BANNOCKBURN formula 500 driver James Aranyosi won the battle but Brisbane gun Charlie Brown won the war on the final night of Speedweek.
Aranyosi, 21, was a convincing victor in the series grand final at Allansford’s Premier Speedway, which doubled as the Jack Willsher Cup.
The win, on Sunday night, made it back-to-back round triumphs for the former Australian title runner-up.
He also won at Simpson a night earlier.
But while Aranyosi took the grand final in impressive style off the front row, Brown kept him in his sights and finished third.
The result secured Brown the Speedweek title. He finished on 781 points, ahead of Aranyosi on 773 in one of the closest finishes in years.
Warrnambool young gun Jye O’Keefe was third with 712. Gold Coast’s Cody Maroske, 692, and Terang’s Ash Sinclair, 665, rounded out the top five.
Aranyosi said he was rapt to win the Jack Willsher Cup, which was rescheduled after rain washed out racing on December 21.
“That’s been one of the main things. I’ve been trying to win this for the last couple of years,” he said. “Speedweek is right up there but the Jack Willsher Cup is not far behind.”
Aranyosi said he was “stoked” but slightly frustrated at finishing second in the series, his best-ever result.
He rued a bizarre turn of events at Darlington on Friday night when his engine stalled in the A main and he was sent to the back of the field.
Moments later, a spectator — coincidentally a member of Brown’s crew — broke a collarbone in a fall, which required treatment from paramedics.
Time constraints meant stewards declared the race, with Aranyosi running last and Brown in second — a result which ultimately proved crucial.
“I knew coming into tonight if I had have finished where I was sitting at (Darlington), we would’ve been on even points,” Aranyosi said.
“That’s pretty tough looking at it that way but there’s not much you can do about that,” he said.
Brown said he was rapt to claim his first Speedweek title in his fourth visit to Victoria for the series.
His previous best result was second a few years back.
He ranked the achievement up there with a set of state crowns — the Queensland and Victorian titles in 2011 and the New South Wales title in 2010.
“Consistency is the number one thing, you’ve got to not worry about winning every race but finish every race,” he said.
“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve focused on this year, finishing every race and getting those points.”
Brown chuckled at his fortune — but also misfortune — over the drama at Darlington, which gave him breathing space ahead of Aranyosi on the standings.
“Unfortunately that bloke (who broke a collarbone) was one of my crew guys,” he said.
“It was a bit of bad luck for us, we were down a crew member, but in the long run it helped a lot.
“I’ve got no idea what happened. I spoke to him earlier in the day. He said he fell in a hole and it was all over.”