Junior Top Guns on Saturday was an altogether more pleasant place to be than the Friday had been – cooler conditions the order of the day after a change swept through overnight. Competitors had to use the same tyres as they had the day before, so unlikely we would see records tumble like they had the previous night.
So much for not seeing records tumble – what would I know? The first 4 karts all did a better time in Qualifying than pole the night before!! Hocking at 46.702 the best of them (Larkin the night before with 47.197) then Larkin, Webster and Harvey. Joshua Lackas not so lucky in qualifying, going off and into the barrels at Tony Kart turn – the impact seeing him off to the medical room, but walking off, so most likely just winded. So we begin Heat 1, but more trouble here when Hugo Simpson spins at Arrow as we go green and is collected by Beau Russell coming through from the rear, so a red flag is brought out and karts return to the in grid. Let’s try again, as we go for a full restart after the Cadets A ran their first heat, and Larkin the jump on Hocking as they got away cleanly, then Harvey, Webster, Craig and Blackwood. After 2 laps Hocking had taken the lead back and tried to make a break – Larkin was having none of this though and got it back a lap later. Then Hocking and Harvey tangled at the grid hairpin dropping both back and handing 2nd to Webster and a big lead to Larkin. As a result Larkin cruised untroubled to the flag as did Webster in 2nd, Blackwood and Harvey boxing on for 3rd with Harvey the victor of that battle.
Hocking away in Heat 2 from Larkin and led the 1st lap but Larkin past at Tony Kart on Lap 2 –then the fighting started; Hocking, Webster, Larkin Harvey – they all had a go, then Blackwood and Brooks joined on, what a freight train! No one could get clear – Larkin the leader with 4 to go ahead of Hocking, but Hocking just kept coming and Webster wasn’t going away either, but eventually Larkin greeted the chequered flag.
Larkin and Webster away again from Harvey and Hocking, then Blackwood and Brooks your top 6. After 5 laps there was absolutely nothing between Larkin and Webster, both lapping within a few hundredths of each other and they were well clear of Hocking who was in a lonely 3rd spot. 5 to go and the front 2 starts lapping other karts, but no problems here – start of the last lap and Webster goes through to the lead, Larkin has to act…..but first he has to catch him back up. This didn’t prove easy and Webster held on to win, Hocking back in 3rd.
Cadets A had the same faces up the front as Friday; pole going to Boniface with a 46.694 (also quicker than yesterday). I learn today he is a visitor to Oakleigh from the Shaky Isles and realise I spoke to him at the Wednesday night practice, the New Zealander over here to plunder the Aussies and plan an assault on the Vic Open. Considering he had not raced on Dunlop’s or seen the tricky Oakleigh circuit before this week, he was doing a great job. In Qualifying Boniface was followed by Callaghan, Barker and Gower. Heat 1 and Boniface and Gower took up where they left off the night before pulling away from Barter and Mayo, then Callahan and Bailey behind them. Gower seemed to have it over Boniface on the straight and finally got him with 4 to go at JSCK. Meanwhile Callaghan had come to life and moved in 3rd ahead of Barter, Mayo and Sawyer, but this group was well behind the lead pair. Gower held the lead to the flag, narrow on the last lap to get across the line only 3/100ths ahead of Boniface, Callaghan in 3rd.
Boniface and Callaghan pulled away from the rest of the field after a lap or two, Bailey and Sawyer in 3 and 4. The front pair had worked to build a good gap but Callaghan was not letting Boniface away, Bailey in a lonely 3rd. Finally with 2 to go, Callaghan went under at JSKC, a switch back from Boniface, then Callaghan back again at Tony kart to end up leading as they began the last lap. Now Callaghan driving a very wide kart, Boniface under him at the Carousel but came to grief at grid hairpin when he went narrow over the ripple strip trying to get back past Callaghan and dropped a chain – Callaghan the win, Bailey and Sawyer 2 and 3.
A red flag to start the final as Boniface and Purdie tangled on the start line and both go out, a real shame for Boniface especially, given how well he had been going and how far he had travelled. So it was a full restart and Gower away, Callaghan into 2nd with Bailey and Sawyer behind them. Gower began to pull slowly clear of Callaghan as the laps unfolded, his lead out to half a second with 8 to go, but daylight (or darkness really) back to Barter in 3rd who had worked up past Bailey and Sawyer, Bailey the victim of a touch from someone in the Dipper, resulting in a spectacular launch out the other side, but he kept on going, now back in 12th. Callaghan was now right back on the crashbar of Gower with 4 to go, so looks like we might have a battle for the win after all – 2 to go and no change – now last lap and Callaghan looked into Tony Kart turn but pulled back. Had he done his dash? Right back on him at MKC, but Gower went narrow enough to hold his spot, but not so narrow that Callaghan could get him, 4/100ths the margin, then Barter 3rd.
