NSW driver wins grand national

NEW South Wales driver Lachlan Onley joined a prestigious list of winners of Tasmania’s longest-running speedway feature event when he won the time-honoured Tasmanian Grand National on Saturday night at the Hobart International Raceway, near New Norfolk. Onley crossed the line first in an incident-packed 50-lap final to become the first driver from NSW to win the event since Fred Seery collected the trophy in 1976. Queensland’s Wayne Randall, driving a car owned by Launceston’s Steve Jessup, was second in the final with local hard charger and former State champion Steve Latham a close third after starting from grid 13 in the final with an impressive drive.

Eventual winner Onley started from grid five in the final, but was able to take advantage of  the misfortune of drivers in front of him in a calculated drive. Former Australian champion Darren Kane, from Queensland, qualified on pole position for the final and the ex-Hobart driver looked the one to beat early in the race.
Kane led reigning Australian champion Steve Jordan, also from Queensland, with Onley in third after the second row of the grid was taken out in an opening-lap incident.

Six-times event winner and former six-times Tasmanian champion David Nichols, of Launceston, and former state champion Brad Smith, of Devonport, had qualified third and fourth respectively, with Smith earning his spot after advancing from ninth in the pre-final pole shuffle event. However, his joy was short-lived with the first lap incident taking both him and Nichols out of the race.

Kane and Jordan opened up a gap on Onley in the early stages of the race, with Jordan making some aggressive moves to try and take the lead. His aggression boiled over on lap 26 when a big inside move came unstuck, resulting in heavy contact with Kane and forcing him to spin. Officials ruled Jordan the cause and sent him to the rear of the grid for the re-start. Kane led the re-start, but only lasted half a lap with a puncture, undoubtedly caused by the contact with Jordan, sending him in-field. This brought Onley to the front, where he stayed for the remaining 24 laps, despite plenty of close attention from Randall and Latham.

Earlier in the night Hellyer Beach driver Cameron Abel scored a flag to flag victory in the final of the Tasmanian Mini-Grand National for speedway karts in the modified clubman final. Abel qualified on pole position for the 10-lap final and led from green light to chequered flag to score a convincing win ahead of Burnie’s Ben Jackson and Devonport veteran Geoff Lawrence.

The 125cc final was won by reigning state champion Leigh Revell, of Penguin, beating home Richmond’s Laura Davidson, with Devonport’s Hayden McBain third, while the junior final wad dominated by the visiting Aylett brothers from Western Australia, with Karl Aylett, beating his younger brother Leigh, reversing last year’s result, with Devonport driver Ben Boun a distant third.

On the same program, former state champion Todd Auton, of Ulverstone, scored an all-the-way win in the final of round six of the Street Stock Sedan Series. Auton was never seriously challenged during the 20-lap final, but there was plenty of action, incidents drivers swapping placed behind him. Eventually, Burnie’s Jamie Young found his way to the front of the chasing pack and closes in on Auton in the dying stages to claim a close second, with series leader Corey Bauld, of Spreyton, taking third and scoring enough points to maintain his series lead.

Meanwhile, Hobart’s Josh Smith extended his lead in the Junior Sedan Championship Series with an empathic win, lapping all but the top four cars in the final. Launceston’s Brodie Piper was a distant second, with Hobart youngster Nathan Russell also a long way back in third.

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