26/04/16…Pam Franz…courtesy of Jason Crowe SSA Media
Brett Baxter won the Trevan Ford, Speedway Sedans Australia, Australian Modifed Sedan Title, at the Lismore Speedway in New South Wales, leading for just over one lap, to claim his maiden Australian Title.
In an exciting A Main, the race had just three stoppages, and four different leaders. The event was also rain affected with heavy rain throughout the afternoon making track preparation difficult, and a further shower on start time, delaying the start even further.
Despite very trying conditions and a heavy race track near the fence, which led to a multitude of stoppages throughout the night, the final delivered a great race, fitting to finish the season at the Showgrounds venue, which also had its biggest attendance of the season.
The forty lap Championship decider started with Gavin Fletcher and Mark Carlin on the front row, while Greg Stevenson and Brody Boss would start on the second row.
Carlin would get the best of the start and led Fletcher, Stevenson and Shane Macdonald through the first four laps, as Chrystie dropped to sixth place.
On lap five Stevenson would drop to fifth place as the charge for positions in the lead group intensified with Shane Macdonald moving to third, and 2011 National Champion Max Clarke moving to fourth.
The track was at its best for the final, with several drivers within the field recording laps under sixteen seconds, the fastest the drivers had gone all weekend. Positions remained constant until lap fifteen, with a high speed freight train, seeing Carlin constantly under pressure from Fletcher, who in-turn was battling to hold off Shane Macdonald and Max Clarke.
The one and only rollover of the weekend occurred on lap sixteen when Brenton Mills flipped in the main straight after contact with Brad Yarrow. This would eliminate both drivers, while Aidan Raymont, another former National Title holder was forced to withdraw as well.
Upon the resumption, Carlin continued to lead narrowly from Fletcher, with Max Clarke moving to third, immediately applying pressure to the leaders as Macdonald slowly dropped off the pace. Macdonald would soon be joined by Brody Chrystie and Justin Drew, in what turned out to be a great battle for the minor placings.
With fifteen laps remaining, the race changed complexion again, as Fletcher got under Carlin and Clarke would get under Fletcher in a great three way battle for the lead, befitting a National Final. Clarke moved to second and with thirteen laps remaining, Clarke hit the lead. A lap later, Justin Drew hit the fence in turn one, ending the 2006 Australian Champions Title chances. Brody Chrystie who had a flat tyre, was also forced to sit out the remaining laps after being in fourth place.
Clarke would lead the resumption, with the home crowd sensing a thrilling victory, but Carlin and Fletcher had other ideas. The trio continued to fight for supremacy, and were joined by Brett Baxter with ten laps remaining.
Carlin moved back to second place momentarily but went into turn on, fast and deep, allowing Baxter to pounce, moving under both Carlin and Baxter as Gavin Lorensen also joined the group, moving under Carlin who dropped to fifth, in a dramatic lap of Lismore.
Clarke, would soon be joined by Baxter, with only two car lengths separating the pair with five laps remaining, this reduced to a car length a lap later, as Baxter seemingly came from no-where to challenge for the title.
With three remaining Baxter gave Clarke a tap on the back bumper, and Clarke then realised he had a race on his hands, as he searched for back to back Australian Titles at the Lismore venue. Baxter had other ideas, sweeping up on the outside of Clarke entering the main straight with a lap remaining.
Baxter would hold the lead through the final lap to take a thrilling win, with Clarke second ahead of Fletcher, Lorensen and Josh Crang who got the better of Mark Carlin in the concluding stages.
“The car just got stronger and stronger in the final laps”, said twenty six year old Baxter. “When Carlin and Fletcher ran wide, it obviously played into my hands”, he added.
Baxter, who resides in Gympie, which has the motto, “Home of Champions”, is another in a long list of drivers to win a National Title from the region.
Earlier the six heats, provided some good racing in the difficult conditions, but also a plethora of stoppages. As a result, the final round of qualifying heats and the C Main had to be abandoned to get the event completed within the constraints of the Showground, with the weather forecast predicting rain until next Friday.
A Main – 40 Laps: 1. Q42 Gavin Fletcher, 2. A1 Mark Carlin, 3. V35 Brody Chrystie, 4. ACT33 Greg Stevenson, 5. Q27 Shane Macdonald, 6. N15 Max Clarke, 7. Q19 Gavin Lorensen, 8. V7 Justin Drew, 9. V61 Matt Nelson, 10. Q55 Brett Baxter, 11. Q32 Nathan Macdonald, 12. Q28 Aidan Raymont, 13. Q2 Josh Crang, 14. Q97 Brad Yarrow, 15. Q9 Michael Learoyd, 16. N81 Quintin Clarke, 17. V79 Martin Hawson, 18. V14 Brenton Mills, 19. Q48 Brett Barron, 20. Q8 Rodney Pammenter
- Q55 Brett Baxter, 2. N15 Max Clarke, 3. Q42 Gavin Fletcher, 4. Q19 Gavin Lorensen, 5. Q2 Josh Crang, 6. A1 Mark Carlin, 7. V61 Matt Nelson, 8. V79 Martin Hawson, 9. Q8 Rodney Pammenter, 10. N81 Quintin Clarke, 11. Q48 Brett Barron, 12. ACT33 Greg Stevenson, 13. Q9 Michael Learoyd (32 laps), 14. V35 Brody Chrystie (29), 15. V7 Justin Drew (29), 16. Q27 Shane Macdonald (27), 17. Q32 Nathan Macdonald (17), 18. Q28 Aidan Raymont (13), 19. Q97 Brad Yarrow (13), 20. V14 Brenton Mills (13). Time: No Time, Winning Margin: 0.472, Fastest Lap: 15.779 N15 Max Clarke