By Dean Thompson
South Australian Super Sedan star Dave Gartner and Victorian Modified Sedan and Street Stock gun Matt Nelson took out the big wins at Redline Raceway on Saturday with Gartner picking up his first Victorian Super Sedan title victory after finishing second a whopping seven times previously, whilst Nelson, who is now heading to Adelaide for the Australian Street Stock title, won the first ever Ern Overall Memorial for Modified Sedans.
The Super Sedan field was small however nominations pointed towards the likes of Mick Nicola, Mick Nicola Jnr, Ash Bergmeier, Brad Wicks and Gartner figuring in the battle for the title win.
Qualifying race wins were won by six different drivers with none of the victory margins greater than two seconds, in fact five races were decided by less than a second. Wicks won the first heat by 1.651 seconds with Mick Nicola Junior recording the fastest one lap time of the night in this race of 14.731 Neil Witnish then won the second heat by .653, Mick Nicola Snr won the third by .015 in a superb finish, Bergmeier won the next by .850, then Nicola Junior picked up a win by just .422 and finally Gartner won the last qualifier by .946 of a second.
Bergmeiers win was also the fastest recorded ten lap race time of 2 minutes 30.419.
Gartner, after three heats to each competitor, was the top qualifier for the thirty five lap title race with Nicola Junior, Wicks, Bergmeier, Nicola, Trent Wilson, Witnish and Lionel West the top eight in the line up.
With the drop of the green flag Gartner led the field away with Wicks quickly moving into second early.
Ten laps sailed past with fifteen cars ripping around Redline before local racer Sean Lister became the first driver out of the race pulling infield.
All fourteen competitors left managed to compete 31 laps as a minimum of the 35. At the fifteen lap Gartner despite numerous attempts from Wicks to sail underneath him in turn two was still the leader from Wicks, Nicola Jnr, Nicola Snr, Bergmeier, Witnish and Wilson.
Wicks manage to make a move stick underneath Gartner from out of turn two and half way up the back straight with a nose in front of Gartner before the two cars collided resulting in Gartner being spat out and turned around onto the infield.
The stewards were called into action and after deliberating for a few moments decided they didn’t have enough evidence from their position to decide who caused the stoppage and Gartner was re-instated as leader.
Wicks tried a higher line on the track and stepped out of the queue and over a number of laps just past the twenty lap mark he and Nicola Snr traded places across the start finish line as they went side by side. Witnish, Bergmeier and Wilson were having a great battle exchanging their positions fifth, sixth and seventh all trying to get onto the top five podium.
Gartner led Nicola Junior past the thirty lap mark before Junior pulled infield and out of the race and by this stage Nicola Snr had the better of Wicks and moved into second.
As the race wound down, Nicola Snr put pressure on Gartner however the South Australian champion held his nerve and picked up a Victorian title victory to go with his current SA1 plate winning by just .666 of a second from Nicola Snr, Wicks, Wilson, Witnish, Bergmeier, Ben Faulkhead, Anthony Nicola and Kym Jury all on the lead lap with Gavin Cooper picking up the final position.
Gartner was understandably emotional after the win. “It’s been a long time trying to win this thing and it is now finally done. I can’t thank all my supporters and family enough, I am honoured to be a Victorian title winner with such great competitors in the field. Thank you to the Victorian officials and the Redline venue and officials for their efforts to run this event, we love coming to Victoria to compete and the track was fantastic tonight.” The first ever Ern Overall Memorial for Modified Sedans to celebrate the life of a local Ballarat businessman who had a lifelong commitment to the Redline Raceway venue as a financial supporter was a highly sort after victory for all the drivers on hand and nine heat races determined who would start where in the thirty lap final event.
Robbie Faux from Mildura won all three of his qualifying heats driving for Perry McCowett. Faux won all his races in close victories. Wins went to Wayne Ramsdale, Kye Walters, Faux, Nelson, Faux, Russell Bent, Daniel Simpson, Brock Atkins and Faux again.
A pole shuffle victory to Faux confirmed his position from the front of the field and the green flag greeted Faux, Blackwell, Nelson, Rusty Felsovary, Atkins, Simpson, Walters and Nick Cockerill along with the rest of the field.
Faux led Blackwell and Nelson on lap one. A furious group trying to manoeuvre into second behind the leader seen Blackwell drift back a few spots, Atkins move into second, Nelson third, Walters and Cockerill in fourth and fifth.