There’s no better way to celebrate Australia Day than by becoming the 2018-19 season Australian RSA Street Stockers Champion and that’s exactly how Kiona Sunerton spent last Saturday night, etching her name into the history books as the first female ever to win an Australian RSA Title.me
While she’d won almost everything there was to win in RSA Street Stockers, which includes the NSW Title and other blue-ribbon events, Sunerton had not yet been able to clinch the top spot in an Australian Title, with her best previous finish being fifth place in last season’s running of the event at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway.
It wasn’t until she crossed the finish line last Saturday night at Gilgandra Speedway in western NSW that she realised the enormity of what she’d just achieved.
Needing a moment to compose herself before collecting the chequered flag for her victory lap aboard her NSW # 13 Highway Ford – Maitland / John Lodge Water Cartage backed BA Ford Falcon, Sunerton slowed her car and came to a stop on the track, completely overwhelmed with the hugely significant result she’d accomplished.
“It’s difficult to describe everything that was going through my head at that moment, I realised I’d just won the Australian Title after 20 years of competing, because I know how hard they are to come by,” the Abermain, NSW-based driver expressed.
“I was quite overcome with emotion when I saw the chequered flag waving and I needed to take a moment to let it all sink in. To be able to share the podium with two drivers I have the utmost respect for in Brendan Wakeman and Shane Carlson is something I’m very proud of and a moment I’ll remember for many years to come, it also makes the win even more significant, knowing the calibre of drivers that finished behind me.”
Heading into the Australian Title-deciding feature race equal highest in points with Wakeman by virtue of winning two of her heat races and placing second in the other, Sunerton lost out on the countback, and therefore started out of position two.
Coming out on top of an opening lap battle with Wakeman for the lead, Sunerton managed to hold on to her spot throughout the 30-lap distance, which was peppered with stoppages, to claim what was a momentous and well-deserved victory.
After her Australian Title triumph Sunerton was quick to credit her achievement to her supportive family and crew.
“So much effort and so many sacrifices have gone into my speedway career and I can’t thank my amazing family enough for all they’ve done for me over the years,” she added, whose family has a rich legacy in speedway.
“I also have to thank my crew. It’s them who put in all the work to give me a car that can win races, all I have to do is drive it, so this win is a massive testament to all of the hours they’ve spent both at the track and in the shed.”
Looking forward to giving herself a new challenge, Sunerton is planning to join her brother John Lodge Jnr (who is also a past RSA Australian Title holder, making them the first brother and sister combination to achieve victory in the same title) by trying her hand in the national SSA Street Stock class.
“I’ve been to Victoria to compete in a few SSA Street Stock events, including winning the Queen of the Mountain event at Ballarat’s Redline Raceway two seasons ago, and I really enjoyed my time down there, as the racing was amazing, so I’d definitely like to return whenever I get the chance,” added Sunerton.
Sunerton’s next major RSA Street Stockers event will be the NSW Title on March 2 at Valvoline Raceway, where she’ll attempt to back up her Australian Title form to reclaim the state crown.
For the 2018-19 season, Sunerton is proudly supported by the following sponsors: Highway Ford – Maitland, John Lodge Water Cartage, John Brown Race Engines, Smooth Suspension, Singleton Exhaust, Adam Holt Industries, Caves Beach Automotive and Dyno, and Farrelly Automotive.
Sunerton would also like to thank her husband (Peter) and their two daughters (Tahni and Brodee), her parents (John Snr and Joanne) and her younger brother (John Jnr).
To find out more about Sunerton and her team, LIKE them on Facebook by searching John Lodge Water Cartage Racing.