Junior National Heavy
South Australia’s Morgan Feast had pole by 1/1000th ahead of Pike, Cameron and Harders until right a the death when Pike pipped him on Lap 10. A great job for both Pike and Feast who had been back in the pack the previous day and today were both 3/10ths quicker than yesterday’s pole time – Pike with a 45.317. Then once racing started, disaster at JSKC straight after the start as Harders went through like a bowling ball and found himself in the catch trap with Cameron, so game over for both of them, Feast a victim on the way out of the corner and a DNF for him too – bad luck considering his great qualifying job. All this gave Pike a huge break ahead of Donald, Iredale and Morrison. With 3 to go Pike’s lead wasn’t as great, the others working to reel him in, but then they started dicing – Morrison, Sparey, Donald, Iredale now the order; then more fighting saw Donald , Sparey and Iredale drop back, while Pike drove away in the lead and Morrison pulled clear in 2nd and that’s how they finished.
Pole man Pike unlucky to tangle with other karts at Arrow and find himself in the dirt and out as we went green, Cameron the big winner and through to the lead, so fortunes reversed for them both this time, Morrison and Harders behind him, then Donald and Iredale. Feast unlucky to be back to 12th after the start, so had the job ahead of him. By halfway Cameron had a huge lead from now Donald and Iredale, Morrison back in 4th ahead of Sparey. At the flag it was Cameron, Donald and Sparey, who had got to the head of a big pack strung out from 3rd to 9th
Donald to the lead as the final got going; Morrison then Sparey, Cameron then Iredale. 3 laps in and Donald had really got going, pulling a good lead as they fought behind him, Cameron into 2nd ahead of Morrison and Sparey. By halfway Pike was a big mover through to 4th from much further back and putting pressure on Morrison, but no pressure on Donald – he still held a commanding lead ahead of Cameron. With 3 to go Pike was into 3rd but otherwise little changed and Donald went on to a comfortable win
It took a while, but O’Leary finally pulled out the best lap of 45.619 on lap 11 of the new 8 minute qualifying sessions (whose idea was this? Qualifying now has more laps than the Heats!), only a whisker quicker than pole yesterday, and he was followed by Montalbano who had found something from the previous day, then Crichton and Sinni. As they went green in Heat 1 Montalbano got away and left O’Leary in his wake, Sinni coming through too; O’Leary, Crichton, Harders and Papasergio behind them. O’Leary set about recovering ground and got by Sinni, then slowly reeled in Montalbano to be under him at grid hairpin by halfway. Crichton too was on the move, relegating Sinni to 4th. With 3 to go a tight bunch was forming at the front: O’Leary, Montalbano, Crichton, and a gap back to Sinni. JSKC corner and Montalbano to the lead, Sinni closing in 4th, a lap later O’Leary bending Montalbano’s number plate as he looked for a way past. Crichton had a look for 2nd on the last lap but stayed put – Montalbano looking left and right as he went narrow for the last few corners to hold on ahead of O’Leary, then Crichton and Sinni.
Montalbano away best with Sinni as O’Leary went back to 3rd, followed by Harders and Whitmore. Sinni had Montalbano under pressure after a few laps, but you expected O’Leary to come on soon and join this pair. Halfway through, Sinni to the lead and O’Leary was gaining on them and had a go at Montalbano to get to 2nd, then under Sinni to the lead so O’Leary had arrived – and just as soon as he arrived, Montalbano went back under him for the lead and Harders followed through, Crichton through on Sinni behind this group for 4th. In the end Montalbano a comfortable winner from O’Leary and Harders
Montalbano the pole man, then O’Leary, Crichton, Harders and Sinni, and Montalbano the lead until 2 laps later when O’Leary got him, but Montalbano straight back and now got a break; O’Leary Crichton, Smith and Papasergio behind him, then Worton and Sinni. By Lap 5 the front 2 had pulled clear – Montalbano and O’Leary, then O’Leary went under at Tony Kart turn; Montalbano back under him a lap later at JSKC, but all this dicing wasn’t dragging them back to the pack, they just kept pulling away. Crichton, Smith, Papasergio, Worton, Harders, Sinni all doing a good job, but just not able to get on the back of the front pair. 3 to go and less than a tenth between Montalbano and O’Leary – 2 to go and Montalbano looking over his shoulder, but he didn’t have far to look as O’Leary piled on the pressure. Then last lap and into the Dipper O’Leary moves – into the lead and Montalbano to 2nd and thus they cross the line, with Crichton in 3rd.
