The prestigious Victorian State Titles were run and won on the weekend of Nov 30/Dec 1, in Australia, with the Schumacher Team represented by Scott Giles in the spec motor classes, and Leigh Cheeseman in modified. With entry numbers pushing 200, and temps over 30 degrees Celsius for the weekend, there was sure to be some hot action.
After some lazy test laps during the afternoon on Thursday, the track was officially open on Friday for practice, with 5 x 4min rounds to each class and driver. With the brand new KF in hand, but completely untested, I used the time to run 2min with each car until deciding that the KF was the way to go. Friday left both Leigh and I confident of our rides for the weekend.
Saturday was to be the 4wd day of the titles, and with 4 qualifiers in the books, both Leigh and I found ourselves in the top 5 in our respective classes. Leigh in the 5 spot, and myself starting out of 2 with our K1's. With some poor starts and mistakes in the opening laps by my self, I was chasing the lead cars in every final, and also turning the fastest laps of the day. The result was to be a reverse from the National Titles earlier in the year, and I finished second with some hard charging runs. Leigh also had a great day out, managing to maintain his fifth qualifying position in one of the best modified fields assembled since the Nats.
Sunday saw some very strong fields assemble for the 2wd competition, and with the track forming a blue groove in most sections, but also becoming bumpier and more rutted, I was torn with the decision of which 2wd car to use. The KF to me just felt easier to drive fast though, so I stuck to my guns and débuted the new car in Australia. The choice proving to be the right one, I topped the leader board in rounds 2 and 3, seemingly securing me the TQ, however, the round 1 winner had other ideas and drove a superb race to eclipse my time and take the round win in the 4th. I would start 2nd on the grid. After using the 4th round to push the KF beyond its limits though, I knew where I needed to be for the finals. Leigh was having a great run with his SV2 also, proving to be consistently amongst the quickest, and again securing the 5th grid position.
Leg 1 of the finals saw me get off to a great start, shadowing the leader for three laps until he made a small error, I then made a clean pass and went on to win. Leg 2 saw me get involved in the typical first corner mele and chase from mid field to gain a 3rd place finish. Leigh was running great in Mod, with a 3rd and 5th in the first two finals, keeping it consistent really paying dividends on the rough track. In the third leg, I made a clean start and put the KF into the lead on the second corner, never to be headed or challenged, winning the state title, and débuting the KF on the top step of the podium. Leigh again rounded out his day with a 5th overall, a fantastic weekend for the team in Australia, and yet another win on début for the new KF, on a med-high traction, bumpy clay track!! Not exactly its design brief, but so smooth and stable that it eclipsed all others.