The home state drivers were forced to relinquish the state title crown during last Saturday night’s NSW V8 Dirt Modified Title at Lismore Speedway, which also signalled the opening round of the 5 Star Dirt Series, with Queenslander David Clark emerging victorious.
At what has been a happy hunting ground for him in the past, being the site of his 2014 Australian Title victory, Clark was in fine form throughout the NSW Title event, lining up on the outside of the front row for the non-stop 30-lap feature race alongside pole-sitter Andrew Pezzutti.
Making the most of his start, Clark was quick to pip Pezzutti at the drop of the green flag, but as the feature race wore on, he was not without immense pressure from the second-placed driver. While Pezzutti managed to pass Clark with around six laps remaining, he was unable to make the move stick, settling back into second place where he greeted the chequered flag in what was a close finish.
Enjoying a great battle for position with Mitchell Randall throughout the second half of the feature race, Jai Stephenson came out on top to clinch the final podium place after a last-lap surge to pass Randall, with the latter being forced to settle for fourth place, ahead of Western Australian visitor Travis Kennedy, who did well to complete the top five.
After a fierce duel with Harley Wright in the early stages of the race for positions nine and 10, Chris Corbett did well to elevate himself to sixth after a turbulent run, while Sam Bruggy, Scott Cannon, Dale Corbett (Chris’s younger brother) and Zac Macdonald rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Unable to hold his position inside the top 10, Wright crossed the finish line in 11th, followed by Scott Quirk, Phil McNamara, Joshua Rose, Phil Roberts (Qld), Brent Hall, Ash Hall, Mark Connolly and Paul Booker.
The feature race’s only casualty was three-time Australian Champion Mark Robinson, who qualified on the outside of the third row for the feature race and quickly made his way up to third, where he sat until breaking a left-rear shock during the middle stages of the race which prematurely ended his night.
Earlier in the night, Andrew Firth was the only driver to claim a pair of heat-race wins and as a result he would have started the feature race from pole position. However, due to a weight issue, Firth and his team made the decision to withdraw from the feature race. Other heat-race wins went the way of Robinson, Chris Corbett, Clark, Randall, Kennedy, Hall and Bruggy.
Roberts was the first to secure a transfer spot into the feature race after winning the B main, along with Rose, Connolly, Hall and Booker.
Returning to the track the following night for the Golden Jubilee, it was Cannon who took the win in the 50-lap feature race from Kennedy and Stephenson in second and third place respectively.
The second round of the 5 Star Dirt Series is set to take place with the Queensland Title on February 16 at Maryborough Speedway (Qld) and drivers will no doubt be looking to claw back some points from Clark, who has had the best possible start to his series campaign.
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Current 5 Star Dirt Series Point Standings after Round 1:
1. David Clark – 292 points
2. Travis Kennedy – 200
3. Andrew Pezzutti – 135
4. Jai Stephenson – 114
5. Mitchell Randall – 106
6. Sam Bruggy – 82
7. Chris Corbett – 79
8. Phillip Roberts – 76
9. Mark Robinson – 70
10. Harley Wright – 67