Junior National Light C&P
Dalla-Zuanna shows the boys how it’s done, with a 45.105 (1/100th quicker than Steel the night before), then Steel, D’Alia and Vidau. As the Heat began it was Steel squeezing into the lead ahead of Dalla-Zuanna, Vidau and D’Alia behind them, but Dalla-Zuanna not so keen on this idea and passed Steel for the lead as they began lap 2, D’Alia through to 3rd as well. Steel back to the lead a lap later – this looked like being some race! Halfway now, and Dalla-Zuanna back to the front when she capitalised on a poor exit from grid hairpin by Steel, but Steel almost certainly running fewer teeth was always on her at the end of the straight – this looked like where he would strike. Turns out he could get past by halfway along the straight at Arrow, so he did and with 3 to go Steel took the lead. Wheel to wheel he and Dalla-Zuanna went at it; D’Alia right behind in 3rd and a gap back to Vidau. Start of the last lap and Dalla-Zuanna goes at JSKC, now in the lead and has to hold it for a lap – Steel a touch on her rear wheel at the Dipper that unsettled him, then he closed up again at grid hairpin, but Dalla-Zuanna had a slight gap – onto the straight she goes but Steel squeezes through at Arrow to grab the win, D’Alia 3rd.
Hostilities resumed with Steel going ahead of Dalla-Zuanna, then D’Alia 3rd ahead of Vidau and Cornfoot. Dalla-Zuanna had a couple of attempts at Steel and D’Alia was enjoying this as it brought him up to the back of them, but behind these 3 it was a vacant track back to Vidau, Cornfoot, Bohm and Venables. For the next few laps Steel and Dalla-Zuanna held station so they pulled away again from D’Alia, but with 3 to go it was suddenly and sadly all over for Steel as he pulled into the grid minus a chain, so Dalla-Zuanna had it all to herself, unless D’Alia could catch her – which he could not. Dalla-Zuanna the winner, D’Alia then Vidau.
Dalla-Zuanna off to a great start with D’Alia, but Steel was the big mover, his Heat 2 DNF resulting a P8 starting position; by lap 2 he was 2nd and 3 laps later he had the lead by a whisker from Dalla-Zuanna, then D’Alia, Bohm and Vidau. A few laps later it was apparent Dalla-Zuanna wasn’t going to just let Steel drive away; she was nailed to his crash bar and passed him back on lap 6, then Steel back under her a lap later. D’Alia could sense an opportunity here and was lurking back in 3rd. Then the unbelievable happened – in the same spot as Heat 2, Steel dropped a chain and rolled into the in grid, handing the lead to Dalla-Zuanna. Wretched luck for him with such a good dice going on. D’Alia now the man on a mission and ranged up on the back of Dalla-Zuanna, but she had proved to be a worthy contender so far, so not going to be easy for the local D’Alia. Bohm and Vidau were back in 3 and 4 but not really in a position to threaten, the winner would come from the first 2. With 2 to go D’Alia could do nothing – Dalla-Zuanna had a kart lengths gap he couldn’t bridge, then 2, then 3 kart lengths; it looked like she was going to pull clear. Never a look back, Dalla-Zuanna just kept going and went on to win, a great drive and a great result; D’Alia 2nd and Bohm 3rd.
Fullwood again at the front with a 41.670, an amazing 8/10ths quicker than his pole yesterday, then Hollis who today can start where he qualifies, then O’Keefe and Denton. Fullwood and O’Keefe away best, then Harders and Denton, Leeds and Hollis, Hollis not getting the start he would have hoped for off P2. 3 laps down and Fullwood looked g-o-r-n, O’Keefe, Denton Harders and Leeds bunched behind him and Hollis looking to join on the back. Denton through to 2nd and further back Hollis not content to join on – he wanted to come through, and was into 4th before long, then 3rd at JSKC when a tangle between him, O’Keefe and Harders saw them all shuffle around. Meanwhile, although Denton had a clear break in 2nd, it was all Fullwood out front and to the flag he goes.
Fullwood away best from Harders, Hollis and O’Keefe, then Denton, Leeds and Mackay. By lap 5 Fullwood was still leading, but Harders gaining, then Denton moved into 3rd after Hollis got out of shape at Arrow and ran down the edge of the straight – maybe just a touch between these 2 to set that off. Now Fullwood under pressure as Harders was closing but Denton was closing equally fast on Harders and got him at MKC with 3 to go. This might ease the pressure on Fullwood, but a lap later you could see Denton had the mumbo to catch him. If he did, could he pass him? Yes, and yes, was the answer – Denton went to the lead at JSKC as they began the last lap, Fullwood now 2nd and Harders 3rd and so they crossed the line.
