Taking it to the Max 36th Australian Sprintcar Championship Bunbury City & Regional Raceway Bunbury WA - February 28-March 1, 1998 (BUNBURY, WA - Sunday, March 1, 1998) .. In front of the biggest crowd in the 25- year history of Bunbury...
Taking it to the Max
36th Australian Sprintcar Championship Bunbury City & Regional Raceway Bunbury WA - February 28-March 1, 1998
(BUNBURY, WA - Sunday, March 1, 1998) .. In front of the biggest crowd in the 25- year history of Bunbury City & Regional Raceway, Max Dumesny won an eventful and entertaining 35-lap championship final to duplicate his previous Australian title- winning effort of 1991. Dumesny's Valvoline/No Fear-J&J held off a last gasp effort by veteran 10-times national champion Garry Rush (Castrol-Maxim) to win by less than two car-lengths.
Dumesny and local icon Ron Krikke had earlier brought the vocal crowd to its feet when they fought out a thrilling two-lap Pole Shuffle side-by-side with the former dual champion narrowly winning the right to start the feature from pole position. Krikke however became one of the many victims of the numerous incidents and accidents which accounted for more than half the original 18-car field.
WA state champion Mark Wells became the first casualty when he flipped having rode the left rear wheel of Kerry Madsen's Grizzly around the opening lap then Shane Krikke exited in similar fashion. Once more the field got underway with Dumesny again using the high line to grab the start only to have Queensland qualifiers Dean McComb and Andrew Scheuerle execute tandem somersaults in Turn One. The fourth occasion saw a controversial collision between second row occupants Trevor Green and Brooke Tatnell which eliminated the latter's Shell Helix/Phantom Comics- Schnee.
An angry Tatnell later opined, "The guy is doing a wheelstand down the back straight so I get beside him then, when we get to the corner, he wants to turn into me. That is the last time I'll be diplomatic - screw him!" Green managed to restart the event from the rear joining Madsen and fifth qualifier Robert Farr, both of whom had been forced to change tyres from all the chaos.
Dumesny said afterwards, "All those attempts to start the race were quite stressing! I had some great starts and the car felt fantastic but each time the track was getting looser." Eventually he led Krikke at the green ahead of Gavin Migro, Rush, Pino Priolo, Shane Murphy, John Krikke, Shane Marden, Scott Milling, Phil March, Madsen and 14-th starting Skip Jackson. The dual WSS champ cut a swathe through the mid-field in the early laps, rising to sixth within five laps with March shadowing his every move.
Dumesny continued to control the race until lap 13 at which time Madsen smote the Turn One wall when his front suspension broke, the resulting incident seeing second and third placed Krikke and Migro crash in avoidance. Migro's machine burst into flames when it was pushed onto its wheels although its occupant fortunately emerged unscathed. Madsen meanwhile was pinned beneath his Grizzly when a recovery vehicle towed the car away while he was reaching inside the cockpit!
Once underway again Dumesny now had opposition from Rush, Jackson and March. This quartet ran in close proximity until lap 28 at which time Peter Attard created a caution when his right rear tyre exploded. Dumesny managed to reel off the final laps with Rush creeping ever closer to stage a last-gasp unsuccessful challenge.
An elated winner performed a "Polish" victory lap then a "wing dance" atop the car once he alighted. "The motor was going off early in the race as it was getting very hot but I was trying to be kind to it," Dumesny remarked. "I expected somebody (Rush) to be behind me near the finish but I was covering my tracks making sure I had the right line off the corners."
"A lot of people said I shouldn't have deserved my other win in Tasmania in 1991 but we definitely deserved to win this against the best field in the country by leading every lap." His equally excited wife Melinda said, "I nearly walked away after the fifth restart as it was too nerve wracking. Now that it is all over it is I think it is wonderful!
Rush was magnanimous in his praise of the winner, saying, "When you get beaten by a great driver like Max you don't mind as much.