During last Saturday night’s Victorian V8 Dirt Modified Title at Moama’s Heartland Raceway, which was run in conjunction with the third 5 Star Dirt Series round, it was Jai Stephenson (NSW) who delivered a successful title defence to claim back to back crowns.
Winning in a much less controversial way than last season’s running of the event, which saw an error with the caution lights on a restart open the door for Stephenson to pip race leader Mark Robinson (NSW), the defending champion came out on top in the pole shootout to score the pole position start for the Victorian Title-deciding feature race.
Pulling away from the remainder of the field, Stephenson could not be headed throughout the 30-lap distance, crossing the finish line in dominant fashion and in doing so proving that last season’s victory was no fluke.
Starting much further down the field in position eight after receiving a penalty in his third and final heat race due to making contact with the infield concrete, Robinson proved his worth as a driver, steadily powering through the field and making up ground, eventually taking over the runner-up spot with just three laps remaining.
Flying the flag for the home-state contingent, Paul Tindal put in the best performance of his career to clinch the final podium spot, while former Victorian Champion Scott Cannon (NSW) and Joshua Rose (NSW) completed the top-five finishers.
NSW-based rookie Royden Alcorn certainly turned some heads, picking up a heat-race win earlier in the night and narrowly missing out on a top-five finish to cross the finish line in a pleasing sixth place, followed by Michael Ardley, Steve Lodwick, Steve Milthorpe, who made a return to racing after spending the majority of the season on the sidelines, and Jason Andreatta.
Qualifying on the inside of the second row for the feature race, current NSW Champion David Clark (Qld) had a challenging campaign, making his way up to second place in the second half of the distance only to slip back to 11th with only a handful of laps remaining. Paul Markulin was the final finisher and also the best performing Sportsman competitor of the night.
Unable to record a lap time, Darren Tindal was the first of the feature-race retirees, who was later joined by Daryl Hickson, Scott Whiting and Brett Clarke, the latter of which was looking likely to challenge for the Victorian Title win after starting from the outside of the first row.
In addition to Alcorn, other heat-race wins went the way of Mark Topperwien, Paul Tindal, Clarke (x 2), Hickson, Ardley and Stephenson.
The fourth 5 Star Dirt Series round will be held this Saturday night at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway.
Current 5 Star Dirt Series Point Standings after Round 3:
1. Jai Stephenson (NSW) – 588 points (WC)
2. David Clark (Qld) – 438 (WC)
3. Scott Cannon (NSW) – 364 (WC)
4. Joshua Rose (NSW) – 334 (WC)
5. Chris Corbett (NSW) – 285 (WC)
6. Mark Robinson (NSW) – 246
7. Andrew Pezzutti (NSW) – 239 (WC)
8. Mitchell Randall (NSW) – 236 (WC)
9. Travis Kennedy (WA) – 200 (WC)
10. Andrew Firth (NSW) – 196 (WC)
WC = wild card used
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