The Griffiths Report July Club Day 2015

July Club Day – the very words strike a chill into the bones of Victorian karters and Oakleigh’s July Club Day looked like giving karters reason to shiver. Overnight it poured with rain and as the alarm got me out of bed it was cold, wet and windy. Nevertheless a number of hardy souls turned up to brave the elements and by the time carby session began it was at least sunny and the track was being dried by an Antarctic gale.

Our Club Day also had an international flavour this month as former members Sean, Tara and Nicholas Sims dropped in while on holidays from their new home in Austin Texas. Good to see former racers and helpers around the club come back to say Howdy. Once qualifying was completed we got going with racing.

Junior National Light & Junior National Heavy.

Henry Johnstone away best in Light off pole and to the lead, while Kyle Frencham was the best Heavy, through to 2nd outright and the lead of Heavy until Christian Pancione got under him and into 2nd in Light. A sprinkle of rain just before they went out led to some slippery conditions for a few laps, but them some sun and the Arctic breeze dried things up a bit. As the laps rolled by Johnstone went to an even bigger lead, Pancione a clear 2nd then Frencham #1 in Heavy closely followed by P Plater Jack Martin who was 2nd in Heavy and doing a good job; and that’s the way they crossed the line.

Heat 2 and a frantic session of tyre changing going on as a sudden burst of rain arrived during the last lap of the previous race – but then it seemed to stop. Which way to go? I’d stay on slicks – plenty of breeze and the rain now stopped. As the gate opened they were about half and half. Then in the roll arounds down she comes – I’d stay on slicks, pffft! What would I know!! So after a few laps, it was a Heavy in Frencham now the overall leader; obviously on wets, then Johnstone doing a good job on slicks, Pancione on slicks, Pasek on wets, then the field strung out behind them. More laps, more rain, and Frencham drove away, Johnstone still doing well to slip and slide around on slicks in 1st place in Light, 2nd one the track. Eventually it all got too much for him and he slid off at MKC and re-joined in 3rd (2nd in Light) behind Pasek. In the end it got really hard to keep track of anything as karts slid off and went wide – Frencham victorious in Heavy and Pasek in Light.

Johnstone leads the Light Final away, Frencham leads the Heavys as we get things going in more bright sunshine, but still bitterly cold out in the wind. Pancione goes to the lead in Light as Frencham moves through to 3rd outright and the Heavy lead. A lap or 2 later and Johnstone is back in the lead and motors away from Pancione who in turn is pulling clear of the Heavy Frencham, behind him comes Pasek, Riley Meens, Martin and Shaun Abraham. At the finish line Johnstone was an easy victor, Frencham the Heavy winner.

TAG 125 Heavy

Vern Kranz through to the lead after starting 3rd, as he got the jump on Justin Carless and Ashley Seward, but after a lap or two Carless got through to the lead and Seward followed him through into 2nd, and Daniel Griffin also came through to 3rd as Kranz worked his way backwards through the field, Paul Maruszak eventually passing Kranz too, so Kranz perhaps with a problem of some sort? Eventually I worked out what his problem was – wets on a now dry track was not the way to go. Up front Carless and Seward pulled clear of Griffin as the karts spread out and thus they crossed the line.

Bright sunshine and a soaking wet track (what a day!) as Heat 2 rolled out for TAG 125 Heavy – Kranz probably wishing he hadn’t run wets and chewed them out in Heat 1. Carless off to a good start with Seward pushed a little wide on the outside at Arrow as we went green, then both he and Carless go around in the Dipper on lap 1, Seward out and Carless continued in last. This all helped Kranz who was now 2nd behind Griffin and hoping his shaggy wets would hang on. Carless had other ideas, scything through the field to re take the lead with 6 to go, Griffin not giving up though and a fierce dice ensued for a lap or 2, but Carless the upper hand and went to a good lead a few laps later – and went on to take the win, Griffin, then Kranz hanging on ahead of Maruszak.

