New champ in action tonight
By GREG COOMBES
AUSTRALIA has a new national V8 Dirt Modified Champion in Lismore's Mark Robinson, who will be seen in action at tonight's Grafton Speedway meeting.
Robinson triumphed in the 30-lap championship decider, held at the Brisbane International Speedway last Saturday night.
It was a NSW trifecta, with former Australian Champion Stuart Herne second and Newcastle's Tony Sneddon taking out third.
Robinson's victory is especially sweet, emulating the efforts of his father Steve Robinson, a former National Champion.
Qualifying out of position seven in the 30-lap feature, Robinson had made his way up to second at lap 12, using the pole line on a drying track to advance himself.
Soon after, Robinson took the lead and after realising the high line was not there, drove conservatively to take the title.
"After I saw Tim Morse and others go backwards trying to use the high line, I knew that the bottom was the place to be," he said.
"My front axle broke as I was giving back the chequered flag from the victory lap, so I guess I had my share of luck as well."
Former champion Stuart Herne had a night he would rather forget on the first qualifying night, forcing him to race in the B Main before starting out of 17 in the title event.
"After the first night, I guess we have to be happy with second," he said. "We had to pass about 22 cars, but there was still one left. Congratulations to Mark."
Tonight at Grafton Speedway, the annual 50-lap Mr Modified Series will be the first event, where Robinson will wear the coveted 'Australia No.1'.
Grafton hosts the Channel Ten round 2 of the series tonight, with Round 1 held at Lismore on Boxing Day. Lismore's Steve Wright won he night from Newcastle's Scott Cannon and Robinson third.
Drivers from all over Australia will compete tonight at Grafton in a unique format that covers twice the distance of a regular feature.
After 25 laps, drivers return to the infield where fuel is added and important changes are made to the car. The pit stop is also a valuable time for crews to repair damage from the carnage of the opening 25 laps.
Lismore's Wright said: "The pit stop is a great idea. The opening laps at the start can be pretty frantic and damage occurs quite often, so some repairs and adjustments for the second stint can be needed."
Nominations include the top three place-getters from the recent Australian title, so the action will be intense.
Racing gets underway at 6pm.