Drama at speedway opener

LAUNCESTON speedway driver Jamie Bricknell was robbed of almost certain victory after a tangle with lapped traffic in the final of the sprintcar stampede at Hobart International Speedway at Sorell Creek on Saturday night. The 30-lap final was the main event on the opening meeting of the 2012-13 Tasmanian speedway season for the local raceway, with Bricknell keen to make amends for a disappointing third at Latrobe last week after leading for most of the coastal final as well. Bricknell qualified on pole position for Saturday night’s Southern encounter with two strong performances in the heats, with fellow Launceston driver Callum Zizek joining him on the front row.

As expected Bricknell blasted away to an instant lead at the start with Zizek giving chase, followed by Kurt Luttrell, who started well from grid four, making it a Launceston trifecta at the front. Bricknell used lapped traffic superbly in the middle stages of the race to widen the gap to the less experienced Zizek, but the race was halted on lap 17 when Luttrell spun and was sent to the rear for the subsequent re-start. Meanwhile, former state champion “Tornado” Tim Hutchins, who started from grid seven, had been making steady progress and was fourth after a good battle with Devonport’s Curt Smith when Luttrell spun, elevating him to third at the re-start.

Bricknell led away again at the green light, but Hutchins was closing in on Zizek in the battle for second. With Bricknell seemingly assured of victory, a tangle with lapped traffic three laps from the finish saw him and Zizek both come unstuck, while Hutchins was able to squeeze by the three-car pile-up. Zizek retired to the in-field with minor front-end damage, while Bricknell was able to re-start. However, in one of the cruellest rules in speedway sprintcar racing, any driver who stops must go to the rear for the re-start, even if the stoppage wasn’t his fault, which in Bricknell’s case, it wasn’t. With Hutchins at the front for the re-start, all he had to do for the remaining three laps was hold off Curt Smith for victory. Smith finished second in his best drive for the past two seasons, with Kurt Luttrell making a strong recovery from his earlier misdemeanour to charge back through the field for a solid third.

Earlier in the night former state champion Kane Cruse drove a superb race to win the second round of the Formula 500 Statewide Series. Cruse qualified on pole position for the 15-lap final, but spun on the third lap, causing a race stoppage, for which he was sent to the rear for the subsequent re-start. In a dominant display, Cruse, of Launceston, gradually carved his way through the field to hit the lead with three laps remaining to take the chequered flag ahead of the much-improved Brad Freeman and Joe Rattray.

On the same program Mole Creek teenager Josh Stephens continued his strong start to the season by winning the third round of the Junior Sedan Championship Series after a good battle in the 15-lap final with local driver James Nolan. Stephens won the first round at Carrick earlier in the season, with Nolan taking victory in round two at Latrobe, ensuring then series remains tight. Nolan qualified on pole position for the final, but Stephens was able to find more speed when it mattered to claim the win, with final with Hobart’s Nathan Russell coming from well back in the field to finish third after experiencing handling issues in the heats.

Victory in the wingless sprintcar final went to local New Norfolk driver Chris Gallagher, making it two in a row after also winning at Latrobe last week, while reigning Tasmanian champion Luke Gunn was far too food in the final of the Tassie sixes, recording an easy victory. State champion Sean Devine achieved a similar dominant result in the bombers final, while coastal pair Nick Broomhall and Darryl Bakes showed their experience to score a big win in the sidecar final. The speedway karts provided plenty of action, particularly in the modified clubman (senior) heats, but in the final it was an easy win to reigning state champion Cameron Abel, of Hellyer Beach, while Devonport’s Waide McLean claimed a well deserved win in the junior final.

RESULTS – Southern Cross Television Sprintcart Stampede  – Heat one: C Zizek, 1; R Dawkins, 2; K Luttrell, 3. Heat two: J Bricknell, 1; C Smith, 2; K Luttrell, 3. Final (30 laps): M House, 1; J Bricknell, 2; C Johns, 3. Final (30 laps): T Hutchins, 1; C Smith, 2; K Luttrell, 3. Central Steel Junior Sedan Championship Series (round three)  – Heat one: J Crossin, 1; N Russell, 2; Z Armstrong, 3. Heat two: J Stephens, 1; L Saltmarsh, 2; J Nolan, 3. Heat three: J Nolan, 1; A Gilbert, 2; L Saltmarsh, 3. Final (15 laps): J Stephens, 1; J Nolan, 2; N Russell, 3. Powranna Plant Hire Formula 500 Series (round two) – Heat one: B Whitchurch, 1; K Cruse, 2; D Whitchurch, 3. Heat two: K Cruse, 1; B Freeman, 2; J Rattray, 3. Final (15 laps): K Cruse, 1; B Freeman, 2; J Rattray, 3.

Wingless sprintcars – Heat one: Jacob Goodluck, 1; T Watson, 2; C Gallagher, 3. Heat two: C Gallagher, 1; S Bissett, 2; H McBain, 3. Final (15 laps): C Gallagher, 1; J Padman, 2; T Watson, 3. Tassie sixes – Heat one: D Sonners, 1; L Gunn, 2; B Price, 3. Heat two: L Gunn, 1; R Shaw, 2; B Price, 3. Final (15 laps): L Gunn, 1; C Briggs, 2; D Sonners, 3. Bombers  – Heat one: N McIlwain, 1; D Jetson, 2; K Jetson, 3. Heat two: S Devine, 1; C Jetson, 2; H Abel, 3. Final (15 laps): S Devine, 1; N McIlwain, 2; K Jetson, 3. Sidecars – Heat one: R Waters and C Clarke, 1; N Broomhall and D Bakes, 2. Heat two: N Broomhall and D Bakes, 1; R Waters and C Clarke, 2. Heat three: N Broomhall and D Bakes, 1; R Waters and C Clarke, 2. Final (4 laps): N Broomhall and D Bakes, 1; R Waters and C Clarke, 2.

Speedway karts – Heat one: K Scott, 1; P Breitkopf, 2; W McLean, 3. Heat two: B Jackson, 1; C Abel, 2; J Claridge, 3. Heat three: W McLean, 1; Z Scott, 2; K Scott, 3. Heat four: C Abel, 1; J Claridge, 2; G Lawrence, 3. Heat five: W McLean, 1; P Breitkopf, 2; K Scott, 3. Heat six: C Abel, 1; J Harper, 2; J Claridge, 3. Junior final (8 laps):W McLean, 1; P Breitkopf, 2; Z Scott, 3. Modified clubman (senior) final (10 laps): C Abel, 1; D Brooks, 2; J Claridge, 3.

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