The Sunset Nationals have well and truly impressed in Mildura, with an action-packed day of racing ensuring plenty of happy campers at the Sunset Strip today.
When all was said and done, it was Rob Bergamin (Super Gas), Cooper Plummer (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Tony Antonino (Super Street), Lucas Neagoe (Modified Bike), Corey Pocock (Super Sedan), Simon Barlow (Modified), Vlado Turic (Top Sportsman), Dale Tucker (Supercharged Outlaws), Joe Khoury (Competition Bike) and Steve Norman (Super Comp) who took out the prestigious ANDRA Christmas Tree trophies.
Claiming the runner-up honours were Jason Wilson (Super Gas), Nathaniel Kuchel (Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster), Paul Jennings (Super Street), Derryn McGregor (Modified Bike), Chris Lioulios (Super Sedan), Kenny Stewart (Modified), Stuart McBain (Top Sportsman), Mark Hunt (Supercharged Outlaws), Rob Church (Competition Bike) and Craig Geddes (Super Comp).
In Super Gas, Bergamin – the reigning Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Champion for the bracket – was ecstatic with his victory aboard his VF Valiant. To line-up against Wilson in the final, he had taken earlier victories from Mark Calus (round one), Colin Griffin and Renee Cockerill – who defeated Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier, Des Woolstencroft, in round two – while Wilson had faced off against Michael De Rose (round one) and Jordan Spencer before enjoying a bye-run in the semi-final.
“I am absolutely over the moon because I am currently the Australian Champion for Super Gas and I remember last year I said that I hope to do well again this year, so I am over the moon with this,” Bergamin said.
“In qualifying I was going a little quick and had to get the car sorted, but after that we just nailed it and got it the way we wanted it to be working.
“I have got to thank my crew, Pete’s Classic Cars, Bergamin Brothers Racing, and Peter from South West Automatics who did my transmission in Sydney. Thanks to my brother Frank, Petros, Bill Hondros, and Super Street racer Tony Antonino – we all work together and help each other, and it was fantastic to have two Mopars in the final, one in Super Gas and one in Super Street.
“I was really happy too to run Jason Wilson in the final, it was a tough run, but we pulled through.”
In Super Street, Tony Antonino took the win over Paul Jennings in his Valiant S Series following earlier wins over Ryan Lee (round one), Dutchy Holland, George Varelias and Tex Griffiths, while Jennings had faced off against Dimos Stefanopoulos (round one) and Dean Doolan ahead of a round three bye and a semi-final win over Nathan Micallef – who had defeated Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Rohan Hutson in round three.
“I am pumped; absolutely wrapped,” Antonino said.
“This is what we come here to do. The meeting was run flawlessly, from qualifying yesterday to pushing through rounds today, it was just enjoyable all weekend. I think Dave Thornton did an excellent job as Meeting Director and the weather was on our side somewhat.
“I want to say a big thank you to Bergamin Brothers Racing, being Frank and Rob Bergamin, and a big congratulations to Rob on his win in Super Gas as well. Also, a big congratulations to Jennings on the runner-up and a nice race in the final.
“Finally, I want to say a special thanks to my crew, without them it would be very difficult to do this: Bill Hondros and Petros Filiangouras who drove through the night to be here today, Pete Costa who took time off from Pete’s Classic Cars to dedicate himself as a crew member for myself and Rob Bergamin today, and also Jason Minicozzi who has been part of my crew throughout the season but was unable to make it this weekend.”
In Super Sedan, Corey Pocock and his EH Panel Van took the win over Chris Lioulios following a busy day of racing that saw him take on Brendan Carr (round one), Chevy Taylor, Nikolas Karanovic and Gary Vogelsang, while Lioulios earned his place in the final following wins over Darren Russell (round one), Kym Driesener, Steve Paech – who dispatched Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Tony Miskelly in the second round – and Dave Todd.
“It has been a terrible few months for me with deaths and accidents and so on, so it was just a relief to be honest, and it is also my first ANDRA Christmas Tree, so I am really happy,” Pocock said.
“Every race today came down to a few thousandths, they were all really tough. But the car was perfect, and the crew was perfect, and that makes it easier.
