From Sydney Speedway, Gary Reid Photo
Sydney, AU — Ben Atkinson is the first driver to double-up this season by taking out the Mrs Macs Sprintcar Stampede – storming from position ten – defeating Mitchell Dumesny and the Gas Girl, Kelly Linigen, in third.
As the highest point scorer, Kelly Linigen, described after dominating an earlier heat race: “The track was like the old days of Parramatta – elbows up and hang on.” Indeed, the Sydney Speedway surface was no place for the feint of heart.
Atkinson took some brave-pills en route to victory lane. His move past early race leader, Roddy Bellbowen, had only inches in it as he roared past the outside. But, that wasn’t the end of it.
Sydney Speedway Sprintcar Championship leader, Mitchell Dumesny – who started from position thirteen – got the run on Atkinson in lapped traffic snaring the lead, only to drive the car above the cushion, catch the heavy clay at the wrong angle, and after nearly sending the car airborne, had the Valvoline Armour machine pointing directly at the infield.
“Damn, how close was that?” questioned Mitchell Dumesny on the podium. “I was extremely lucky. I turned the car completely sideways directly on the racing line, I stalled the motor – I thought someone was going to clean me up, for sure. But, somehow, the engine kicked back over again, everyone missed me and I was able to keep it going.”
It was a more than interesting night for the two-time and defending Track Champion, Dumesny, as yellows had to be thrown in an earlier heat race as his car broke a fuel line sparking a small methanol fire from the engine bay.
But to the victor goes the spoils.
“Two wins from four starts – I couldn’t ask for a better start to the season,” said race victor, Benny Atkinson. “Mind you I owe the team one after tearing up the car last weekend.”
Describing to Stu McCarthy about his daring do-or-die outside manoeuvrings throughout the thirty lap journey, Atkinson explained: “I don’t mind sitting up in the seat and wrestling the car. A few times I was holding my breath when I went up above the cushion – it was one hell of a ride.”
The Gas Girl, Kelly Linigen well and truly earned her stripes in the A-Main. Starting from twelve after topping the points, she moved her way up to fourth late in the race, before putting a brave move on Ian Loudoun with four circulations remaining to claim the final podium position.
“It sure was elbows up tonight. I used to love those sort of racetracks when I first started racing. It sure has been a while since I have been on one like that.”
North Queensland’s Brent Aprile came home in fourth ahead of Martin Lawes – who was strong all night – rounding out the top five.
The night claimed a couple of drivers. The most dramatic was a massive series of end-for-enders down the back straight by Steve Caunt. Thankfully, Steve was able to exit the car under his own steam. The same could not be said for the race car that had the front portion of the chassis completely removed.
Others to join the upside down club throughout the night were Matt Thomas, Sam Walsh, Toby Bellbowen and Daniel Needham.