Sage Automation Racer, Gary Baxter added some much needed warmth to the wintry Winton conditions after winning pole position in the Qualifying Round and then claiming an easy victory in Race One of the Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series.
Baxter was right at home on the Benalla circuit where he competed in his first race 29 years ago.
“Once we opened up a reasonable lead I backed off a bit to conserve the tyres. It’s great to get a win here in front of a lot of the Sage Automation guests in the corporate box,” the driver explained. George Miedecke was second fastest by only 4/100ths of a second in the Ford, just ahead of Layton Crambrook who has been suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning. Stephen Robinson also qualified well in the Air Vanuatu Ford, just behind Kim Jane and ahead of Elsegood, Fisher, Corkery, Johnson and Pither.Following a fairly harmless qualifying round, the Utes hotted up on the cold track with a bumper Race One. Ford racer, Andrew Fisher was squeezed between WPR Racings, Colin Corkery and reigning champ Grant Johnson on the very first turn with Corkery spearing off into the muddy infield. George Elliot and Brad Patton also came together with Patton spinning, narrowly missing Corkery before hitting the wall.Miedecke and Crambrook staged a mid race dice, before Crambrook moved through to second, although no one could catch Baxter who led from pole.
Kim Jane also ran strongly until he missed a gear coming on to the main straight dropping back behind Grant Johnson.Most managed to keep it fairly clean until the final lap when George Miedecke and Coopers Pale Ale, driver Jack Elsegood found out that two doesn’t go into one when they came together at the start of the final lap.
Elsegood tried an ambitious move on the Port Macquarie star, which ended in tears and substantial contact. Elsegood continued into fourth whilst Miedecke had to contend with 12th position. “Last lap is the best time to have a go, so I did. I thought George saw me coming in on the normal line so we could go together but wasn’t to be,” Elsegood said. Holden driver, Grant Johnson was in the right place at the right time and stole third position.
Rookie, Charlie “No Mo” Kovacs Jr came away from the race unscathed and put in a great first effort to end in 23rd position. “It’s been fantastic. It’s good to finally get behind the wheel and mess with the guys but I don’t take anything for granted,” said Kovacs. New Zealand driver, Chris Pither qualified in the top ten but received a late last minute call up from Team Kiwi Racing to drive their V8 Supercar, which prevented him from taking his spot on the grid for Race One of the V8 Utes. Baxter took a convincing win from Crambrook and Johnson, and Corkery came back through the field to finish 16th and start on pole for tomorrow mornings race.
Race Two kicks off tomorrow at 10:10am and although Miedecke ended with an unfortunate result, he hasn’t come off too bad with a second row start in the reversed grid race. Make sure you watch all the highlights on Channel Seven from Round Five, on Saturday, September, 6th 1:30pm – 2:30pm and Round Six on, Saturday, 12th September, 2pm- 3pm.
Top Ten Qualifying Results:
Gary Baxter Sage Automation Holden 1 :38.61George Miedecke Miedecke Motorsport Ford 1:38.66Layton Crambrook Lamont Constructions Ford 1:38.85Kim Jane Bob Jane Racing Holden 1:39.28Stephen Robinson Howard Racing Ford 1:39.30Jack Elsegood Coopers Pale Ale Racing Ford 1:39.31Andrew Fisher Jesus All About Life Racing Ford 1:39.36Colin Corkery WPR Racing Ford 1:39.41Grant Johnson Grove Fruit Juice Racing Holden 1:39.49Chris Pither Bad Boy Racing Holden 1:39.75
Top Ten Race One Results:
Pos Car Competitor/Team Driver Fastest Lap1 3 Sage Automation Gary Baxter 1:39.68812 71 Mother Energy Drink / Lamont C Layton Crambrook 1:39.29463 1 Grove Fruit Juice/Permacoat Grant Johnson 1:39.67594 11 Coopers Pale Ale Racing Jack Elsegood 1:39.75705 27 Bob Jane T-Marts/Trading Post Kim Jane 1:39.82056 2 Howard Racing / Vanuatuland.co Stephen Robinson 1:39.98537 99 Storage King/Wilson Fabrics Ben Dunn 1:41.11318 41 Kanga Loaders / Mangomedia Yanis Derums 1:40.92789 6 Madashell Motorsport/ Roaring Craig Dontas 1:41.173110 5 Madashell Motorsport/ Capalaba Justin Van Twest 1:40.8369