SPEED DEMON: Mark Stanger, in car 23, leads Tony Brearley at the recent Australian Championships at Maryborough.
SPEED DEMON: Mark Stanger, in car 23, leads Tony Brearley at the recent Australian Championships at Maryborough.

Brakes put stop to title chances

IT WASN'T the best result the Ballina speedway driver wanted, but Mark Stanger was happy with his first-ever run in an Australian Compact Speedcar Championships held at Maryborough recently.

The 28-year-old who has raced compact cars for the past two seasons, came 14th in the final out of a field of 15 competitors.

After running mid-pack, a loss of brakes dropped him down the field.

"I was hoping to qualify for the final and finish with the car in one piece, which I managed to do," he said.

"So I was happy with my first-ever Australian Championship assault, hopefully I can do better result-wise next year."

Now, it's back to focusing on the current speedway season.

This coming weekend will keep his team busy, with the Compact speedcars racing at Grafton tomorrow night and again at Lismore on Saturday night, March 15.

"Back-to-back meetings can require plenty of work, with everything having to be checked after each race meeting," he said.

"Plus, if you crash, it can require a big effort to be ready for the next night.

"But I'm really looking forward to competing over the two nights as it's a great opportunity to race in front of our home crowd."

Mark only changed to compact speedcars in 2005, having spent six seasons in sedans.

He began his career in a Ford Cortina, then bought an EA Falcon.

"The change in race cars was difficult at first as the Compacts have a huge power to weight advantage, are a lot quicker plus with the open wheels if you make a mistake they can roll over a lot easier but they are a real adrenalin rush to drive," he said.

He sold the Falcon in 2004, planning to spend the next season as a spectator, until racer Tony Brearley rang with an offer he couldn't refuse.

Tony had heard through the grapevine Mark was interested in the Compact speedcars and with a new car planned for the 2005 season was looking to sell his current race car. "Tony rang me about buying his car less motor and offered a great deal so I went from spectator to Compact speedcar owner within a couple of days," he said.

It was fitted with a 1300cc Suzuki engine, and Mark was racing again.


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