Jackson’s GT Challenge jubilation
The cream certainly rose to the top in last Saturday night’s fourth annual George Tatnell Challenge, supported by CEJN Pty Ltd and Diamond Air Conditioning, at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway, but it was Matt Jackson who rose above the rest to claim a well-deserved victory.
As a third-generation racer himself, whose family has a significant legacy in the Speedcars class, it was a fitting for Jackson to take top honours in the event which honours the memory of three-time Australian Speedcar Champion George Tatnell.
While Jackson led the majority of the 25 scheduled laps in the feature race after starting from pole position, he certainly didn’t go unchallenged, with former Australian Champion Nathan Smee mounting the pressure on him throughout the distance aboard the NSW # 14 Graham Racing Developments car.
It was on lap 20 that Smee launched an attack on Jackson to briefly take over the lead; however, refusing to give up his position, Jackson quickly answered back, retaking first place and managing to hold onto it through to the fall of the chequered flag, ultimately forcing Smee to settle for a narrow second place.
Off the back of two recent feature-race wins, Matt Smith, who topped the time sheets earlier in the night during qualifying, continued his front-running form last Saturday night, experiencing an action-packed race which saw him battling for second place in the early stages of the race, before eventually fending off reigning George Tatnell Challenge Champion Darren Jenkins to round out the podium in third.
It was the battle of the brothers in the closing stages of the race, with Troy Jenkins managing to get the edge over his younger brother Darren on the final lap to come home in fourth place, with Darren completing the top-five finishers.
Youngster Braydan Willmington enjoyed a competitive run, powering forward from his 13th-place starting position to cross the finish line in an impressive sixth place, ahead of Speedcar rookie and current and two-time Australian Legend Car Champion Glen Arnold and multiple Valvoline Raceway feature-race winner Brett Morris, who was a late nomination for the event.
Completing the top-10 finishers were Jason Bell and former Wingless Sprint racer Harley Smee, while Michael Jordan, veteran Gary Rooke, Dean Meadows, Stephen Birkett, DJ Raw, Jeffrey Burns, Brett Davies, Jordan Mackay and Ben Morgan were the final finishers.
Five drivers experienced a disappointing end to their George Tatnell Challenge campaigns, each retiring to the infield within the first seven laps. These drivers were Dan Biner, Jamie Hall, Kieran Macklyn, veteran Alan Day and Rod Francis.
Earlier in the night, it was Smith, Darren Jenkins and Rooke who were the best in the heat races, collecting a win apiece, while Jackson came home first in the dash, followed by Nathan Smee, Morris and Rooke. Both Smith and Darren Jenkins were lucky to bounce back to achieve strong results in the feature race after recording DNFs in the dash.
The Speedcar Association of NSW would like to thank the sponsors of the George Tatnell Challenge: CEJN Pty Ltd, and Diamond Air Conditioning. Special thanks must go Ken Jenkins, who has been one of the driving forces behind the event, having organised sponsors and the amazing trophies, and also the support from Valvoline Raceway is much appreciated.
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