Nagambie Speedway Club member Lennie Bonnici, best known in recent seasons as a Crash & Bash racer, has piloted his ex Mike Burke Super Sedan to victory in the 35th running of the Alexandra Speedway Club 100 Lap Derby when his consistent run rewarded him as race incidents removed Steve Lincoln & Daniel Scott along with Brendan & Damien Miller out of contention in the run home.
The 100 Lap Derby this season attracted a sensational array of race craft and an even more impressive list of drivers with all sorts of experience to the event, fans came from as far was Western Australia to see the local Truck, Rod & Ute show and then take a look down at the Speedway.
In amongst the competitors were defending champion and former Australian 350ci Sprintcar champion Tony Moule, former Australian Junior Sedan champion Brock Atkins, multiple times winners David Erickson & Luke Fallon & Camden NSW racer Ross Nicastri who also happened to be involved with the major sponsor D.I.Y Auto Parts Broadmeadows.
After forty heat races were completed two drivers, Steve Lincoln from Broadford & Dan Scott from Kilmore had won four heats out of their five, three drivers all from Team Miller Motorsports based in Pakenham being brothers Brendan & Damien Miller and mate Brad Warren had three wins apiece, with a handful of others with two wins.
Bonnici himself won one heat and it was a beauty, when he set a new one lap track record on the short circuit dog leg with a 32.535 time in the seventeenth heat of the weekend, it was not beaten in the next twenty three.
The closest heat race finish was the very first heat of the weekend with Leigh Bourke in a 250 Crossflow powered Cortina taking a win over Bonnici in his LS1 powered chassis car by .161 whilst five other heats finished with less than a second between the first two drivers as they crossed the line.
Scott won the fastest heat of the weekend in heat nine with a complete time of 3 minutes 20.869 seconds.
The big race its self had twists and turns right throughout, Aaron Bunton left the track before the race even started, Shane O’Loughlin’s car caught fire & crashes in the latter stages turned the race upside down.
Brendan Miller led lap one before team mate Brad Warren took the lead on the second lap. Steve Lincoln in his EH Holden with a big 350 under the hood, assumed control on lap three before Damien Miller in a LS1 powered Commodore snatched the lead in traffic as Lincoln was shuffled back behind Damien Miller, Warren, Brendan Miller, Scott & Lenny Bates.
Damien Miller had the race by the scruff of its neck leading from lap ten to sixty five before he turned himself the wrong direction coming out of the dog leg on lap sixty six as Lincoln flew past and back into the lead.
On lap seventy two Lincoln & Scott, mates off the track, came together in the dog leg when there was a tangle up with a slower driver. There was nothing Scott could do about the contact, Lincoln wasn’t happy as it caused his car a flat tyre & damage to Scott’s car occurred also.
Brendan Miller assumed the lead from lap seventy three and his brother Damien was behind him chasing. Racers are racers and once they put the helmet on the little things are forgotten & Damien Miller tried to pass his brother in the spot with the most chance of things going wrong, the dog leg & both cars tangled up, Brendan lost the lead and laps as they both exited the track.
Team mate Warren hit the lead and that lasted one lap with Bonnici taking the lead from lap eighty one, Bonnici despite what appeared to be the engine boiling in the latter laps motored on to take the win from Warren by 12.8 seconds, a huge victory putting that amount of distance between he and second place over the last nineteen laps.
Zac Swanson from Ballarat was fantastic in his underpowered Commodore staying on the lead lap and finishing third much to the delight of his supporters with Andrew Jordan from Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs in fourth, Colin Lincoln from Beveridge in fifth all on the lead lap, number one hundred.
Bonnici was fairly reserved in his victory as he soaked it in. “Thank you very much to everybody at O’Brien Racing’ for their support. I know this is a big event, I have not quite got my head around everything yet, however it is a special race to win.”
The Victorian Short Circuit Championship for Speedway Sedan Australia Juniors was like always sensational with the youngsters from the age of ten to seventeen wowing the massive crowd with their skills. Despite their 1200cc powered machines, the fastest driver was only three and a half seconds a lap slower than the fastest V8 machine in the 100 Lap Derby.
Both Caleb Lincoln & Jackson Lunt took four wins apiece out the ten heat races. Tim Gorski & Ayden Bellman were the other heat winners with the best time being recorded by Lincoln in heat eight of the weekend being three minutes 42.322 seconds.
Luke Dingley took a big dump on night one of racing doing a massive pirouette in the sky with infield officials saying the car was higher than the catch fence. Dingley would later be ok.
In the twenty lap final Jackson Lunt dashed to the lead on lap one with Lincoln chasing. Tim Gorski, Australian Champion Todd Atkins, Wayne Furmston, Ayden Bellman & Ricky Cornwall all began well and battled with each other in a chasing a pack. Atkins and Gorski swapped third a fourth a couple times until lap thirteen with Cornwall racing into third spot as Atkins slipped back to seventh.
Things came to a sudden halt on lap fifteen as Atkins took a roll in turn one entering the dog leg and with the time required to extract him from his race car and offer medical assistance eating into the night, the race was declared with Lunt winning from Lincoln by almost four seconds with Cornwall next in the queue followed by Bellman, Jack Brough, Tim Gorski, Colby Lunt, Tyler Barton, Courtney Meakins & Furmston. Jackson Lunt in the process of winning set the new track record for Juniors with a 36.089 second lap.
On a weekend where the Junior drivers & Alexandra Speedway Club remembered the late 15 year old Jordy Webster who passed away suddenly in March, Lunt remembered to thank the Ahearn family and its supporters for joining in the weekend and rewarding the winning drivers with some fuel vouchers. Connor Donegan also won a best presented award supported by Grays Pro Blast in Bendigo.
The Shamrock Cup for Standard Saloons was proudly supported by the local Shamrock Hotel in Alexandra township & last year’s winner was looking to win the event for the third time and increase his chances of winning the state Standard Saloon point score.
Mark Miles & Leigh Gooding won two heat races each in qualifying with six other drivers winning heats including Victorian champion Michael Ardley & Alexandra members Jason Meakins, Nick Chrystie & Mick Chrystie in the fastest heat of the weekend for Standard Saloons when he recorded a time of three minutes 40.125 seconds in the very last heat race.
When racing started in the twenty lap final Miles from pole position lead Gooding & Nick Chrystie. Ben Randall made a move into third on lap four & Patrick Vuillermin who started in thirteenth spot moved to fifth by lap six. Randall dropped out of the race on lap thirteen and Nick Chrystie moved back into the top three before spinning himself out of contention on lap fifteen.
Gooding started to be caught and passed on lap sixteen with Mick Chrystie charging into second with Vuillermin in third. Meanwhile out front Miles was commanding in his dominance from every re-start that occurred leading without any trouble. Pakenham racer Miles set a new Standard Saloon short course lap record when he broke the 35 second barrier with a 35.995 one lap time on his way to back to back in Shamrock Cup victories defeating Mick Chrystie from Kinglake, Vuillermin, Jake Blencowe, Aaron Price, Nick Chrystie, Rob Bushell, Aaron Marshall, Tim Hutchinson & Chris Leonard.
Miles was his usual jovial self in his speech after winning. “We come here with a lot of friends and family, no matter the result we have a great time. It is great that I can win two years in a row, the competition was tough. Getting a track lap record is the icing on the cake. Thank you to everybody for supporting me & to Alexandra for running this event on this great weekend every year.”
Alexandra Speedway returns on August the 13th with the annual 3 Hour Enduro race.
Alexandra Speedway Club is very thankful for the support provided by all our sponsors.
DMT Sports Media
For Alexandra & District Speedway Club