Dave Gartner celebrates his South Australian Title win alongside the Bill Miller #77 (MMS Photo)
Penola’s Dave Gartner drove to an emotional third consecutive South Australian Super Sedan Championship and his fifth overall on Saturday night at the Murray Machining and Sheds Speedway at Murray Bridge on Saturday night. On a weekend that was honouring the life of Bill Miller, with a big double header of Sedan racing in South Australia, the 30-lap final ran flag to flag with Gartner setting a new track record stopping the clocks with an incredibly spooky time of 7:07.7 seconds!
Second across the line was Michael Miller with Ryan Alexander finishing third. This was the third consecutive year that the leading trio had stood on the podium in this event with the only difference being Miller moving up to second following his previous two third placed results behind Gartner and Alexander.
Fourth place went to Tasmanian Corey Smith in his immaculate #16 with Mick Nicola Jr, the last of the drivers to complete the entire 30 lap journey, rounding out the top five. Sixth place went to Lucas Roberts with Peter Nicola, who was driving a car borrowed from Rob Stevens and Jenny Lemar, Paul Blenkiron, Jason Gantz, Kym Jury and Michelle Dillon completing the finishers.
For Blenkiron the result should have been a lot better as he was running inside the top 5 when his right rear tyre went flat with only three laps remaining.
The race saw three of the fourteen drivers fail to finish with all three going out before a lap had been completed after a multicar pile up as the field made their way out of turn two. The accident saw Trevor Ware spin after contact resulting in Mick Nicola Snr and Jr slamming into the side of the spinning car. Victorian Dave McKenzie also sustained a left rear flat in the incident and was unable to take the green on the restart. Mick Nicola Jr was only driver who was able to restart.
Earlier the heat winners Gartner, Alexander, Miller and Smith.
Adding to the tin top theme of the night were the Street Stocks and Junior Sedans with big fields in both classes.
The Street Stocks were contesting round 4 of the state-wide MJS Street Stock Series with former Australian Champion Anthony Beare winning an extremely controversial 30 lap final.
The race was simply a race in two as current Australian Champion Rhys Heinrich and Beare cleared out from the rest of the field as they came to the white flag it was Heinrich who was set to victory but after drifting high in turn two (running in the clockwise direction) Beare got the better run as they headed into turn three and pulled up alongside the #1. As they entered turn three Heinrich shut the door on Beare in an aggressive move with Beare making contact and spinning out Heinrich.
As the caution came out Heinrich was deemed as the primary cause of the stoppage and was sent to the rear of the field leaving Beare to lead the final two laps unchallenged. Second place went to Paul Hayes with Craig Buchanan, Neville Nitschke and Steve Heinrich completing the top five. Rhys Heinrich charged back to sixth with Carey Weston, Anthony Buchanan, Tony Pridaux and Jamie Stewart rounding out the top 10.
With such a large field of Junior Sedans they were split into two groups with Nathan Thorne winning the Group A Final while Mac Caldecott won Group B.
The Wingless Sprints were the final category in action with Australian Champion Joel Chadwick surviving a spirited challenge from Joel Heinrich to win the 20-lap final. Third place went to Anthony Tapley ahead of Brett Ireland and Dale Gesell.
Earlier the heat winners were Gesell, Spencer Taylor and Chadwick while Renee Pestka rode out a big roll over in heat 1 after contact with Greg Cunningham in turn 1 of the opening lap.
The next meeting at the Murray Machining and Sheds Speedway will be on April 1 with the BIG KIDS NIGHT OUT with a Caravan, Boat and Dunny Derby, Fireworks, the South Australian Speedcar Title, the 65 Roses Formula 500 Feature, Wingless Sprints, Modlites and Junior Sedans.