After a wild start Fullwood again to the lead, O’Keefe and Hollis behind him, Denton the loser at the start, caught on the outside and a ride through the dirt and out the other end in last spot, but better off than Leeds who stopped in the Dipper lap 1, so all over for him. By halfway it was Fullwood, a gap back to O’Keefe and Hollis, who were on each other’s hammer, then Ackermann, who hadn’t been seen much, then Jackson and Donald. Fullwood, as he had done in previous races, gets a gap and then holds it. All 3 of them now doing the same times, so O’Keefe and Hollis weren’t going to catch him at this rate. Sure enough, they didn’t and Fullwood took it in a canter from O’Keefe and Hollis.
Junior National Heavy C&P
Another surprise packet, Rhys Wagner on pole with a 46.002 after being mid pack the day before, then Woollard, Filikotzias and Pancione. At the green Wagner and Woollard the best away, a gap back to Frencham, then Filikotzias and Fallon. Fallon turned out to be the big mover, through to 3rd on Lap 3 while Wagner held Woolard at bay out front. On lap 5 Woollard decided he wanted a change and went under Wagner at Arrow – while Fallon looked to gaining on them both back in 3rd. A lap later Fallon was absolutely gaining on them and got past Wagner to go to 2nd, then passed Woolard next lap at Arrow to take the lead. Woollard stuck with him, but Wagner in 3rd was falling back into the clutches of Filikotzias who got under him with 2 to go. Last lap and Woollard a smart move; under Fallon at grid hairpin, but Fallon an even smarter move to get him back into MKC and take the win, Filikotzias 3rd.
Tough start for pole man Wagner who lost a wheel in the roll arounds, so Filikotzias and Woollard away at the front, then Frencham and Pancione, Fallon and Chong. For 4 or 5 laps this group looked to be joined by a giant elastic band – sometimes they spread out, then they all joined back up, but few position changes. Then things started happening – Woollard to the lead, Frencham to 3rd, Chong still a waiting game in 5th. Eventually Woollard and Filikotzias drove away and with 3 to go the winner was going to be one of these 2, unless… although they changed spots several times on the last lap they both finished – Woollard, Filikotzias, and Frencham back in 3rd.
After a million roll arounds while karts went off and got restarted, we got underway; Woollard then Filikotzias, Frencham and Chong, Fallon and Guttler, but Woollard and Filikotzias looked like they would turn on the same performance they had in Heat 2, pulling clear to a good lead together. Fallon had other ideas though, joining Woollard and Filikotzias to turn the duo into a trio, then going through to 2nd so he had found a bit of pace somewhere. Not just a bit of pace, a lot – as he now went through to the lead and pulled clear. In the end he led Filikotzias and Woolard across the line comfortably.
Junior National Light
Piastri the man again with a 44.451, not quite has previous night’s lap record, but enough to secure pole from Cameron, Leeds and Jai Sparey. JNL C&P pole sitter Dalla-Zuanna also doing well to be 5th . Green goes the light, away goes Piastri and Leeds goes with him, then goes past him, but not for long – Piastri back to the front at the Dipper, then Cameron had a go at Arrow and took the lead, Leeds through with him and Piastri back to 3rd, Hollis, Steel and Dalla-Zuanna behind him, meanwhile Hollis through to 3rd then a great move at JSKC to overtake Leeds for 2nd and Piastri followed him through; Cameron still our leader. Next lap Hollis tried the same move on Cameron but took about half a lap to get it done as they rubbed, biffed and barged, and incredibly Steel, who had been 5th, eventually popped out in the lead; there was so much going on I had no hope of keeping up with it all. Now Piastri back in the lead, Steel, Cameron and Hollis behind him. Now Hollis back to 3rd, now he’s 2nd, then finally all this boxing gave someone a break and Piastri looked to have a safe lead with 2 to go. He was followed by Hollis, Steel, Cameron and Leeds, then Steel back to 5th, Cameron through to 3rd – then stuff me, I look down for a second and Hollis has passed Piastri to take the lead – how did he do that? Then Piastri back under him – I cannot keep up. 4 wide they go across the finish line: Cameron (where did he come from?) 0.004 to Hollis, 0.014 to Piastri and 0.084 to Leeds – I need a break!
