There are no other words to describe this weekend’s racing by American visitor Steve Francis than total domination.
From the moment Francis first hit the Perth Motorplex track on Wednesday night he was totally unstoppable, setting the fastest two times in practice in two separate cars, being the fastest qualifier on Night One and then winning both of his heat races; leading every lap of the opening race and then all but one solitary lap in the second despite starting from the rear. Francis then took out the preliminary feature, leading every lap.
Tonight he returned to the track as high point’s man and set the fastest time in hot laps, led every lap of his heat and then claimed the pole position in the top ten knockout, despite Craig Vosbergen leading one of the two laps in the final battle.
On top of all this, despite pressure from Devin Moran, Francis would every lap of the forty lap feature event, lapping eleventh place and going on to record the win, being undefeated throughout the entire weekend. Total domination.
Francis started from pole in the feature alongside Vosbergen, but it took three attempts for the race to get underway as firstly Simon McNab and then Hayden Norman spun their machines at different points before a lap could be completed.
The third attempt was much cleaner and Francis was able to shoot into the lead ahead of Vosbergen, Paul Stubber and Moran. It wasn’t long before Moran passed Stubber for third while before any of his competitors knew it, Francis had already blown his lead out to over one and a half seconds by lap four.
Behind him though, Moran was applying the blowtorch to Vosbergen and after a few laps of attempting a pass, it finally came off and Moran was through into second place.
With five complete Francis led by nearly two and a half seconds and by lap seven he was into lapped traffic, leading Moran, Vosbergen, Stubber and Kye Blight who was beginning to make his presence felt.
Twelve laps had just been completed when the yellows came on for a spun Lionel Kirkby, bunching the field back up for a restart, but it all amounted to nil for everyone but Francis as he again raced away to a big lead. However, this only happened after Moran showed his nose to Francis in one of the only times he was truly challenged across the weekend.
The yellows came out once again shortly after as Matt Goodlad and Simon McNab coming together, McNab being disqualified as the primary cause of two incidents.
Thirteen laps were in the books as Francis led away the field once again, while a battle raged between Vosbergen, Stubber, Blight and Michael Holmes for the third place position. Behind them Jamie Oldfield was running the highline, so much so that the back end of his car was brushing the wall and showering sparks behind him.
Marc Giancola became the second retiree of the event as he headed infield on lap nineteen, followed by Jai Mazzini with a flat tyre on lap twenty one, Warren Oldfield on lap twenty three and Brad Blake on lap twenty seven.
Kye Blight had moved into fourth on lap twenty two while the third American in the field, Jason Fitzgerald who had damaged a piston on the opening night and worked through the night to source and fit another engine in time to compete, had moved into position seven after starting from fourteenth.
Unfortunately for Blight his run came to an end a few laps later as he went high on lap twenty nine and clouted the wall, causing him to slow. Unfortunately with the amount of traffic on the track he was unable to get off and the yellows lights came on once again.
Francis would once again lead away Moran, Vosbergen, Stubber and Holmes, with Fitzgerald now in sixth and ‘Red Hot’ Veronica McCann having a great run to move into seventh. From here the order would remain unchanged and Francis completed a perfect weekend as the winner of the Late Model Nationals, doubling as the first round of the USA vs WA tour. Second across the line was fellow countryman Devin Moran while Craig Vosbergen was the first West Aussie home in third.
Earlier in the night the final round of heats were taken out by Francis, Vosbergen and Jamie Oldfield while Francis won the knockout and Marc Giancola claimed the mid pack madness event.
The Late Models now spend the week regrouping before another double header for the final two rounds of the USA vs WA tour. This Friday night the series will head down to Quit Collie Speedway, backing it up with the final round the following night at Albany Speedway.
Stay tuned throughout the week for all the details from those events!
Pole Position – Steve Francis
Hard Charger – Jason Fitzgerald
Release by DTN Media.
Heat Seven – 10 laps: 1. Steve Francis, 2. Kye Blight, 3. Paul Stubber, 4. Marc Giancola, 5. Matt Goodlad, 6. Alec Melvin. DNF: Brad Ludlow (9). DNS: Ryan Ludlow, Jason Bond. Total Time: 2.57.839. Winning Margin: 1.051. Fastest Lap: 17.597 Kye Blight.
