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Sunline Sizzles on Opening Night

Posted on February 19, 2017 at 6:05 AM

The biggest crowd for several seasons helped welcome in the 2016/17 season at Sunline Speedway on Saturday Night. Those in attendance witnessed some great racing from all classes with numerous track records being broken during the meeting.

After competing at Adelaide Motorsport Park the night before, the Australian Sprintcar All Stars series contested their first ever round at the Venue. 20 drivers took part in hot laps and time trials to begin the night; Cody Atkins starting the night well with Quick Time. Drivers then contested two rounds of heats, with Mark Caruso, Paul Solomon, Phil Lock and James Wren each claiming a heat win. The top 6 point scorers went into the Pole Shuffle and Dan Evans showed everyone how to get around the tight track, elevating himself from the third row to pole position.

The 30 lap feature race was looking like going the distance until lap 12 when Brenton Farrrer, who had been pushing Evans hard for the lead, spun working his way through traffic in Turn 4. From the restart, Evans was able to get a good run through traffic to claim a maiden All Stars Series victory, 3.7s ahead of Paul Solomon, Chris Solomon and Cody Atkins. Jack Gartner put in a great drive after earlier missing time trials with car troubles to claim fifth in the feature.

19 Junior Sedans contested Round 1 of their Track Championship with each driver contesting 2 heats. Whilst it might be a new season, the ones out the front haven’t changed with brothers Heath and Nathan Thorne continuing their streak at the Venue claiming all 4 heat wins between them. Heath and Nathan battled each other hard during the feature but this was interrupted 5 laps from the finish when Drew Flatman went over in Turns 1 & 2. Drew was able to walk away from the car under his own power and sat infield to watch the reminder of the race. Nathan claimed bragging rights over Heath after getting the upper hand on the restart; however most of the crowd’s attention was on third place. Zac Walters had third for most of the race but a late bump and run by Lachie Gwynne allowed him to pinch the final spot on the podium.

Street Stock drivers were getting in some laps ahead of their State Title, to be held at the Venue on May 20. Three heats were run during the night, with each driver contesting two of these. If luck is on his side, Darren Flatman looks like a man to watch come Title time after solid night. Whilst Jason Gibbs took victory in heat one, Flatman was too strong in his two heats, claiming the win in both. Starting from Pole Position in the Feature, Flatman didn’t have it all his own way, challenged hard and rubbing panels with Cade Cox. The lead changed hands a couple of times before Cox slowly started to drift back to the hard charging Bailey Heinrich. Heinrich, in his first start in the class, put in a great drive throughout the night, especially with starting rear in his two heat races. It also helps when coach for the night, his older brother Rhys Heinrich, is the current Australian Champion. Cox was able to hang on to second narrowly in front of Heinrich with Wade Fell in fourth.

Things started fast for the Wingless Sprints as Jason Bolitho crushed the existing 12 lap track record in the opening heat by a massive ten seconds. The joy of claiming this record was short lived however, as not only did Bolitho strike trouble in the next heat which ended his night, he also lost his new track record to Darryl Sloan. Sloan managed to lower the new record by a further two seconds to claim heat two. Come main event time and the crowd was entertained yet again, but there was no track record being broken this time. Two laps in, Casey Van Der Stelt had a spin in Turn 4 and made contact with Melissa McMillan. This contact caused the cars to become joined together and both cars performed several synchronised donuts in an attempt to separate from each other with no success. McMillan was able to continue but unfortunately Van Der Stelt had to retire only a few laps later due to damage. Out front, Dale Gisell was able to hold off the challenges to claim victory ahead of Travis Beasley and Darryl Sloan.

Modlites might have had a lower car count than at previous meetings, but these small cars really got to shine in front of such a large crowd, many of whom got to witness the class for the first time. With Brian Chadwick unavailable, Mick Lewis stepped into the #41 and joined his son Jake on track, which would’ve been a proud moment for the Lewis family. Cory Hodgson and Andy Maxwell Jnr claimed the two heat wins, but it would be Jake Lewis leading the field for the Feature with fastest to the rear main events in Modlites. Charging through the field, Sam Martin and Maxwell Jnr battled each other hard but fairly for the win. Martin was able to withstand the pressure and claim his first feature win ahead of Maxwell Jnr, Scott Webb and Chris Ferguson.

Sunline Speedways next event is a Sunday Night meeting on March 12th. Junior Sedans will be contesting Round 2 of their Track Championship as well as Round 1 of the Robert Gwynne Memorial. V6 Sprints will be running Night 2 of their King of the Riverland series after having Night 1 the previous night at Riverland Speedway. Super Sedan, Street Stocks, Modlites and Modified Sedans are currently down to complete the program. Gates set to open at 4pm with racing set to commence from 6pm. For further information and updates on upcoming events, be sure to look at the Sunline Speedway website and Facebook page.


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