RAIN was last night playing havoc with the opening night of the Australian Wingless Sprints Championship at Allansford’s Premier Speedway.
Championship officials called a halt to proceedings after just six of the 12 heats, leaving drivers frustrated and facing the prospect of a late night.
Racing was about to resume with heat seven, which was under way when the rain first fell, as The Standard went to print.
A total of 90 drivers are chasing national success and 46 were in action on night one last night.
Half had completed one heat and the other half had posted points from two heats.
Early heat winners were Camperdown hopeful Jye Saunders, West Australian Scott Elst, Victorian Jake Smith and popular Queenslander Charlie Brown.
Defending champion Todd Wigzell, of South Australia, and New South Wales’ David Eggins won heats in the second round.
Others at the pointy end of the standings before the rain included former Victorian champion Jeff Judd, of Camperdown, emerging Terang speedster Jack Lee and Colac’s Matt Balcombe.
Elst was the unlucky driver who was leading heat seven before officials ordered a complete restart.
Judd had a second and fourth in his heats before the delay.
He said the rain was “frustrating” but admitted he was fortunate to have the best of the conditions for two of his three heats.
He used the break to make running repairs to his car’s back end after a rival got underneath him and sent him into the wall in his second heat.
“The rain keeps the track fairly narrow and makes passing hard,” he said.
“You have to lean on another driver to get past, which I don’t like doing.
“We had a bit of drama and damage then, but it’s all good. There’s a bit of rear end damage but we’ve got it sorted out. We were able to finish the heat.”
Judd said he was hopeful but not confident of winning the Australian title having raced only a limited program this season.
His best result in a national title was a fourth at Mount Gambier “a few years back”, while he has claimed three Victorian titles.
“You like to do well at your home track but we haven’t got huge hopes because we haven’t done a lot of racing this year and there are so many good cars,” he said.
“There are 20 cars that could win the title. I just hope to get into the A main and take it from there.
“It’d be good to win but you’ve got to have everything go your way.”
Judd said his car felt fast, with only driver error allowing Saunders to pass him first up. He said placing at least fourth would guarantee him a spot in the A main last night “and we’ll see what happens from there”.
Judd nominated Wigzell and Elst as the title hopes from the group in action last night, while Saunders was a dark horse who had good heat draws.
“Then tomorrow night you’ve got a whole range of drivers. There’s another 10 or 15 there that could win,” he said.
The remaining 46 drivers will take to Premier Speedway tonight, before what shapes as an action-packed finale tomorrow night.
V8 dirt modifieds were the support class for night one and had completed one heat before the delay.