By Dean Thompson
DMT Sports Media
Speedway Wangaratta held its second last show for the season on Saturday, April 7 with the Standard Saloon class competing for their annual ‘Blue Ribbon’ event, the Speedcars visiting for the first time in six seasons and then a Demolition Derby to close out the night and send the fans away happy.
Some of Victoria’s best Standard Saloon racers came into town for one of the biggest events at Wangaratta each season and one of the top fifteen Standard Saloon features around Victoria and the likes of Victorian champion Nick Chrystie, Jacob Vuillermin and Patrick Vuillermin went home disappointed as non-finishers after a tough forty lap feature race.
Early in the feature Jacob Vuillermin, Warrick Howie, Nick Chrystie and the retiring Jared Burder in particular were quick, however mechanical misfortune got to most of them before Howie carved a way forward and through the field.
AJ Lawrence who started a little further back in the race moved up a position each time somebody dropped out and then started to close the gap on the race leader towards the end of the race.
Howie from Chiltern then created space between the two once again before going on to a great win in front of the North Eastern Speedway faithful with Lawrence second, Liam Powell from Beechworth in third then Yarrawonga’s Trevor Evans and Aaron Marshall in fifth place.
Earlier six heat race qualifiers were shared between Jake Vuillermin, Gary Evans, Lawrence, Howie, Jake Vuillermin a second time and Chrystie.
A small yet talented Speedcar field competed at Wangaratta after a long absence from the venue. The numbers were reduced a little with a big feature next weekend scheduled in Ballarat paying significant prize money.
Nick Parker, Travis Mills and Dhillon Ghent shared the three qualifying racers between them before moving into a short yet quick feature event with some close racing between Mills and Parker before Mills got the better of Parker towards the end of the race.
Mills took the win with Parker, Ghent, Justin McMinn and Ash Booker rounding out the top five. Impressively in the heat races, Mills recorded a one lap time of 15.584 as the fastest one lap time for the night.
In the big Night of Champions Demolition Derby all the winners over recent seasons at Wangaratta in Demolition Derby’s and invited wild card entries competed and the fancied boys such as Cody and Kayn Shmal got their butts handed back to them on a platter by Kayla Johnson who smashed up all comer’s to take the win and the cash prize.
There were some hard hits with once fairly normally shaped Station Wagon’s and Sedans leaving the venue as newly created Compact versions of their former selves.
In Sports Sedan action Nathan Shortis was able to come through the field to pick up the win after early race leader Leighton Evans was left devastated by a flat tyre after he looked very good for a potential race win with a few car lengths between him and second place at the time.
Shortis took the lead after Evans pulled infield and went on to win from Corey McDonald, Tommy McDonald, Fleur Heiner and James Powell.
Shortis, Liam Powell and Evans earlier won the three qualifiers before the feature event.
Fleur Heiner also won the Ladies Open Sedan final from Kayla Mannix and Tay Cummins.
All three girls shared qualifying heat wins before Heiner cleared out to an impressive win in the final.
In Junior Sedan action Toby Carmichael went on to record a feature race victory from Zac Twomey, Jack Brudenell, Janie Patton and Ruby Prichard with rookie Toby Parks at the rear of the field. Carmichael looked the pick of the drivers through the night although he was unable to finish one heat race yet won the other two.
Janie Patton also won a heat race whilst Ashleeh Bunt had a trip to the hospital after she hit the concrete wall hard during the heats, she was later discharged a little sore but otherwise unscathed.
Speedway Wangaratta returns on May 12 to close out their season.