Carless off pole and goes to the lead for half a lap until Kranz comes through in the Dipper to take over, Griffin 3rd then Seward and Maruszak. So Kranz and Carless go away with it and belt out a number of laps nose to tail, but Griffin was not going away in 3rd either – a closer race for these guys than some of the other classes with twice the entries. With 4 to go Carless got to the lead, Kranz dropped off a little and Griffin had a sniff, closing ever so slightly on Kranz, but in the end there was no change and they crossed in this order.

Restricted 125 Heavy

Trevor Payne and Rafe Todd off the front row ahead of Peter Gigis (Blue plate glistening in the sun) and beside him Timothy Martin. At the green Payne and Gigis into 1 and 2 as Todd found himself in 3rd, then Gavin Dorning, Kim Sherlock, Jarrad Church and William Livesay as Martin dropped right back to 8th – if it was an incident it was unseen by me. Meanwhile Payne was right under the pump from Gigis, Todd watching on from a little further back. Payne and Gigis battled on, lap after lap Gigis looking like he might challenge at the end of the straight, but just staying put each time. Finally Payne held on, despite a hair raising look at JSKC the lap before by Gigis – who pulled out in the nick of time and settled for 2nd, Todd home in 3rd.

Payne, Gigis and Todd the leading triumvirate, in half a lap they pull well ahead of Dorning, Livesay and Benjamin McMellan. Then Todd dropped off and it was Payne and Gigis, all set to repeat Heat 1. As each lap passed these 2 got closer together, Gigis piling on the pressure, Payne up to the task. With 5 to go Gigis had a look on the way out of the Dipper but couldn’t get the drive down and dropped back to reload. Same spot a lap later he’s all over Payne again but still Payne holds him out. Now Payne seems to have found a kart length – maybe the slightly drier track suiting him. Gigis now half a second adrift as we have only a couple remaining – but then he reels Payne in again. Gigis looks most likely in the Dipper but Payne is having none of it and holds on for a narrow victory, 8/100ths ahead as Gigis closes again in the last lap, Todd eventually home in 3rd.

Payne off pole but Gigis a slightly better start and took the lead, Todd then Sherlock, Dorning and Church behind them. Gigis was going to capitalise on his good start and reeled off some quick laps to open up a small gap, Payne now with Sherlock behind him as Todd relegated to 4th. Ever so gradually Payne drew closer to Gigis and pulled away from Sherlock. These guys are very evenly matched, but if Payne can catch Gigis we might see some action. With 5 to go there was 2/10ths between them, then out of the Dipper Payne goes under Gigis and takes the lead. 2 laps later Gigis back under at Tony Kart and now a real train building up – 5 karts: Gigis, Payne, Sherlock, Todd and Martin all going around as one. Martin through to 4th, Gigis still leading – frantic stuff! One to go and Gigis clear of Payne but not by much as Payne wrings every last ounce of speed from his kart – Gigis cool under the pump and takes it by 1/100th from Payne, then Martin, Sherlock and Todd – best race of the day!

Cadet 12

Joshua Hocking with Kobi Williams beside him, then Braydon Callaghan and Matthew Hillyer and Hamish Allan way back in 12th after his transponder fell off before he set a qualifying time, so the job ahead of him. Hocking away well and after a lap or 2 it was Kai Upiter coming through from 5th who lead a gang of karts chasing Hocking; other gang members included Callaghan, Williams and Hillyer, then Rhys Kemp, Callum Potter and Joshua D’Ambrosio behind them. No one was going to catch Hocking as he sailed away to a clear win, Upiter and Callaghan battling away for 2nd and 3rd, Upiter just holding on in the end, Hillyer ahead of Williams in 4 and 5.

