A terrific race meeting with five classes all competing in events that thrilled the crowds with close racing, great passing and crashes entertained a full house of motorsport fans with Horsham race driver Jock Baker winning the long running prestigious Limited Sportsman Victorian title in the headline event. Co-Main event victories went to Justin Paull in the Compact Speedcars Keith Astrella Memorial, Travis Millar in the Gary Bowden Cup for Wingless Sprints, Daniel Stewart in the Standard Saloon Easter Classic and Shane Steenholdt in the VSC Sprintcar series round for Victorian Sprintcar Association competitors.
In the qualifying races before the Victorian title for Limited Sportsman Baker won the first heat in the juiciest of track conditions by a large margin. Youngster Bayley Wilson won the second heat ahead of Baker leading all the way. Veteran Bairnsdale racer Ma Siely chased and passed Baker to win the third qualifier with Bowen Donkers having missed his first two heat racers after he required some welding to be done to fix his broken steering box, taking a win in the fourth.
Twenty-five laps was the title race distance with Baker assuming the early race control from Bayley Wilson and Father Andrew Wilson. At lap five Siely was third with Andrew Wilson back in fourth and Donkers in fifth before Siely moved to second on lap six. On lap twelve Siely tried to challenge Baker and as the two touched Siely was deemed the cause of his own stoppage and re-joined at the rear of the field.
At lap fifteen with ten laps to go Baker was leading Donkers, Bayley Wilson, Katelyn Worthy and Dylan Anton and that changed again by the time we reached twenty laps, the only thing not changing was Baker out front and Donkers in second. At this point Anton was third, Siely fourth and Bayley Wilson in fifth. On the last lap Siely moved from fourth to third and as the chequered flagged greeted the defending and once again reigning Victorian champion Baker, he was followed to the finish by Donkers, Siely, Anton and Wilson.
In the Compact Speedcars Keith Astrella Memorial event the competitors all competed in three of the four qualifiers with a twenty-lap final. Louis Rodriguez took victory in heat one of the night and set a new ten lap track record for the class. The record lasted one race as Justin Paull the Australian champion set a new mark of 2 minutes 50.286 seconds in the second qualifier. In heat three perhaps there was some confusion however the heat was flagged done at the end of eight laps with Daniel James winning and setting a new eight lap record for the class of 2 minutes 19.482 seconds. Making it four different winners from the four qualifiers Caleb Mills took victory in heat four and along the way set a new one lap record of 15.688 eclipsing the old mark by .3 of a second.
The twenty-lap feature event got under way with Mills and Paull on the front row and Rodriguez out of the event due to a water pump internal to the engine malfunctioned which requires the team to pull apart the engine and insert a replacement. James started third Chris Serle-Thrussell in fourth, Tania Hallett in fifth and Mark Hutchinson in sixth.
The green set the field on their way and Paull led lap one from Mills and James. The top three remained the same at lap five with Hallett in fourth and Serle-Thrussell in fifth. Glen Wiles was moving fast and was in sixth by lap ten before heartbreak for Mills with his car breaking down on lap fourteen. Paull led James, Hallett, Serle-Thrussell and Wiles at lap fifteen and that is how the race panned out with Paull the winner of the Keith Astrella Memorial for the third season in succession.
The annual Gary Bowden Cup for Wingless Sprints in a two-night event combined points score between Rosedale and Bairnsdale Speedways with each race night being also a separate event in Bowden’s honour at each club. Bowden was a local Bairnsdale Farmer and business man with his beautiful wife Emma. Tragically after an enormous amount of volunteer support for Bairnsdale Speedway, Wingless Sprints, Limited Sportsman, and Rosedale Speedway he lost his life too soon.
In four qualifying races before a feature event Peter Logue from Morwell, Brett Pope from Maffra, Christopher Temby, and Adin Robertson both from Melbourne’s South East all won the qualifiers.
In the twenty-five-lap feature event Millar started at the front with Pope, Robertson, Temby, Peter Logue, and his son Wayne in the top six spots. Temby had a cracking race start moving to second on lap one with an early race stoppage coming when Travis Evans from Drouin cracked the wall hard. The front runners were going as hard as each other and ripping past back markers with Millar, Temby, Pope, Robertson, and Peter Logue the top five at the fifteen-lap mark. Nothing changed in the last ten and Millar ran out winner of the night and overall winner of the weekend. Temby finished second in the race, with Pope, Robertson and Peter Logue rounding out the top five.
The Easter Classic for Standard Saloons attracted a field with some stars of Gippsland amongst them. Daniel Stewart began the night winning the first qualifier and local Bairnsdale racer Josh Thomas won the second. Stewart backed up for a second win in round two with Jack Yeomans taking the next victory. Patrick Vuillermin won the fifth and Stewart made it three from three in the sixth qualifier.
The feature race was both fast and clean out front and rough and tumble a little further back. Stewart led Yeomans, Steven Dadswell, Jamie Curtis, and Thomas on lap one. At lap five the top five were the same. A huge crash to Curtis on lap ten destroyed his front half of the car and the race got another lap in before another crash set the Stewards mind to declare the race after eleven laps with Stewart winning from Yeomans, Dadswell, Thomas and Vuillermin.
The Sprintcars were competing in two heats each and across the three qualifiers and Wiseleigh youngster Nigel Laity won the first qualifier of the night leading all the way with Dave Dennison who had won the previous night at Rosedale Speedway winning the second heat. Dennison is another Bairnsdale man and rounding out the three heat races was Alistair Bastian making it a Bairnsdale trifecta in the qualifiers when he won the third.
Shane Steenholdt had recovered from a recent huge race crash in Warrnambool, and he had a terrific night qualifying on the front row and going on to lead from the start of the feature race. Early Steenholdt led Nigel laity with Dennison in third. At lap nine Steenholdt lead Laity, Greenwood who after a terrible weekend by his lofty standards had finally got the car back to where it usually is mechanically and had moved to third. Bastian was fourth with Dave Dennison fifth.
On lap twenty-two, Laity spun himself out of second and flew across the infield to re-join on track however having missed the timing loop and seemingly out of the placings. After the race Stewards were able to confirm despite missing the lip they visually watched Laity re-join and finish fourth. Steenholdt took the win from Greenwood, Bastian, Laity and Dillon Siely.
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