JAI STEPHENSON TAKES NSW V8 DIRT MODIFIED CHAMPIONSHIP
BY DENNIS NEWLYN
JAI Stephenson drove a calculated race over the 30-lap distance to take out the 2018 New South Wales V8 Dirt Modified Championship at Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway on Australia Day, Friday, January 26.
Stephenson, who took over the front running midway through the event, led defending titleholder Andrew Pezzutti and Geoff Phillips to the chequered flag.
Stephenson overcame some carnage involving other cars and drivers in the outset of the race before he charged into contention and ran down early race leader Mitchell Randall.
A spin by Darren Latimer on the first corner of the first lap meant a complete restart. In that first lap Stephenson was right there with Randall, who started off the front row, and challenged for the lead at the outset, but as a complete restart was ordered by officials, Randall led away again.
It was not long before Andrew Firth caused a race stoppage after he rolled his car. He was ok in the crash that also involved Anthony Ashen and Victorian Darren Tindal. Tindal took his place for another restart, however both Firth and Ashen withdrew.
Randall again continued in the lead at the green, though now faced with pressure from Phillips and Pezzutti. Mark Robinson, a strong pre-race favourite, had his title bid end early after his car crashed heavily into the concrete retaining wall. Officials from the crash scene later advised a steering box failure was the cause of the accident in which Robinson escaped unscathed.
After all this, almost all of the 30 laps still remained in what was heavy carnage from the outset.
Once the race did settle into a pattern Randall held command, despite plenty of pressure from his pursuers.
Victorian Steve Milthorpe was now entering into contention as he battled with Sam Bruggy, while Russell Knight was ran strongly and in close company with Chris Corbett in pursuit of a major placing.
Up front a lead changed some laps later occurred as Stephenson took over race leadership from Randall who then had to contend with Pezzutti, Phillips and Bruggy in the top running order.
Randall had dropped back to fourth in the latter stages, but made a charge in his attempt to regain a top three spot as the laps ran out and Stephenson took the chequered flag. The final top ten read out for the 2018 NSW V8 Dirt Modified Championship was: Jai Stephenson, Andrew Pezzutti, Geoff Phillips, Mitch Randall, Sam Bruggy, Steve Milthorpe, Trent Scofield, Ray Eggins, Josh Rose and Ray Klarich.
In winning, Stephenson recorded his best lap average of 96.852 km/h, but it’s interesting to note the fastest lap of the race occurred in the early stages as Mitch Randall led when he stopped the clocks at 98.495 km/h.
Stephenson scored two heats wins, while other heat victors were: Ashen, Bruggy, Zac MacDonald, Geoff Rose, Mark Robinson, Chris Corbett and Randall. The top four drivers who transferred from the B-main to the state title final were: winner Ray Klarich, runner-up Josh Rose, Darren Tindal (third) and Darren Latimer (fourth).
Other main event category winners were: Luke Watt (Four Cylinder Sedans), Madison Harkin (Production Sedans), Josh Boyd (Junior Sedans) and Jacob Jolley (Wingless Sprintcars).
The action continues tonight (Saturday, January 27) at Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway, highlighted with the final of the Mr Modified series.