October each year sees Oakleigh host its Class Titles where drivers race under the State Title format of Qualifying, 2 heats, a Pre Final and a Final. Qualifying and heats are run on Saturday and Pre Finals and Finals on Sunday.
If you visit Oakleigh for Junior Top Guns in January next year, or the 2014 Vic Open in March, it’s worth having a look at the Honour Boards of previous winners of Class Titles and Club Championships at Oakleigh – there are some pretty impressive names there. Multi National Title winner David Sera appears as early as 2000 when he took out Junior National Light, cousin James a number of times too, including Clubman Light in 2003; future National Champion Justin Schneider gets a guernsey as winner of Junior National Light in 2001, Thomas Randle – this weekend racing Formula Ford as part of the Gold Coast 600 – taking the win in Midgets (Cadets) in 2005, and Future Clubman Super Heavy National Champ Josh Brooker winning Leopard Heavy back in 2007. So who might we see from this weekend’s crop of racers graduate to fame, if not necessarily fortune?
After Heats on Saturday we got into Pre Finals on Sunday morning under cloudy skies. There was just a sheen of moisture on the track, so things looked like they might get interesting.
Junior National Heavy
Fastest Qualifier Cody Donald had taken all before him in the heats, so was off Pole for the Pre Final and he led them away on a greasy track. With the whole field on slicks they soon spread out as some slid and spun their way around. Donald was well clear of Dylan O’Keefe, who was in turn well clear of Justin Carless, Lucas Filikotzias and Jamie Westaway after 3 laps. The laps wound down and the moisture disappeared, as did Donald out the front of the field – the real battle was for 3, 4 & 5 between Filikotzias, Westaway and Carless – O’Keefe a comfortable 2nd. With 3 to go Westaway had pulled slightly clear in 3rd, but Donald looked well home and went on to record an easy win from O’Keefe in 2nd, and Filikotzias snuck through for 3rd having reeled Westaway back in again.
Finals begin in bright sunshine and Donald away again, with O’Keefe close behind, then a gap to Carless and Nicholas Floodstrom in 4th. Donald wasn’t dominating like he had in the heats earlier, with O’Keefe maybe half a dozen kart lengths behind, but these 2 well clear of Carless in 3rd and then a gaggle of karts: Floodstrom, Aaron Jackson, Bryce Woolard and Daniel Frencham battling for 3rd – 6th. With 7 of 15 left to go Donald had started to pull away, O’Keefe then Carless both well spread out behind him, and then Floodstrom who had gained the upper hand in the next battle, while Frencham and Woolard tangled on the finish line seeing Woolard stranded on the infield. In the end it was Donald, O’Keefe, Carless and Floodstrom – a big gap between each.
Mathew Steel had done a good job in the heats and was set to lead Jordan Dudfield and Blake Kolar away – and lead them away he did, pulling a good margin after 1 lap from Dudfield, Christian Pancione, Kolar and Patrick Forrester. By halfway Steel was comfortable in the lead but things were much more hectic behind him where Pancione, Dudfield and Kolar were boxing on for 2, 3 & 4. On Lap 8 Pancione found himself off the track and stopped under the lap scorers box, leaving Dudfield and Kolar fighting for 2 and 3. No fighting though for Steel who went away to an easy win, Dudfield holding on for 2nd from Kolar, then a gap back to Forrester in 4th.
Steel again off pole, Dudfield 2nd and Kolar, Forrester and Pancione the rest. Steel a great start – Dudfield not so, dropping back to 4th, then getting the rough end of the pineapple through the Carousel to go to last, from where he began to mount a recovery. No recovery needed for Steel though, he just kept driving away, Kolar 2nd and a 3 way boxing match behind him for the rest of the places – Dudfield eventually through to 3rd and after the front runners. The front runners though were a long way away and Dudfield didn’t end up pulling much clear of 4th placed Forrester, so Steel and Kolar had it all to themselves. With 6 to go Kolar looked to be just gaining a fraction on Steel – perhaps his domination was set to come to an end? No, as it turns out. At the chequered flag, Steel a creditable winner. Kolar 2nd, then Dudfield and Forrester, and Pancione was a retirement a few laps earlier.
