Boxing Day Speedway action at Wahgunyah Speedway managed by the Corowa – Rutherglen Club out smarted the weather predictions when they were able to compete their show with a little re–organisation allowing Brett Norman who had travelled from Young, NSW to Wahgunyah to pick up a big feature win in the Noel McGrath Memorial for Production Sedans.
A full support program included victories for Warrick Howie in Standard Saloons, Corowa racer Ross Maclean in the Goulburn Ovens Sedans, Shane Kruger whose Grandparents were amongst the earliest racers at the old Wahgunyah track won the Sports Sedans & Toby Carmichael a new club member at Corowa won the Junior Sedan Rising Star Challenge first round.
Production Sedan racing for the Noel McGrath Memorial attracted competitors from Young, Dubbo, Canberra, Wagga, Leeton, Moruya, Corowa & Victoria. Western Australian champion Stephen Laidlaw was the top dog in the field on paper, however it would be Wagga racer Jason Boardman who got the best start possible in winning the first heat race of the night.
Laidlaw followed up with a win in his first race in his new car finished through Christmas whilst Raymond Ussher from Wangaratta won the third heat race before Norman won the fourth qualifier and Lindsay Manning from the Leeton club the final heat race.
The twenty–lap feature race got under way whilst the venue was still concerned with the threat of rain interfering with the race having earlier caused a massive re–shuffle in the program in order to get to the finals as quick as possible.
Norman, Manning, Andrew Cunningham (Leeton), Ussher & Brad Hutchison from Gippsland were all competitors in the mix early, with Norman & Manning particularly strong. Manning’s hard charge was brought undone by a spin and he was ushered to the rear of the field to try and catch back up to the front, whilst Cunningham had a tough night mechanically and parked his machine in the retirement bay infield.
Hutchison threatened Norman then drifted back and had to hold back Ussher before creeping forward again in his quest for a win catching up with Norman. At the drop of the chequered flag at twenty laps, Norman had come away with the win and bragging rights at the venue before the Australian title. Hutchinson finished second then Ussher, Brendan Harper from Wangaratta Club & Paul Barklem from Wagga.
The Rising Star Challenge for the Junior Sedans attracted six competitors with Carmichael travelling from Swan Hill way to the track & Bailey Perkins from Gippsland. Carmichael won the first qualifying heat race whilst Perkins took a win in the second. A great stoush between Carmichael & Perkins entertained the race fans before front end damage to Perkins car put him out of the race. Carmichael went on to win from Daniel Powell, Will Heiner, Ashleeh Bunt & Zac Twomey.
Warrick Howie took to the wheel behind the Brendan Eames owned Standard Saloon & he took a clean sweep of the nights results by winning both heat’s before taking a strong victory in the final ahead of Micheal Fleming–Robertson, Daniel Joosten, Yarrawonga driver Trevor Evans & Kenneth Mankey from Benalla.
A strong & balanced field in the Sports Sedans had the pre event potential of any one of six drivers a realistic chance of winning the day. Martin Heiner the Mount Beauty Speedway Club President won the first race before Liam Powell took a win in the second. After the rain had interfered with the venue the drivers came back out to a very racy final heat in which Shane Kruger took the win.
The final then turned out to be an absolute procession for Kruger who had the perfect set up for his machine and he monstered the rest. Kruger was a massive three hundred metres in front of the field at one stage, before a caution brought him back to the pack for a re–start. He again tore the field to shreds and went on to win from Liam Powell, Josh Servvice, James Powell & Marcus Griffiths.
Rounding out the results was the Goulburn Ovens Sedan Association where Clint Henderson won the first qualifier from Ross Maclean the Victorian Champion with Nathan Shortis the third qualifier winner.
In the final the track was perfect for Henderson and he set about showing everybody as he led Maclean & Shortis. Troy Frost then put himself into the picture as he broke away from Scot Calendar & David Walton. Henderson as the laps started to wind down then had a mechanical breakdown and he drifted to the back of the field and off the track leaving Maclean to march on out front. Shortis tried to match it with Maclean, however the Victorian champ once again was once again that little bit faster than the Victoria # two driver Shortis and they crossed the line first and second with Frost third, Calendar fourth and Walton in fifth place.
Wahgunyah Speedway return to action now at Australia Day weekend with the biggest event the club has ever held, the Australian Production Sedan title with fifty competitors vying to be national champion in the Production Sedan class supported by Junior Sedan racing from the national governing body, Grand Prix Midgets and Late Model Sedans the big powerful V8 machines across two racing days.
Practice for the Australian title is on the 26th of January with dinner and a Calcutta that night following the practice in the nearby Wahgunyah Football Club rooms. Racing begins on the 27th a Friday night whilst concluding on the Saturday where the national title will be decided. If any race days are affected by weather and a need arises then Sunday could be used to finish off the event.
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