Blackwell blast at Ballarat

Blackwell team with the chequered flag at Ballarat. Blackwell team with the chequered flag at Ballarat.

ON SATURDAY 13 February the Bass Highway Waste Victorian Modified Production Association series stopped at Redline Raceway Ballarat for the third round of the five-round series and hot on the heels of a third successive Victorian Championship Team, Blackwell Motorsport rolled in the pit enclosure confident of a strong result.
On a race program that included Sprintcars, initial thoughts were that the track would become a black track pretty quickly. So, with this in mind and a set up to match, team driver Andrew Blackwell began heat one in 10th position. In front of him were new Victoria # 3 Darren Pottage, former Victorian Champion Russell Bent, current Australia # 1 Mark Carlin, home track hero Anthony Wilson and hard charger Martin Hawson.
Over 10 laps, the going was tough as Justin Alberni, Mark Symonds the pole sitter and Bent battled at the front with 6th place starter Carlin and 8th place starter Hawson working hard to get to the front. As cars baulked and bounced around the track including friend Justin Alberni who struck dramas and slipped back in the pack slowly, Blackwell eventually got a forward move happening and finished 5th after tailing the field at the back for a little while. Bent won from Carlin, Hawson and Symonds.
Back in the pits, changes were made because it was now known that the track was still hooky and the Redline Raceway crew were doing a great job of preparation. Some tyres and pressures where adjusted and the springs and shocks taken a look at during heats.
The second heat was a lot less drama for the team as they started 1st and led all the way to win ahead of Hawson, Russell Hill, Michael Solomon, Carlin and Pottage.
At this point of the evening, Blackwell had accumulated enough points to have him currently second. This meant a back row start in the third heat under the current VMPA formula that put the top half of the field in the 1st heat and the bottom half in the second and then invert the heats with top points at the rear. Starting alongside him on the back row was Hawson with Graham West, Peter McCarthy, Hill, Justin Drew, Carlin, Michael Hetherington, Bent and Darren Forrest up ahead of them.
West led early and it took a while before Drew ran him down to go on to win. Blackwell was in the pack and had moved up well until Hetherington had a lose in front of the ‘Pakenham Plumbing Services’ VZ Commodore resulting in Blackwell ending the race 5th.
The team led by Steve and Ash found themselves starting 5th in the feature behind Drew, Hawson, West and Hill. When entering the race track West who was on slicks gifted Blackwell a bump up into third spot when West elected to start rear on a wet track that had been re-prepared before the final.
Drew led early with Hawson ahead of Blackwell and Hill who had a short battle together. While Hill was the first race casualty when his gearbox failed, Drew soon followed while leading when he suffered a damaged rocker cover gasket. Blackwell quickly got past Hawson and motored off into the distance to finally finish 17 car lengths in front in a race that went green to chequer with no stoppages. Hawson finished second ahead of Carlin only just then Hetherington and Symonds.
Blackwell spoke about the win after the race. “We needed this win for the series and as the others have got a bit of a start ahead of us and it is satisfying to win our last two starts leading into the Australian title next month. I couldn’t do this without Steve and Ash my crew and the support of the folks from Pakenham. To Ballarat, it was a pleasure to be here tonight, you ran a wonderful show and kept the track in good condition for us sedans on a Sprintcar night. Well done to all associated with the VMPA for dishing out a show the fans enjoyed.

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.