Author- Kellie Atkins SSV
It looks like another road trip next year for Western Australian Beau Riley to defend his Victorian Title again after he took out the SSA Production Sedan Victorian Title at Southern 500, Portland Saturday night.
Riley was the only driver taking two heat wins during the night with the other wins shared between Trevor Mills (NSW), Jayden Edwards (SA), Wayne Bourke(NSW), Joel Berkley (QLD), Dehne Sparrow, Ben Barker and Steven Aldridge.
The heats were fast paced and there were several competitors who were very evenly matched and going into the final Riley looked to be only marginly favoured ahead of the front half of the field.
The B Main final saw Ray Ussher, Matt Hutchison, Peter Leonard and Ryan Queale all transfer to the A Main to fill the last four places on the grid. It was Riley (WA) who started from the pole position with Jayden Edwards (SA) on the outside of him. Edwards later said that he hadn’t expected to qualify so well but had gone into the Title as a late entry because he knew the Portland track very well and his car went around well there as a rule. The second row was filled by Wayne Bourke (NSW) and Joel Berkley (QLD). It was on the third row before we saw a Victorian car as local driver Steven Aldridge lined up next to Trevor Mills (NSW).
The start of the A Main saw Jayden Edwards getting the jump ahead of Riley followed by Berkley and Bourke. Mills car was showing a lot of attitude with the left front wheel lifting as he wheeled out of turn two and made a challenge to the cars in front with Edwards, Riley and Berkley three wide thundering down the front straight, Riley emerging in front and Edwards shuffled back to fourth position and Mills having moved into second.
Berkley quickly relegated Mills back a position the next lap but couldn’t hold it as Mills again passed Berkley all the while Riley was trying to gap the field at the front.
A short six laps into the final there was carnage on the front straight as Steve Laidlaw hit the wall causing a chain effect behind him leaving several drivers including Peter Leonard, Graham Gerlach, Ben Barker and Raymond Ussher unable to continue. Edwards also retired to the infield under the yellow with a left rear flat tyre and Aldridge suffering the same fate shortly after the restart.
Soon after the restart Matt Hutchison having been involved in the earlier incident with Laidlaw succumbed to his damage as he was left high against the fence in turn one leaving Ryan Arnel nowhere to go as he launched over the rear of Hutchison and both having to withdraw.
Riley continued to get a gap on the field with the front of the car lurching high into the air each time he powered out of the corners leaving Berkley trying to make ground and Mills under attack from Justin Hawkins. Yet another caution was caused when local hopeful Dehne Sparrow stopped on the back straight.
This caution brought Berkley up onto Riley’s tail and Berkley made a hard charge with the laps winding down and Riley unable to shake Berkley until the last caution was called as Trevor Mills left rear wheel tore away from his car.
A depleted field ran the last five laps and Riley once again stamped his mark on the lead as Berkley having lost his momentum was unable to continue his challenge for the lead as Riley skipped away to Victory followed by Justin Hawkins in third place, Gemma Laidlaw was first Victorian in fourth place and Brendan Harper fifth place, John Calderwood sixth and Ryan Queale rounded out the finishers in seventh place.
An ecstatic Riley stated “We don’t have anything like this track over in WA, most of the tracks that we race at are 500 metres plus so this is certainly different”.
Club President Darren Pumpa was extremely pleased with the event. “Our Club is only a small Club and we are very pleased with the Title, the racing was excellent”. Pumpa was a former Production Sedan driver and was in fact the last Victorian driver to win the Title in 2011/2012 season.
A Main, 30 Laps: 1. V1 Beau Riley, 2. A1 Joel Berkley, 3. L56 Justin Hawkins, 4. BD26 Gemma Laidlaw, 5. W58 Brendan Harper, 6. P13 John Calderwood, 7. HO27 Ryan Queale, DNF G10 Trevor Mills, HA91 Dehne Sparrow, HA8 Ryan Arnel, DSC19 Matthew Hutchison, P35 Steven Aldridge, SA87 Jayden Edwards, L28 Wayne Bourke, RD30 Stephen Laidlaw, 98 Raymond Usher, P99 Pete Leonard, HO6 Graham Geralch, HA13 Ben Barker