Lismore speedway season ends with thrilling title chase
GYMPIE driver Brett Baxter claimed his maiden national title when he took out the Australian Modified Sedan Championship at Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway on Sunday night.
Baxter is another in a long list of drivers to win a national title from the region.
The event was also weather-affected with heavy rain throughout the afternoon making track preparation difficult.
Despite very trying conditions and a heavy race track near the fence, which led to a multitude of stoppages throughout the night, the final delivered a great race.
It was a tremendous finish to the Lismore Showground speedway 2015-16 season with a massive crowd in attendance.
The 40-lap championship decider started with Gavin Fletcher and Mark Carlin on the front row, while Greg Stevenson and Brody Boss started on the second row.
Carlin got the best of the start and led Fletcher, Stevenson and Shane Macdonald through the first four laps.
The track was at its best for the final, with several drivers within the field recording laps under 16 seconds, the fastest times drivers had posted all weekend.
Positions remained constant until lap 15, with a high-speed freight train, that had Carlin constantly under pressure from Fletcher, who in-turn was battling to hold off Macdonald and Max Clarke.
The one and only rollover of the weekend occurred on lap 16 when Brenton Mills flipped in the main straight after contact with Brad Yarrow.
This would eliminate both drivers, while Aidan Raymont, another former national titleholder, was forced to withdraw as well.
Upon the resumption, Carlin continued to lead narrowly from Fletcher, with Clarke moving to third.
With 15 laps remaining, the race changed complexion again as Fletcher got under Carlin and Clarke moved ahead of Fletcher in a great three-way battle for the lead, befitting a national final.
Clarke moved to second with 13 laps remaining and then took over the lead.
A lap later, Justin Drew hit the fence in turn one, ending the 2006 Australian Champion's title chances.
Clarke had the front running at the resumption, with the home crowd sensing a thrilling victory, but Carlin and Fletcher had other ideas.
The trio continued to fight for supremacy and were joined by a fast-moving Brett Baxter with 10 laps left to run.
With three laps remaining Baxter gave Clarke a tap on the back bumper and Clarke then realised he had a race on his hands, as he searched for back-to-back Australian titles at the Lismore venue.
A determined Baxter moved up on the outside of Clarke entering the main straight with a lap remaining.
Baxter then held the lead through the final lap to take a thrilling win, with Clarke second ahead of Fletcher, Lorensen and Josh Crang who got the better of Carlin in the concluding stages.
Other main event winners were David Eggins (Wingless Sprints) and Chris Pagel (Production Sedans).