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Article Date: 10 June 2011

The 44th Castrol EDGE Winternationals got underway in spectacular fashion in perfect weather conditions at Willowbank Raceway today – with plenty of action setting the scene for tomorrow’s continuation of qualifying.

The feature category on day one was Pro Stock, with the 19 car field beginning its quest to whittle down to a field of 16. The Championship chase looks like it will change from session to session and go right down to Monday’s final round eliminations.

The pace shown at the top end is approaching the national record of 7.033 seconds – with many pundits predicting it will fall this weekend.

Dave Newcombe continued his good form from the Winters Warm-Up to record a 7.044 second pass at 194.24mph, whilst Jason Hedges slotted himself into second with a 7.075 at 191.70mph. Lee Bektash fired in a 7.091 to end the session third.

Newcombe’s pace would trouble current leader, Aaron Tremayne, but the Bundaberg racer – fourth quickest – will not give up the Championship without a fight.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the gap between the quickest qualifier and the bump spot. With a blanket covering the 16 qualified cars last year, the bump (16th position) currently sits at an 8.618. Favoured runners Nick Xerakis and Andrew Stavroulakis currently join veteran Peter Ridgeway on the outside looking in currently.

Arthur Kalaroff provided plenty of excitement in his run – becoming perpendicular to the racetrack in the braking area after his 13th fastest run. In a fantastic drive job, Kalaroff crossed the centreline, but saved it - only scraping the wheelie bar on the wall.

Drag racing star on the rise, Michelle Osborn set the pace in Knijff Earthmoving Modified qualifying with a 7.254s pass. The blonde bombshell from WA was ecstatic with her first pass down the quarter and she’s aiming to take the battle to current category Champion – another female in Kelly Corbett. Corbett, racing her brother, Scott’s nsane.net.au car for the first time after writing hers off in Sydney in April could manage just sixth quickest in the category with a 7.649 pass at 173.52mph.

In the other categories, the competition is tighter than ever – setting for one of the most competitive Castrol EDGE Winternationals in the event’s history.

In both Lifestyle Floorcoverings Competition and Super Stock, racers are required to be under their index to make the field.

Shane Weston in Competition set the pace with a blistering 5.85 second pass against his index of 6.33 – meantime Victorian, Craig Geddes – always stout straight off the truck at Willowbank - went immediately 0.55s under his index.

The Lifestyle Floorcoverings Super Stock field couldn’t be tighter. 18 of the entered 24 machines are under their index – Tom Dimitropouios setting the pace 0.72s under his index of 9.26s. Tomorrow’s qualifying will prove critical in formulating the 16 car field.

The big Allstar Batteries Supercharged Outlaws field is looking tight also with the bump spot sitting around 7.40 with the category cutoff time being 8.00s.

Right at the end of action tonight, Matthew Basanovic stunned the Powercruise Super Sedan field with a 6.97s pass at 200.00mph in the final session. Everyone was expecting Greg Fowler to be the first one into the six second bracket, but he stumbled away from the line – however still recorded a pass in the 7.0 second arena.

Tomorrow, action will step up a gear with the final round of the ANDRA Pro Series hitting the track for their first two qualifying sessions – including NHRA superstar, Cory McClenathan, whilst the excitement of Pro Stock qualifying will continue.

The back to back ANDRA Pro Series sessions are scheduled to begin just after 11:30am, right through to night fall.

Aside from the on-track excitement, off track, the Showtime FMX, presented by Castrol EDGE crew will perform the first of their Winternationals shows and the public will have their first opportunity to pilot the world first Darren Morgan Racing Top Fuel Simulator.

To purchase tickets online, along with timetable information, hit www.willowbankraceway.com.au.

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