Heat Eight – 10 laps: 1. Craig Vosbergen, 2. Devin Moran, 3. Warren Oldfield, 4. Veronica McCann, 5. Paul Joss, 6. Brad Blake, 7. Lionel Kirkby. DNF: Jai Mazzini (3). Total Time: No Time. Winning Margin: 0.976. Fastest Lap: 17.329 Craig Vosbergen.
Heat Nine – 10 laps: 1. Jamie Oldfield, 2. Michael Holmes, 3. Simon McNab, 4. Jason Fitzgerald, 5. Jay Cardy, 6. Chris Pavlovich, 7. Hayden Norman (9), 8. Wade Carter (9). Total Time: No Time. Winning Margin: 3.580. Fastest Lap: 17.809 Jamie Oldfield.
Knockout #1 – 2 laps: 1. Warren Oldfield, 2. Veronica McCann. Total Time: 34.684. Winning Margin: 1 lap. Fastest Lap: 17.161 Warren Oldfield.
Knockout #2 – 2 laps: 1. Warren Oldfield, 2. Jay Cardy. Total Time: 35.391. Winning Margin: 1.512. Fastest Lap: 17.615 Warren Oldfield.
Knockout #3 – 2 laps: 1. Warren Oldfield, 2. Jamie Oldfield. Total Time: 34.906. Winning Margin: 0.913. Fastest Lap: 17.418 Warren Oldfield.
Knockout #4 – 2 laps: 1. Michael Holmes, 2. Warren Oldfield. Total Time: 35.583. Winning Margin: 0.761. Fastest Lap: 17.511 Michael Holmes.
Knockout #5 – 2 laps: 1. Paul Stubber, 2. Michael Holmes. Total Time: 33.935. Winning Margin: 2.244. Fastest Lap: 16.842 Paul Stubber.
Knockout #6 – 2 laps: 1. Paul Stubber, 2. Kye Blight. Total Time: 34.099. Winning Margin: 1.120. Fastest Lap: 17.039.
Knockout #7 – 2 laps: 1. Devin Moran, 2. Paul Stubber. Total Time: 34.419. Winning Margin: 0.768. Fastest Lap: 17.174 Devin Moran.
Knockout #8 – 2 laps: 1. Craig Vosbergen, 2. Devin Moran. Total Time: 35.408. Winning Margin: 0.644. Fastest Lap: 17.551 Craig Vosbergen.
Knockout #9 – 2 laps: 1. Steve Francis, 2.Craig Vosbergen. Total Time: 35.605. Winning Margin: 0.232. Fastest Lap: 17.340 Steve Francis.
Mid Pack Madness – 12 laps: 1. Marc Giancola, 2. Brad Blake, 3. Hayden Norman, 4. Jason Fitzgerald, 5. Chris Pavlovich, 6. Alec Melvin, 7. Paul Joss, 8. Matt Goodlad, 9. Simon McNab, 10. Jai Mazzini, 11. Lionel Kirkby. DNF: Wade Carter (3). DNS: Ryan Ludlow, Brad Ludlow, Jason Bond. Total Time: No Time. Winning Margin: 4.266. Fastest Lap: 17.343 Marc Giancola.
Feature – 40 laps: 1. Steve Francis, 2. Devin Moran, 3. Craig Vosbergen, 4. Paul Stubber, 5. Michael Holmes, 6. Jason Fitzgerald, 7. Veronica McCann, 8. Jamie Oldfield, 9. Hayden Norman, 10. Jay Cardy, 11. Matt Goodlad (39), 12. Paul Joss (39), 13. Chris Pavlovich (37), 14. Alec Melvin (37), 15. Wade Carter (37), 16. Lionel Kirkby (36). DNF: Kye Blight (29), Brad Blake (27), Warren Oldfield (23), Jai Mazzini (21), Marc Giancola (19). DQ: Simon McNab. DNS: Ryan Ludlow, Brad Ludlow, Jason Bond. Total Time: No Time. Winning Margin: 1.631. Fastest Lap: 17.806 Steve Francis.