There was a bit of everything in last Saturday night’s Victorian Wingless Sprint Title at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway, but in the end, it was Luke Storer who came away with the state title spoils.
Sharing the program with no other class due to 78 cars being in attendance, the 30-lap Victorian Title-deciding feature race had no shortage of excitement, despite the dry and tricky track conditions, which were caused by the recent string of hot weather throughout the state, making it difficult to pass.
After qualifying in pole position, it was Luke Weel who took control of the lead from the drop of the green flag, putting in a great performance which saw him fend off second-placed Dayn Bentvelzen on numerous occasions throughout the distance.
While he looked likely to clinch a well-deserved victory, disaster struck for Weel with just four laps remaining when his right-rear tyre blew, causing him to rapidly slip back through the pack, before he was forced to park his VX # 50 car on the infield, bringing his Victorian Title campaign to a devastating end.
Having been unable to execute a pass on Weel despite remaining hot on his heels, Bentvelzen was in prime position to take over the lead, creating a decent gap and managing to hold on to it through to the fall of the chequered flag. However, after failing to report directly to the tech inspection area immediately following the race, Bentvelzen was unfortunately stripped of the win, which was then awarded to Luke Storer, who had crossed the finish line in second place.
Photo: Robert Lake Photography
Sitting strongly in third place for the majority of the feature race before Weel’s retirement elevated him to second, Storer had been a model of consistency throughout the event, and while it wasn’t quite the victory he had in mind, he was pleased to be crowned the 2018-19 season Victorian Champion.
The runner-up spot was awarded to veteran Tony Moule, with Bhoe Paterson delivering a career-best drive to round out the podium in third. Former Australian Champion Brett Milburn and 410 Sprintcar regular Sam Wren placed fourth and fifth respectively, followed by a hard-charging Carly Walsh, who was very competitive throughout the event.
Luke’s older brother Daniel Storer, last season’s Victorian Title runner-up Alex Ross, Jordan Abbott and Chris Halesworth completed the top-10 finishers, while remaining feature-race finishers were Mitchell Broome (SA), Brad Foster, Mathew Balcombe, Michael Skene and outgoing Victorian Champion Travis Millar.
Attempting to utilise the high line during the feature race to drive around the outside of his competitors, the move didn’t quite pay off for Millar, whose assertive driving on the dry track also wreaked havoc with his tyres, one of which blew in the latter stages of the race.
Todd Hobson was another driver to suffer a tyre blowout with around 10 laps remaining, and similarly to Weel, he was unable to finish the race, taking his place on the infield, along with Geoff Cook in his Lightning McQueen inspired machine and 410 Sprintcar regular Tim Van Ginneken.
It was Bentvelzen, Weel and Wren who were the best in the heat races, each picking up two wins, while remaining wins went the way of Foster, Ben Doukas, Skene, Millar, Greg Bishop, Clint McLaren, Jeremy Beddison, Hobson, Daniel Storer, Broome, Van Ginneken, Moule, Luke Storer, Tyson Bartlett and Daryl Logue.
In the first of two C mains, Mick Rigby and Brittany Kuypers were able to secure themselves a transfer spot into B main one, while the second C main saw Beddison and last season’s third-place Victorian Title finisher Alex Thomson transfer into B main two. Following the two B mains, it was Cook and Ross, and Hobson and Broome who cemented their places in the all-important Victorian Title-deciding feature race.
With the Victorian Title now complete, the next major event for Australian Wingless Sprint Racing will be the Australian Championship, which is set to take place from February 21 to 23 at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway and will feature a record line-up of just under 120 cars.
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