Matt Forbes has won a historic double in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series at Fuchs South Coast Raceway by becoming the first Sportsman (Groups Two, Three, Four) racer to win two ANDRA Christmas Trees at one event.
Forbes, from Ballarat, took honours in both Super Gas and Modified to sweep the event following his top qualifying efforts in both classes on Saturday.
He was made to work for it early with a tough first round against Jeff Romeo in Super Gas where he was pinned to the tree following Romeo’s .010 reaction time. Forbes needed to be perfect running a 6.300, the exact fixed index for Super Gas over the eighth-mile, to win from a 6.27 break out in the other lane.
A solo semi final saw Forbes coast into the decider where he met Colin Griffin and this time the two-time Super Gas champ had the start line advantage. Forbes led all the way to win on a holeshot with a 6.332 second pass to Griffin’s quicker but losing 6.317.
Modified was even tougher with three blockbuster matchups following a solo Round 1 against former champion Shane Wynd and Kenny Stewart before a showdown with Leanne Braggs in the final.
Once again Forbes had the reaction time advantage to record a winning 4.634 ET on a 4.63 dial in leaving Braggs to chase and ultimately break out with a 4.653 on a 4.66 dial in.
“It was a lot of hard work (to win two) that’s for sure, a lot of dedication and time at the shop getting ready,” said Forbes.
“We have a lot of great support, great sponsors and great crew guys. It was our goal when I purchased a dragster – Modified is such a tough class – I wanted to purchase a dragster and win Christmas Trees in Modified. That was my goal, I’m a goal setter and we work hard to achieve it.
“The next goal was going to be to double up somewhere and take the two cars. I’ve been fortunate enough to double up in Modified and Super Gas at the same event. I’m still a bit numb at the moment, it’s a great feeling.”
Forbes is the first racer to win twice in one event since Australian drag racing legend Jim Read previously won two Group One Gold Christmas Trees in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the 1975 Nationals.
Craig Geddes (Minors Rest, VIC) made it two wins from two Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series starts following his Super Comp victory at the Desert Nationals in Alice Springs. He also added another national record to his tally.
To reach the final Geddes needed to defeat Wayne Talbot and Shane Baxter to secure a meeting against top qualifier Jim Ioannidis.
Chasing a National Championship this season, Geddes reacted quickly with a .022 reaction time to Ioannidis’ .165 RT. Geddes never looked back to win with a new B/D national record 4.578 elapsed time on a 4.75 index from a 5.911 ET on a 6.03 index.
“The car is going really well, we’re learning a lot,” said Geddes. “We love supporting regional tracks and had some really tough competition this weekend.
“We did much better than we thought with the competition that’s there but we felt we had some good numbers at the right times, cut some good lights when it mattered and got there in the end.”
Ioannidis gained some consolation setting a new B/MSA record speed of 117.90 mph. Kim Fardella and Shane Baxter are also new national record holders with Fardella resetting the D/G records for ET and speed with a 5.215 second pass and 131.69 mph. Baxter set new marks for CC/DA with a 4.328 ET and 159.39 mph.
In Supercharged Outlaws Jason Keily (West Melbourne, VIC) won his first ever ANDRA Christmas Tree defeating Warren Leonard and Brian Lockman on his way to a final win against David Thornton.
Keily recorded a 4.951 ET on a 4.65 dial in and just when it looked as though he would settle for the runner up, Thornton went too quick for his nominated dial in with a 4.623 second pass on a 6.63 dial in.
“It feels fantastic, I didn’t think we’d ever get one,” said Keily
“We’ve run the car at a few meetings and haven’t had a lot of luck. We think we’ve finally sorted it out and it’s a credit to the crew, it’s fantastic. Thanks to ANDRA and South Coast Raceway, it’s been a great weekend.”
Jason Arbery (Mt Gambier, SA) took the honours in Top Sportsman defeating Jeff Fitzgerald in a final decided at the start line. Fitzgerald fouled for a red light by just 0.012 seconds allowing Arbery to take the win on a 5.449 ET on the 5.39 dial in. Arbery needed to advance past Stuart McBain and Julian Carafa to reach the final.
Steve Hunt (Mawson Lakes, SA) pushed his Ford XW Panel Van through four rounds of racing to meet Danny Buccella in the Super Sedan final. Near identical reaction times of .013 to .014 meant Buccella closed in fast on Hunt who had the advantage. But Buccella ran out of real estate as Hunt crossed the line first with a 6.458 ET on the 6.45 dial in from a 5.722 ET with a 5.67 dial in.
Tasmanian Shane Walker won Modified Bike first defeating Johnny Ireland, Jamie Dohnt and Jake MacFarlane before a solo semi final cruise into the final. Walker defeated Wally Hosta with a 5.991 ET on a 5.95 dial in from a break out 6.112 ET on a 6.14 dial in.
South Australian’s Harry Harris and Kylie Tanner met in the Super Street final with Harris winning for the second consecutive occasion in Portland with a 7.264 ET on the 7.26 dial in to Tanner’s breakout 7.307 ET and 7.31 dial in. Harris earlier eliminated John Kalantzis, Chris Tatchell, Samuel Franze and Jodie Kendall.
In Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster, Daniel Carranza almost completed a fairy tale run advancing to his first ever National Championship final. It wasn’t to be as top qualifier Kelly Donnelly (MacDonald Park, SA) reeled Carranza in to win with an 8.114 ET on the 8.01 dial in from a 12.383 on a 12.30 dial in. A solo bye run in Round 1 set Donnelly on her way to defeating Tim Baker and Jordan Spencer before the final.
ANDRA would like to thank all the staff and volunteers at Fuchs South Coast Raceway for a great weekend of racing and look forward to returning on January 16-17, 2016.
The next round of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series is scheduled for November 27-28 at Warwick Dragway in Queensland.