EASTER SPRINTCAR TRAIL RESULTS – 2012: AVALON , MT GAMBIER AND WARRNAMBOOL

FAST FACTS

Night 1 : Avalon International Raceway – Friday 6th April
  1. Steven Lines – W3
  2. Darren Mollenoyux – V77
  3. Matthew Reed – V92
Night 2: Borderline Mt Gambier Speedway – Saturday 7th April
  1. Steven Lines – W3
  2. Daniel Pestka – S27
  3. Matt Egel – S29
Night 3 : Warrnambool Premier Speedway – Sunday 8th April
  1. Trevor Green – S4
  2. Jamie Veal – V35
  3. Daniel Pestka – S27
AVALON – NIGHT 1

A healthy 48 cars nominated for Night 1 of the Easter Trail at Avalon International Raceway. The night ended up being a very long protracted one with Mother Nature once again influencing the flow of an Eastern States Sprintcar Meeting.

Straight after qualifying was completed, a monster storm ripped through the Geelong region bringing with it truckloads of rain, gale force winds and an icy chill that made any devoted spectator think they were in Poland watching Ice Speedway.

Anyway, following that it looked like it was game over. A driver’s meeting was held to listen to the voice of the Teams and establish whether the meeting would be canned or indeed make an attempt to go ahead.

Given there was no rainout night and the weather radar showing a slightly improving position (not by much I might add), popular opinion was that the meeting stood a slender chance of going ahead if “all the stars lined up”.

A lot of dedicated volunteers, officials and Teams worked their magic and breathed new life back into the race track once again. It was an unbelievable effort by everyone and the irony behind it all was that it ended up producing a bullet quick track for heat racing – providing you worked out that upwards of 3/4 track distance was slippery and to be avoided at all costs.

James McFadden read the track conditions perfectly and in Heat 3 promptly established a new 8 lap record – 1:34.65 – An Incredible feat given what the track looked like 2 hours prior – most people would have deemed the track irrecoverable and “pulled up the stumps”.

Current WSS Champion James McFadden set a new 8 lap record in Heat 3 - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

The outgoing record was held by David Murcott way back in the 372 CI days (15th Jan 2000). It was 1:42.09 back then so McFadden was virtually a second quicker per lap !

A total of 10 heats (of 8 laps) were run – 2 lots of 5 heats with the usual full inversion applying. The B- Main and C-Main were canned in order to get the meeting through. If you hadn’t done well in heats then you were cactus. Garry Brazier was one such unlucky person. After winning his first heat in the ex Kasey Kahne N21, Brazier nailed the wall in spectacular fashion by drifting a fraction too high into the slippery stuff – his night was over at that point.

The top ten order for the A-Main was: Darren Hickman, Matt Young, Steven Lines, Johnny Vogels, Stephen Bell, James McFadden, Darren Mollenoyux, Trevor Green, Nick Lacey and Matthew Reed.

Early in the 30 lap A-Main NSW driver Matt Young was doing well out in front. The bottom was slicking off due to heavy use and Vogels and McFadden came together with Vogels retiring and McFadden sent to the rear for being the primary cause of the accident.

Five laps in and newly crowned Eureka Series Champ Darren Mollenoyux starts his forward move, passing the in-form Hickman for 3rd place. Meanwhile Lines wears Mollenoyux like a glove and it doesn’t take long for Matt Young in the Rocket Industries car to fall into their clutches. Eventually Lines gets past Molly for the lead. Molly fights with Lines for many laps and with 6 laps to go dives in low on Lines and momentarily takes the lead. Lines was having none of that and quickly snatched back the race lead in his Halls Haulage W3 KPC.

Young and Reed wage a separate war for 3rd and 4th. Reed is storming forward, coming from P11 and then slipping into P3. Then light rain begins to fall !

With the white flag on display, Mollenoyux tries for one final lunge on race leader Lines. Going into turn 3 Molly dives down low on Lines and the two cars look close to a dead heat as they cross the finish line. In the end Lines is awarded the victory from Mollenoyux by a narrow margin of 0.104 seconds, with a great drive coming from Matthew Reed to take 3rd.

Darren Mollenoyux V77 gave it everything in the dying laps of the A-Main at Avalon and had to settle for P2 - Only 0.104 separated Lines (W3) and himself as they crossed the line - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

Steven Lines driving the Halls Haulage/Bridgestone Tyres Albany #3 KPC started off his Easter Campaign by taking Night 1 at Avalon - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

Following Reed home was Young, Pestka, Max Dumesny, Murcott, Green, McFadden with Stephen Bell rounding out the top 10. A lively race and a credit to all who actually pushed it through. Oh….and of course hats off to the spectators for hanging in there on a long cold night.

Easter Bunny Wing - Defending overall Easter Trail Champ Shaun Dobson gets into the Easter Spirit - Dobson was unable to make the A-Main cut after two Heat DNF's as a result of accidents - Pic by Corery Gibson Photography

BORDERLINE MT GAMBIER – NIGHT 2

Compared to the night before and the massive weather related difficulties, Night 2 at Borderline was an easier affair. The night ended earlier than expected which allowed Teams to pack up at a reasonable hour and drive to Warrnambool in preparation for the Final Night.

