IN WHAT was his first ever visit to Wangaratta City Speedway, Rusty Hickman proved that lack of track experience was not an issue, with the youngster collecting his maiden 410 sprintcar feature-race victory in the ninth Eureka Garages and Sheds Series round.
Riding a wave of confidence heading into Saturday night’s event, off the back of a pleasing performance during the recent Grand Annual Classic and the Australian title where he was leading the B-main before hitting an infield tyre in the closing stages and bringing his night to a premature end, Hickman managed to back up his recent form to achieve a new milestone.
With qualifying being vital in terms of experiencing a strong feature-race result, the 18-year-old racer put himself in prime position for the 30-lap feature race, after his first, seventh and second-place finishes in his heat races earned him pole position.
Electing to start on the outside of the front row, having found some moisture in the middle of the track during his heat races, Hickman was disappointed to find that the moisture had disappeared come the feature race, causing him to slip back to second at the drop of the green flag, as fellow front-row starter Tim Hutchins took control of the early race lead.
Dropping to the pole line, Hickman followed Hutchins for the next 10 laps, before an opportunity appeared when Hutchins ran high to avoid lapped traffic, opening the door for Hickman to slip underneath him and take over first place.
Going on to survive an ensuing restart, Hickman utilised his karting background to manage the track conditions, controlling the pace out in front for the remainder of the distance, before claiming what was a well-deserved and awaited victory, having previously finished in minor positions on the podium in numerous 410 sprintcar events.
“To have come away with our first feature-race win after having such an encouraging run in the Grand Annual Classic and Australian title is an amazing feeling and it’s great to see that we’re continuing the improvement as the season progresses,” said Hickman, who has won multiple 360 sprintcar feature races.
“It’s always a huge team effort, so I have to thank my crew, my family and our sponsors for all of their amazing support.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. Hopefully we can continue this momentum throughout the rest of the season.”
Hickman’s victory has once again consolidated his lead in the current Eureka Garages and Sheds Series point score, 200 points ahead of his nearest rival.
Taking a weekend off, Hickman’s next appearance will be on the Saturday night of February 17 at Hamilton’s Western Speedway for the 10th Eureka Garages and Sheds Series round.
To have come away with our first feature-race win after having such an encouraging run in the Grand Annual Classic and Australian title is an amazing feeling.Rusty Hickman