Speedway champion takes dramatic opening
AUSTRALIAN Champion Jai Stephenson took out the opening round of the Mr Modified series in front of a big crowd at Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway on Boxing Day.
Stephenson was followed across the finish line in a dramatic 50-lap final by former Australian champion Scott Cannon, with local Brent Hall third.
The race ended in controversy after Cannon and Geoff Philiips tangled with one lap remaining.
Phillips missed the major placing after he spun out of contention in the clash.
An irate Phillips jumped from his car, ran onto the track as the field circled under a yellow light, and threatened Cannon.
Meanwhile Stephenson was in a class of his own as he maintained his front running position in the main event, which was split into two sections with a pit stop and five-minute break at the 19 lap mark.
The chief steward determined when the optional pit stop for fuel and tyres took place.
As the field was circling the track prior to the start, he advised via a one-way communication to drivers the event would be halted at the 19-lap mark.
Those drivers who required pit servicing went to the rear of the field for the restart. Stephenson, who did not make a pit stop, resumed the race from the pole position, with 31 laps left.
The top three after the first 19-lap sector was Stephenson, Cannon and Phillips.
The second stanza developed into an exciting battle for the major placings between Cannon and Queenslander Phillips, and local Brent Hall also remained in contention.
Cannon continually challenged for the lead, and Phillips also was knocking on the door.
With one lap remaining, all hell then broke loose after Cannon and Phillips tangled.
The earlier qualifying heats also produced exciting racing as Stephenson and former national titleholder Mark Robinson were equal top scorers on 97 points.
Next in line in the point standings were Phillips, Hall, Paul Booker and former Mr Modified series winner Andrew Pezzutti on 91 points.
A spectacular crash in the Street Stock main event had Marley Weller roll when he tangled with Luke Gray.
The 30-lap Modified Sedan feature race was won by Queenslander Rodney Pammenter from former Junior Sedan driver Jordan Biviano, with another Lismore favourite, former Australian champion Max Clarke was third. Lismore Modified Sedan star Greg Worling finished fourth.
Other main event winners were: Queenslander Jack Kay (National Four Cylinder sedans), Trent Nicolia (Production Sedans) and Sam Weir (Junior Sedans).