The Griffiths Report Junior Top Guns Round 2 2017

A cooler day for Saturday’s racing at Junior Top Guns 2017, maybe mid 20’s, a bit of a blustery wind, but no sign of the heavy rain that made qualifying and the first round of Heats a bit of a slog yesterday. Under sunny skies we got qualifying underway.

I need to say here that all results provided below are as they crossed the line. There were appeals and hearings underway as I left the track after a long day – the stewards of the meeting looked like having a longer one! Final results for the two days combined will follow.

Cadet 12

Fletcher Harris again off pole here, but with Damon Woods beside him, then Tex Starr-McKoy and Christian Cowie and at the go it’s Woods who gets the better of things to lead Harris and the rest around for a lap or 2. That is until Harris slides under Woods at JSKC and here we find Starr-McKoy and Cowie closing in too, so a group of 4 out front. Behind them Isaac Woodhouse, Ayrton Filippi, Brodie Thompson and Francis Carr, but the 4 out front continue to pull clear. 9 to go and Woods suffers some mystery failure coming into the Dipper and drops a number of spots, then comes back to life, now in 4th, but well back; Harris meanwhile continues out front, Starr-McKoy now in 2nd . From there Harris and Starr-McKoy pulled away, Woods got back to 3rd, then Cowie, then a gap to Woodhouse in a lonely 5th and Jesse Lacey and Thompson further back – and despite a spirited fight from Starr-McKoy, Harris held on for the win.

Start of the second Heats and Fletcher, Woods and Starr-McKoy all get a good start, but not so behind them where Samuel Gibson, Matthew Domaschenz and Tyler Knowles all kaput as they collide on the start line and go off at Arrow. For a few laps there was no change but then at JSKC Woods got the move done and took the lead, Fletcher had a look back at Arrow a lap later and pulled out just in time to avoid disaster, then Starr-McKoy moved to 2nd at Tony Kart when he overtook Harris – this bringing Cowie and Woodhouse onto the lead group as well; then Starr-McKoy to the lead at JSKC – all happening here! Then Fletcher back to 2nd at Grid Hairpin and set out after Starr-McKoy – now they were spreading out a bit with a gap back to Woods and further back to Cowie and then Woodhouse, but Fletcher chasing Starr-McKoy was were all the interest lay. Starr-McKoy kept a cool head but Fletcher was coming, gaining a tenth a lap with 4 to go. – Starr-McKoy only had a 2/10th lead so it could happen. 3 to go and Fletcher right on the back of Starr-McKoy, 2 to go and Fletcher was in his exhaust pipe, then makes it happen at Tony Kart with a smooth move up the inside – has to hang on for 2 now – Starr-McKoy goes through again at JSKC, now Harris back again at Tony Kart, Woods right on them now – hold your breath!! Starr-McKoy fires his last shot at Grid Hairpin and gets under Harris, Harris crosses back and Woods picks his moment to sail under Starr-McKoy too, so Harris, Woods and Starr-McKoy across the line as one kart in that order – what a race!

So Fletcher and Woods lead them away for the Final and pull away from Starr-McKoy, Cowie, Woodhouse, Lacey and Fraser Carr, but of them all at least Starr-McKoy we knew had the pace to reel them back in – and so did the rest of them if they got it right, so we’ll see what unfolds. Sure enough a lap or 2 later and Starr-McKoy is right on Harris’ bumper and Woods directly ahead of him. Then a big reshuffle where Woods went right back as a bunch of moves were made at Tony Kart turn, then those behind all started fighting allowing Harris to drive off. After the fighting stopped it was Lacey who emerged in 2nd and suddenly looked like he might have the pace to reel Harris in. Lacey was quick in the wet yesterday, but I hadn’t seen much of him today – so something is working in the Final for him. Reel Harris in he did, with 7 to go he was less than half a second behind Harris; then behind Lacey was Starr-McKoy, the recovering Woods, Domaschenz and Woodhouse, but it looked like one of either Harris or Lacey would be the victor. As they began the 2nd last lap Lacey had dropped back to nearly a second behind, so Harris looked like he had it, and have it he did as he crossed first, Lacey, Starr-McKoy and Domaschenz behind him.

KA4 Junior Light

Cooper Webster again off P1 and again Jay Hanson beside him with Jai Stephenson who had had a torrid time of it on the Friday now doing better in P3, then Bailey Collins and Blake Purdie, so the dry Qualifying session throwing up some different names from Friday – and Webster again away well at the start with Hanson and Stephenson soon a way back in 2 and 3 as Webster exerts his presence again. Behind them Collins and Sean Larkin as Purdie ends up on the side of the track expired with a problem, further back Jobe Stewart, Kai Allen and Kobi Williams, but all Webster out front, Hanson and Stephenson watching him disappear from positions 2 and 3. In the end, although Hanson showed some signs of recovering ground, Webster went on to take the win.

