Australian champion wins first ever Skillys Tyre and Auto Highway Challenge

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Skillys Tyre and Auto Highway Challenge

The Victorian Mini and Lightning Sprints Club held their first big feature of the season when together with the Wangaratta Speedway Club who hosted this weekend’s race meeting they were able to showcase Mini and Lightning Sprints in the ‘Skillys Tyre and Auto’ Highway Challenge. Current Australian champion AJ McTaggart from Sydney took victory in front of Harley Graham from Lismore and Jack Selmes, Danny Stone, and Heathcote racer Ally Moore.

Also competing were Maureen Sell, Matt Mason, Vic McTaggart, Jason Alie, Jason Lynn, and Luke Graham.

Three heat races sorted out the qualifying order for the big feature event which boasted over $3000 in place money and other monies owed to the competitors.

Maureen Sell and Victorian Champion Danny Stone a New Zealander by birth who originally lived in Victoria before moving to New South Wales after landing in Australia started on the front row, the three-time and current national champion AJ McTaggart on the second with Jason Lynn then Luke Graham and his cousin Harley Graham, then Jason Alie and Jack Selmes, then Matt Mason and Vic McTaggart rounded out the first heat line-up with Ally Moore out due to a fuel leak.

AJ McTaggart took the lead on lap one with his father Vic pulling infield with a fuel pump issue putting him out of race one. McTaggart set a fast lap time of 14.726s on a track that was at its best condition before the big wheels of the 410ci Sprintcars ripped around in anger. Stone finished in second spot then Harley Graham, Selmes, Luke Graham, Sell, Alie and Mason. Another to be having issues was Jason Lynn as he and his team worked to sort out electrical issues.

The eight-lap race time was 1:59.995 (minutes, seconds, thousands of) To put McTaggart’s one-lap time into perspective, the Sprintcars time trial laps on the same track four races and Sprintcar hot laps later, had a fast time of 14.916

Into the second heat race a huge crash on the attempt to start the race put out some of the competitors as did other issues. Moore and Selmes began at the front then Alie, Vic McTaggart, Stone, Harley Graham, Maureen Sell, Luke Graham, Lynn, Mason, and AJ McTaggart.

A lap one crash which saw Jason Alie flying into the air and perched up on the top of the concrete wall with a crushed and torn top wing, a flattened front wing, a front end torn out and tyres wrecked amongst other things including bars and joints ended the Koo Wee Rup racers night. Mason’s car also had some damage at the front end and Sell and Stone also had their own issues, electrical for Stone also.

Selmes led every lap from the re-start and went on to defeat Harley Graham, AJ McTaggart, Moore, Luke Graham, and Lynn whilst Vic McTaggart’s issues with the fuel pump and other continued.

After the initial crash, the race again ran start to finish this time finishing in a 2:05.237 race time

Heat three and the final opportunity to score points was set up to have Luke Graham ahead of AJ McTaggart, Selmes, Harley Graham, Lynn, Moore, Stone and Sell. Vic McTaggart’s fuel pump issues turned out to be more than that and the car didn’t see the track the rest of the night. Maureen Sell moved some parts around from her own car into her second car that Mason was entered into, and she started rear of field as a result.

AJ McTaggart took off into the lead with Harley Graham chasing, Luke Graham was the first to exit with damage to the rear of his car. Selmes controlled third spot with Lynn, Moore and Stone having a cracking battle and Sell also out of the race. Eventually Stone passed Moore then Lynn into fourth. McTaggart took his second win from who passed Harley Graham late in the race then came Selmes, Stone, Lynn, and Moore.

Another start-to-finish eight-lap race was impressive with a time of 2:04.969. McTaggart was still quick with a 14.924s lap time as his best.

The club was very proud to have given Wangaratta fans three green to chequered heat races with only Alie’s big crash on the original first lap of heat two causing a delay to the action.

With time getting late, and with some of the original entrants damaged, the VMLS compromised with management of the Wangaratta club and agreed to a fifteen-lap feature event to try and give some time back to the track and also still allow the class to showcase themselves for the money they were investing in the event.

AJ McTaggart started from pole position with Selmes, Harley Graham, Stone, Moore, Luke Graham, Lynn and Sell. McTaggart led from the drop of the green flag. Harley Graham in second and Selmes in third. In fact, the starting order remained the same for the first eleven laps. McTaggart set a lap time of 14.840 during the run and went on to win by over eight seconds from Harley Graham, Selmes, Stone, Moore, Luke Graham, Lynn and Sell.

The feature event also went from green to chequered flag making it four races from four, with a race time of 3:53.987. This completed an amazing night of racing with four races running non-stop once underway.

After the race official club media representative for the night Dean Thompson of DMT Sports Media caught up with the winner AJ McTaggart who shared the following. “The track was terrific. It held up very well with the Sprintcars also on the show and all that Sedan racing. I really want to thank the hard-working people of the Victorian club; I want to thank Skillys Tyre and Auto as it is always wonderful to get a new class sponsor and we hope we all did you proud. Thank you to you Dean with all the social media tonight and the way you present us on the microphone, it really shows people that we are a legitimately entertaining class. Thank you to my father and our team for all your efforts tonight and always and well done to the other competitors and thank you all for your camaraderie.”

The Victorian Mini and Lightning Sprints are very proud of the evening and look forward to continued competition through the season which includes a three-round Gold Cup series, a state title, and other events around the state.

Thank you to these businesses who in one way or another are supporting us;
Skilly’s Tyre and Auto
Ultimate Awards
DMT Sports Media
Moore Pics
Fourth Designs

Media written by Speedcafe contributor DMT Sports Media – Dean Thompson