Nation's best vie at series opener

SOUTH Coast Raceway will roar to life with the sound of some of Australia’s best drag racers this weekend.

The Portland track will host the opening round of the 2014 ANDRA Sportsman Series, which has attracted 135 cars from across Australia.

South Coast Raceway publicity officer Greg Holland said the two-day meeting featured four Australian champions who will defend their class crowns.

Two are South Coast Raceway members — Gavin Dohnt is the standout rider in modified bike and Ballarat’s Matt Forbes was dominant in super gas.

Super sedan champion John Kapiris and modified car champion Craig Baker are also among the high-quality field.

Holland said 20 drivers from the Portland district would also chase success. There are 11 classes on show, including juniors.

“We’re a little bit down on last year but there are more rounds this year. The fields will be a bit more spread out,” he said.

“The series heads to Perth in a couple of weeks and a lot of Western Australians aren’t able to make the trip over.

“This is the only round in the eastern half of Australia until the last weekend in March when it comes back to Adelaide.”

Holland said South Coast Raceway officials were rapt to host the opening round of the series, which reverted to a calendar year in 2013.

He said the disappointment at having fewer racers nominate — the same meeting last year attracted 165 — was countered by owning the prize weekend.

“We can’t really complain too much. Portland is round number one. We’ve got a pretty good date there,” he said.

“Last year when we held round one we were the first eight-mile (200-metre) track to hold a round and the first Victorian track to hold a round in nine years.

“Pretty much our biggest concern at the moment is the weather and we’ve been fielding calls from racers far and wide. In this neck of the woods you can’t bet on anything. We’ve got our fingers crossed we get a nice calm day.”

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