Heat 1 all over again as Hocking went away at the green, Williams and Callaghan behind him, then Hillyer and Upiter, Kemp and Potter. Hocking not quite driving away with it, although a gap to the rest – who were now led by Callaghan and in fact he was pulling clear of the pack too, maybe a challenger for Hocking? Halfway and Callaghan certainly looked like being a challenger to Hocking, he had him in his sights and then had half a look out of the Dipper but continued shadowing Hocking  for another lap – nearly a look at JSKC this time, but Callaghan pulled back in.  Meanwhile Upiter was shadowing these 2 back in 3rd, behind him Kemp and Williams. Up front as they began the last lap Hocking and Callaghan had to contend with a pair of karts stranded at Tony Kart turn but negotiated this successfully and went on with it – then in an incident I didn’t see, Callaghan was suddenly all alone in the lead, then Upiter, then Hocking – so something happened. Who knows, but Callaghan crossed the line 1st. A subsequent two position penalty to Callaghan saw him start the final off 3rd, Hocking off pole and Upiter 2nd.

Hocking off to a good start with Upiter and Callaghan close behind, then Hillyer, Kemp, Williams and Church. This time Hocking looked like he would clean up as the gap grew back to Upiter, he was then a small distance ahead of Callaghan who in turn had Hillyer right on him, but out front it was goodbye Hocking as he drove away. All the action was back in 2, 3 and 4 where Upiter, Callaghan and Hillyer were engaged in a fierce battle which Upiter eventually won, Hocking already well across the line in 1st.

Clubman Light

An experienced quartet up the front of Clubman Light: Michael Carless, Ash Arora, Ben Mouritz and Matthew Lane and after a couple of laps it was Arora leading Carless, these 2 clear of Mouritz and Lane, then Angelo D’Ettorre, John Pasek and Edward Power. After 4 laps Carless had overhauled Arora to take the lead, and Mouritz was now a clear 3rd and chasing Arora for 2nd. At the flag Carless took an easy win, Arora held on for 2nd ahead of Mouritz, and Lane saluted ahead of D’Ettorre.

Arora away best in Heat 2 ahead of Lane and Carless, then D’Ettorre and Mouritz, Power and Pasek. Arora belting around for the first few laps, with now Carless zeroing in on him as Lane relegated to 3rd and falling into the clutches of Mouritz. Now a race of 2 pairs, Arora and Carless, Lane and Mouritz, then D’Ettorre in 5th and a big gap to Pasek, and Power retired sans chain at Arrow corner. With 2 to go D’Ettorre joined on the back of the 2nd pair to form a threesome, while Arora looked like he preferred to be alone as he pulled away from Carless in the lead. Finally Arora greeted the chequered flag and behind him the order remained unchanged.

Carless leads Arora away as Mouritz recovers from a roll around pirouette to be 3rd, then D’Ettorre and Lane, Power and Pasek bringing up the rear. Carless looks like he is going to clear out on Arora and Mouritz drops further back in 3rd. All the action was between the P Platers in Power and Pasek – passing and dicing until Pasek dropped off coming out of the Grid Hairpin. Then Lane and D’Ettorre started putting on a show in 4th and 5th, Lane working away on the crash bar of D’Ettorre, meanwhile Carless comfortable in the lead, Arora and Mouritz trailing him around. At the flag there was no change – Carless the victor.

Restricted 125 Light

Fastest Qualifier Lucas Filikotzias ahead of Jack Scanlan and Darren Wade, then Luke Stewart and David Hutchinson, and at the green Filikotzias and Scanlan away with Wade glued to the back of them as the first few laps unfolded. 3 laps in and Filikotzias had become a bit unglued and pulled clear, but Scanlan and Wade were still as one, Wade squeezing through at Arrow corner to take 2nd with 6 to go, but Scanlan looking like he would go straight back at him for at least the next lap. Wade then pulled away as he settled into a rhythm, but Filikotzias was now quite a way ahead and would take some catching. Behind Scanlan in 3rd the big improver was Bruce Smith, coming through to 4th after starting 6th, but the man of the moment was Filikotzias who went on to take the chequered flag ahead of Wade.

Filikotzias off to a good start ahead of Wade and Scanlan, then a gap to Hutchinson, Luke Stewart and Oleksandr Belenko and then Stephen Barker and the spinning Bruce Smith who had re-joined in last. A few laps in and Hutchinson and Stewart tried to become one kart into the carousel and both found themselves out of the race. Filikotzias meanwhile was going away with it, his lead out to 3.5 seconds after 5 laps. In the final few laps glorious sunshine bathed the track as Filikotzias went on to record the win ahead of Wade and then Scanlan.

