From Gavin White
Following a career that up until last summer had failed to show a feature win at Avalon Raceway, Lilydale’s Mike Van Bremen can now lay claim to three feature wins in 12 months at the venue. Van Bremen withstood several challenges from eventual runner up Grant Anderson to claim victory in the 42nd annual Sprintcar Fireball Derby at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway on Saturday night, December 11th. Impressive 18 year old South Australian Daniel Pestka raced into third place behind the leading duo.
When much of the state was once again drenched in rain Avalon Raceway managed to get their first race meeting since early October completed but not before light drizzle almost halted proceedings during heat 8. The Drew promotion pressed on and completed the Fireball Derby that also doubled as the fourth round of the Eureka Sprintcar Series and night 1 of the Essendon Ford Sprintcar premiership. Directly following presentations the venue received a deluge that would have certainly ended the night early prematurely had it been just minutes earlier.
Third starting MVB shot to the lead in turn 1 as he sped past pole sitter Rod Matthews while fellow front row occupant Grant Anderson was in hot pursuit of the tearaway leader. The following ten laps were worth the price of admission as Van Bremen quickly caught the back markers and began to work his way through with Anderson shadowing his every move. Anderson seized an opportunity to snatch the lead away in turn 4 only to have Van Bremen whistle back past in turn 1 to reassume the lead in heavy traffic.
Similarly Ryan Davis, Glen Sutherland, Dylan Jenkin and Nick Lacey were staging a great duel for the minor positions. Further in arrears Darren Mollenoyux and Stephen Bell were locked in a torrid duel inside the top 10.
A number of stoppages for the likes of Carl Ludeman who managed to restart and more significantly Simon Amato who crashed heavily in turn 3 bringing the race to a halt while the car was taken from the track. Amato managed to walk away from the scene uninjured.
As the laps ran out eleventh starting Daniel Pestka sped into contention as he moved by several Eureka Sprintcar Series regulars. Pestka’s duel with Lacey late in the race was also significant as the pair of future stars traded third place before Pestka gained the ascendancy.
As the race concluded Van Bremen recorded the perfect result to start the season and as a result now leads the Essendon Ford Sprintcar track championship. The battle for the brand new Ford Fiesta is just one of the prizes that he leads as he also assumes the number one position in the Eureka Sprintcar Series.
Anderson crossed the line in second ahead of a fast finishing Pestka, Lacey, Brett Milburn, Ryan Davis, Darren Mollenoyux, Stephen Bell, John Vogels and Carl Ludeman. New South Welshman Daryl Campbell followed ahead of Dennis Jones, Eddie Lumbar, Rod Mathews and Domain Ramsay.
Jones led home the B-main field ahead of Vogels, Campbell and Lumbar who all transferred to the A-main. Darren Hickman won the C-main ahead of Andrew Cox with rookie Jack Lee and second year racer James McDonald all advancing to the B-main.
Heat wins went to Vogels, Mathews, Ramsay and Anderson while the second round heats were won by Jenkin, Chris Solomon, Ryan Davis and Brett Milburn.