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Aranyosi in contention for Speedweek honours

By AIDAN FAWKES

BANNOCKBURN formula 500 driver James Aranyosi was last night hoping fortune favoured the brave as he contested the final night of Speedweek.Aranyosi entered the seventh round in second spot with 602 points, 28 behind the series leader, Queenslander Mitchell “Charlie” Brown (630).The former Australian title runner-up remained in the mix for a memorable title, despite contrasting results in two meetings to start the weekend.He finished at the back of the A main at Darlington on Friday before winning at Simpson on Saturday ahead of Cody Maroske and Nathan Pronger.He was in action at Allansford’s Premier Speedway last night as the rain-marred series came to an end. A result was unavailable by deadline last night.After his win at Simpson, Aranyosi paid tribute to good mate and fellow Western Australian driver Matt Brown. Brown was involved in a high-speed crash at Perth Motorplex on Friday night which left him fighting for his life in hospital.The crash has united the Australian formula 500 community and particularly hit home for Aranyosi, who knows the popular driver well.“He’s an ex-Australian number one. He’s come over and raced a heap of Speedweeks down here,” Aranyosi said.“Last night we put a sticker on the car and paid tribute to Matt. He was in an induced coma and he’s just slowly come out of that yesterday.”Aranyosi said he was rapt to win at Simpson. He won both his heats and started off pole, but had to recover from a horror start.“I ended up dropping back to fourth position. With about 10 laps to go, or not even, I started to pass a few cars and got the win,” he said.“It’s definitely right up there (in career highlights). It’s a track and an event I really wanted to win.”The Simpson win would have taken him to the top of the Speedweek standings had he not struck out at Darlington the night before.Aranyosi had his engine switch off on him midway through the A main. He managed to restart it, but still got sent to the back of the field.“Then a guy in the crowd popped his shoulder and the race was declared,” he said.Warrnambool young gun Jye O’Keefe took the win at Darlington from Brown and Grant Stansfield.American hard charger Kyle Hirst tuned up for the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic with victory driving a 360 sprintcar at Simpson on Saturday night.Hirst won round six of the Sprintcar All Stars, becoming the first American to win a feature as part of the 360 sprintcar series.Victorian Brett Milburn was second while another American, Geoff Ensign, took third. Home-track hopeful John Vogels was sixth.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 12.43.24 PMScreen Shot 2014-02-19 at 12.44.18 PMBANNOCKBURN formula 500 driver James Aranyosi won the battle but Brisbane gun Charlie Brown won the war on the final night of Speedweek.Aranyosi, 21, was a convincing victor in the series grand final at Allansford’s Premier Speedway, which doubled as the Jack Willsher Cup.The win, on Sunday night, made it back-to-back round triumphs for the former Australian title runner-up.He also won at Simpson a night earlier.But while Aranyosi took the grand final in impressive style off the front row, Brown kept him in his sights and finished third.The result secured Brown the Speedweek title. He finished on 781 points, ahead of Aranyosi on 773 in one of the closest finishes in years.Warrnambool young gun Jye O’Keefe was third with 712. Gold Coast’s Cody Maroske, 692, and Terang’s Ash Sinclair, 665, rounded out the top five.Aranyosi said he was rapt to win the Jack Willsher Cup, which was rescheduled after rain washed out racing on December 21.“That’s been one of the main things. I’ve been trying to win this for the last couple of years,” he said. “Speedweek is right up there but the Jack Willsher Cup is not far behind.”Aranyosi said he was “stoked” but slightly frustrated at finishing second in the series, his best-ever result.He rued a bizarre turn of events at Darlington on Friday night when his engine stalled in the A main and he was sent to the back of the field.Moments later, a spectator — coincidentally a member of Brown’s crew — broke a collarbone in a fall, which required treatment from paramedics.Time constraints meant stewards declared the race, with Aranyosi running last and Brown in second — a result which ultimately proved crucial.“I knew coming into tonight if I had have finished where I was sitting at (Darlington), we would’ve been on even points,” Aranyosi said.“That’s pretty tough looking at it that way but there’s not much you can do about that,” he said.Brown said he was rapt to claim his first Speedweek title in his fourth visit to Victoria for the series.His previous best result was second a few years back.He ranked the achievement up there with a set of state crowns — the Queensland and Victorian titles in 2011 and the New South Wales title in 2010.“Consistency is the number one thing, you’ve got to not worry about winning every race but finish every race,” he said.“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve focused on this year, finishing every race and getting those points.”Brown chuckled at his fortune — but also misfortune — over the drama at Darlington, which gave him breathing space ahead of Aranyosi on the standings.“Unfortunately that bloke (who broke a collarbone) was one of my crew guys,” he said.“It was a bit of bad luck for us, we were down a crew member, but in the long run it helped a lot.“I’ve got no idea what happened. I spoke to him earlier in the day. He said he fell in a hole and it was all over.”afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au