2010 Australian Sprintcar Champion James McFadden held on to win a classic and hard fought race in Round 3 of World Series Sprintcars at South Australia’s Borderline Speedway on Saturday 29 December.
Following McFadden Across the line was America’s Jason Johnson and local Driver Steven Lines. Australia’s Robbie Farr was fourth and USA’s Shane Stewart rounded out the top 5.
Mount Gambier turned on some uncharacteristically cold Summer weather for the Borderline round of World Series Sprintcars – there was even rain at times, but luckily no obvious threat to the meeting.
Local spectators were out in force as too were a mass of interstaters as well. All discussions seemed to be centred around Steven Lines in the W3 Halls Haulage/Albany Bridgestone Tyres KPC. Lines being the local Mount Gambier lad knows Borderline like the back of his hand – popular opinion was that he was the man to beat. Time would tell.
After preliminaries the Grid was James McFadden (Pole), Steven Lines, Jason Johnson, Kyle Hirst, Shane Stewart, David Murcott, Luke Dillon, Robbie Farr, Matt Egel, and Shaun Bradford rounding out the first 5 rows. In all 20 cars started the 35 Lap event which also gave $10,000 to win. Seventeen cars would finish the race, with former National Champion Phil March, WA’s Shaun Bradford and American Tourist Kyle Hirst the only DNF’s.
The field was a colourful cross section, with drivers from all around the Nation and America. Visiting Americans over and above Kyle Hirst included Tim Kaeding, Caleb Griffith, Danny Smith, Shane Stewart and Jason Johnson.
Come feature time there were two pronounced racing lines, with the top being possibly the better early choice, but 35 laps would see “rubber down” and changing track conditions – conditions that made it very hard on tyres. The secret to winning was in a set up that would allow racing high, low and anywhere in between.
At the get go, James McFadden who elected to start off the second pole (outside), jumped to the lead. A series of yellow then ensued as mechanical issues and early nerves presented themselves. First yellow was Kyle Hirst with a broken bolt in the front suspension – Hirst was to pull infield with only one lap down as a result. Then Bradford tagged the wall on the restart and suffered a left rear – he also would take not further part in the race. With 3 laps down South Aussie Brad Keller spun bringing on the yellows. A further 2 laps on and seventeen year old Jake Tranter looped the #45 ART. From that point the race would run non-stop.
James McFadden jumped to a handy lead on every restart. Jason Johnson looked good though and Series Leader Luke Dillon was desperate to make up ground from his 7th starting position. Dillon found major resistance from SA’s Matt Egel with Egel seeming to have the upper hand. At the drop of the B+W flag, Dillon would realise disappointment by actually slipping back two places to finish 9th but still retaining the series lead.
As the race continued Lines wasn’t out of it either and kept hounding Johnson. In the process though the #3 KPC of Lines picked up damage to the front wing which affected the cars ability to corner fast, particularly through turns 1 and 2.
At 1/3 race distance Johnson came on with a big push and nosed up to McFadden. McFadden was quick to defend and placed a car between the #25 Totally Work Wear Cool and the #45 of Johnson.
Johnson slipped back five car lengths into Lines’ clutches. The two raced the pants off their rigs and at one point bumped wheels – they were lucky to get away with such minor contact and no incident.
With 15 laps to go the top 10 order was McFadden, Johnson, Lines, Farr, Stewart, Murcott, Pestka, Egel, Dillon and Keller. Farr was looming, Murcott had slipped back after looking threatening early and young SA Gun Daniel Pestka had moved up from P12 to an incredible 7th. Pestka was the hard charger and in fact would pass Murcott and come 6th after the chequers fell – and a left rear tyre that was on canvass.
As the race continued rubber down was the deal and McFadden just seemed to have the goods when it counted. He was proving to be elusive, brilliant through traffic and drove the wheels off his #25 Cool Chassis.
In the end it was a great victory as McFadden crossed the line a head of Johnson – he was just too slippery for the opposition. The final podium went to Steven Lines, a great effort considering the handling handicap he was under with the damaged front wing. Farr did a solid job and brought it home in 4th for the second time in two nights, It was an awesome 35 laps – Johnson had hounded McFadden, Lines had hounded Johnson and Stewart had hounded Farr.
With three Rounds down, Luke Dillon (869) still leads from Steven Lines (852) and now James McFadden (801) has drifted into contention in 3rd place after the victory at Borderline tonight. Robbie Farr is in 4th and looming with 788 points. Shane Stewart is the first American and sits on 718 points in 5th position with compatriots Jason Johnson (681) in 7th and Kyle Hirst in 10th position with 613 points.
World Series Sprintcars Round 4 is set for Geelong’s Avalon Raceway tonight DEC 30. Robbie Farr is always strong at Avalon and is our pick.