BOOKER WINS THE WANGARATTA CUP
Members of the Victorian Grand Prix Midget Association were pleased to welcome their counterparts from the New South Wales club on the weekend to Wangaratta City for the annual Wangaratta Cup doubling as round one of the ‘Stinger Chassis Masters Series’, and the combined numbers made for entertaining competition with an enthralling three-way battle between Victorians Ash Booker, Chris Fowler and New South Wales woman Janelle Saville ending the night on a high.
With six heat races held with each driver slated to compete in three of them the first-round action began with Chris Fowler, Shawn Ward, Gary Bowyer, Mark Blackeby, Jack Ward, Terry Brown, David Bacon and Alex Gouveia as the grid line up. Bowyer had an unfortunate start with a loose wing due to their being missing bolts, he was sent infield as a defective car. The Ward family got stuck straight into action, son Jack passed Dad Shawn on lap one to chase Fowler back around to the start finish line. By lap six, Mark Blackeby moved into second and Brown followed him into third. Fowler went on to win by over seven seconds from Blackeby, Jack Ward who moved back into third, then Brown and Shawn Ward with Gouveia unable to finish due to fuel pressure concerns. Bacon did not start as he had a clutch problem.
Ashley Booker began heat two from pole position with Matt Kamolins, Riley Bowyer, Janelle Saville, Adam Buckley, Paul Perry, Anthony Lea, and Daniel Meredith making the race a mini test match Victoria versus New South Wales. Kamolins had a great start moving into second by lap two before dropping out the next lap when the chain dropped leaving Booker leading Bowyer and Perry. Booker took the massive victory clocking 16.443 as fast one lap time and winning by almost seventeen seconds from Bowyer, Perry, Buckley, Saville, and Lea. Meredith did not start due to a throttle cable issue.
The line-up for the third heat was Saville, Jack Ward, Perry, Fowler, Kamolins, Gary Bowyer, Lea and Gouveia a rookie driver. Saville led the start of the third heat race from Perry and Gary Bowyer. Fowler after initially dropping backwards made his way forward to be third by lap six, Bowyer took lead on lap seven and at the finish Bowyer beat Saville, Fowler, Perry, Jack Ward, Gouveia, and Lea with Kamolins a non-finisher not completing a lap, whilst Lea was given a rear of field penalty for passing under the restart cone.
Blackeby lined-up from pole position in the fourth with Buckley, Brown, Riley Bowyer, Shawn Ward, Booker, David Bacon and Daniel Meredith. Booker snared the lead on lap one from Blackeby and Brown. A couple of entrants dropped out of the race on lap five with Shawn Ward and Bacon ending up infield with engine issues. Booker took the win from Blackeby, Brown, Buckley, Meredith, and Bowyer. Riley Bowyer also earnt a steward’s penalty for passing under the restart cone, rear of field result given to him.
Brown and Booker shared the front row in heat five with Jack Ward, Kamolins, Blackeby and Riley Bowyer listed behind them. Jack Ward blasted off to lead lap one from Blackeby before Blackeby lead lap five. Booker took control on lap six and went on to win from Blackeby, Jack Ward, Brown, Bowyer and Kamolins who had steering issues.
In the final qualifier, Perry started on pole position form Gary Bowyer with Buckley, Shawn Ward, Saville, Fowler, Lea and Gouveia. Bowyer led lap one from Perry and Fowler and stayed there most of the race. Lea finished after one lap when he dropped a chain. It took until the final lap for Fowler to put himself out front to win from Bowyer, Perry, Saville, Ward and Gouveia.
The Wangaratta Cup feature event then lined up with Buckley, Brown, Riley Bowyer, Jack Ward, Perry, Saville, Gary Bowyer, Blackeby, Fowler, Booker, Shawn Ward, Kamolins, Lea and Bacon with the top ten in qualifying reversed and ready to go.
Brown led the early going of the race with Booker into second by lap three and Fowler right behind him. Kamolins brought out the caution on lap three and did not finish. Those two passed Brown on lap four to control the lead with Saville moving into third on lap five and set about reeling in the lead two. Riley Bowyer exited the race on lap six. By lap ten Riley Bowyer, Perry, Kamolins and Blackeby were all out of the race with Fowler the leader as he had passed Booker for the lead when a caution came out for Perry and Blackeby. At the restart, the field got away with Saville leading the race from lap nine after passing Fowler and then Booker.
On lap ten Jack Ward broke an axle and finished infield. On lap thirteen Booker regained the lead from Saville and on lap fifteen, the trio of Booker Saville and Fowler raced to the line with Booker prevailing just ahead of Fowler who beat Saville by .017 of a second finishing .145 behind Booker. In fourth was Gary Bowyer then Anthony Lea, Shawn Ward, Brown, and Buckley.
John Fowler the Victorian club President was incredibly pleased with the camaraderie and the event. “This has been a terrific race night for us. Both state clubs should be proud of the event we put on. A great field of cars, great competition and support for each other and a race ending to be remembered for a long time. We look forward to heading to NSW soon to do the same in return.” Shared Fowler.
VGPMRA sponsors this season include;
Super Balance Automotive
Vern & Jackie Parker Photography
Written by Dean Thompson DMT Sports Media For Victorian Grand Prix Midgets Association
Photos (c) Vern & Jackie Parker Photography