All Photos by: Corey Gibson Photography
By Sprintcars Australia – Jan 28, 2024
The 2024 Locked Down Australian Sprintcar Championship delivered high drama, some big crashes, great racing and unfortunately a rain delay, but when it was all said and done it produced a new Champion with Queenslander Lachlan McHugh taking out his maiden National crown.
After finishing second 12 months ago in Perth McHugh went 1 spot better as he crossed the line ahead of Jamie Veal and Jock Goodyer in a non-stop 40 lap finale at the Premier Speedway in Warrnambool.
“I can’t really believe it. A couple of years ago I lead the race for 30 something laps and just fell short and then yeah so close last year finishing second and just fell short again. Yeah, can’t really believe I got it done this year, so really happy with it. It was probably the worst I’ve felt heading into Australian title for a number of years and funny how it works”
“I didn’t really feel that good in the heat, we gained some spots in the heat race tonight but didn’t really feel great but obviously the rain changed the track a lot and Nick (Speed) made the right calls with the car and we were able to get around high and low in that feature which sort of made the difference in getting around those guys which I think one is the race” commented the new Australian Champion as the team celebrated.
Second across the line was local favourite Jamie Veal, who collected his sixth career podium in the Australian Championship and his second runner-up finish in the last three title events.
“We had a good car there while we were out front. My guys gave me a great car again tonight. I would like to thank all of my sponsors, Ryder Engines, Maxim Chassis, they all provide me with the tools I need to run up front. I got caught up behind a few lapped cars there and I think that really cost us and once Lockie got by me he was simply too fast”.
“It is what it is. That’s Sprintcar racing. We will load up and go again and try and win another one next year. I think I proved to everyone out there that I can still drive these cars” added Jamie after the race.
After starting on the front row Goodyer did all he could to defend his Title, but he fell a couple of spots short as he finished a distant third, over five seconds behind the race winner.
“The rain prior to the main made it hard to move around the track and it was just hammer down, which was a shame. Losing the start put us back in a spot and the ground we lost was hard to make up. Congratulations to my mate Lockie, last year we were on the podium together and here we are again this year. Thanks to my guys for the effort, they put in and now we look forward to getting the #1 at Murray Bridge, a track that I have a pretty good record at and really enjoy” commented Goodyer following the A-Main.
Fourth place went the way of young Victorian Jordyn Charge, who continued his recent run of good form. In fact, Charge was the last driver to complete the 40-lap distance as McHugh lapped up to fifth placed Grant Anderson. Preliminary night winner James Inglis, Alex Orr, Kerry Madsen, who transferred via the B-Main, Cam Waters and Luke Dillon completed the top 10in the 20-driver line-up.
Pole sitter and early race leader Brock Hallett was the main story of the race as the driveline let go on the Q5 while pacing the field. With his retirement Veal took over the lead but with 12 laps remaining McHugh made the winning move.
Prior to the A-Main a brief shower drifted over the venue forcing a delay with the soaked racetrack requiring some track work and then pre-race hot laps. During the hot lap session former Champion James McFadden encountered an engine failure ruling him out of the event. Tasmanian Jamie Bricknell took his spot in the feature line-up.