2012 Junior Top Guns Round 1 Race Report as submitted by OGKRC race starter and life member Paul Griffiths.
A Friday night late in January in South Eastern Melbourne – must be time for Junior Top Guns at Oakleigh!
Every year for the 8 or so years Top Guns has been run, through some of the most severe droughts Victoria has ever experienced, the meeting always managed to produce rain. Some years we raced in wet and humid conditions more like far North Queensland and last year a downpour of absolutely biblical proportions saw parts of the track many feet underwater and the first Friday’s racing postponed to the second week.
In 2012 it was decided to stick with the two consecutive nights and the Friday was mild and overcast, but with no sign of rain. We had the usual collection of Cadets who had become Rookies, Rookies who had gone to Juniors, and Juniors who had made the step up to Junior Clubman or Junior Max. With competitors all set to blow the cobwebs out and start the New Year, qualifying got underway a little after 5.00pm and Pre Finals were run into the darkness.
Friday Night Top Guns – Race Report
Cadets – Final starting order was Jai Sparey, Benito Montalbano, Jordyn Sinni and then Tyler O’Leary. After a few laps of the final Montalbano had established a lead, followed by Sparey, Sinni then O’Leary so little change from the start order. Just before halfway Sparey had reeled Montalbano in and was threatening for the lead. With 3 to go Sparey into the lead and really the battle was going to be between these two for the win. Then, as they began the last lap, Montalbano slid up the inside and back into the lead at Coffey Ford corner and just held on to the win in an exciting finish to the first final.
Junior National Heavy – The Pre Final finished with Damon Strongman first then Matthew Lane, Robert Titherington, WA’s Nicholas Rowe with third qualifier Zachary Phillips an unlucky DNF having to start off 17th. After 3 laps Strongman held a commanding lead with Titherington second then Rowe and Matthew Lane fourth. Will Hawkes followed in 5th then Adam Capek and Phillips recovered well to be 7th. With 2 to go Titherington had caught Strongman, and Lane and Rowe were also closing, but Strongman held on for a narrow win.
Junior National Light C&P – Final Starting Order Luke Guillou, then Daniel Zandt from a qualifying position of 8th, then Ashton Andaloro and Brayden Flood. A rollover started the Final involving James Westaway, Shaun Costello and Alex Hockley so the field returned to the grid. While it looked spectacular, all three drivers involved were OK, but not able to rejoin the field for the restart. A second attempt to start was more successful and Zandt shot to the lead then Guillou, Andaloro and Spencer Ackerman. On Lap 3 Andaloro and Ackerman came together on Grid Corner and once they untangled themselves they found themselves rejoining at the rear of the field. This brought Troy Alger and then Todd Sparey into 3rd and 4th. Meanwhile at the front Guillou had reeled in Zandt in and was putting him under the pump. Guillou followed Zandt for a number of laps with Alger catching both of them too. With 3 to go Guillou went to the lead and eventually crossed the line in 1st followed by Zandt, Alger then Sparey.
Junior Max – Final Starting order was Liam McLellan who just snuck back under Reece Bloomfield on the line in the Pre Final, third Blaine Densley, then fastest qualifier Thomas Randle. After some messy roll up laps Bloomfield went to the lead at the start followed by Densley, then Liam, then Mathew McLellan with Jaxon Evans in 5th then Jake Dixon 6th. Fastest Qualifier Randle was out early at Arrow corner while Bloomfield drove to a commanding lead with Densley, Liam and then Mathew McLellan battling for 2, 3,4 . In the end that’s the way they finished – a good win to Bloomfield.
Rookies – Final starting was order Dylan Hollis, Liam Ford, Reece Sidebottom then Jordan Caruso. At the start it was Caruso to the lead, then Sidebottom, Thomas Bennett and Ford. Bennett was doing well to be 3rd after Qualifying 12th and at the halfway mark he pushed through to second. Meanwhile Caruso drove further away at the front. Back in 5th Dylan Adams was also doing well after qualifying 18th and he was followed by Matthew Iredale. In the end it was Caruso, Bennett, Sidebottom then Ford.
Junior National Light – Final starting order Darwin’s Bryce Fullwood, Liam McLellan, Braydon North then Matthew McLean 4th after qualifying 8th, with fastest qualifier Damon Strongman in fifth. A 28 strong field, only 4 short of the Oakleigh track’s capacity, got off to a start in the final with Fullwood into the lead followed by McLean, Strongman, Liam McLellan, Braydon North then Canberra’s Josh Buggy and Ashton Andoloro. At half race distance Fullwood had stretched his lead, Mclean a lonely second and then a gap back to Strongman. For a J race with some talented pilots competing, it was a very spread out field. Andoloro passed Buggy for 6th but Fullwood was very comfortable out front. The battle for 6th – 10th was where the action was between Andoloro, Buggy, William Hawkes and Jordan Boys who had worked his way up after qualifying 20th, and Spencer Ackerman in 10th. Fullwood finally crossed the line in 1st followed by Matt McLean and Liam McLellan.
Junior National Heavy C&P – Final starting order Robert Titherington who won the Pre Final by a substantial margin, then Ryan Blakis, Adam Capek and the highly reflective Edward Brown looking good under the Oakleigh lights. Titherington went to the lead but didn’t drive away like he had in the Pre Final – Blakis was right on him, then Brown, James Mastorakis and Capek. By the halfway mark Titherington had come on big time and pulled a substantial lead while the battle between Blakis and Brown, and further back Mastorakis and Capek continued. With 3 to go Brown into second, then Blakis then Capek, but Titherington was gone and recorded an easy win.
Junior Clubman – Now racing on only the Yamaha S engine, Thomas Randle and Damon Strongman swept by Matthew Mclean on the last corner of the Pre Final to finish 1 – 2 with Reece Bloomfield 4th. At the start of the Final, Randle shot to the front, Strongman on his tail, then McLean, SA’s Luke Marquis, Bloomfield, Taylor Stenner, then the pair of Western Australians Nicholas Rowe and National Champ Jesse Elliott back in 8th. An unlucky Matt McLean rolled to a halt with 8 to go after breaking a chain, while Randle still led from Strongman. With 5 to go Strongman got under Randle at Grid Corner and Bloomfield got onto the back of these two as well, with Marquis not far back in 4th. The dicing continued for the remainder of the race and in a sensational finish as they crossed the line, Randle made a last gasp swoop on Strongman but missed the win by 0.007 sec – the closest margin all night.
A great night’s racing for the first instalment of Junior Top Guns 2012 – bring on Saturday night and the second half!!