Barbagallo Night Masters 3
A healthy field of 19 HQ's made it for the last round of the 2018 HQ Racing WA State Championship. An afternoon start to the race meeting made for a more relaxed start to the day.
The track was quite slow after the drift sessions the night before had laid rubber all over the track and all drivers were struggling to set quick times. Mick Woodbridge #74 and Michael Howlett #7 both had mechanical issues and only completed 4 laps each, Howlett still managed P3 and Woodbridge P5. Watkins #1 put it on pole with a 1.16:88, Adam Butler #93 P2 with Howlett P3 and Roelofs #24 P4 in a good effort with a recently repaired car after sustaining heavy damage from the previous round. Ainscough had one of his best qualifying sessions this year with a very respectable 1.18:68 leaving him P9 for Race 1. Scott Hames #6 gave us another 360 spin coming out of Turn 6 but kept it going to qualify 17th.
Woodbridge moved up a place passing Roelofs on the first lap and then Howlett on lap 3 for 3rd. Ryan Davis #49 got passed Stu Kenny #72 on lap 3, with Davis and Rory Sharp #19 then battling for the remainder of the race. Laurie Marsh, Pangler and Ainscough were having a great battle until Laurie tagged Pangler going in to turn 6 sending him sideways and dropping the 62 car back to 19th. Watkins won the race followed closely by Adam Butler with Woodbridge 3rd and Howlett 4th. Dennis Russell set his fastest lap of the day with a very impressive 1.18:43 finishing 13th. Scott Hames, Phil Breen, Brad Butler#76 and Sean Cooper #21 also set their fastest laps of the day in race 1.
All 19 HQ's made it back out on track for the top 10 reverse grid race under the setting sun. Stu Kenny and Ryan Davis got past Ainscough and Laurie Marsh #67 to take the lead on the first lap, Steve West pushed a little too hard in the left hander and decided to assist with grass cutting for a little while before re-joining at the rear of the pack. Mick Woodbridge got off to a flying start moving up 5 places in the first 2 laps. Woodbridge, Watkins and Adam Butler made their way through the field to the front of the pack on lap 4 with Watkins Passing Woodbridge on lap 5 to take the lead. Peter Marsh, Ainscough, Pangler and Rory Sharp were having a great battle all through the race. Dennis Russell lost a few places at the start but was making steady progress with some good clean racing until he run wide in turn 6 parking it in the sand trap. Adam Butler, who was running in 3rd had mechanical issues starting on the last couple of laps. With the car slowly getting worse he eventually lost positions to Stu Kenny and Howlett. Watkins took the checkered flag from Woodbridge, Stu Kenny crossed the line 3rd and Howlett a very close 4th. Ryan Davis and Roelofs finishing 6th and 7th.
Unfortunately Adam Butler could not get the #93 car fixed and missed the final race of the day. This ultimately handed 2nd position in the championship to Mick Woodbridge. Under the flood lights and with the engines breathing the cooler air, Watkins led the pack in to turn 1 with pressure from Woodbridge. Sharp and Davis continued their battle from race 2 constantly swapping and changing positions again with some good, clean, close racing with Rob Roelofs and Stuart Kenny joining in. Alfonsi #47 got off to a flying start gaining 3 places on the first lap, Laurie Marsh and Brian Pangler got a little to close again in turn 1 with Pangler then running out of bitumen at the exit of Turn 1 sending him into a spin which sent him back across the track towards Phil Breen #75 but with Breeny's super fast reaction a collision was avoided. Breeny lost a place to Peter Marsh #68 and Pangler dropped back to the rear of the field (again). Stu Kenny was going well until mechanical issues would see him retire the #72 car on lap 7. Russell was again pushing hard starting from 17th working his way through the field to finish 10th. Brad Butler was enjoying himself with some close, hard fought battles with Russell early on and Alfonsi at the end of the race. Steve West was having a steady race but then dropped the hammer on lap 7 passing a few, having started from 15th to finish 12th. Watkins took the win from Howlett with Woodbridge 3rd and Davis with a well earned 4th continuing his strong form towards the end of the season. Steve West and Mark Alfonsi both set their fastest laps of the day in race 3.
It has been a great season for HQ Racing WA with a good turnout of cars at every race meeting and of course good close racing with a great atmosphere back in the paddock. We look forward to much more of the same in 2019.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2019. Hopefully to see you all at Barbagallo Raceway for the season opener (2nd and 3rd March) which promises to be a huge race meeting on a brand new track surface and also for the 50th anniversary of the WA Sporting Car Club. How fast will the track be?
Full championship results can be found Here.