30/03/16…Pam Franz…courtesy of Jason Crowe SSA Media
Callum Harper won a stunning 2016 Speedway Sedans Australia, Repco/Penrite Australian Super Sedan Title at the Rockhampton Speedway tonight, with a comprehensive victory in the 40 Lap A Main, which took less than twenty minutes to complete, with just two stoppages on lap seven and nineteen.
Harper replicated what his father was able to achieve in 2012 at Archerfield, and became the first ever third generation family to finish on the National Podium after his Grand Father finished on the Australian Title podium in 1974 at Toowoomba.
Harper defeated Dave Gartner from South Australia, who has now twice finished as the runner-up in the Australian Title, while Darren Kane who finished third, has now been on the podium eight times, twice as the winner, twice as runner-up and now for the fourth time as the third place getter, more than any other driver.
After sixteen qualifying heats, Dave Gartner and Victorian Brad Wicks would qualify as equal highest qualifiers, with Gartner taking pole with a slightly superior lap time. Callum Harper who was the overnight pointscore leader would start from position three, with Sean Black on his outside.
Gartner, Harper and Wicks cleared away from the remainder of the field in a great three way battle, before the first of just two stoppages, when Craig Torr and Robbie Hawkings spun in turn four on lap seven.
On the restart the trio were joined by Darren Kane in what then turned into a four way battle for the lead, which lastest for the next twelve laps.
The second and final stoppage on lap nineteen would see Robbie Hawkings bring on the yellows in turn two. Just prior to the caution Harper passed Gartner in the back straight with a great out-side passing move, but it would amount to naught, with Gartner resuming the lead on the resultant restart.
Gartner would hold the lead narrowly after the stoppage with enormous pressure applied by Harper, Wicks and Kane, with Brad Wicks trying valiantly to pass Kane and Harper, who inturn was trying to pass Gartner.
Haprer eventually took the lead again a lap later and after some resistance from Gartner, Wicks and Kane, Harper would simply drive away from the opposition.
The battle for the minor placings intensified with Peter Nicola and Wayne Brims joining, Gartner, Kane and Wicks for the battle for the podium spots. It was compelling watching as Harper continued to drive away from the remainder of the field. In a desperate finish, Brad Wicks would be squeezed out of the race on the final corner spinnng infield as Gartner, Kane, Wayne Brims, Peter Nicola and Mick Nicola all crossed the line together to complete the top six.
Earlier in a dramatic B Main, Gavin Northfield would lead an incident packed race all the way, downing Matt Williams, Justin Smithwick and Leigh Williams.
For Harper though it was a proud achievement, winning the Australian Title. “It has been a crazy year, we have had a great season, I can’t believe it. We showed our hand on the outside of Davey (Gartner) mid race, and when the yellows come on, I knew I would have to go back to second, I hoped a lap had been done, but knew we hadn’t. I thought then I would have a battle as we had showed our hand, but I had another crack and it paid off”, Harper said.
Harper’s father, Jarrod, was equally as proud, himself a National Champion. “What a drive, what a drive”, he said post race.
Callum Harper is the youngest driver in the modern era to win the event, and after winning three Tasmanian Titles in four years, he is going to be very hard to beat in the years ahead.
A Main – 40 Laps: 1. S8 Dave Gartner, 2. V17 Brad Wicks, 3. T22 Callum Harper, 4. Q26 Sean Black, 5. Q36 Darren Kane, 6. V2 Peter Nicola, 7. Q10 Steve Jordan, 8. V3 Michael Nicola, 9. Q33 Wayne Randall, 10. N17 Lachlan Onley, 11. Q97 Jason Campbell, 12. N111 Wayne Brims, 13. A1 Matt Pascoe, 14. Q7 Grant Shaw, 15. Q23 Craig Torr, 16. MK5 Robbie Hawkings, 17. Q15 Gavin Northfield, 18. Q3 Matt Williams, 19. Q63 Justin Smithwick, 20. Q4 Leigh Williams.
1. T22 Callum Harper, 2. S8 Dave Gartner, 3. Q36 Darren Kane, 4. N111 Wayne Brims, 5. V2 Peter Nicola, 6. V3 Mick Nicola, 7. Q10 Steve Jordan, 8. N17 Lachlan Onley, 9. A1 Matt Pascoe, 10. Q26 Sean Black, 11. Q3 Matt Williams, 12. Q97 Jason Campbell, 13. Q33 Wayne Randall, 14. V17 Brad Wicks, 15. Q7 Grant Shaw (39 laps), 16. Q63 Justin Smithwick (39), 17. Q4 Leigh Williams (31), 18. MK5 Robbie Hawkings (18), 19. Q23 Craig Torr (14), 20. Q15 Gavin Northfield (3). Time: No Time, Winning Margin: 4.991, Fastest Lap: 15.316 V17 Brad Wicks