WARRNAMBOOL, Australia – official track release — Premier Speedway photo —
Steven Lines and Dylan Willsher were the big winners on a night of high drama and excitement as Sungold Stadium’s Premier Speedway played host to round four of the Eureka Garages and Sheds Sprintcar Series as well as the prestigious Jack Willsher Cup for Formula 500’s as presented by Warrnambool Rapid Mix Concrete.
On a perfect night for racing, a major repair to the turn three catch fence was required just one lap into the sprint car B-Main as a result of a massive crash involving Warrnambool youngster Corey McCullagh. The crash meant that the twin feature format would be abandoned in favor of the more conventional 30-lap feature event.
McCullagh walked away uninjured.
From the start it was apparent that two-time Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic champion Lines would be the man to beat as he rocketed to the early race lead. Robbie Farr, however, was also keen to stake his claim for the $5,000 winners purse, while not to be outdone California’s Kyle Hirst was also looking good aboard the Milwaukee Tool No. W17.
Behind the leading trio a gaggle of cars including Stephen Bell, James McFadden and Jamie Veal were all battling for position along with Daniel Pestka. On lap seven Farr’s night would come to a premature end as he rolled the East Coast Pipeline No. Q7 in turn four and as the high speed battle behind him closed in several other drivers were caught up in the melee.
Unfortunately for the large pre-Christmas crowd that was on hand, those either eliminated from the event or left with significant damage included two-time Australian Champion James McFadden. Shaun Dobson also exited the event with a deflated right rear tire.
With Lines and Hirst missing the wreck, the likes of Veal and Pestka now appeared to be the beneficiaries of the Farr incident while Bell would resume the battle with significant damage to his top wing.
That damage would prove to unsettle Bell’s car as he entered turn one and two at the restart with the car pitching sideways as the field jostled for position, Bell’s driver craft meant that he was able to recover the situation however as the chasing pack cleared him contact was made between Pestka and Jamie Veal with the latter spinning his way into turn three with Bell again becoming involved thus eliminating the two Warrnambool entrants from the event.
So again with a restart required, it was still Lines who was sitting pretty and now with significantly less traffic to deal with as the laps wound down. Hirst and Pestka along with a hard charging Ian Madsen who had transferred from the B-Main were beginning to fancy their chances.
From the restart it Lines’ race to lose however with the track conditions to his liking he was never troubled in executing the second half of the 30 lap feature event meaning he was able to record yet another strong win at Premier Speedway, this time ahead of Hirst and Pestka.
Chasing home the top three were Ian Madsen in a strong run for fourth and Darren Mollenoyux in fifth place finish.
And for many years, the Jack Willsher Cup has been regarded as one of the most coveted events on the Formula 500 calendar with many worthy winners having been crowned.
Dylan Willsher can now lay claim that he has won ‘Pop’s Cup’ having dominated proceedings in the Formula 500 feature event as he claimed the Cup that was struck in his Grandfather’s honor.
An elated Willsher, Dylan that is, was joined on the Premier Speedway victory podium by an equally proud Jack Willsher for the presentations — with Dylan expressing the sheer delight he felt in claiming victory in what was somewhat of an incident marred 20 lap final.
The six qualifying heats produced six different winners with Christopher Bellman, young gun Jack Bell, current Australian Champion Brock Hallett, West Australian Mark House, Terry Rankin and Tyler Owen all giving their points tallies a boost by crossing the line first.
Courtesy of a field that included 39 entrants, a last chance B-Main was also contested with Josh Buckingham, Dale Sinclair, Trevor Cotterill and Marcus Kelly all making the transfer to the final.
The final got underway with pole sitter House being joined on the front row by Willsher while Rob Trewartha would start from position three with Jack Bell producing an outstanding qualifying performance to draw position four.
At the drop of the green it was Willsher who had the better run as he jumped to an early race lead, only for the first caution of the event to occur on lap two, which would end the nights of Andrew Rae, Andrew Priolo and Marcus Kelly.
At the restart it was business as usual as Willsher again jumped to the lead from House, Trewartha and Tyler Owen who had made up a couple of positions having started from position six.
It would not be long however before the caution lights would blink on once more with Trevor Cotterill spinning in turn four with Patrick Merrett also becoming involved.
With Willsher seemingly having the car speed to do as he pleased at the front of the field it appeared it was simply a case of needing Lady Luck to remain on his side, however further cautions would certainly keep things interesting in his run for the checkered flag.
As the likes of Dale Sinclair and Leigh Van Ginneken made contact in turn two ending their nights and Brock Hallett and Tyler Owen were also forced in-field it would be all Dylan Willsher as he went on to claim the win from an impressive Mark House and Rob Trewartha.
Following the top three home were Bell, Terry Rankin, Josh Buckingham whose run from the B-Main to sixth was impressive. Seventh was Ash Sinclair with Christopher Bellman, Shane Van Duynhoven and Steven Horton rounding out the top ten with Brooke Buckingham the final car to complete the journey.