While Matt McLean had qualified fastest, it was Ash Arora who started the Pre Final from Pole, having won both the heats and Arora led them away with Matthew Lane following him into 2nd, then McLean, Dylan Slits and Mark Appleby behind them. After 4 laps McLean had moved ahead of Lane and into 2nd while Nicholas Bates was pressuring Appleby for 5th. McLean looked to be gaining on Arora (no timing this month, so all done by eye) so perhaps Ash wasn’t going to have it all his own way, while Lane was a lonely 3rd and Slits, Appleby and Bates were forming a tighter bunch further back. With 3 to go McLean was a kart length adrift of Arora – could he close the gap? If he did, could he get past? Yes proved to be the answer to both questions, as he went under Arora at JSKC corner at the beginning of the last lap; at the flag McLean ahead of Arora, then Lane, Slits, Appleby and Bates.
McLean, Arora, Lane and Slits – all a chance of winning this, and a cracking opening lap as McLean to the lead, Slits though to 2nd, then Lane, then Arora shuffled back to 4th as they biffed and barged around the first circuit. Before long Arora back into 2nd but probably a little concerned by the gap McLean had pulled in the lead – still, he had plenty of laps to catch him, so he set about the task. Lane, Slits and Mark Appleby were behind him, then Caleb Citrine, Bates and Jordan Poxon. With 6 to go Arora had maybe gained a bit on McLean but needed to come on soon to catch him by the flag. A lap later he was a whisker closer – 4 to go – this was going to be a nail biter! With 2 to go Arora was in need of a small miracle – 4 kart lengths and McLean probably needs to make an error. Last lap and Arora throwing everything at it but McLean held on by 2/10ths. A great drive from both, well done to McLean, with Lane home in 3rd.
Sportsman Restricted Heavy
Jason Sheales dominated proceedings on Saturday and led Richard Matera and Luke Grech-Cumbo away on Sunday morning and it wasn’t long before Sheales and Matera had pulled well clear of the rest, led by Grech-Cumbo, Michael Maruszak, Steven Barlee and Paul Maruszak. On Lap 3 Matera tried a suicide move up the inside of Sheales at Grid Hairpin and thankfully thought better of it and pulled out, then a lap later tried the same thing and drove straight into the side of Sheales’ kart in a clumsy attempt at a pass – putting Sheales back several places. So now Matera, Grech-Cumbo, Paul Maruszak, Barlee and Michael Maruszak. At the flag that’s how they finished other than Sheales making it back up to 5th – and he deserved better than that.
Grech-Cumbo off pole, a penalty to Matera sending him back to 7th, then Paul Maruszak, Michael Maruszak, Sheales and Barlee. Matera lost a nose cone in the roll arounds, so back to the in grid for him, and Grech-Cumbo away at the green, Michael Maruszak close behind, then Paul Maruszak, Sheales, Barlee and Trevor Payne. Before long Michael Maruszak to the lead while Grech-Cumbo, Paul Maruszak and Sheales continued to circulate behind him. Sheales had a look into the Dipper for 3rd on lap 5 but stayed where he was in the end, then had another look next lap and pulled off the move, only to go back to 4th a few corners later. Back to 3rd for Sheales a lap later, but all this was letting the leaders get away. If Michael Maruszak and Grech-Cumbo didn’t start fighting, they were a good chance to drive off from the rest. With 6 to go they had a big gap from Sheales, now a lonely 3rd, then Barlee, Payne and Paul Maruszak. At the end Sheales had drawn closer, but not close enough and had to settle for 3rd behind Michael Maruszak and Grech-Cumbo who were a worthy 1 & 2.
Tag 125 Light / Tag 125 Heavy
Combined for this meeting, the 2 Tag classes saw Michael Carless off Pole in Light, and Vern Kranz in Heavy as they began their respective races. Carless well away in Light, but Rhys Hunt got ahead of Kranz in Heavy. Then Mal Hunt got past Kranz too, behind them, Greg Smart and Ashley Thompson – Steve Griffin absent from the Heavy field today courtesy of an injured leg sustained in yesterday’s heats – a shame when he races so infrequently. All Carless at the front of the Light field, Shane Kovacs behind him, then Allan Zammit and David Dvorak. In Heavy the pair of Hunts, Rhys and Mal, continue to lead Kranz and that’s the way it all ended up in the combined Pre Finals of Tag.
