Sport

Mick stuck it rich in the final of Rushworth Goldrush

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March 22, 2017

Victorian driver Mick Nicola Sr chalked up a hard-fought win against some tough local and interstate competition.

VICTORIAN driver Mick Nicola Sr chalked up a hard-fought win against some tough local and interstate competition in the 40-lap final of the Super Sedan Fun City Goldrush.

Rushworth Speedway fans were treated to two days of Super Sedan action during the long weekend.

The goldrush was promoted as the season’s richest race for Super Sedans in Victoria, with more than $13,000 on offer and a cool $5000 cheque for the winner.

Saturday’s heats were across three rounds, with the cars being broken into two divisions.

Heat wins went to Tasmanian champion Corey Smith, Queensland champ Matty Pascoe, Pascoe again, Mick Nicola Sr, Pascoe and Ash Bergmeier.

The fastest time was recorded by Peter Nicola in heat 1B with 16.689 for the lap.

The two 15-lap semi-finals offered $500 each to the winners, so competition was strong. Point scores were divided into fields of odds and evens, to ensure equal competition.

Preliminary final one consisted of Pascoe on pole from Mick Nicola Sr, Mick Nicola Jr, Paul Blenkiron, Anthony Randall, Neil Witnish, Ben Faulkhead, and Alan Stockton.

Pascoe led from start to finish, clearing out from the field at every opportunity following restarts. Nicola Jr got past Nicola Sr on lap six to take second spot, while Randall progressed to third.

After that, finishing order was Nicola Sr, Witnish, Faulkhead and Stockdale. Blenkiron retired on lap two.

The second preliminary had the battle of the number 16s, with Victoria’s Bergmeier on pole from Tasmanian Smith. Following was Queensland’s Trent Wilson, David Mackenzie, Lionel West, Scott Whittle and Ken Pierce.

Bergmeier grabbed an early lead and thwarted a concerted series of attacks from Smith.

Wilson was never really challenged for third and was followed home by Whittle, Mackenzie, Pierce and West.

Sunday morning came with threatening skies and overnight work, making most of the 21 nominations available for the two split heats and 40-lap final scheduled for the evening.

With semi-final wins, Pascoe and Bergmeier had emerged as overnight favourites for the capacity crowd.

After an early shower of rain, heat one was run on a tacky track, which only improved during the night, providing one of the best racing surfaces yet seen at Rushworth.

Heat wins went to Wilson, Bergmeier, Nicola Sr and Bergmeier again. With Pascoe scoring a fourth and a second in his two heats, the front row of the final was sealed with Bergmeier and Pascoe up front.

Bergmeier, Pascoe, Mick Nicola Sr, Wilson, Smith, Blenkiron, Randall, Witnish, West, Whittle, Stockdale and Pierce was the order for the final.

When the flag dropped on the field, leaders Bergmeier and Pascoe came together heavily in turn one.

Bergmeier claimed the lead from Pascoe, Nicola and Wilson. This lasted just one lap when a three-car crash brought on the yellow. While this was being sorted out, Bergmeier retired to the infield with a flat back tyre, a legacy of his spar with Pascoe.

With the leader and equal favourite out, Pascoe inherited the lead followed by Nicola, Smith and Wilson. Smith got past Wilson following the restart, but this was short lived as teammates West and Faulkhead clashed, leaving West with a large hole in his vehicle and Faulkhead a retirement.

Another restart and with just five laps down, things went horribly wrong for race leader Pascoe, when part of his front suspension broke in the front straight and the car turned hard right to crash into the concrete on turn one. Pascoe later said the car had been unsettled since his confrontation with Bergmeier.

This incident was not over yet, as Stockdale spun in an attempt to avoid the wreckage of Pascoe’s car, only to have the following car of West crash into him, destroying the front of Stockdale’s vehicle. With just five laps covered, the Rushworth infield was beginning to resemble a mechanical grave-yard!

This time it was Nicola in the lead, followed by Smith, Wilson, Randall, Blenkiron and Witnish. Nicola opened an advantage of about 50m from Smith and shortly extended this to a half-lap buffer with the rest of the field unchanged.

Smith in turn had put about 100m between himself and Wilson.

With 10 laps remaining, Witnish got past Blenkiron. Nicola’s position seemed secure and again the race settled until, with just three laps to go Witnish and Blenkiron tangled on turn four and the yellow flag came out again.

The restart meant Nicola’s significant lead had evaporated, and Smith saw this as his opportunity to pounce. A great battle ensued, with Smith attacking vigorously, coming up alongside Nicola through the turns, but Nicola held the outside line to narrowly stay in front by 0.47 seconds.

Most of the competitors said they intended to return for the Victorian Super Sedan Championships at Rushworth Speedway next month.

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