mouritz, Bell and Fullwood, and these 4 formed the lead group after a lap of Heat 2 with Fallon, Carless and Kolar not that far behind in another group. As we got into it Bell gained on Mouritz and Fallon pulled clear of the 2nd group to join on the back of Fullwood, but Sera looked cruisy out front. Then Bell passed Mouritz to take 2nd, otherwise no change. 5 to go and Sera looks well enough clear, but Bell has Mouritz right on him and Fallon is harassing Fullwood with Carless now joined onto that pair as well. With a couple to go it was Sera and then a group of 5 karts that looked more like a train – Bell, Mouritz, Fallon, Fullwood and Carless. Fullwood had a look at Fallon at Page Bros but Fallon got him back – otherwise no change as they took the flag – Sera well ahead.

Sera and Fallon then Bell and Mouritz as the Final got started and Sera was away best but a lap in and Fallon was under him, Bell still 3rd, then Fullwood, Carless, Mouritz and Congdon. Carless retired a few laps later, while Fullwood got past Mouritz to move to 4th and set out after Bell. Fallon and Sera meanwhile were hard at it out front – Sera 3/10ths off the leader. Halfway and Fullwood was looking threatening in 4th, putting Bell right under pressure; Sera was also right on Fallon’s bumper so 2 good duels going on. Lap 11 and Fullwood goes under Bell in the Dipper while Sera still sits in 2nd further up the track, Fallon doing a good job. Bell back under Fullwood at JSKC and this starts to bring Mouritz onto them so now a race of 3 for 3rd – 5th. With 5 to go the second pack has a shuffle that sees Fullwood now 3rd leading Mouritz and Bell, and at the same time – in a move I therefore didn’t see – Sera got ahead of Fallon to take the lead. Other than Congdon joining the second group, tacking on in 6th, it looked we might get to the flag in this order; although Bell had other ideas, having an ambitious look up the inside of Mouritz at the Grid Hairpin  – which he backed out of and so the status quo remains, Fullwood now well clear in 3rd as a result. So they finished: Sera, Fallon, Fullwood, Mouritz and Bell – an entertaining race to say the least.

Restricted 125 Heavy

A blast from the past in the form of William Donnison off pole with Andrew Tabaczynski alongside, then William Hewett and Ben Armstrong fill row 2 – and at the green Donnison gets away well and soon has a good lead. Lap 4 and Armstrong has a spectacular spin at JSKC and has to wait while the field zooms past him before he can re-join in last – a couple of others spearing off the track to avoid him and coming back on via the gravel traps which leaves a screen of stones at the exit to give karters another surprise next time around. Meanwhile Donnison has driven off into the distance and leads Tabaczynski by nearly 3 seconds. He continued thus to the chequered flag to take a clear win.

Donnison away slowly as Tabaczynski and Armstrong got the better of him at the green, then Clinton Gobourne through from 5th, then Hewett. It all gets upset on Lap 2 when Tabaczynski goes around in the Dipper after contact and this allows Donnison back to the lead with now Hewett, Armstrong and Gobourne behind him. Now Donnison has a clear run and away he goes – 3 seconds in the clear with 6 to go. It’s all happening further back as Armstrong and Hewett dice – Armstrong to 2nd with 3 to go, behind them comes still Gobourne. Eventually Donnison greets the chequered flag, behind him Armstrong then Gobourne into 3rd and Hewett 4th. Armstrong later hit with a penalty that drops him to 9th, so Tabaczynski moves into 4th and Hewett 3rd.

Donnison leads Tabaczynski, Hewett and Gobourne as we get going in the final; Donnison soon has a handy lead as the rest stretch out in his wake. Pretty ho hum from then on – little spot fires back in the pack, but Donnison, Tabaczynski, now Gobourne ahead of Hewett, and Armstrong all look settled in the first 5 places. Then ever so slowly they started drawing closer and Armstrong got past Hewett, then he gained on Gobourne who in turn had closed on Tabaczynski – other than Donnison out front, we now had a race again. That was until Armstrong spun himself having half a look at Tony Kart Turn and ended up beached and out of the race, so Donnison, Tabaczynski, Gobourne and Hewett our order and that’s how they finished.

