Despite being behind the eight ball from the outset of last weekend’s National Junior Sedan Title at Darwin’s Northline Speedway in the Northern Territory, with electrical issues hampering his campaign, Ardie Jonic once again proved his resilience, driving to an extremely hard-fought maiden National Title victory.
Having collected no less than seven state title victories throughout his career, Jonic has never previously been able to win a National Title, with his best previous finish being runner-up in the 2015-16 season at Carrick Speedway in Tasmania, followed by a third-place result in last season’s event at Mount Gambier’s Borderline Speedway in South Australia. This meant that he had unfinished business heading into this season’s National Title, and while lady luck certainly gave him no help towards achieving it, the composed 16-year-old racer showed that he didn’t need any luck to pull off a spectacular victory.
With computer problems surfacing as early as his opening heat race, resulting in his Qld # 52 Daihatsu Charade going into limp mode while he was leading, Jonic had no reprieve from the added stress that would continue to plague him throughout the event, being forced to continue using his malfunctioning car, rather than switching cars, so as not to lose the points he’d already accumulated. It was with unwavering determination that he impressively managed to come away with a third, first and second-place finish in his heat races on the opening night of competition, placing him fifth in points heading into night two.
Still unable to get a handle on his car issues on Saturday night and unable to get new parts in time, Jonic’s sixth-place finish in his fourth and final heat race saw him line up further back in the feature-race field than he would have liked, starting out of 10th.
Knowing that he would have a hard slog ahead of him during the 25-lap distance, Jonic did extremely well to avoid the considerable carnage that was prevalent throughout the race and showed maturity beyond his years when he drifted to the top of the track and took the initiative to turn the car off and on each time it went into limp mode, changing gears and allowing his race to continue.
Having bided his time during the opening half of the race while coming to grips with this unusual procedure that he would need to continue undertaking, a trio of mid-race stoppages that occurred in quick succession saw Jonic make his move. Displaying his skill, Jonic managed to wrestle his ailing car from eighth to first within four laps; a position he was then able to retain, despite constant challenges from second-placed Nathan Thorne, through to the fall of the chequered flag just under 10 laps later to claim what was a well-deserved, but far from easy victory.
“The entire weekend was a challenging one for us, so to come away with my first National Title win after experiencing so many issues is quite an amazing feeling,” commented the recent recipient of this year’s Australian Speedway Junior Competitor of the Year award, who is honoured to have joined a long list of previous National Title winners, which includes Jayden Peacock, who has been somewhat of a mentor to him.
“We had a lot of people helping us out at the track and also on social media to try and sort out our electrical issues and adjust our setup, so I have to say thanks to everyone, in particular Damon from A1 Performance, who pitched in. We couldn’t have done it without them.
“I also have to give a huge thanks to my nan and pop (Surelle and Lubo) for continuing to support my racing and for making this National Title a possibility – this win is as much theirs as it is mine.”
The Ipswich, Queensland-based racer will now attempt to defend his Northern Territory Title at Katherine Speedway, which is located 300km south of Darwin, this Saturday night, before returning to his home state to contest the third round of the CAMS Payce Australian Formula 4 Championship at Queensland Raceway (Qld) on July 20-22.
Jonic would like to give special thanks to his nan and pop (Surelle and Lubo) for their ongoing support, along with Andy and the Young family, Lance and the Carew family, Damon from A1 Performance, Dav Larson, Peter, Tanya, Teileah and Dalton Thielemann, his Queensland Scream Team teammates Jeff, Donna and Ellie Peacock, Casey Collins for the setup advice, Jason Crowe, Ash Media, Dale Brennan, Mark Pagel, his fellow competitors for great racing, the officials, volunteers and spectators, and all of his family and friends who were unable to make the trip to Darwin.
To find out more about Jonic and to keep up to date with his recovery, LIKE him on Facebook by searching Ardie Jonic Racing Team #50.