A few messy roll arounds before we got going and Webster got the best of it ahead of Hanson, these 2 soon clear of Stephenson, but on Lap 3 Hanson has a wild look under Webster at JSKC and got past leaving Webster falling back into the clutches of Stephenson, but he recovered from this and set out after Hanson again – these 3 had left the rest for dead – and the rest were led by Collins then Stewart, Allen and Larkin. With 6 to go Webster had found the back of Hanson and at JKSC he moved under him to retake the lead and then set about putting a gap between them. This didn’t prove so easy as Hanson (and Stephenson) hung on – at least for a couple of laps. With 2 to go Webster’s lead was 4/10ths so no great margin; Hanson working hard to keep Webster in range, 2/10ths the gap now. 2/10ths proved enough at the line and Webster took the win, Hanson, Stephenson, Stewart and Collins behind them.

More messy roll ups but we got going eventually and Webster and Hanson again away, Stephenson and Stewart behind them, then Larkin and Allen, but Hanson and Webster were in a class of their own and rocketed clear, Hanson right on the #1’s hammer. Further back Stewart and Larkin were also engaged in a battle, than another gap to a train starting with Cox, Allen, Stephenson, Goodall and Mann. 8 to go and Hanson fires a shot, getting under Webster in the Dipper, but Webster a great pass to get back on Hanson at Page Bros, so as you were – at least for the moment. Sure enough Hanson back in front at JSKC as they start lap 10 – they are over 5 seconds clear of Stewart in 3rd, so dicing won’t cost them so much. 3 to go and Webster comes from nowhere to take it back at JSKC, Hanson a messy go back at the Dipper and Webster lost some ground – but Webster has some big legs on the straight and makes it up again, then with 2 to go he’s on Hanson again and Hanson I think too defensive too early and loses drive out of JSKC so Webster able to stick it up the inside at Tony Kart and reclaim the lead and hold it to the line – a great job by both, but kudos to Webster for the win, Stewart well back in 3rd.

KA4 Junior Heavy

A different front row here with Jordyn Sinni and Ethan Church then Alexandra Grutteria and Matthew Morris the next row and Sinni our leader once they settle, ahead of Church and Grutteria, then Morris and Nathan Skelton, Daniel Hookway and then last night’s Pole sitter Madisson Jess. Sinni took off as they laps counted down and by halfway looked it have it sewn up – Church and Grutteria battling away for 2 and 3, and with 6 to go Grutteria got under Church at Tony Kart turn to go to P2 – but all the while Sinni was waltzing off into the distance and took a comfortable win.

Heat 2 was interrupted somewhat for me, but Sinni went to a big lead and left Grutteria and Morris in his wake – until the 2nd last lap where Church and Skelton came together at Page Bros and went off under the starter’s box, Church re-joined, but Skelton no chain and out. Sinni, meanwhile went on to take a big win.

The Final here was also interrupted by some power issues in the starter’s box, but I can report that Sinni took an easy win from Grutteria; further back in 3rd was Morris.

Cadet 9

Well, well, well! Lewis Francis, the only P plater out there, has headed the invincible (at least he was invincible last night) Toby Dvorak to put it on Pole, and Ben Holliday has snuck into 2nd with Dvorak 3rd and Leo Iannella in 4th. Then at the start of Heat 1 all the roosters became feather dusters at JSKC when Francis, Dvorak, Holliday and Ponting all collided and went out, as did Iannella who kept going but was black flagged for receiving assistance, so this left Caleb Spence, Thomas Schmidt and Giancarlo Artho on track and circulating well apart. A real shame for the others, especially Francis having done so well to get Pole – the start was OK, but they all bubbled up together once they arrived at the first corner. Of the 3 left on track Spence was going to have no trouble if he kept circulating – and he did to take the win. Sadly Artho was unfortunate enough to expire on the last lap just a couple of hundred yards short of finishing, so a DNF for him.

After we had a recalled class and a talking to the drivers, we got a few roll arounds and finally a start and Francis did a good job of leading from the front, but Dvorak got under him a lap or 2 in while Ponting slotted into 3rd, Iannella and Holliday behind them. Then it all went bad for Ponting when he went off at Tony Kart and emerged from the kart holding his ribs; maybe a touch from someone? I didn’t see. Dvorak continued on his way in the lead but Francis was doing a sterling job maybe 2 seconds back in 2nd, Iannella now in 3rd and Spence 4th. At the end it was Dvorak easily, Francis in p2 and Iannella 3rd.