Filikotzias away and looked like he would take all before him as Scanlan and Wade followed in his wake. A little excitement on lap 5 as Wade ran wide coming out of JSKC and as he wobbled back onto the track Smith and he collided taking Smith around and out at Tony Kart, but out front no change as Filikotzias continued to drive away – right to the chequered flag, Scanlan and Wade well behind him in 2nd and 3rd.

TAG Masters

Vern Kranz and Shane Alabaster, then Robert Barnes and Mick Fisher, with Robert Baldacchino sitting out the first Heat, and at the green Kranz away to a flyer, Barnes through to 2nd then Alabaster and Fisher. Kranz drove away as Alabaster ranged up on the back of Barnes to look for 2nd. By halfway he was right on his hammer, but Kranz was a speck on the horizon in the lead. Alabaster eventually dropped slightly off Barnes with Kranz already well home in 1st.

Kranz, Alabaster, Fisher and Barnes the whole field in Heat 2 and away they went in that order. 3 laps in and the only interest centred on whether Barnes could overtake Fisher – Kranz a clear leader, Alabaster a clear 2nd. A lap later Barnes did overtake Fisher, but otherwise things looked they would remain unchanged. A yawn fest followed that produced no changes in position and little of interest to report; Kranz, Alabaster, and then some liveliness as Barnes and Fisher were at least within sight of each other, Barnes triumphant in the end.

Alabaster the best of the start ahead of Kranz, but Kranz soon back in the lead and away, then Alabaster, Barnes and Fisher, so things looked like repeating the results of earlier races.  Then as soon as I wrote this, Kranz rolled to a halt at the JSKC cut through – some mechanical gremlin bringing an end to his day and joy to Alabaster’s as he inherited the lead. Away went Alabaster well clear of Barnes and then Fisher, Kranz left to rue what might have been as Alabaster greeted the finisher.

Cadet 9

Damon Woods, also with a blue plate glistening in the sun, off pole and Steve Tsesmelis beside him, then Liam O’Donnell and Toby Dvorak as Heat 1 of Cadet 9 got going. Woods and Tsesmelis pulled clear as Owen Kemp went around and out at JSKC lap 1, so now Jack Lawson through to 3rd after not setting a time, and O’Donnell then Dvorak back in 5th. Away went Woods and Tsesmelis, Woods ever so slowly drawing clear, while on the second last lap a series of what looked like mechanical DNF’s took out Dvorak and O’Donnell, so Woods and Tsesmelis locked in a lonely battle with Lawson the only other kart out there and on the line Tsesmelis right back on Woods and had a look, but Woods held on by a mere 2/10ths to take the win.

Away we go in Heat 2 and Woods and Tsesmelis continue where they left off, O’Donnell then Dvorak, and Lawson bringing up the rear. Halfway and Woods and Tsesmelis were in a battle all of their own out front, the rest in their own battle further back. Lap 5 and Tsesmelis to the lead and now a small gap appearing, so fortunes might be reversed from Heat 1. Woods was not so keen on this idea, so closed back up on Tsesmelis and started making passing noises. Tsesmelis however was making stay in the lead noises and went on to hold the lead to the flag, Woods, then a big gap to Lawson and O’Donnell.

Another shower as they go out the gate, more karts on slicks on a wet track, but Woods up to the job as he and Tsesmelis go away with it, then a gap back to Lawson. A couple of laps in and it starts hailing! Would you believe it! So we red flag the race as conditions are just too treacherous for the little guys. A full restart on a now wet track, but at least they are prepared for it and Tsesmelis away best from P2 as pole sitter Woods didn’t opt to start from the outside, so he slots into 2nd, Lawson again back in 3rd. As the wet laps slowly wound down Tsesmelis kept his nose in front, Woods always a few kart lengths in arrears. Despite closing right up at various stages it took until Tsesmelis slid almost all the way around coming into the Dipper before Woods found a way past, and Tsesmelis lost it again at canteen corner so any chance of retaking the lead was probably now gone – Woods all alone out front. Finally they dragged themselves across the line: Woods, Tsesmelis and Lawson, then Dvorak and Kemp.