Carless and Kovacs in Light, and Rhys Hunt and Mal Hunt in Heavy, the two front rows for the Finals – and we’re green: Carless away cleanly in Light, but less straightforward in Heavy where Rhys Hunt and Kranz got a good start, but Mal Hunt, Smart and Thompson tangled and waltzed around on the finish line, then all got pointing in the same direction eventually. From there on it was how far Carless in Light, while Rhys Hunt looked comfortable in the lead from Kranz in Heavy. So the laps wound down – most of the excitement in the dice for 3, 4 & 5 in Heavy where Mal Hunt, Smart and Thompson swapped spots a few times until Mal Hunt pulled clear of the other 2, but nearly half a lap behind Rhys Hunt and Kranz out front. Carless skipped away in Light, lapping a few of the slower Heavys in the end, and Rhys Hunt saluted in Heavy
Th usual small field, but a debutant in Nicholas Steel doing well to be off 3rd behind regular front runners Dylan O’Keefe and Ashton Andoloro; behind Steel, Justin Carless and Aaron Jackson. O’Keefe away well and to the lead, Steel behind him, then Carless and Jackson; Andoloro well back after a poor start and further pain to come by way of a starting infringement penalty for jumping from P2. As the laps unfolded O’Keefe was clear out front, but not driving away from Steel who was doing well in 2nd – then a gap back to the rest. At the finish it was O’Keefe, Steel, then Andoloro who had worked through to 3rd just ahead of Jackson, then Carless.
O’Keefe then Steel, Jackson, Carless and Andoloro as they got away in Junior Clubman and off to a clean start they go: O’Keefe then Steel the leaders and after a lap Andoloro into 3rd and then sailed off at the end of the straight looking to move up some more – perhaps something failed on the kart as it didn’t seem to have any hope of pulling up. Soon after Steel to the lead from O’Keefe – not bad for his debut in the class, Carless back in 3rd and Jackson close behind him in 4th. With 9 to go O’Keefe slid under Steel at JSKC corner for the lead, but was unsettled on the way out when they touched as Steel went to switch back – now O’Keefe would have to work to catch back up to Steel. Gradually O’Keefe did work his way back up to Steel – 5 to go and he was maybe 4 kart lengths off him. Like the Clubman Light Final, O’Keefe really was working hard to catch the leader Steel. Would he do it? A lap to go and he’s on him – get ready for a finish!! Nothing in it and at Grid Hairpin O’Keefe saw his chance, but just touched the back wheel of Steel, going up over him a bit and then dropping off, allowing Steel to drive away to the win. A truly memorable chase and result – reminiscent of Whincup’s move on Winterbottom at Bathurst – O’Keefe had to have a go and he did. Steel a deserving winner in the end.
Junior National Light
Oscar Piastri – who has done exceptionally well in the Junior races I have seen since he moved up from Rookies – was again at the front, leading Junior Light away ahead of Cody Donald and Benjamin D’Alia, and at the green it was Piastri, then Donald, then Mathew Iredale moving through after not registering a qualifying time, then D’Alia, then a gap back to Bryce Woolard, Domenic Pancione, Jack Scanlan, Lachlan Fitchett and Ryan Stackpole. Piastri though, was motoring away nicely, pulling clear of Donald who was also clear of the next pairing of Iredale and D’Alia. So it continued for a number of laps – the best dice between Iredale and D’Alia for 3 & 4. With 4 to go D’Alia had the upper hand here and started to pull a gap on Iredale – but only a small gap. A small gap proved to be enough in the end, D’Alia hanging on for 3rd, but Piastri was at the scales and Donald rolling into the in grid by now, a comfortable 1 and 2 for them.
At the green Piastri again, and the next time I looked up he was ten lengths clear of Iredale, Donald and Pancione, then Scanlan, Fitchett and D’Alia. Donald under Iredale for 2nd soon after but Piastri driving with maturity beyond his years pulled smoothly away out front. With 8 to go Iredale and Donald tangled coming into the Dipper and were both stranded on track, receiving assistance from a Marshall and thus being black flagged in the end. No difference for Piastri though who just pulled further away. This left a great dice for 2nd between Scanlan, D’Alia, Pancione and Fitchett – D’Alia to 2nd with 4 to go and then things went his way when the rest of them tangled in the Dipper allowing him to pull clear too – now a dice for 3rd – Pancione in the box seat, but Fitchett back to 3rd a few laps later. At the chequered you could measure Piastri’s lead with a calendar, then D’Alia and Fitchett grabbing 3rd.
