A titanic battle for the top honours in last night’s Northern Territory Open Sprintcar Title at Darwin’s Roller Door Services NT Northline Speedway resulted in a popular victory to local Ben Atkinson.
Regarded as one of country’s leading Sprintcars racers, Atkinson, who was a late nomination aboard the Xtreme Motorsport Maxim owned by fellow local Jamie O’Neill for the four nights of the iFind Pipes ‘N’ Cables Chariots of Thunder, was at his best throughout the 30-lap feature race after he had started from the outside of the second row and came away with the victory honours.
During the majority of the NT Title deciding feature race, Atkinson and the previous two nights of the Chariots of Thunder winner Chace Karpenko, who had qualified on pole position for the feature race by virtue of winning the pole shuffle, battled it out and traded the lead on numerous occasions in the second half of the race. Both raced hard with one another, but at the same time gave each racing rough, which was a sign of mutual respect between the two local racers.
At the fall of the chequered flag, Atkinson came out on top to claim the NT Title, while a gallant Karpenko battled hard but in the end had to settle for second place on the podium.
After showing great speed throughout the Chariots of Thunder, Danny Porter completed an all-local podium in third. Porter had been a front runner during the feature race and had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Following the race, Porter’s car caught on fire. He was able to exit the car quickly, but had suffered burns to his left leg. After accepting his trophy, he was transported to hospital, where he had an operation to his clean up his burn overnight. Porter remains in good spirits and he was thankful for everyone’s concerns during this scary time.
Youngster Rusty Hickman has impressed many throughout the Chariots of Thunder fortnight, but he certainly saved his best performance for last. The 16-year-old racer from Victoria finished just one spot of the podium in fourth in the feature race. At times, it was difficult to tell that he was a 360 Sprintcar competitor.
Another teenager Mitch Wormall, from Western Australia, put in a solid drive beyond his limited years of experience to come home in fifth.
Local Jason Gebert completed what was a tough Chariots of Thunder fortnight with a sixth-place finish, after he had started from the back of the field: position 19. Behind Gebert were Lee Nash (WA), Simon Spitzbarth (the best of the local 360 Sprintcar finisher), Steven Ling and Troy David who all rounded out the top-10 finishers. Chris Harrison, who had qualified for the pole shootout but was involved in an accident earlier in the race and was sent ROF, and Keith Phelps rounded out the finishers.
The list of non-finishers in the feature race included Ben Ellement (WA), Daniel Taylor, Mark Robinson, Caleb Gotts, David Ling, Kyle Caunt (NSW), Glen Sutherland (SA) and Jason McIver. After an outside front row start, McIver had a tough run, which he attributed to a bad choice of setup, and retired on lap five. Caunt and Sutherland were caught up in an incident in between turns three and four on lap five when a car ahead of them had spun, and it resulted in the both them retiring to the infield with damage. At the time, Caunt and Sutherland were in podium contention but misfortune robbed them of the opportunity to challenge for a podium finish.
In the earlier heat-race action, the wins were claimed by McIver (x 2), Hickman and Atkinson. The highlight of the heat races was McIver’s second win of the night, when he came from further back to steal victory within sight of the chequered flag. Wormall came out on top in hot laps / qualifying at the beginning of the night. He picked up $100 courtesy of KSA Courier.
The support class action resulted in the feature-race wins going the way of Kyle Wiseman (Wingless Sprints – NT Open Championship), Queenslander Gavin Wootton (AMCA Nationals – Northern Territory Title) and Lance Carew (Junior Sedans).
The next race meeting of the 2016 season for Roller Door Services NT Northline Speedway is going to be on the Saturday night of September 17, which is going to include Formula 500s, Wingless Sprints, AMCA Nationals, Street Stocks, Junior Sedans and Speedway Karts.
For more information about Darwin’s Roller Door Services NT Northline Speedway, visit their website: www.darwinspeedway.com.au. You can LIKE them on Facebook by searching Northline Speedway or find them on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat by searching Northline Speedway.