Vic State Blastoff at Sandown
The 2023 888 Home Loans Victorian State Race Series kicked off with a bang, with a diverse spread of ten categories taking to Sandown Raceway, with some genuinely feisty racing broken up by various significant moments.
In a change of tradition, all races were time certain, a move which essentially kept the program on track, and penalized those who created delays to proceedings.
After a red-letter 2022, Formula Vee kicked off the new season with more of the same, with Lee Partridge coming from the clouds to win a drama-filled opener.
Reigning champ Heath Collinson finished the race in the Dandenong Road bunker, while Brayden Stehr came to grief at the top of the rise, with the car igniting as the driver was attempting to alight from the car as it rolled back towards the racing surface.
Reef McCarthy claimed a magic second race, with the top-five covered by nothing, while he romped to the race three victory, breaking the draft to finish 9sec ahead of the pack, while Collinson once again struck trouble.
The Formula Ford racing was as spirited as ever.
Lachlan Strickland claimed the opening race win in his Mygale by 0.02sec over Jack Bussey, while Edison Beswick returned serve in the latter outings to reclaim honour for Spectrum.
The opener was filled with drama, with Bailey Collins ending the encounter in the Dandenong Road gravel, while Zak Lobko provisionally won, but was penalised 5sec for jumping the start, and wound up ninth.
The second race saw the safety car enter the field of play when Harrison Blanchard became beached at Dandenong Road.
Richard Davison meanwhile swept the Kent class wins.
The Porsche 944s turned on some incredibly spirited action at the head of the pack.
After a non-finish in the opener, Cameron Beller bounced back to claim the final two race wins, with Chris Lewis-Williams taking home the chocolates from race one.
The MG and Invited British Sports Cars were surprisingly spicy at times, with Mike Roddy claiming the first two wins in the big TWR Jaguar, while a non-finish in the finale paved the way for Trevor Lindsay to take a well-deserved win in his Triumph GT6.
Although the result sheet for the Saloon Cars’ three races read Sedan Hotel backed Holden/Ford combo of Shawn Jamieson and Bradley Vaughan in positions one-two, there were some high-quality battles to arrive upon the final order, with Daniel Johnson, Keven Stoopman and Adam Lowndes also in the mix.
Andrew McSwain added to the entertainment when the bonnet on his Falcon wrapped around the windscreen at the start of race one, and he ploughed on regardless.
The Sunday morning race was interrupted by a safety car when Jeffrey Thomas spun at turn two.
When they were up and running, the Hyundai Excel racing was purely top-tier.
Pieter Faulkner took the trio of wins, although the margins of victory were a second or less.
The shortened three-lap finale came to a head when Faulkner clashed with James Lodge for the lead on the last circuit at Dandenong Road Corner, with the latter ending the race in the bunker.
The opener finished behind the safety car when Scott Wilson and Blake Tracey tangled at the top of the rise, while the second race was cut short when Josh Sacco and Jason Kay came together at turn one, with both cars rolling at the turn one gravel trap (see: header pic). Both drivers emerged from the mess uninjured.
At the exact moment the two cars rolled in unison, Harry Tomkins found the turn three fence, although with the race back-dated due to the red flag, he held onto his third placing.
The Improved Production cars proved to be a General Motors Holden benefit.
Luke Grech-Cumbo was victorious in race one aboard his HSV Senator, while Daniel Timewell won the later races in his VF Commodore, with the second race ending under safety car when Stuart Dearden’s Falcon was spun at turn four whilst being lapped.
The Pony Wars continued in the Historic Tourers, with Andrew Lane claiming the opening pair of hit outs in his Fastback Mustang, while David Murphy did the Bowtie proud in the third race, taking out the win in his SS Camaro.
While Thomas Randle and Ray Hislop romped in the three Sports Sedan races in their respective Saab and FG Falcons, the deep field provided plenty of entertainment.
Randle’s best race lap of 1:07.4451sec was stunning, while the third race ended under safety car after Andrew Parker’s Commodore lost a wheel entering the final complex of curves.
Last but certainly not least, the HQ Holdens continued to provide brilliant entertainment.
Rod Raatjes topped the podium three times, while the likes of Steve Banks, Gavin Ross, Ryan Woods, Andrew Magilton and more mixed it up at the front of the pack.
The Victorian State Race Series resumes on April 22-23 at Winton Motor Raceway.