Warrnambool’s Jamie Veal withstood several challenges to win Saturday night’s Sprintcar Gold Cup at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway when he defeated fellow Warrnambool hard charger Darren Mollenoyux with West Australian import Ryan Farrell home in third. On a perfect night weatherwise, the leading trio provided plenty of entertainment on a wide and racy surface while overall the night was littered with great races, hard crashes and the Boxing Night crowd were treated to a thrilling event.

Avalon’s Sprintcar Gold Cup doubled as the ninth round of the rich Eureka Garages and Sheds Sprintcar Series while Essendon Ford Sprintcar Track Championship points were also on offer. Coming into the event Veal held a slender point lead over Mollenoyux in the Eureka Sprintcar standings and courtesy of his stunning drive managed to extend his lead albeit narrowly.

Coming into the top 6 pole shootout following the completion of the heat races, Veal made a decisive move when he rocketed from fifth highest in points to pole position courtesy of a stunning 11.7 second lap of the circuit. From this point the 23 year old went to work in his SWI Engineering backed #35 as he firstly withstood challenges from front row occupant Ryan Farrell as they went wheel to wheel for the opening two laps of the 30 lap feature before he ultimately would lead Farrell through the first handful of laps.

The latter stages of the event following a small number of cautions, Mollenoyux closed on Veal in traffic and challenged both on the low side and the outside for the lead. Ultimately keeping a cool head under pressure, Veal managed to fend off the advances of Mollenoyux and with a caution five laps from the finish allowed Veal the breathing space in clear air at the front to complete the popular win.

“It’s great to get a win here at Avalon before World Series later in the week, the car was great and the crew did an awesome job,” beamed Veal from victory lane.

Charging from fourth on the grid and into the runner up spot, Mollenoyux admitted the team missed the crucial setup required to qualify higher than fourth in the top 6 pole shootout. Earlier Mollenoyux had qualified second highest in points behind Farrell but the pole shootout miscue sent him to the second row for the feature. Finding plenty of drive on the bottom to scoot by firstly Tim Rankin, then Farrell, Mollenoyux went around the highline as he reeled in Veal to eventually finish in second place. A broken power steering line looked like it could derail his campaign earlier in the night however the team made the necessary repairs enabling Mollenoyux to finish strongly.

It was a long awaited debut in the Bayaire Industries #2 for Farrell and his Victorian fans weren’t disappointed, as Farrell’s heat performances were superb. Ninth to third in his opening heat had fans cheering then a solid win in his second heat elevated him to highest point scorer status. Second quickest in the pole shootout ensured Farrell would be in the thick of the action and he didn’t disappoint with firstly his battle with Veal, then secondly with Mollenoyux highlights of the final.

Simpson star Tim Rankin filled fourth position and once again showed speed and poise beyond his relative youth. Rankin chased Farrell to the line in his earlier heat race showing the impressive speed of his Hawkes Transport supported #47.

Fifth home was popular Eureka Series regular Brett Milburn after he propelled himself into the top five from seventh on the grid. A pair of third place finishes in arguably the toughest heats of the night ensured Milburn would start from the fourth row and despite the challenges he managed a strong fifth place finish.

Rounding out the finishers were Ricky Barrand, Rod Mathews, Eddie Lumbar, Charles Hunter, Domain Ramsay in tenth, Darren Hickman, Peter Milnes and Carl Ludeman. Eighth starting Mike Van Bremen registered a DNF, as did Simon Van Ginneken. Queensland’s Brent Aprile excelled to start from sixth on the grid however a mid race incident saw him also not finish the race while Nick Lacey and Stephen Bell were others not to finish.

Bell in particular was unlucky not to finish inside to top five after he romped from tenth to third in the B-main and then set about motoring into fifth from his fifteenth starting spot in the A-main. The defending Essendon Ford Sprintcar track champion was on a mission before suspected rear end failure halted his unbelievable charge five laps from the finish. Bell earlier dropped out of a heat race due to loose header pipes, which effectively sentenced him to the B-main.

Nick Lacey sped to the B-main win ahead of Milnes, Bell, Hickman, Barrand and Van Ginneken as all six drivers advanced to the back of the A-main. Meanwhile the earlier fireball that engulfed rookie Adam King’s Sprintcar had everyone on edge. A suspected missing fuel cap splashed raw fuel over King and the car when there was a crash in turn four and the fuel ignited in a scary incident. Fortunately the quick work of the Victorian Fire and Rescue squad ensured the fire was extinguished quickly and the young driver managed to escape any serious injuries. Simpson’s John Vogels was one of the first people on the scene after he was involved in the crash and he quickly leapt from his own car to assist King’s fiery escape.

Vogels had earlier won the C-main to advance to the back of the B-main while Tim Van Ginneken, King and Brenton Farrer were others to transfer. John Baynes came to grief in the C-main with a heavy hit on the main straight wall ending his night abruptly.

Heat wins went the way of Mollenoyux, Rod Mathews, Domain Ramsay and Carl Ludeman while the second round qualifiers were taken out by Charles Hunter, Veal, Eddie Lumbar and Farrell.

Local ace Mark Carlin sped to a narrow and exciting win in the Modified Production Christmas Cup when he defeated Russell Bent by the narrowest margin. Trailing Carlin and Bent to the line was Justin Drew while rookie Brody Chrystie stunned everyone present with a pair of heat wins against the quality field.

Avalon Raceway now looks forward to Friday and Saturday night when firstly World Series Sprintcars makes it’s way to Geelong on Friday before the Oval Express Formula 500 Series hits town on Saturday night.

Website; www.avalonraceway.com

For more info contact Jeff Drew 0418 160 985 / Gavin White email gwxp@speedway.net.au