Great racing here on Saturday in the heats; Kai Upiter, Joshua Troiani, Jai Stephenson and Braydon Callaghan the front 4 – Callaghan the victim of a forgotten transponder in Heat 1, but a win in Heat 2 saw him off 4 for the Pre Final, followed by Michael Horner and Joshua Hocking. Callaghan a great start, around the outside at Arrow, then up the inside at JSKC to go to the lead after 2 corners, Upiter close behind, then Hocking and Troiani – Stephenson unlucky to spin on his own at Tony Kart turn on lap 2 and rejoin well back. Meanwhile out front Upiter had got to the lead from Callaghan and set about carving a gap, while Callaghan was probably equally determined that this didn’t happen and he closed up on Upiter as the laps ticked off. Hocking and Troiani continued their battle for 3 and 4, while with 5 to go Callaghan re took the ascendancy out front, passing Upiter for the lead. A lap later Upiter back under him and into the lead – and this was just the Pre Final! Nose to tail they went around, as did Hocking and Troiani a bit further back, but the interest was in the front 2. Upiter held on as Callaghan looked right and left and eventually touched Upiter’s rear wheel as they approached the finish line; Upiter the winner, Callaghan across in 2nd but off the track and into the dirt, finally coming to rest under the laps scorer’s box – Troiani 3rd and Hocking 4th – a great final coming up!!
This was going to be close: Callaghan and Upiter got away to a good start, Hocking then Troiani, but you could have thrown a handkerchief over the 4 of them for the first lap. Then Upiter and Callaghan drew away slightly and this looked like where the battle would be. Lap 4 and Upiter through to the lead at Arrow – Callaghan nibbling at the back of him soon after at Tony Kart, but staying put in 2nd for the moment. Hocking a clear 3rd behind these 2, then Troiani and Stephenson, but all interest in the battle for the lead. Lap 7 and Callaghan back to the lead as they lapped Joshua Dudfield. But he couldn’t pull clear of Upiter who went back past at Arrow corner the next lap. Thus they stayed for the next few laps, but not a cigarette paper between them – out of the Dipper with 3 to go Callaghan to the lead and a tiny gap, but no sooner had I written this than Upiter back past at JSKC, then Callaghan back past at Tony Kart – losing count of the number of lead changes! Then disaster for Callaghan – maybe a seize he crossed the finish line with 2 to go and rolled to a halt at the flag point at JSKC. Motorsport, like life, can be a tough gig, but jubilation for Upiter who went on to record a well deserved victory from Hocking and Troiani.
Sportsman Restricted Light
Sean Barnardo and James Barnes the best of the R125 Light crew, followed by Joshua Goh and Zackery Cerato, and it was Barnardo at the green, then Goh, Barnes, Cerato, and a gap back to Darren Trott, Robert Barnes and Gokhan Resit, who was powering through from 13th. Barnardo worked away out front, establishing a good break – much closer for the minors with Goh and James Barnes hard at it for 2 and 3, then a gap back to Cerato – but not a very big gap. With 3 to go Goh had pulled clear in 2nd and Cerato had closed in on Barnes for 3rd, Barnardo streaking away out front though – only a calamity would stop him now and in the end he was a comfortable winner from Goh, Barnes and Cerato.
Pole man Barnardo the new hard luck story of the day when he lost a right hand rear wheel just as the light went green causing a spin and mayhem back through the field. When they reformed it was Goh who got the best start then James Barnes, Shane McCutcheon and Zackery Cerato behind them. Goh and Barnes were at it hard out front, then it was their turn with a huge pile up coming into the Dipper which saw Goh out and Cerato inherit the lead as maybe 5 karts piled up on top of each other. All weekend we had seen clean, accident free racing and suddenly things had turned to manure! Trott lost a nosecone and was out of the race as P Plater Resit went into 2nd and actually looked a chance to win – clearly not his first run in a go kart you would think. Resit to the lead with 6 to go as Cerato gave chase, Cameron Birt behind him then Travis Bird. Not long after Bird lost a nosecone – you could make a new go kart from the bits littering the track. So Resit still leading Cerato, but not by much with 3 to go. Not much proved to be enough though as Resit hung on for a kart length win from Cerato and Birt in 3rd. As the old saying about first finishing goes….
So an end to the Class Titles for 2013 – see you all at the November Club Day!!