A NUMBER of local drivers will be hoping to put their best foot forward during the 2019 Australian Wingless Sprint Title this weekend.
The event is set to get under way this Friday at Premier Speedway, with the championship decider to follow on Saturday.
A whopping 113 cars have nominated for the right to carry number one on their car for the next 12 months, and among those is Cobden lady racer Carly Walsh, who makes her third start in a national title.
Although she is yet to qualify for a championship deciding A-Main, the 19 year-old has been close with undoubted consistency.
In her maiden title attempt in Latrobe, Tasmania, Walsh placed a creditable sixth in the B-Main during her first full season of competition in the category.
Last year, Walsh again finished sixth in the B-Main at Parramatta, New South Wales and is striving to better that result this time around.
“Given that I’ve been the second emergency at the last two titles it would be nice to make the A-Main,” Walsh said.
“Saying that, the front of the B-Main again would be alright given that there’s over 100 cars.”
Walsh heads into this weekend with every chance of posting a solid result, given her most recent outing yielded a sixth place finish in the Victorian Title at Avalon Raceway.
Walsh said it’s very much a wide open field given the number of entries, however believes two-time and defending national champion Joel Chadwick from South Australia, and New South Wales front runner Jason Bates loom as the leading contenders.
“Joel is always really fast and Batesy is certainly another car who will be up the front,” she said.
“But any of the local drivers are a good chance really.
“Luke Storer (current Victorian champion) and Dayn Bentvelzen are two that really stand out.”
The last time Premier Speedway hosted the Australian Title it was Sprintcar star Brett Milburn who claimed the honours, and he will again line up in this weekend’s event.
However, Walsh may hope to emulate the performance of two placegetters from the 2013 edition.
Her father Mark was crew chief for Camperdown’s Jye Saunders who finished runner-up in the event, whilst third placegetter Damien Meade is her second cousin.
“Dad’s really good,” she said.
“He understands the car and knows what he’s doing.
“I’ll come in off the track and tell him how the car’s handling and then he goes to work and makes it even better for me.”
Other district drivers set to compete this weekend include Simpson’s Mathew Balcombe and Ray Klemm of Timboon, along with Terang’s Luke Cole, Laang teenager Ashley Cook and Jake Warren.
Meanwhile, Walsh has also been selected as one of 20 drivers for this year’s Speedway Australia Rising Star program to be held during April.
Every year, successful candidates make the trip to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra to enjoy four days of high performance training.
The program is tailored for drivers aged 16-23, giving them access to the knowledge and training required to give themselves the best possible chance of success.