Defending series champion Coleby Cowham secured a consecutive Queensland Saloon Car Series title with two wins and a second place at the final round of the CAMS State Championships at Morgan Park Raceway.
Cowham (237 points) was forced to fend off former series champion Gary Beggs (225 points) to the crown in a battle that came down to the final lap of the final race. Three-time champion Lindsay Kearns (166 points) was also in the mix at the fast and flowing circuit on the Southern Downs where the trio recorded milestone race starts (100th – Cowham and Beggs, 200th – Kearns).
Heading into the final round, the title fight was well and truly alive with 94 points on offer and the top six drivers remaining in contention for the title in a grid which included Australian Trans-Am veteran and father of defending series champion, Shane Cowham and returned Queensland Saloon Car Association President John Townsend.
Cowham set a 1:29.2 to claim pole position in the Escape Energy AU Falcon ahead of Shayne Hine (1:29.5) and Beggs (1:29.7), who marked his 100th race start with a win, taking the chequered flag ahead of Beggs and Ashley Jarvis in an incident-marred race.
Beggs in the Coates Hire VT Commodore overcame Cowham and Kearns, who stepped onto the final step of the podium, in the penultimate race for the year setting up an enthralling finale.
An eight-point difference between Cowham (207 points) and Beggs (199 points) meant the final race of the year would decide the title with a maximum of 31 points on offer with Cowham needing to finish no less than second to seal the title providing Beggs took the win.
Cowham hung on for the lead ahead of an angry pack heading into turn one, with a hard-charging Kearns leaping into second off the line and threatening the lead for the opening laps. Kearns diced with Beggs for second for the duration of the eight lap encounter, before finishing third, with Shayne Hine hot on his tail in fourth to secure third in the championship on 170 points, four ahead of Kearns on 166.
Reflecting on the competitiveness of the category, Cowham said it was the toughest racing he had ever been a part of.
“The final race of the year with Gary (Beggs) and Lindsay (Kearns) was one of the best races I have ever been involved in. It was good to come away with another championship, just over Gary there. It was pretty close, the racing in the category has been so competitive over the past year and it was great to battle for the championship all the way to the very end,” said Cowham.
The 2017 Queensland Saloon Cars Series calendar has yet to be confirmed at the time of press.