Brad Blake Ignites Farmers Union Fireball Derby Adelaide fans were treated to a truly masterful performance from one of the greats of Australian Speedway, as Brad Blake took a commanding victory in the inaugural $20,000 Farmer's Union Fireball...
Brad Blake Ignites Farmers Union Fireball Derby
Adelaide fans were treated to a truly masterful performance from one of the greats of Australian Speedway, as Brad Blake took a commanding victory in the inaugural $20,000 Farmer's Union Fireball Derby at Speedway City, over Ben Ludlow and a fast finishing Phil Richards, the forty lap final running flag to flag.
Blake came to Adelaide with a winning streak that has had the historians scratching their heads -- fifteen consecutive races undefeated and he made it sixteen with a dominant performance in his opening heat race. However, all good things must come to an end, and it was his arch-rival, Brad Ludlow who won the second round heat in stunning fashion after retiring from the first with a suspected suspension failure. Despite getting caught up with a slower car, damaging the Blake Auto Centre '0 Show,' Blake recovered to finish second.
The current Australian Late Model Champion bounced back from the 'ignominy' of defeat in heat two to take out the Pole Shuffle from Phil Richards, who ousted Matt Goodlad. 20-year-old Goodlad accounted for three of his East Coast rivals to advance from sixth to third on the grid.
The first attempt at getting the forty lap final underway lasted until turn three when Goodlad spun only to have a charging Brad Ludlow collect him and Kevin Stevens barrelled into the two of them, seriously damaging the front right suspension on the East Coast car. Stevens and Ludlow were forced out of the re-start.
Blake got the best of start number two, with Richards being hung up high, losing ground. The man on the move was Ben Ludlow, who quickly dispatched of those in front of him and was searching for the podium.
The tight confines of Speedway City, reasonably foreign to most competitors in attendance, would mean that lapped traffic was crucial to the overall outcome of the event and Ludlow used it to perfection. Around mid-race distance, Richards got caught up in a gaggle of cars with Matt Goodlad and Michael Hebditch. Ludlow Snr was the only one to have the highline working to his advantage and he picked off those in front of him 'cheaply' as he said after the race.
Ludlow began to close the gap to Blake, who was out by around one-third of a lap, however brake problems would afflict the West Australian veteran late in the race. The battle for the minors behind was as intense as you would see, Richards, Goodlad and Hebditch all in close combat. Ludlow dropped back into the clutches of this battle with a handful of laps remaining.
Blake eventually crossed the line around three-quarters of a lap in front of his nearest rival in a time of 10 minutes 47 seconds. That rival proved to be Ludlow, who held off a strong final lap challenge from Phil Richards. Richards stuck it up the inside of Ludlow on the final corner, the two coming to the line absolutely together. Michael Hebditch would finish in fourth, the best of the East Coast runners. Goodlad was fifth from Derrol Crane, Scott McPherson, Lyle Dicker and Bob Farmer.
Casualties from the event included Brad Ludlow and Kevin Stevens (crash damage), Bruce Mackenzie (flat front left tyre), Kieran Dal-Maso (mechanical) and Rob McGregor (fuel pressure problem).
The Farmers Union Fireball Derby was hailed as a success by all involved and according to event organiser, ELMA Managing Director, Bruce Mackenzie, there are some bigger and better plans in the works for next year. "Wendy Turner (Speedway City Promoter) was elated with the Farmers Union Fireball Derby, so too Farmers Union. We are in negotiations already about coming back here next year and making the event even bigger and better, with the potential of taking in some extra events at other tracks in the Southern parts of Australia. I believe we have established a strong platform for the expansion of Late Model racing to this part of the country. All of the West Australian guys are vowing to come back and they will probably bring more competitors with them. All in all, the event was a great success."