Cadet 9

Ayrton Filippi then Sam Whiteford, Thomas Patching, Lucas Quattrocchi and Akasha McEachran make up a small field of Cadet 9’s and Whiteford got the better of the start to lead with Filippi close behind then a gap to Patching, but a couple of laps in Quattrocchi was the big mover into 3rd and right on the tail of the lead pair, who had also swapped spots – seeing Filippi now in the lead. From there he got on with the job and by lap 4 had a good break on Whiteford who had a bigger gap now to Quattrocchi, Patching and McEachran behind him. A couple of laps later though it was not all plane sailing for Filippi as Whiteford reeled him in and threatened to re take the lead, meanwhile Quattrocchi had dropped back and was dicing with Patching while McEachran was a lonely 5th. 3 to go and Whiteford was a kart length off Filippi but as the laps counted off that was a close as he seemed to be able to get and Filippi held on for the win.

Filippi to the lead ahead of Whiteford, Patching, Quattrocchi and McEachran as we go around in Heat 2. Filippi and Whiteford eventually pulled away and while they ran nose to tail, Filippi held sway. Big look at the end of the straight by Whiteford with 3 to go but still Filippi held on and eventually pulled slightly clear. Behind this pair, Quattrocchi led Patching and McEachran who formed their own little race of 3, Filippi victorious in the end.

Filippi and Whiteford again lead them away, Quattrocchi, Patching and McEachran behind them and after a few laps the front pair had drawn clear – like Heat 2 we had 2 races going on. Then McEachran started to make up ground and found herself in 3rd as she passed Patching and Quattrocchi, meanwhile Filippi held a slender lead over Whiteford. A few laps later and Quattrocchi goes around and out at Tony Kart and while this is going on, Whiteford goes under Filippi at JSKC in a smooth move to take the lead – a lead which he then holds for some laps; in fact enough laps to see him greet the finisher and win the race, Filippi, McEachran and Patching behind him.

TAG Masters / KA3 Senior Heavy

The only combined classes for the day sees Timothy Martin and Stephen Simpson the front pair in Masters, while Peter Gigis and Adam Cornett lead Heavy away and that is the order in each class after a couple of laps. From there on karts seemed to just spread further apart – Matt Parker retired in Masters, so there was only 3 of each: Martin, Simpson and Richard Matera the Masters, and Gigis, Corbett and Brenden Jenner in Heavy with Justin Bonacci a non-starter there. Gigis eventually ranged right up on the back of Matera and Parker as he led Heavy, but Martin was long gone in Masters and the 2 of them went on to respective victories.

Martin again away well in Masters and Gigis also to the lead of Heavy – in fact through to 3rd overall was Gigis as he left Matera and Parker behind him. As Martin pulled clear out front, Gigis started to pile the pressure on Simpson to look at 2nd overall – still comfortably leading the Heavy race. With 2 to go Gigis gets around Simpson so the winners, again, are Martin in Masters and Gigis in Heavy.

Familiar scenes here as Martin leads away the Masters and Gigis the Heavys, respectively followed by Simpson, Matera and Parker, and Bonacci, Corbett and Jenner. Gigis moved through the whole field to be 2nd overall, but Martin was well ahead in the lead. Ever so gradually though Gigis gained on Martin and before long he wasn’t so clearly in the lead. Not that it mattered – they weren’t racing each other – but interesting to see if Gigis could bridge the gap. Sure enough with 3 to go he was right on Martin, so potential disaster then if the 2 leaders take each other out, but they had enough of a gap on their other competitors that  they didn’t have to push and Gigis sat tight for now. Sit tight he did, right to the end of the race where he and Martin greeted the chequered flag as class winners.

Restricted 125 Light

Darren Wade off Pole followed by Kyle King, Russell Newnham and Ben Marshall, then Stephen Marshall, Stephen Barker and Rowan Kiehn. Wade went from rooster to feather duster as he first of all dropped back to 2nd at the green as King went past him, then found himself sandwiched between 2 other karts at JSKC and went around and out, Ben Marshall joining him as he speared into the trap. So King now has a King sized lead ahead of the remaining Marshall; Stephen, then Barker and further back Newnham and Kiehn. When we awaken at the beginning of the 2nd last lap King now leads by roughly a mile (timing screen not working just for the moment) and goes on to record a win.