Spence off the front after all the DNF’s in Heat 1, beside him Schmidt and then Dvorak and Francis and it wasn’t long before Dvorak made it through to the lead, Spence hung on to 2nd, Iannella through to 3rd, while Schmidt dropped back to 4th and then Francis found himself back in 5th. While Dvorak had a comfortable lead, Spence was under the pump from Iannella in 2nd – while Francis and Schmidt were also putting on a show back in 4 and 5 – a show which Schmidt maybe looked like winning, although Francis got past him at least once, then lost the spot moments later – until finally he seemed to get clear of Schmidt with 3 to go. At the same time Iannella got under Spence – this looked like it would happen for some time too, so now we have Dvorak, Iannella and Spence 1, 2 & 3 and that’s the way they crossed the line, Francis 4th and Schmidt then Artho behind him.

Cadet 12 C&P

Jett Wilson lives up to his name and puts it on Pole here, Isaac Woodhouse beside him then Liam O’Donnell and Ruby Gibson a good job to snag 4th – but that good job was all undone at the start of Heat 1 as she got hung wide then spun at Tony Kart and dropped to 2nd last, meanwhile Wilson had gone away with it ahead of O’Donnell and Woodhouse, Brodie Thomson slotting into 4th ahead of Thomas Patching. Wilson continued to go on with it and drew clear of O’Donnell who was having trouble shaking off Woodhouse, a gap from these 2 back to Thomson. Thomson closed that gap eventually, but no change of order looked likely as Woodhouse continued to shadow O’Donnell, but never quite close enough to make a move, while Wilson powered away out front. He went on to take the win, O’Donnell held on for 2nd and Thomson ended up getting under Woodhouse for 3rd, Gibson recovering to be 8th.

Wilson gets away and leads from Woodhouse, O’Donnell and this time Gibson stays put in 4th  but with Thomson right on her tail, and then under her at JSKC lap 2 to go to 4th, then Patching, Chloe Potter, Charlee Richardson and Benjamin Miller strung out behind them. Wilson, O’Donnell and Woodhouse now pull away and Wilson pulls away from the other 2. Then as the race went on, the other 2 came back at him and we ended up with 2 three kart races: Wilson, O’Donnell, Woodhouse, then further back Thomson, Gibson and Patching, then the rest further back again. Some action for 2 and 3 as O’Donnell and Woodhouse swapped spots, then swapped back – otherwise no change. No change was then what we got all the way to the line – Wilson the victor.

O’Donnell got the best of it here getting ahead of Wilson, then Thomson, Woodhouse, Potter and Gibson, while we farewelled Patching on lap 1 with a spin at One Tree Hill. Once they settled it was O’Donnell, Wilson and Thompson well clear in a pack – until Wilson had a look at Tony Kart and squeezed past O’Donnell. O’Donnell lost some momentum, but quickly recovered to be back on Wilson and looking to retake the lead. Thomson though, was dropping off the lead pair, so now a race in 2. They stayed this way then for quite some laps, until O’Donnell made a smooth move at Page Bros to get to the front again – these 2 were quite entertaining to watch, clean and quick the both of them. Ever so slowly now, Thomson and Woodhouse were reeling the lead pair in – maybe we’d have a race in 4. Then Wilson got under O’Donnell again to take the lead with 4 to go, Thomson and Woodhouse shadowing them maybe 2 seconds further back. So O’Donnell with the job ahead of him now – looking for a way past. Wilson actually pulling a gap but O’Donnell reeled him in and at Page Bros it looked like anything could happen – but Wilson held on, albeit by only 5/100ths, (the fist-pump almost too soon, but he was home), O’Donnell 2nd and Thomson across the line in 3rd.

KA3 Junior

Jordyn Sinni this time the pole man with Christian Pancione then Cooper Webster, Matthew Hillyer and Samuel Downing lined up in his stern – and Sinni and Pancione a cracking start with Webster behind them and Taine Venables and Samuel Downing behind them. Once they settled (a bit) it was Sinni who gained the upper hand and the lead, but the racing was frantic behind him; Pancione was holding down 2nd then Webster still, Venables, Downing, Matthew Hillyer, Hamish Allan, Pearson Grant and Callum Potter made up the first 9. With 6 to go Sinni had stretched his lead to over a second, so looked like he might make it home with the win – but behind him a reshuffle with a couple of laps to go saw Pancione and Webster maintain position, behind them now Downing, Venables, Hillyer and Allan. Then catastrophe for Sinni – a problem (maybe fuel?) on the last lap meant he dropped back suddenly – madly choking, it looked like, to try and keep the thing going, he coughed across the line in 7th, Pancione inheriting the win.

