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Jason Crawford has come up trumps in the Ironbark Classic whilst Lisa Chalcraft could have been beaten by the late race caution period after leading for much of the race only to be passed with three laps to go.

Fourteen cars arrived to compete in the Automotive Super Balance Shepparton supported Ironbark Classic feature event at Rushworth Speedway and the field included defending champion Janelle Saville from Camden and father and son team Gary and Riley Bowyer from Sydney along with drivers from right around Victoria.

Six heat race qualifiers were held to lead into the twenty-lap feature event where the field would be inverted after a top qualifier bucket draw with the chance the field could be completely inverted.

The field lined up for the first qualifier with Trevor Perry, Riley Bowyer (#N50 Arjan Motors – R1 Yamaha), Lisa Chalcraft, Paul Perry, Chris Fowler, David Bacon and Terry Brown greeting the starters instruction. Ten laps the distance in all qualifiers and Trevor Perry took command quickly. Bowyer and Paul Perry both exited on lap two with Perry (#N33 Phantom Stickers – GSX Suzuki) having ignition issues which would plague him all night and Bowyer having chain and rear axle issues, the later seeing the axle shift causing damage to the rear of the car that would see their race meeting end at that point despite so much effort working on the car in the pit enclosure.

Perry led right through to finish in front of Chalcraft, Fowler, Bacon and Brown (#88 – 1 Stop Property Services – GSX1100 Suzuki), setting a fastest one lap time for the meeting of 16.455 on his way.

Gary Bowyer (#N5 – Arjan Motors – R1 Yamaha) started from pole position in the second qualifier with Crawford, Sean Denning, Janelle Saville, Louis Rodriguez and Alex Myers starting behind. The troubles for the Bowyer family continued with Gary lasting one lap before exiting the track whilst Saville took the lead from lap two and led from start to finish in her victory over Crawford, Rodriguez, Myers and Denning (#52 – AR Fencing - R1 Yamaha). Bowyer had Engine Component Unit issues that were not going to be able to be rectified at the track and his night was over also.

Saville began from pole position in the third race with Crawford, Trevor Perry (#N55 – Perry Bros Chassis – Suzuki), Chalcraft, Bacon and Myers the complete line-up. Crawford took command from lap one with Saville, Perry, Chalcraft, Myers and Bacon slotting in behind him to go from start to finish pretty much unchanged.

Chris Fowler (#13 The Wow Facta – R1 Yamaha) began from pole position in heat four with Paul Perry, Sean Denning, Rodriguez and Brown the starters behind him. Perry again had his ignition/magneto issues and pulled infield on lap two as did Rodriguez whose chain came off on the same lap. Fowler defeated Denning and Brown comfortably.

Saville (#N2 – Highline Racewear – Kawasaki) closed out her night in race five with another win. Denning started from pole position with Paul Perry, Saville, Trevor Perry, Bacon and Brown starting. Lap one was a career highlight for Denning as he led the field comfortably on lap one in his thirty-year-old race car chassis. However, Denning was just a little too exited as he started lap two and spun in turn two to lose the lead to Saville. Paul Perry’s ignition issues finished his night on lap three as he decided to park the car for the evening and his brother Trevor finished on lap five with some engine oil leaking issues that he could not contain due to some fittings that required some work away from the track.

Denning moved back into second on lap six and Saville went on to win from him, Bacon (#N36 DB Cleaning and Kanga Hire – R1 Yamaha) and Brown.

Chalcraft (#15 – Gulf Western Oils – Suzuki) started the last qualifier in pole position with Crawford, Fowler, Rodriguez, Myers and Travis Florrimell who had arrived after work to compete. Crawford and Rodriguez had terrific starts and moved to first and second on lap one whilst Chalcraft was to quick for Fowler. Crawford went on to take the win from Rodriguez, Chalcraft, Fowler, Myers (#11 Maxam Printing – Suzuki) and Florrimell with some mechanical issues slowing him down.

In the ‘Automotive Super Balance’ supported Ironbark Classic Crawford inverted the field with himself from eighth and Saville in seventh alongside after a bucket position draw. Trevor Perry did not start the final due to some engine issues that were not worth the risk in competing. The line-up was Bacon, Brown, Chalcraft, Denning, Fowler, Saville, Crawford, Myers, Rodriguez and Florrimell (#81 TM Lineboring – Suzuki).

The twenty-lap final began with Katandra’s David Bacon leading early before Mooroopna raised Lisa Chalcraft moved to the lead on lap three as Saville moved forward into fourth ahead of Crawford. Fowler exited the race on lap four with some power issues and parked it as a precaution so that closer checks could be done during the week. Saville by lap five was chasing Chalcraft who had a handy lead, Bacon Crawford and Rodriguez (#47 – DMAC Property Services – R1 Yamaha) were the top five.

Crawford and Rodriguez both passed Bacon on lap six and then lap seven respectively whilst on lap nine just short of halfway, Saville exited the race herself with some alternator concerns, an issue she can fix before the New South Wales title a week later. Chalcraft was still leading with Rodriguez passing Crawford, Bacon in fourth and Myers in fifth.

Crawford (#50 Pitstop Mowers – R1 Yamaha) and Rodriguez swapped positions between them in a great battle before Rodriguez exited on lap twelve leaving Chalcraft ahead of Crawford, Myers, Bacon and Denning. A caution when Denning exited on lap fifteen allowed Crawford to be moved right behind Chalcraft for a re-start of the race and a couple laps later, he moved to the lead. Crawford went on to win from Chalcraft, rookie Shepparton raised driver Alex Myers, Bacon, Travis Florrimell and Brown.

After the race Crawford spoke of winning the race. “I have to thank my team and offer my congratulations and commiserations to Lisa. She had the race by the scruff of the neck until that last caution. I knew my team had given me a great set up though and our run was smooth through the feature and we closed out the last few laps strongly. I thank Mark and the boys for their efforts again tonight. It is great to win the event and thank you to Rushworth and the Myers family for their support of Grand Prix Midget racing.” The Victorian Grand Prix Midgets association thank Club Supporters:

Ballistic Performance Parts

TM Lineboring & Engineering

Super Balance Automotive Shepparton

Pitstop Mowers

Jacobson Transport

AJ's Motorcycle Parts and Apparel Shepparton

Vern & Jackie Parker Photography

Rock Solid Productions

Written by Dean Thompson DMT Sports Media For Victorian Grand Prix Midget Club

Photo courtesy of Glenn Cunningham

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