ADAM BEECHEY AND DEAN CROSWELL have combined to win back-to-back Ashley Cooper Memorial Trophies at Winton Raceway in dramatic fashion today.
After finishing second in yesterday’s first race, the pair won today’s 45-minute enduro despite a last-lap incident with Steve Owen that saw Beechey spun around with just three corners to go after an intense, door-to-door battle for the race win.
The pair emerged nose-to-tail after the two compulsory pit stops had been completed and, with ten minutes to go in the race, engaged in a mighty fight for the lead.
The par ran side-by-side on the final lap and traded paint through the sequence of tight corners around Winton’s famous Gum Tree, but it was contact from Owen into turn nine that sent Beechey spinning off.
Owen was later penalised the equivalent of a drive-through penalty for the contact that, with Beechey recovering to cross the line second, dropped he and Geoff Emery to fourth place despite taking the flag first.
Tony Bates and David Russell finished a strong second, rebounding from their earlier difficulties and damage in race one – and having to nurse the car through with a suspect gearbox and fourth-gear selection issues. Matt Hayes and Christian D’Agostin finished today’s race third after Hayes chased Russell hard in the closing stages in the podium battle.
Chris Stevenson and Brett Holdsworth finished a solid sixth, ahead of Price / Buzadzic, Chick / Andrews, Preece / Tancredi and the Russell / McGregor car.
The race result ensured the Donut King Racing combo of Beechey and Croswell won their second consecutive Winton enduro event, co-driver Croswell taking his third crown from four starts after winning in 2010, and 2008, respectively.
It also rockets Beechey, the defending champion, to the top of the standings after three of the scheduled six rounds this year.
“We’re looking at nine podiums in a row now, and back to back Ashley Cooper Trophies so it’s just awesome,” Beechey enthused.
“Dean (Croswell) did an amazing job and Kenton (Ferguson, team manager) works so hard on the car and it was just faultless all weekend.
“A big thinks to Achilles, Octane Alley and Donut King, and also to Jeff Watters for the loan of his oil pump which was a big help.”
Beechey said his title defence started now that the two-driver races were done for the year.
“We’ve had a bit of speed this year from the first round at Wakefield and we progressed at Bathurst,” he explained.
“From here its single driver races and it comes down to me so the battle is on. I wasn’t lucky enough to know Ashley but from what I have heard he was an amazing guy. It’s fantastic to have two of them (the trophies) now.”
Croswell, who anchored the weekend with his fighting second yesterday, said he was thrilled with the result.
“I just hope someone asks me to come back next year!” the former series champion said.
“I really enjoy it. It’s a great series and these races are great fun - it’s good to come back out every year and do it. I’ve run this race with Kenton every time and we’ve had a lot of success!”