Winning the Super Sedan Gold Rush had always been a feat that seemed just out of reach for Peter Nicola, who had never before been able to finish a running of the event; but that all changed last Saturday night when he finally got the monkey off his back.
To say that Nicola’s career so far has been successful would be quite the understatement, with the Traralgon, Victoria-based racer having collected three Victorian Titles (2014, 2015 and 2017), one Queensland Title (2016) and four K-Rock Cups, not to mention numerous other feature-race wins and minor podium results.
However, it was the prestigious Gold Rush event at Rushworth Speedway that had so far managed to escape Nicola, making it somewhat of a target for him, with last season’s running of the event ending in disappointing fashion when Nicola managed to top the point standings after the opening night of competition, before mechanical issues dashed his hopes.
Arriving at Rushworth Speedway for this season’s running of the event last Saturday night, the night was all about consistency for Nicola, whose pair of runner-up finishes in his heat races saw line up on the outside of the front row for the 35-lap feature race alongside pole-sitter Neil Witnish.
Following a full restart, which was the result of Nicola being tagged by another competitor off the starting line, causing him to spin, the 51-year-old racer couldn’t quite get the jump on Witnish, settling into second place where he was forced to play the patience game.
Having made a calculated decision when it came to his tyre choice, opting for a harder compound, Nicola’s tyres began to come on in the second half of the race when it counted most. It wasn’t until there were just two laps remaining that Nicola made his move, pipping Witnish for the lead and pulling away to claim his first ever Gold Rush victory, pocketing $2,500 for his troubles in the process.
With 2018-19 being Nicola’s final season in Super Sedans before he makes the move into Late Models, this win came at a very opportune time, being Nicola’s final chance to add the Gold Rush to his list of accolades.
“I can’t express how much of a relief it was just to finish a Gold Rush event, let alone win it,” admitted the Victoria # 2 American Car Sales backed Dominator pilot, whose win also makes up for a disappointing NSW Title result the weekend prior, when Nicola led the feature race for 15 laps until contact with his brother Mick put him out of the race.
“It definitely felt like a last chance race ahead of my transition into Late Models, but we just decided to focus on our setup and strategy and that’s ultimately what won it for us.”
Next in action on the Saturday night of March 30 for the rerun of the Victorian Title, which will now be held at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway, Nicola will no doubt be hoping to reclaim the crown and add a fourth title victory to his resume. Later in the season, Nicola will also participate in the National Title at Moama’s Heartland Raceway from April 18 to 21.
Nicola would like to thank the following 2018-19 season sponsors for their support: American Car Sales, Maxima Racing Oil, Cheap Tyres – Morwell, Little Transport, and Bullet Race Engines.
Special thanks go to Nicola’s pit crew, which includes Peter, Jason, Mandy and Terry, along with his family and friends.
To find out more about Nicola and his team, LIKE them on Facebook by searching NRT – Nicola Racing Team.