Refreshed and ready to go again, here comes Heat 2 – and here goes Piastri, then Cameron, Leeds and Dalla-Zuanna – a champion job by the C Grader – then Caruso, Hollis and Sparey. At least for the first few laps, things were a little less hectic than Heat 1. Piastri led then Cameron and Leeds followed, then a gap back to Dalla-Zuanna who had Hollis on her tail, then past her at JSKC with 4 to go, while Caruso went under Dalla-Zuanna at the Dipper next lap. The front 3 looked clear though, unless they started fighting or Hollis turned on the afterburner. 2 to go and Hollis was gaining on the front 3, but it was still a fair gap. The front 3 didn’t fight so they maintained their pace, but Piastri brought himself undone at the end, going really narrow at Arrow and allowing Cameron to swoop from out wide to take the win, Leeds 3rd then Hollis and Dalla-Zuanna.
Some of the best racing so far has come from Junior Light, so we look forward to the final and it’s Hollis to the front as they settle after a few laps, then Cameron, Piastri and Leeds, and this 4 build a gap. Behind the gap we find Fraser, Sparey, Dalla-Zuanna and Caruso, then Steel, Bell, Pike and Smith. 8 laps to go and Hollis and Cameron are on top of each other, Piastri a kart length back and Leeds just dropping off a fraction. Cameron to the lead as they start the next lap and a lap later he has what seems like the biggest lead we have seen all night in this class, almost a tenth, huge by JNL standards!! Next lap 3/10ths – he was clearing out! In the blink of an eye though, half a lap later Piastri was on his tail having slipped past Hollis while I wasn’t looking, then Piastri to the lead, then he was 3rd and Cameron to the lead, Hollis 2nd – here we go, Heat 2 all over again!! 3 to go, Hollis to the lead at JSKC, then Cameron leads and Hollis back to 4th, Piastri 2nd, Leeds 3rd. Now Cameron the lead but Piastri got him at JSKC with 2 to go. Last lap Cameron, Piastri, Hollis and Leeds – hold your breath, anything could happen. Into the Dipper Piastri had a look but it costs him as he drops back to 4th when he doesn’t he finish it off, Cameron holds the lead as he goes narrow into Arrow and Leeds got through as Hollis drops back to 4th and Piastri sneaks into 3rd. Whew!! The most exciting racing of the two days was put on in this class, no question.
Hughes the quickest in Qualifying here with a 41.324, then Fullwood who took forever to get a clear run and put in his best on Lap 12, then the much improved Feast, and Alger. As we go green Fullwood goes away, then Hughes, Alger and a gap back to Feast, McElrea and Maddren. The first 3 is where all the action is, Fullwood not getting away much from Hughes and Alger, and Feast now all by himself in 4th. Then Fullwood grew another leg, and suddenly he was 1.5 seconds in front, Alger behind him and Feast also came to life to be in 3rd, then 2nd a lap later – he has come good overnight! As they went to begin the last lap a red flag was called for an accident involving Megan Vallance so the race was declared with Fullwood, Feast and Hughes the first 3.
Fullwood again after 3 laps, ahead of Hughes, Alger and McElrea, but all bad news for Feast who was out on Lap 1 with a mechanical problem that continued his wretched run of luck. 4 to go and Fullwood 2/10ths ahead of Hughes, Alger half a second back on these 2 and that’s how they ran down to the line, despite a swap of lead into and out of the Dipper between Fullwood and Hughes.
As he had in the Heats, Fullwood a great start and pulled clear from Hughes, Flood and Black, with Alger dropping back to 5th. In something of an anticlimax it looked like being a JMax race that turned into a procession. Take nothing away from Fullwood, he’s been great all weekend, but it just wasn’t a riveting racing like the Junior Light races for example. With 3 to go it was Fullwood, Hughes, Flood, Alger – so not a lot changed and they weren’t that close together, Fullwood was over 2 seconds clear and Hughes had a break nearly as big. At the end Fullwood, Hughes, and Flood home 3rd.
To conclude then:
So there’s another Junior Top Guns done. A thoroughly deserving winner of the JRD Formula Vee drive was Darwin’s Bryce Fullwood. I got sick of writing his name as he dominated Junior Clubman and JMax – he looked quick, clean and smooth all weekend.
Our thanks to V8 Supercar driver and former Oakleigh member Scott McLaughlin who was generous with his time, giving up his Saturday night to come down to his old club and present the trophies. Heaps of tyres and an engine and oodles of other stuff was given away, but the real interest was in who would win the “Deadly” – the Dave Sera limited edition kart donated by DPE Kart Technology and the Club. Dave Sera himself was on hand to present the keys to the lucky winner, Tom Owen, a Junior National Heavy competitor from Warrnambool in Victoria’s South West. See you all in 2015!!!