Francis, Payne score victories Down Under
MANIJUMP, Western Australia (Jan. 3) – While most Dirt Late Model racers are spending the offseason working in their race shop and trying to avoid cold weather, a handful of drivers have traveled around the globe to Australia to compete in the Ultratune Morley USA Late Model Invasion Tour.
Steve Francis, Jeremy Payne, Steve Shaver, Doug Drown and Devin Moran are all competing in the four-race miniseries, which visits three dirt tracks in Western Australia and pits the invading American drivers against the regulars of Australia’s R2C Competition Filters Pro Dirt Series.
The first two nights of the tour were held Sunday and Monday at Manjimup Speedway in Manjimup, Western Australia, with Francis capturing a preliminary victory and Payne earning a $2,000 triumph in the first of three rounds of the U.S. tour.
After going winless in 2011 for the first time in many years, Francis of Ashland, Ky., wasted little time before posting a victory in 2012. Francis, a regular on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, led Sunday’s 30-lap feature flag-to-flag for a New Year’s Day triumph over the 25-car field.
Former Australian national champion Brad Ludlow was second followed by Shaver of Vienna, W.Va., and Payne of Springfield, Mo. Australian Jamie Oldfield was fifth. Moran of Dresden, Ohio, was 12th, while Drown of Wooster, Ohio, failed to finish the race.
Payne, who announced his departure from Terry Phillips Racing just weeks before heading to Australia, benefited from mechanical woes by both Francis and Shaver in Monday’s second round feature to score the victory.
Australian Brad Blake finished second with Drown third. Australians Jamie Oldfield and Craig Vosbergen, who started 18th, rounded out the top five.
The three-race tour takes a few days off before wrapping up over the weekend with events at Collie Speedway Friday night and Bunbury Speedway Saturday night.
Night one results: (1) Steve Francis, (2) Brad Ludlow, (3) Steve Shaver, (4) Jeremy Payne, (5) Jamie Oldfield, (6) Jason Oldfield, (7) Warren Oldfield, (8) Craig Vosbergen, (9) Jason Moyle, (10) Mat Goodlad, (11) Michael Holmes, (12) Devin Moran, (13) Clint Noakes, (14) David Nylander, (15) Simon McNab, (16) Bryn Haythornthwaite, (17) Keith Gorman. Did not finish: Brad Blake, Nat Muir, Chris Biddle, Jay Cardy, Koran Atkinson, Doug Drown.
Night two results: (1) Jeremy Payne, (2) Brad Blake, (3) Doug Drown, (4) Jamie Oldfield, (5) Craig Vosbergen, (6) Jay Cardy, (7) Brad Ludlow, (8) Michael Holmes, (7) Devin Moran, (8) David Nylander (9) Nat Muir (complete results unavailable).
Correction: Fixes that Francis won a preliminary feature.