Top three Time Trialers were Steven Lines (10.774), Shane Stewart (10.799) and Jamie Veal (10.908). Less than 1 second separated the Steven Lines quick time from the 38th and last recorded time of N48 Jackson Delamont with a 11.763 seconds. Charles Hunter (V73) and Matthew Reed (V92) were unable to record a time.

Heat race wins (in order) went to Steven Lines, Brett Milburn, Jamie Veal, Daniel Pestka, Mitch Foster, Domain Ramsay, Glen Sutherland, and Phillip Lock.

The C-Main was won by Darren Mollenoyux from Michael Cunningham and Matt Young.

Darren Mollenoyux couldn't replicate his strong performance the night before at Avalon and missed out on the B-Main cut - Pic By Corey Gibson Photography

Matt Young (N6) came third in the C-Main – Pic By Corey Gibson Photography
B-Main honours were taken by Mitch Foster, Glen Sutherland, Tim Van Ginneken and Ryan Jones – these four transferred to the A-Main.

SA's Glen Sutherland was second in the B-Main

Final placings for the A-Main were Steven Lines for the second time in 2 nights, young South Australian sensation Daniel Pestka and SA’s Matt Egel home for the final podium spot. Following Egel were Shane Stewart, James McFadden, Brett Milburn, Jamie Veal, David Murcott, Brent Aprile and Max Dumesny rounding out the top 10.

Big Future - Daniel Pestka has had a good season and came second to Steven Lines in the Night 2 A-Main

Matt Egel (S27) was 3rd in the A-Main

PREMIER SPEEDWAY WARRNAMBOOL – NIGHT 3

With Steven Lines dominating Nights 1 and 2 in Halls Haulage/Bridgestone Tyre Centre Albany W3 KPC, all eyes were on this new team to see if they could make it a perfect sweep for the Easter Trail and bag a cheque of $10,000 for their efforts.

As it turns out Lines was able to manage a very respectable 4th place in what was once again a weather curtailed program. In much the same way that Avalon canned the B-Main and C-Main for Night 1, Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway was forced to drop last chance races before the A-Main simply to get the program through. Several rain delays had threatened to pull the pin on the whole deal.

A total of 47 Sprintcars rocked up to Sungold Stadium on Sunday 8th April to participate in the running of the Easter Trail Grand Final – Night 3.

Flag Bearers : USA's Shane Stewart (W7) and crowd favorite Max Dumesny carry their respective country's flags on the parade lap - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

Quick Time was set by Steven Lines with a blistering time of 10.40 seconds (record by Nick Lacey is 10.21 sec).

Heats went to Steven Lines, Shane Stewart, Nick Lacey, Shaun Dobson, Matt Young, Phillip Lock, Jackson Delamont, and Eddie Lumbar.

The 30 lap A-main saw 18 cars start and 13 finish in the Grand Final of the Easter Trail. First home was Trevor Green who was ecstatic with the win – one of only a few highlights to an otherwise dry season for the Natrad S4 Team. Second home was local driver Jamie Veal and taking the final podium place was Daniel Pestka after an impressive 2nd the night before at Borderline.

Trevor Green driving the S4 Natrad entry took out Night 3 honours - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

Completing the top 10 were Steven Lines in 4th, Brent Aprile, Darren Mollenoyux, Shane Stewart, James McFadden, Dennis Jones and NSW’s Jeremy Cross.

The fourth placed finish for Steven Lines was sufficient to secure the overall 2012 Easter Sprintcar Trail Trophy. Lines said on the Victory Dias “Having a great Team Owner like Brian Hall and reuniting with my long time Crew Chief Craig Bennett has been great and I’m pleased to be able to repay the faith they have in me. Without them and the support of my friends and family, I couldn’t do what I have been able to achieve and go out and win races”.

The combination of Steven Lines, Craig Bennett and Team Owner Brian Hall is new and intimidating to the opposition - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

And if that wasn’t enough, Steven Lines also took out the Premier Speedway / Sungold Stadium 2012 Track Championship – the prize being a complete GF1 Chassis and panel kit package from long-time supporter and supplier to Sprintcar racing “Parr Motorsport”.
Defending Easter Trail Champion from Tasmania Shaun Dobson could be excused for thinking they should have left the transporter on the other side of Bass Straight as their horror run continued with another DNF after starting out of P3 in the A-Main. On the first lap of the race Dobson drifted high into Turn 3 and was collected by Nick Lacey (V26) – both drivers played no further part in the event.
In another hard luck story, Eddie Lumbar (N36) took a wild ride in Turn 4 with only 12 laps remaining and junking his racecar and taking no further part in the race.

Eddie Lumbar took a wild ride in the A-Main and fortunately walked away from this - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

The Brilliantly prepared PRP Team cars of Michael Cunningham (V74) and Matthew Reed (V92) raced against one another in Heat 4 and Heat 7. Neither could finish better than P6 and so without a B & C Main, their night was done early - Pic by Corey Gibson Photography

Special thanks must go to Corey Gibson from Corey Gibson Photgraphy (www.gibsonphotography.com.au) for supplying actions shots of the Easter Trail 2012. Corey has a wild website – it’s well worth a look !

The next race at Warrnambool (Sat April 21st) is the Tyson Perez 360 Sprintcar Memorial. It will be the last race of the season and will draw to a close what has been a very memorable year at Premier Speedway.

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