Stares perfects title defence, Lisle overcomes helish road trip

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Australian Top Sportsman champion Jason Stares has started his title defence off in the best possible way by taking victory tonight as part of the Nitro Up North event, in what was his first ever trip to Darwin.

The Hidden Valley Drag Strip hosted a frenetic evening of racing for the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series on Saturday, with Stares joined in the winners’ circle by Joel Burns (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Grant Radcliffe (Modified), Matt Lisle (Modified Bike), Kim Fardella (Super Comp), Chris Parris (Super Sedan), Tim Bryan (Super Street) and Adam Murrihy (Supercharged Outlaws).

To say the last 12 months of the New South Welshman’s racing career has been phenomenal would be an understatement. Until last season, Stares had never won an ANDRA tree, with his 2015/2016 season finally seeing him take out two silver trees and the gold at the Grand Final on his way to taking out the ultimate gold trophy as Champion.

This evening, he would take on Todd Knight in round one before enjoying a bye run on his way to a finals victory over Ben Phillips. Stares was just one of a host of racers who have travelled to Darwin for the first time this weekend, joined by racers including (but not limited to) Craig Geddes (Competition Champion), Kim Fardella (Super Stock Champion), Bryan Finn (Modified Bike Champion), Vlado Turic (Super Sedan), Mark Hunt, Doina Day and Justin Russell (Supercharged Outlaws), John Kapiris (Super Sedan Champion), David Yanko (Super Sedan), Matt Lisle (Super Compact Champion on this occasion racing on two wheels) and Daniel Carranza (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster).

“I didn’t think we had won – Benny Phillips put up a hell of a fight. We crossed the line and he crossed first but unfortunately broke out by eight thousandths. I feel bad for him but I feel great as well to get another win,” said Stares, who took the win with a 7.34s/195.36mph pass on a 7.29s dial-in from Phillips’ 8.482s/159.51mph result on a 8.49s dial-in.

“Benny had a bit of drama starting up there for the final – he had a fire come out and so we shut down and waited for him to put the fire out and clean the car up, and then we fired up again and raced him. At the end of the day we were the lucky ones.

“Defending the Championship is what it is all about isn’t it, going for number two, and we couldn’t have had a better start – it is unbelievable.

“As usual the car was absolutely killer. I think we put down three 7.30s, a 7.28s and a 731s pass so the car was faultless. The driver could probably use a little bit of polishing, but we will get there for next weekend.

“We can’t wait (for the Alice Springs event) – for racing new tracks and new people, with a bit of a holiday in between.

“I have got to say a massive thank you to Jeff Pahlke at Lucas Oil Australia – there is no way we could have come up here to both the races without his support. Also to Aaron and Bruno at VPW Australia, Pro Flow, Sunoco, SunX and Sunset Performance Engines.”


In Modified Bike, New South Welshman and current Super Compact Champion Matt Lisle swapped four wheels for two, enduring the road trip from hell ahead of tonight’s victory. On his way to hoisting the trophy, he took on Leigh Darrach (round one), Brian Hotker (round two) and Heath Costello (round three) before facing Murray High in the final. He would take victory with a 10.258s pass at 124.65mph (10.18 dial-in) from High’s 9.909s/137.34mph result (9.76 dial-in).

“This feels pretty surreal,” said Lisle.

“We had the road trip from hell – I hit a kangaroo somewhere between St George and Mitchell and that sent us flying off the road, and then the trailer has hit something else. I didn’t realise it had broken the trailer at the time, I was a couple of hundred ‘ks’ up the road and I thought the bike looks a bit funny, so I got out, and everything was just a mess.

“I have broken or scratched every faring on the bike, the trailer is broken and has no mud guards on it – I had more bike straps holding the trailer together than the bike on the trailer! For me, just getting to the front gate was a win.

“But race day was awesome. I couldn’t have dreamt it to go any better. It was just like one obstacle at a time and it just got better and better and I just started cutting better lights – I struggled with lights for a little while. I said to Phil that it is mainly because of the car (Lisle often also competes on four wheels).

“Because it has got enough to run home pretty hard I am getting lazy, so I have been really crappy on the tree, but the last two runs tonight was a 0.50 and a 0.40 reaction times, which is sort of where I need to be.

“In the final, I took two looks in the mirror and (Murray High) was still behind me so I rolled off early and I thought, okay, this is it, I’ve won. It was good!”


In Super Comp, Kim Fardella’s victory came after dispatching fellow West Aussies Dave Dequen and Jamie Chaisty in the earlier rounds, before facing Craig Geddes in the final. An 8.468s (8.72s dial-in)/159.57mph effort would see Fardella trump Geddes’ 7.412s (7.62s)/175.27mph pass. For Geddes, tonight’s finals appearance follows on from taking five wins from six finals last season, on his way to winning the Competition Eliminator championship.

For Super Sedan winner Chris Parris, victory came after taking on Darren Baumann, Travis Hagen, Des Groves and Daniel Franklin, with a finals effort of 9.339s/142.93mph (9.32 dial-in) handing him the trophy over Franklin’s 8.549s (8.58s)/160.10mph pass. Super Sedan outfit Full Throttle Racing won the Gridstar by YBI Best Presented Team Award, with the team receiving Best Presented Trophy, six Best Presented caps and a $50 Summit Racing Equipment credit voucher.

Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster winner Joel Burns impressed with wins over Madison Brown, Lachlan Slamar and Brooke Harris before defeating Jasmine Slamar in the final with a 8.279s (8.12s)/74.88s pass; while in Super Street, Tim Bryan took on Sam Campbell and Allan Hutchen before taking victory with a 11.752s/119.38mph result in the final from a red-lighting Shaun Boyer.


Grant Radcliffe (8.296s/140.80mph) and Adam Murrihy (6.724s/167.66mph) found themselves taking home the winners’ trophy in the Modified and Supercharged Outlaws brackets. Radcliffe faced Bradley Hicks and Allan Arthus on his way to victory, while the top qualifying Murrihy took on and defeated Jay Bouchere, Alan Mahnkoph and Doina Day to kick off his title defence in style.

While the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series provided plenty of fanfare for the packed house at Hidden Valley, there was also plenty of other action on-show across the evening, including championship racing for Top Doorslammer and Top Fuel Motorcycle and thrilling exhibition passes from both Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars and Top Fuel racers.

In fact, Aaron Hambridge and Wayne Newby ensured the night concluded with as much excitement as possible by punching out side-by-side 4.61 second passes in their Top Fuel dragsters, with Hambridge setting a 4.610 second effort at 336mph, while Newby traversed the track in 4.614s at 289.57mph – one of the quickest side-by-side passes in Australia to go alongside Damien Harris’ earlier 4.581 second pass at 321.73 mph – a new Hidden Valley Drag Strip track record.

ANDRA congratulates the Hidden Valley Drag Racing Association on a fantastic event and thanked the volunteers for their outstanding efforts prior to and throughout the weekend.

For full results from today’s racing, please click here.

The next round of the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series will be the Desert Nationals, held next weekend at Alice Springs Dragway across Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July, 2016. The event will feature racing for Top Doorslammer, Super Stock, Supercharged Outlaws, Super Street, Super Compact, Super Sedan, Super Gas, Comp Bike, Modified, Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster, Competition, Top Sportsman and Mod Bike. On-track action will be held from approximately 11.00am to 5.00pm each day. For more detailed event information, please click here.


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