It felt like just yesterday we were at the Winton Festival of Speed so just a few weeks later we found ourselves once again at Winton, this time for the return of the CAMS Vic State Race Series to Winton for the first time in over 15 years.
Attrition at FOS put some pressure on the grid numbers but alas we saw Greg Hewson in his brilliant little Midget, Mike Trathen return after a break and Michael Wood in the GT V8 which sounds fantastic. In qualifying an issue for reigning champ saw him unable to get out leaving Phil Chester to cruise around with a 1:30.45 to set pole in the GT V8. Jason Holmes MG ZR finished second with a 1:36.7 from Vince Gucciardo in 3rd with a 1:37.6. A gap back saw Chris GIdney line u p4th from Ed Ferguson’s TR7, Mike Wood’s B GT V8, Rodney Gibb in his TF Cup and Greg Hewson, Shirley St John Cox and Mike Trathen.
Race 1 saw Chester get the jump but it was Glen Wood who by turn 5 was into 2nd place from the rear of the grid with Holmes, Hewson, Gucciardo and Mike Wood in 6th as the front pair set out a clear lead with Glen Wood all over Chester. Hewson disposed of Holmes on lap 2 to move into 3rd place before the following lap promptly having a spin dropping him behind Holmes and Gucciardo. Glen Wood laid down a 1:28.8 on lap 3 before making a pass on Chester for the lead on lap 4 until on lap 6 Wood slowed coming into the sweeper before pulling into pit lane. Chester left for a clear run to cruise to Victory while Holmes held down 2nd place and Gucciardo rounded out the podum. Hewson recovered to set a 1:35.9 on his way to 4th place with Gidney, Ferguson, Trathen, Wood, Gibb and St John Cox rounding out the top 10.
Race 2 and Chester again getting away from the field, while Glen Wood went from last to be in second place by turn 1! Wood setting his sights on the win to make up for race 1. Chester determined with the Championship in mind to stay in front. Hewson recovered to be in third place with Gucciardo in 4th and Holmes dropping from 2nd to 5th in the opening few corners. Hewson immediately back into the 1:35’s to consolidate his place in third while Gucciardo had the eyes on to keep his 4th place from Holmes. Lap 4 and the pressure was mounting on Chester up front, a 1:28.1 a new personal best and being pushed by Glen Wood, Lap traffic forcing Chester to use it to his advantage. The pair caught Rodney Gibb at turn 1, Chester decided to be conservative and let Gibb take his line but Wood had other plans and promptly slotted by on the outside of turn 1, putting him in the right place for turn 2 and to snatch the lead from Chester and to add insult to injury Wood put down a 1:27.98 to take the fastest lap of the race, and subsequently taking the race win from Chester. Hewson was playing a consolidated approach for third as Holmes was making a play on Gucciardo and on lap 7 it finally worked with Gucciardo getting a poor run off the final corner and Holmes getting by on the run to turn 1. Gucciardo had no response and had to settle for 5th while Gidney, Trathen, Ferguson ,Gibb and St John Cox rounded out the 10.
Race 3 saw Hewson slow on the warm up lap, eventually taking the start via the pit lane while on track Chester once again lead into turn 1, the eyes clearly on with Wood behind from Holmes, Gidney, Gucciardo as the field settled down. Gucciardo made a strong move into turn 6 on Gidney to take 4th place as Hewson was still struggling at the back of the field while Gucciardo set out for Holmes promptly setting a 1:38.4 to try and reel him in.
Up front the battle was heating up with Wood pushing Chester all the way, Chester setting a 1:27.54 to set the fastest lap of the race and lower his PB by .6 of a second but Wood was pressuring him and Chester noticeably starting to fatigue and Glen Wood struck making a strong pass and driving away, setting a stunning 1:26.8412 lap on his way to a 6 second win from Chester as Holmes came home a solid 3rd with Gucciardo, Gidney, Trathen, Ferguson and Mike Wood.