Another cracking start to Heat 2 as Sinni got to the front but had to defend as Pancione was all over him – and got under him start of Lap 2 at JSKC to take the lead. Behind them Webster, Downing, Venables, Hillyer – all in a train, a very fast train! Sinni back to the lead at Tony Kart on lap 3, Webster looking on in 3rd, Pancione 2nd and Downing in 4th. Then Webster to 2nd at JSKC and Pancione slowed to go back to 4th, Venables sneaking through to 3rd, Downing now back in 5th and Hillyer right behind him. Lots of action to try and keep on top of, but Sinni was blitzing them, 1.5 seconds clear in the lead with 9 to go – but as the first heat proved, it ain’t over till it’s over. Back in the field Pancione was having a rough time, now back in 7th as Downing, Hillyer and Allan all got around him. Webster looked the only threat to Sinni with 3 to go, trailing him now by 3 seconds, so perhaps not a very big threat – and Sinni went on to win.

Downing and Sinni got ahead of Webster at the go, then a tangle at Tony Kart took out Allan and Cameron Hutchinson which took some sorting out, the field almost coming around on them stranded on the track, but it was cleared just in time, so back to the racing: Downing, Sinni, now Pancione in 3rd, and Webster, Venables and Hillyer. Then some unseen issue forced Downing into retirement elevating Sinni to the lead, still behind him Pancione and Webster, then Venables, Hillyer, Grant and Potter. With 5 to go it was still Sinni, Pancione then a gap back to Hillyer and Webster in 3 and 4 and Sinni took the chocolates in the end, after negotiating a couple of lapped karts – the rest still behind him, so Pancione and Hillyer 2 and 3.

KA4 Junior Light & Heavy C&P

Joel Johnson and Oliver McNaught the front pair in Light with Ethan Church and Liam Hall the same in Heavy. Johnson got away to a flier in Light while Church worked his way through some of the Lights to lead Heavy. The 2 fields spread out all over the place and with combined classes it was a little hard to keep track of it all, but no mistaking Johnson out front, McNaught and D’Ambrosio following him in Light, then Church the leading Heavy, Liam Hall next then Regan Somers and Beau Russell and that’s how they finished.

Heat 2 started off a bit messily as some of them tangled at JSKC and Stirling Angus appeared to cop a nosecone to the front of the helmet, but continued apparently unaffected, then D’Ambrosio rolled to a halt further on in Lap 1 as well. So when they settled it was Johnson and McNaught in Light, and Russell and Regan Somers in Heavy. Halfway and Church had come back through in Heavy and was pestering Russell for the lead, and in Light the lead pair were still Johnson and McNaught, at least it was until McNaught went under Johnson at Tony Kart with now 5 to go, and while this was happening, Church got past Russell to take the lead in Heavy. As the laps counted down the front pair of Lights in McNaught and Johnson put on some great racing, Johnson was pressuring hard and looking for a way past, McNaught not succumbing to the attack. As they began the last lap there was a tenth between them – could Johnson get past? No; a smart drive by McNaught to go just defensive enough that he denied Johnson a shot at the win, so McNaught held on, Church and Russell 1 and 2 in Heavy.

A recalled field (well 2 fields really) after some shunting in the roll arounds, but eventually we got a start and Johnson and McNaught the leaders in Light followed further back by Bray and Lee, then Church and Ward in Heavy and they were followed by Regan and Conor Somers. By halfway Johnson had pulled slightly clear of McNaught to lead by over a second and in Heavy Church was  getting the job done convincingly, more than 10 seconds ahead of Regan Somers. So they continued to the line and Johnson and Church became our respective winners in Light and Heavy.


So another Junior Top Guns comes to an end. It is a big meeting to run each year, at a time when there are always new rules, often lively weather, and junior karters find themselves in new classes racing different kids, so well done to the crew at Oakleigh for getting through it so well. I know what goes into making these meetings successful – and it’s a lot of hard work. I saw the tired faces amongst both the competitors and the officials at the end of it all, but the kids all having a great hit out to start the year, and the usual collection of cardboard box sleds at the bottom of the hill in front of the canteen is a sign that most of them had fun. I hope the fun continues for the rest of 2017 – it’s what junior karting should be about.