PODIUM FINISH: Warrnambool driver Darren Mollenoyux finished third in the World Series Sprintcars A-Main at Avalon on Friday night. ZOOM, ZOOM: Simpson driver Tim Rankin produced quick time at Premier Speedway on Sunday in a big result for his small team. Picture: Amy Paton
SIMPSON driverTim Rankin made a fast-start to his 2017 campaign, notching quick time in his first World Series Sprintcars meeting of the season on Sunday night.
The dairy farmer upstaged some of his big-name rivals to post 10.974 seconds in the rain interrupted time trials at the New Year’s Day meeting at Premier Speedway.
DARK SKIES: Sprintcar fans put their umbrellas to good use as rain falls during the time trials during the New Year’s Day meeting.
Rankin, 28, rated the result “a bonus” for his small team, which bypassed the first eight rounds of the WSS season.
He started off third in the A-Main final before crashing out spectacularly, flipping multiple times,two laps in.
“We’re small budget team and we can’t do much,” Rankinsaid after time trials.
“But we had a bigger motor we wanted to get right for the classic.”
GRAND PLANS: Allansford sprintcar driver Tim Van Ginneken hopes to turn his home-track form around this summer.
Rankin will compete at the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic –the sport’s pinnacle in Australia –later this month.
“This year we have no expectations –we’re here to enjoy it,” he said.
“We haven’t missed one for a while now. We’ve made the A-Main four times but last year had a DNF (did not finish).”
Rankin was the only driver to break the 10-second barrier, with Warrnambool competitor James McFadden the next best with 11.001.
The south-west pair were in the same flight, with South Australian Steven Lines (11.162) claiming top honours in flight one.
Terang racer Jack Lee won his two heats after at the front of the pack.
Lee said it was important to take a positive mindset into the heats after a tough time trial.
“We missed time and were unlucky with the weather,” he said.
“You pick your bag up and keep going down the road.”
Fellow south-west drivers –Simpson’s John Vogels and Purnim’s Dion Bellman –were also among the heat winners.
Western Australian Scott Reilly andSouth Australian duo Mitch Foster and Jake Tranter rounded out the heat victors.
The top-eight shootout, in which Warrnambool matesMcFadden and Jamie Veal were poised to go head-to-head in the gold race,was scrapped after showers impacted the program late.
The B-Main and A-Main were then run back-to-back.
Nine-time series champion Brooke Tatnell started off pole in the B-Main and held sway. Tatnell advanced along with Tranter, Tim Hutchins, Andrew Wright, Adam King and Braydan Willmington.
Vogels and Mailors Flat’s Peter Doukas crashed out two laps into the second-chance 15-lap final.
The A-Main had a strong south-west flavourwith McFadden, Veal, Rankin, Darren Mollenoyux, who finished third at Avalon on Friday night, Tim Van Ginneken and Corey McCullagh featured.
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