Brad Baker was there when it counted last season at Perth Motorplex, taking out the Modified State championship, even overcoming an early-season engine failure.
That might not sound like a lucky break, but the fortunate part for Baker was that a small field at the following event meant the category could not be contested and he lost no points advantage as he rebuilt and resumed his season.
“The motor dropped a valve in the second meeting of the season so we ended up missing the third meeting but when there was no Modified bracket it worked in our favour,” he said. “It was a bit costly to replace that with cylinder head work, new valves and new pistons all needed.
“It’s a financial challenge to make every meeting and certainly when you have an engine failure.”
Despite the early hiccup, Baker was able to recover his momentum and especially towards the end of the series he felt he had his groove back.
“I gained a lot of confidence in the car during the season and it was just a matter of fine tuning things after that,” he said. “I still had a couple of losses but they were by bare margins.”
Late in the season, Modified competitors were shocked when fellow racer Simon Lekias passed away. With Lekias having kept his illness very private, Baker said it came as a tough moment.
“We believe that he was just generally crook. We had even made plans for an event to have a cook up because he wasn’t going to be at the Grand Final. He didn’t show up and just said he wasn’t feeling well and later I got a call to say he only had 24 hours to go.”
Baker was able to smile at the thought that even from a place beyond the race track, Lekias was able to help.
“Simon was always a tough competitor to race against and when he wasn’t there I guess he was making it that little bit easier for us.”
Next season Baker has plans to do some engine development and try and find some more horsepower.
“If we can squeeze a bit more out of it we will do that, but if we find that the engine is at its limit then I will look at trying to sell that and go bigger and better,” he said.
“If it is at its maximum then it is just a case of starting again with a better foundation.”
And as far as the category as a whole goes, Baker hopes Modified will get a much needed boost in entries.
“I have heard of a few more cars coming back in. But I do like the smaller group as it has brought back that camaraderie.”