TAG 125 Light

Daniel Frencham off pole with Shane Kovacs beside him and these 2 got the best of the start and went clear of James Barnes and Andrew Sotiropoulos, Frencham soon well clear in the lead. As the race unfolded Frencham didn’t have it all his own way as Kovacs ranged up on the back of him, but he managed to hold a gap that kept him on his toes but comfortable, until the last couple of laps were Kovacs really closed up, but Frencham hung on, then Kovacs, then well back to Sotiropoulos and Nicholas Flodstrom.

After a couple of false starts we got away in Heat 2 and Frencham led Kovacs ahead of Barnes and Kugimiya, but a lap in and Frencham loses a wheel and rotates off the track at Arrow, handing Kovacs the lead, then Sotiropoulos and Kugimiya, then Flodstrom and Barnes. Kovacs and Sotiropoulos put on a good show, but Kovacs always looked to have his measure and sure enough went on to take the win.

On a drenched track Sotiropoulos gets away best as Frencham, then Kovacs and Flodstrom all have a spin at various spots on lap 1. Now in bright sunshine, Sotiropoulos still leads, ahead of Kugimiya and Barnes. The conditions were variously cloudy and sunny, but always wet and cold as Sotiropoulos did the best job of mastering them to take the win, Kugimiya not far behind, Barnes in turn behind him.

Clubman Heavy & Clubman Super Heavy

Out the gate they go on slicks, down comes the rain – exciting times ahead! Then before it really got started the rain stopped, so maybe not so much trouble for Peter Gigis and Thomas French off row 1 in Heavy, then John Reynolds and Dylan Slits – behind them the pair  of Super Heavys in Darren Kemp and David Martin. Gigis led from the front as Slits came through to 2nd, then Reynolds and French; Kemp the upper hand in Super Heavy – in fact the only challenge looked to be between Slits and Reynolds for 2nd and 3rd in Heavy. With 2 laps remaining these 2 were locked in a battle, Slits still the leader, but Gigis well clear in the lead and Kemp safe in Super Heavy. Last lap and down comes the rain, Gigis up to the suddenly slippery task and crosses first, Reynolds through on Slits for 2nd and Kemp eventually home in Super Heavy.

Gigis and French off the mark well in Heavy, but Reynolds and Slits soon through into 2nd and 3rd, meanwhile Kemp led Martin around in Super Heavy. Gigis held the lead but Reynolds was going to make it interesting for him, tailing around a kart length behind him, Slits looking on in 3rd. All the way through Gigis was never that far in the lead but took the win, Kemp the winner in Super Heavy.

So to the last final of the Day and Reynolds got the jump in Heavy ahead of Gigis and Slits, while Kemp led Martin in Supers. In the deepening gloom Reynolds led Gigis while Slits looked on in 3rd and while Gigis tried everything to get ahead of Reynolds, Reynolds kept his head and smoothly went about the business of staying in the lead, but only by a whisker. Then Slits joined in and looked like he might take 2nd.  Finally he did, but only because Reynolds went around at the canteen handing Gigis the lead and Slits 2ndplace, while he re-joined well back in 3rd. So now Gigis and Slits went at it and Slits took the lead as he got good drive up the inside coming out of the Dipper with 5 to go. Slits came to life now and pulled clear of Gigis as the rain tumbled down – what a day! Lap after soggy lap they went around and finally the end was in sight – Slits first across, then Gigis; Kemp the victor in Supers.

It’s easy to say thanks and well done to all the officials as karters often do at presentation, but today they deserved every bit of thanks they got and then some. It was something like 6 degrees when I left to go home and for most of the day it blew a gale. A whole bunch of people who turn up so karters can race stood out in rain, wind and hail throughout the day and their reward was probably a free egg and bacon roll for brekky and a beer at the end of the day. Go up and thank them next time you race. See you in August!!

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