AS eight teams headed to Winton Raceway to compete in round two of the Australian Supertruck Sprint Series, the weather was proving to be, well -Winton.
Friday saw cyclonic winds whip up into the High Country, with the arrival of the teams from afar as Perth, Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne. The gale force winds never hampered the spirits of the drivers. They hit the track for their practise runs, and it showed that there would be a great weekend of racing, as all trucks were tweaked to bring out the best possible performance.
On an overcast day, the first session of qualifying on Saturday saw the main drivers battle it out for the Shoot-out on Sunday. Beau Hewat in the Skitzo Racing Kenworth 904 set a top run of 1:16.3650, followed by Rob Waters of Daynite Racing Kenworth W series 1 second adrift with a 1:17.3870 and Steven Zammit of SRZ Racing Kenworth T401 with a 1:17.5163.
The afternoon session of the Co-Drivers qualifying saw Brett Kelly in the Daynite Racing entry just pip New Zealander Shane Gray in the #40 SRZ Racing by 8/100ths of a second to secure pole for race one later in the day. Kevin Anderson in the Isuzu SBR of Karakar Racing beat the new-comers of Michael Waites in the Fleet-Pro Racing Volvo and Steven Wrigley in the International Transtar.
Race one for the co-drivers saw the sun belt its rays upon the track with a very brisk breeze coming up from the south - but the heat was on. The front row occupied by the two Kenworths were off to a great start, battling each other for two laps, when Michael Waites in the Volvo NH12 making his way into 3rd place, went a little wide into turn one, place two wheels onto the dirt, and just when it looked like he may have saved it, he hit the ripple strip sending him into a reverse spin finishing up on the grass down near turn two. This allowed Anderson & Wrigley to pass Waites for 3rd and 4th places respectively, as Waites had trouble getting grip lost it wide again on the same lap at the back end of the track. Brett Kelly ended up crossing the chequered flag with a 7:48.5113, nearly seven seconds ahead of Shane Gray. Kevin Anderson in the light truck finished in front of the International of Wrigley and Waites ending a his run another 30 seconds afar.
With the Grand Final done and dusted in Victoria for another year, the fans flocked out on Sunday, with many notable followers camping overnight in the back paddock. The Top 6 Shoot-Out finished without incident and in the same order as qualifying - notable mention to Beau Hewat taking pole position for the first race later in the day with a blistering 1:15.2155. Whatever Skitzo Racing did to the truck, Beau ran a faultless lap around the track as everyone did personal best times as they became more confident over the weekend.
As the green flag was about to drop on race one of the main drivers, Steven Zammit's Kenworth was suffering with broken hose clamp as he put on the gas and immediately pulled over to the side of track to allow the other racers to pass. Steven eventually made it around the track to quickly enter the pits to get it fixed, and re-entered the race two laps down to ascertain a points finish for the championship. Beau Hewat went on to finish the race one second ahead of Rob Waters in a very close battle as Craig Yardy failed to finish and only completing five of the six laps.
With the second race underway, Hewat and Waters were to battle each other for the lead after a little drizzle of rain, and Waters on the approach to the start, found a slippery patch out wide and gave Hewat a little kiss along the left side of the truck, leaving his yellow mark. Meanwhile Reyntjes and Zammit were 3rd and 4th respectively. Zammit was to suffer the same fate as race one with another broken hose clamp on the final lap allowing him to limp over the line and take fourth place behind the Fleet-Pro Volvo. Larry Hawke in the Transtar was closing in fast on Zammit and overtook Christian in the Diamond Rio on the last lap and failed to capitalise on Zammit's misfortune finishing only six seconds back. A great result and outlook for the new-comers of the race. The two Isuzu's were still not too far afield finishing only seconds behind the larger trucks.
In a greasy reverse-grid race three, the skies started to open up lightly and Zammit quickly ironed out the bugs that were plaguing the team, and starting on the second last row rounded up the smaller trucks and took the lead early ahead of Reyntjes. As the Fleet-Pro team were desperately trying to hold off the other 2 Kenworths, he succumbed to their power on lap three. The Highlands Truck Racing team of Fletcher Christian was in his own battle with the 2Crazy Racing Transtar, trading places throughout the race and it was Christian that got up by 0.9 seconds.
The final two races, first the Co-Drivers finale, was to be a crowd pleaser, as Fletcher Christian entered into the co-drivers race at the back of the field, and into the illustrious turn one on the second lap, Michael Waites went in a little hot under Steven Wrigley causing the Transtar to be turned around, Brett Kelly in the Daynite Kenworth diving underneath, Shane Gray having to push wide into the kitty litter, the little Isuzu SBR of Karakar Racing also made it through, but it was Fletcher Christian tagging Wrigley hard causing his bumper to hang. Wrigley was unfortunately forced to retire from the race due to the amount of knocks the truck sustained, as Fletcher Christian limped around with a punctured tyre and made it to the pits. Brett Kelly went on to finish two seconds ahead of Shane Gray, taking the co-drivers lap record with him. Kevin Anderson and Michael Waites finished the race with only minor scuff marks on the front left.
After a few quick repairs to some of the trucks, albeit Fletcher Christian who could not compete in the final race due to sustained damage, the drivers were going out for their final race of the weekend - the Superprix.
Another reverse-grid start, Zammit and Reyntjes were quickly embroiled in a battle for second placing for four laps until Zammit went under Reyntjes into turn one and gained second place as the Fleet Pro Racing entry, placed some wheels onto the grass which allowed Hewat to also take him into three around the outside. Yardy was really trying to hold them off and unfortunately faltered on the fourth lap as Zammit passed him for the lead. Beau Hewat quickly reeled in Yardy also to take second place. Larry Hawke secured his fastest lap of the weekend on lap three as he was gaining ground on the Volvo. Colin De Gee in the second Isuzu finished respectively, but the talk was Rob Water's DNF only completing one lap and immediately entering the in-field and lifting the bonnet on the Kenworth. Later finding the cause to be a blown turbo.
The next round will also hold a new 'RIGS, RODS & RIDES' Show and Shine at the track. For details visit the website on how to enter your car, truck or bike.
Next round is back at Winton Raceway November 10 & 11