Wade a better start than Heat 1 but still dropped to 2nd as King got the better of him, then Newnham, Ben Marshall, Stephen Marshall, Kiehn and Barker. The field spread out as Wade and King went away from the rest of them, but King still held a comfy cushion of around half a second as we got down to about 4 to go.  Wade was right on King as we began the last lap but couldn’t find a way past and King held on, Ben Marshall and Newnham back in 3 and 4.

King led them away, Newnham, Stephen Marshall and Baker behind him, but fastest qualifier Wade started as if shot from a gun and moved from 6th to 4th in no time as he looked to atone for his DNF in Heat 1. King however had other ideas and quickly established a commanding lead, Newnham 2nd and Wade through to 3rd by Lap 5, but a big job ahead to catch King, even in 10 laps, as he held nearly a 5 second lead. Finally Wade moves to 2nd when he gets under Newnham at the Grid Hairpin, but Wade now had 3 laps to reel in King who was 8 seconds ahead – didn’t look likely. In the end the unlikely didn’t happen and King took the flag well ahead of Wade, Newnham and Stephen Marshall.

TAG 125 Light

Michael Carless and Daniel Griffin then Jack Scanlan and Curt Sera with Ashley Seward rounding out the 5 of them and Carless a good start with Griffin slotting into 2nd then Scanlan, Sera and Seward (where’s Ken Callander?) so the order unchanged after Lap 1. Still no timing but Carless has a lead that could modestly be described as comfortable, ahead of Griffin who in turn is well clear of the remaining karts. At the chequered flag Carless had turned his comfortable lead into a comfortable win, leaving the rest well behind him.

Carless leads away heat 2 as Griffin drops to 3rd and Scanlan gets through, behind them Sera and Seward. Griffin worked away to get back onto Scanlan but Carless was in a race of his own in the lead and left the rest for dead. 3 to go and Griffin had a look at Scanlan going into the Dipper but thought better of it – this then put him a way behind Scanlan and both of them were even further behind Carless who took an easy win in the end.

Carless and Griffin as we got away to a start in the Final, followed by Scanlan, Sera and Seward, but Scanlan through to 2nd at the green and Griffin has the job ahead of him to get back a spot and start after Carless. A few laps into it and Seward was afflicted with a mystery engine ailment and pulled in, leaving the 4 of them. No change to the order as Griffin was still not able to get back past Scanlan although they were mighty close for a few laps; Carless meanwhile driving off into the distance. From there on there was many laps of nothing changing – Carless well in the lead, Scanlan and Griffin close together but no moves, and Sera not that far behind them either – but also not able to have a look. In the end that’s how they finished

KA4 Junior Light

Jack Pennacchia heads Jai Stephenson then Reef McCarthy and Matthew Hillyer and at the green Stephenson gets the best of things to lead Pennacchia, Hillyer, and Nicholas Schembri moving through from 6th.  Out at JSKC on Lap 1 goes Callum Potter and Hamish Allan, followed later in separate incidents by Cooper Johnstone and our original pole man Pennacchia. By halfway we find Jai Sparey has motored through to 2nd with Stephenson still ahead of him, behind him is Schembri, Hillyer, McCarthy and Joel McPherson. Last lap and Stephenson has pulled clear and takes the win, Schembri, Hillyer and Macpherson behind him after Hillyer pulled off a bowling ball style move at Tony Kart Turn which put Sparey well back in the field.

An action packed 2nd heat full of hips and shoulders, but my attention was taken by a few other issues until it was almost over, so the best I can report is that with 4 to go it was Stephenson, Pennacchia, Schembri, McCarthy, Hocking and McPherson, and Stephenson had a handsome lead 3 seconds clear of Pennacchia who in turn was 3 seconds clear of Schembri. Not unexpectedly Stephenson took the win.

So Stephenson leads Schembri, McCarthy and McPherson away and at the green at JSKC we had a coming together that saw the end of McCarthy and Johnny Hill, but up front Stephenson was in control. Hocking got ahead of Schembri to go to 2nd, behind them Sparey, Church, Hillyer and McPherson with Pennacchia also working his way through after a DNF in the heats to take 7th a lap later. Stephenson meanwhile had grown another leg and was now 5 seconds up the track from Hocking in 2nd. A few laps later Schembri retired with a problem of some sort, so the order now Stephenson, Hocking, Sparey, Hillyer, Pennacchia and Church, but Stephenson a substantial lead that he turned into a win in the end.