“I normally don’t have too much luck at Mildura for some reason, but this was a great weekend with mates, and it is fantastic. Everyone has helped out – Wes, Dave, Graham, Simon and Brett – so thank you to my crew, Work and Play Trailers, my wife Kristie and my kids Austin and Sydney, and also all the track staff who put in the work so we can do what we do. Also thank you to Chris Lioulios – I have a lot of respect for him, so to race him in the final was pretty cool.”
In Competition Bike, reigning Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Competition Bike Champion, Joe Khoury, took the win over Rob Church in his Harley VRod Destroyer following a three-round Chicago Shootout. To secure his place in the final, Khoury had secured wins over David Willis, Nick Thompson and Mark Habel, while Church notched up victories over Nick Thompson, Mark Habel and Archie Fabian. The Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier was Locky Ireland.
“To get the win was a good follow up from winning the championship least season, this is my first ANDRA event since then, and pretty much stamps my authority on Competition Bike in my class I think,” Khoury said.
“I can’t wait to head to Portland to do it all again hopefully! This weekend, it was great, a great track, a great facility. I have always been pretty successful here and I love it. Thanks to my crew and also to my sponsors Twin Tune Dyno Tuning Australia, VP Racing Fuels, and Joe Khoury Motorcycle Transport.”
In Summit Racing Equipment Junior Dragster, Cooper Plummer took the win over Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier, Nathaniel Kuchel. Plummer booked his ticket to the final with wins from Deklan McGregor (round one) and Lachlan Walker before enjoying a bye run in the semi-final, while Kuchel took a round one win over Todd Wagner before a round two bye and semi-final win over Sarah Osborne.
Modified Bike saw Lucas Neagoe take the win over Derryn McGregor in his Suzuki GSXR 1000, following a round one win from Corey Gathercole, a round two bye, and a semi-final victory over Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier, Sean Ricketts. McGregor meanwhile had taken on Cheryl Beddoes and Dean Jamieson, before a semi-final bye.
In Modified, reigning Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Champion Simon Barlow had his hands full at the presentations, claiming not only the ANDRA Christmas Tree trophy after his win over Kenny Stewart but also the Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Medallion. To go to the final, Barlow had successfully taken on Matt Ponton (round two) and Adriana Cartledge (round three) following a round one bye, while Stewart had taken on Danny Wilson (round one) and Gavin Chisnell ahead of a semi-final bye.
In Top Sportsman, Vlado Turic took the win over Stuart McBain in his GTO Pontiac, after having earlier emerged victorious from match-ups against Rick Smith (round one), Brandon Freer and Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier, Darren Saliba. McBain had meanwhile taken on Dean Cleary (round one), Chris Theo and Glenn Henley.
In Supercharged Outlaws, Dale Tucker and Mark Hunt faced off for the ANDRA Christmas Tree, with Hunt sadly unable to move off the start line when the time came. On his way to the final, Tucker had taken on Brad Sullivan (round one) and Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Lucas Woodburn in his HQ GTS Sedan, while Hunt had defeated Michael Oehms in round one before a bye run in the semi-final.
In Super Comp, it all came down to Decoglaze Glass Splashbacks Top Qualifier Steve Norman and Craig Geddes, with Norman ultimately taking out the win in his BMW M3 following a round one bye and victories from Matt Forbes (round two) and Kim Fardella, while Geddes defeated Mitch Oxley (round one) and Graeme Simms on his way to a semi-final bye. Norman also laid down two new national records on his way to the victory, resetting the B/MPA ET and MPH records to 5.279 (previously 5.510) and 128.77mph (previously 120.0mph) respectively.
For full results from the Sunset Nationals, please visit https://www.andra.com.au/series/results/
ANDRA thanks the Sunraysia Drag Racing Association and all of its volunteers and sponsors for an outstanding racetrack and a well-run event.
The next Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series round of 2023 will be held as part of the Spring Nationals at the brand-new Dragway at the Bend across October 21 and 22. For event information, visit www.thebend.com.au
For more from ANDRA, visit www.andra.com.au