Round 11 of World Series Sprintcars (WSS) certainly packed a punch for action, drama, heartbreak and controversy. Twenty-nine cars competed in the double header, with three visiting Americans in the field (Shane Stewart, Time Kaeding and Randy Hannagan) – who was going to be the winner at Bunbury – Who was going to produce the results !
Steven Lines DNF’d while leading the Feature Race on both the preliminary night and the final night in what can only be described as heartbreaking circumstances. On night one Lines had checked-out in front ahead of Shane Stewart and was set for a certain victory when the W3 KPC lost a left rear tyre.
Then again the following night, while leading the A-Main and looking like no one had an answer for him, Steven Lines pulled to a halt on a yellow rolling lap shortly after Shaun Bradford had brought on the cautions. There was only a handful of laps remaining. It was a shattering blow for Lines who indicated in the initial track-side interview that he believed the W3 Halls Haulage/Bridgestone Tyres Albany rig may have been out of fuel. Lines was clearly devastated and frantically probing fuel lines etc for a leak to explain the sudden engine shutdown. In the end it turned out to be a sheared fuel pump drive.
American Shane Stewart (NQ7) assumed the lead on the restart and took Round 11 spoils from a determined and fast finishing Robbie Farr. In a great performance from South Australian Luke Dillon he was able to fend off multiple attacks from Tim Kaeding to secure the final podium place.
Back to the start of the race……..The top 10 were Steven Lines (after taking out the Gold Shootout) , Luke Dillon, Time Kaeding, Shaun Bradford, Robbie Farr, Shane Stewart, James McFadden, Jason Kendrick, Ben Ellement and Randy Hannigan in the Muir Motorsports #53.
The Feature was set down for 30 laps and at the get go WA’s Cameron Gessner brought down the Reds with an almighty “bicycle” that took him hard into the Turn 1/2 wall on the first lap. The #41 Cowara Contractors chassis sustained massive damage in the incident – Gessner indicating that the chassis structure under his feet was pushed up and severely distorted in the colossal impact. So intense was the impact that concrete chucks were removed from the wall in the incident. Luckily Cameron Gessner was OK.
A full restart ensued. Lines was quick to jump into Turn 1, followed by Dillon, Bradford, Farr, Kaeding and Stewart. Lines set about quickly opening up a straightaway lead on Dillon. Stewart was showing he meant business and slipped past Kaeding.
Meanwhile Trent Pigdon in the mid pack was performing Sprintcar Gymnastics with wheelies and calculated aggression.
Stewart got past Robbie Farr and then engaged himself in an exciting dual with Shaun Bradford (W87) for 3 rd place with reciprocal slides jobs. Stewart was the eventual winner of that dual as he gained the upper hand and set after Dillon. Stewart kept working on Dillon and slipped past the talented South Australian to take 2 nd place with 18 laps to go, but still well back from leader Steven Lines.
Lines was showing impeccable car speed and seemed to have it well and truly “in the bag”. With 10 laps to go Dillon in 3 rd lost valuable ground with a slack attack that nearly saw him spin the S81. He was able to gather it up and keep the “snapping” Farr at bay.
Heavy traffic started to impede Lines and Stewart was able to close the gap. Dillon jumped the cushion allowing Farr to pounce into 3 rd. It became evident that Lines had sustained battle damage to the front wing in the process of negotiating back markers as Shaun Bradford brought down the yellows with a lose.
Lines then had disaster strike as he rolled around on the yellows with an engine that just simply shut down – allegedly out of fuel with 8 laps to go!
Stewart skipped away on the restart followed by Farr, Dillon, Kaeding and McFadden. McFadden went to the bottom in a desperate effort to make a forward gain as everyone else stayed high. The move was unsuccessful and McFadden quickly switched back to the top.
Then as Shane Stewart rounded turns 3-4 with the Chequers in sight, Daniel Harding brought on the yellows with a spin, forcing a Green, White, Chequer restart.
Farr had one last roll of the dice and lunged at Stewart on the restart but was unable to pull it off and as they greeted the flagstand it was Shane Stewart, from Robbie Farr, Luke Dillon, Tim Kaeding, James McFadden, Jason Kendrick, Randy Hannagan, Kris Coyle, Ben Ellement and Daniel Pestka rounding out the Top 10.
Despite James McFadden’s 5 th place finish, he still leads the championship. Stewart has closed the gap and actually slipped into second place at Steven Lines expense. Top 10 points are: James McFadden 3300, Shane Stewart 3062, Steven Lines 2994, Luke Dillon 2969, Tim Kaeding 2928, Daniel Pestka 2535, Robbie Farr 2395, Shaun Bradford 2155, Kyle Hirst 1994 and Jason Johnson 1958 – the last two drivers have already left Australia and will not add to their existing points tally.
Next week sees the Final Round at the Perth Motorplex to decide who will be the World Series Sprintcar Champion for season 2013.