Stephenson strengthens series lead
Another round win was just what Jai Stephenson needed in order to further consolidate his current lead in the V8 Dirt Modifieds 5 Star Dirt Series point standings, and in last Saturday night’s fifth series round at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway, that’s exactly what he managed to achieve.
Fresh from a recent victory in the Victorian Title, which incorporated the third 5 Star Dirt Series round, Stephenson was certainly looking to be a strong contender come last Saturday night’s round. However, it was former Victorian Champion Scott Cannon (Vic) who was the best in the pole shuffle, earning the pole position start for the 30-lap feature race.
Lining up alongside round-four winner Mark Robinson, Cannon’s front-running position was short-lived, as he immediately began to slip backwards through the pack, opening the door for Robinson to take the early lead, although he too would to remain there for long.
Wasting no time in working his way towards first place, Stephenson managed to pip Robinson by lap four, taking control of the lead and going on to claim a comfortable win, banking valuable series points in the process.
Making the most of Cannon and Robinson’s early misfortune, outside second row starter Andrew Pezzutti followed in the tyre tracks of Stephenson, making his way into the runner-up spot within the first third of the distance and managing to remain there through to the fall of the chequered flag.
Current NSW Champion David Clark (Qld), who was sitting third in the series point standings heading into round five, experienced an eventful feature race, eventually managing to steady his third place position with six laps remaining to complete the podium.
Just missing out on a podium result, Chris Corbett’s solid drive saw him halve his eighth-place starting position to come home fourth, followed by Robinson, who was disappointed not to have been able to hold on to his front-running position, after being the top point scorer heading into the pole shuffle.
Narrowly missing out on a top-five finished, Brett Clarke (Vic) was forced to settle for sixth place after suffering a DNF during the pole shuffle, while current and four-time Australian Champion Kevin Britten (Qld) experienced a challenging night, also experiencing a DNF during the pole shuffle. Having slipped back to 14th in the middle stages of the race, Britten was able to salvage a seventh-place finish.
Sam Bruggy (Qld), Cannon, Tony Dunn, who was the highest-performing Sportsman driver, Trent Scofield and Phil Roberts (Qld) rounded out the remaining feature-race finishers.
No less than nine drivers experienced premature retirements including Royden Alcorn, Wayne Simpson, Zak Blanch, Matt Ferry, Jake Baines, Joshua Rose, Zak Macdonald, Jay Davey and David Hopping. Davey was contesting double duties on the night in RSA Street Stockers.
It was a disappointing night for Paul Markulin, Mark Griffiths, Dale Corbett (Chris Corbett’s brother), Kevin Greene (Vic) and Steve Milthorpe (Vic), who were all unable to start the feature race due to varied mechanical issues.
Earlier in the night, heat-race wins were shared between Britten, Robinson (x 2), Clark, Stephenson and Chris Corbett, while Simpson came out on top in the Sportsman race ahead of Dunn, Hopping, Davey and Markulin.
The sixth 5 Star Dirt Series round is set to take place on the Saturday night of April 13 at Kalgoorlie International Speedway in Western Australia, where it will be run in conjunction with the Western Australian Title.
Current 5 Star Dirt Series Point Standings after Round 5:
1. Jai Stephenson (NSW) – 748.50 points (WC)
2. Mark Robinson (NSW) – 692 (WC)
3. David Clark (Qld) – 563.50 (WC)
4. Scott Cannon (NSW) – 526 (WC)
5. Chris Corbett (NSW) – 518 (WC)
6. Joshua Rose (NSW) – 449 (WC)
7. Andrew Pezzutti (NSW) – 379 (WC)
8. Mitchell Randall (NSW) – 236 (WC)
9. Travis Kennedy (WA) – 200 (WC)
10. Sam Bruggy (Qld) – 196.50 (WC)
WC = wild card used
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