Lismore, AUS — February 7, 2009 – By Ben Graham, Dirt Modifieds Australia Media Liaison
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series racer Gary Tomkins began his second Australian tour with a fighting fourth-place finish at the Lismore Speedway on Saturday night (Feb. 7). Tomkins has reunited with Australian racer Ray Klarich for a two-race campaign which will end with next Saturday night’s (Feb. 14) Roosters Cup round in Toowoomba. The Clifton Springs, New York veteran is driving the same Bicknell chassis —powered by a Small-Block— he campaigned during the 2007 Advance Series numbered 84, a car Klarich purchased at the end of that season.
On the demanding, almost circular, Lismore bullring, Tomkins crossed the line in first position in both his qualifying heat races. However, he was penalized two positions in his first heat for passing on the infield. The results were enough to earn Tomkins top qualifier honours, although drawing the ‘6’ marble in the inversion would force him to start outside the third row alongside eventual race winner Mark Robinson.
“We had a decent car in the heat races” offered Tomkins, “and actually had a really good car in the dash. We made some changes to the car for the Feature and we probably went a little too far, the car was a little tight in that last race.”
Originally slated for 30-laps, the main event was cut to just 15 laps after Keith Muller rolled his ‘Keith-4-Wheels’ backed Bicknell in front of the main grandstand, embedding it upside down in the catch fence. With the strict 10:30pm curfew fast approaching, Promoter David Lander had little alternative but to cut the race distance in half.
“I think it would have been better if the race had run the distance it was supposed to be but unfortunately with the way things happened, they shortened it up and we didn’t really get much of a chance to get going,” Tomkins remarked.
Tomkins was on the move early in the Feature, however a brush with the wall midway through the race cost him several positions and all but ended his charge, finally passing Andrew Pezzutti for fourth on the last lap.
“The car wouldn’t turn in very well and I had to just throw it into the turns,” revealed Tomkins. “And every once in a while it wanted to keep coming around and I just got up in the lose stuff one time and brushed the wall a bit. It’s a really nice racetrack, probably a little rougher than I would’ve liked it but it’s a nice little racetrack to run around. I’d love to come back here some day and try it out again.”
After a few days relaxation on the Gold Coast with his wife Sue and son Justin, Tomkins will hit the track next Saturday night at the Charlton Raceway in Toowoomba for Round Tow of the Roosters Cup Series. Tomkins’ countryman, Jimmy Phelps, currently sits in second position in the Roosters Cup standings courtesy of his runner-up finish in Round One last weekend in Maryborough.
FEATURE RACE (30-LAPS): 1st Mark Robinson, 2nd Darren Latimer, 3rd Andrew Drake, 4th Gary Tomkins (USA), 5th Andrew Pezzutti, 6th Michael Butcher, 7th Allan Jarvis, 8th Phil McNamara, 9th Lance Towns, 10th Jai Stephenson, 11th Barry ashen, 12th Rob Hamilton, 13th Paul Booker, DNF: Peter Britten, Keith Muller, Rian Collier.