Lea and Claridge win national and state titles at Wangaratta City Raceway

A huge night of racing at Wangaratta City Raceway affected on and off by weather concluded with a national champion determined in the Grand Prix Midgets class and a state champion in the Junior Open Sedan class with Anthony Lea from New South Wales the winner of the Midgets and Bendigo youngster Connor Claridge winning the Junior sedan title.

In other results on race night, Wangaratta man Jesse Nicholas won the ‘Legends Cup’ for Compact Speedcars, Katie Meyer from Ballarat won the ‘Firecracker 1000’ for the Ladies Open Sedans, Jack Chiminello won Sports Sedans, Travis Ramsdale won Unlimited Sedans, Billy O’Donoghue from Corowa won the Goulburn Ovens Sedans, and Arthur Hutchinson was declared the winner of the Junior 1200cc Sedans.

New South Wales and Victorian competitors went wheel to wheel in the Australian Grand Prix Midget national title with wins across the four heats all being secured by the New South Wales contingent. Riley Bowyer, Anthony Lea back-to-back and Gary Bowyer all secured victories, whilst the second of Lea’s had to wait until the very last lap where he passed Chris Fowler and won by .275 of a second. In the twenty-lap title race Lea came out on top after Riley Bowyer had the early initial race lead. Lea defeated Riley Bowyer, Fowler, Gary Bowyer, and Travis Florrimell with the top three separated by less than a second. Fowler and Gary Bowyer switched third and fourth twice before Fowler secured his spot.

Junior racers competed to be the state champion in the Junior Open Sedan class with twenty-eight competitors starting the afternoon with dreams of making it to the final first and then to go on and complete the title race to the best of their ability. Connor Claridge, Riley Balins and Jake Tinworth won six of the nine qualifying heats between them with the nine races won by Claridge, then Harry Cecil, Balins, Jack Randall, Balins again, Tinworth, Balins a third time and then Claridge to set the field for the title race.

Balins led the title race early before a tyre went down at the rear of his car and Claridge took the lead. In the pack Lachlan Bull set a fast lap of the night at 18.232, which would have had in running top three with the Sports Sedans in their fastest race of the night. Braidan Webster competed in two classes on race night, and he kept the pressure on Claridge for the win throughout the feature event. Claridge won from Webster, Tinworth, Bull and Randall to become the new Victorian champion.

Competing in the ‘Legends Cup’ event governed and managed by the Victorian Compact Speedcar Club, recent new addition to the class Jesse Nicholas a local man of the northeast and Wangaratta club member took victory in heat one of three leading from the fifth lap. Nicholas set the fastest one lap time of the night at 15.725 in the fastest race of the night for the class. Matt Papa then won the next two heat races almost leading every lap of both races in doing so. Nicholas then beat Trevor Perry, Papa, Mark Cecil, and Mitch Allison reaching the finish line .397 of a second in front of Perry.

The Goulburn Ovens Sedan Association were competing for association points and each heat race produced a different winner. Albury man Daryl Joosten pipped Ben Schmetzer on the last lap of the first heat race to win by .236 of a second before Chris and then brother Justin Brockley won the next two. In the final Corowa man Billy O’Donoghue came out on top in a feature race where the distance was reduced due to closing weather predictions. Second was Schmetzer, Justin Brockley in third with Marty Bassett and Joosten rounding out the top five.

Racing for season long state points in the Junior 1200cc Sedan class was also exciting with Arthur Hutchinson getting off to a strong start with two heat race wins before the Victorian champion Bryce Leek won the third and final heat race. In the final Leek was challenge by Hutchinson and lead every lap passing the chequered flag at the front of the field.

After the flag, an incident affecting the racetrack and in the interest of time considering weather closing in again on the facility, caused the Steward to withhold the chequered flag celebrations for Leek. Leek was delighted to have finished ahead in what is a track close to his Barnawartha home and could not contain his excitement and it has been reported by officials they communicated for him to slow down and when this call was not enacted upon, the victory was awarded to the second placed Hutchinson. Leek was declared second with Braidan Webster, Riley Taylor and Xander Baxter rounding out the top five. Leek set the fastest one lap time of the event during the final of 19.664

Competing in the annual feature for Ladies Open Sedans titled the ‘Firecracker 1000’ by the host club, were the likes of the local class champion Felicity Roycroft, and home club racers Jaimi Barber, Tay Barnard and Bianca Ballantyne. Katie Meyer from Ballarat was determined to upset them and proved to be the best on the night. Roycroft won the first heat race and in heat two set the fastest lap for the Ladies at 18.670. However, Meyer won heat two and three and then over ten laps distance took victory after passing Roycroft on lap seven. Finishing in third was Barber, then Kimberley Smith and Barnard rounding out the top five.

Sports Sedan entrants competed in three heat races with their feature event curtailed after a final splash of rain deemed the track unsafe with only a couple of events to run. Jackson Lunt won heat one with Caleb Lincoln setting a class fast time of the night at 18.067 in winning the second heat. Jack Chiminello won the third and final heat and on points was rewarded with the nights win on points from Lunt, Caleb Lincoln, Anthony Nicolaisen and Tom McDonald.

Rounding out all the class results, Unlimited Sedan competitors were competing in their state series and like the Sports Sedans, their result was determined on points across the heat racing. Tim Williams won the first heat before Travis Ramsdale won heat two and three setting a fast one lap time of 17.076 in heat two. On points Ramsdale was the evenings winner from Williams, Danny Smith, Daryl Nicholson, and Brendan Eames.

The season at Wangaratta is now concluded until spring for the new season.

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Ends Release.

Media release by DMT Sports Media – Dean Thompson

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