JAI STEPHENSON drove a near perfect race to win the first round of the annual Mr Modified Series on Boxing Night at Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway.
Stephenson, who was followed to the finish line by runner-up Mitch Randall and third-placed Mark Robinson, never put a wheel out of place.
He took over the lead in the early stages of the 35-lap main event and was never headed. As the race unfolded, he recorded the fastest lap time when he stopped the clocks at 14.870 seconds for a speed of 96.839 km/h.
The race was marred by several yellow light caution periods for track incidents but each time at the restart Stephenson was untroubled as he continued his role of pacemaker.
In the early stages it was Randall who led away while further back there was plenty of jostling for positions in the initial laps.
Ray Eggins was well placed but had Stephenson, Robinson and Cannon in hot pursuit before Geoff Rose and Dale Corbett were involved in a melee and brought on the first yellow light.
At the green, Pezzutti ran the high line and was on the tail of Randall, then Pezzutti scraped the wall and dropped a few positions. At this same time Brent Hall spun and a yellow was displayed. When the race resumed Stephenson extended his lead and was in complete command. Pezzutti and Robinson were still in contention as Cannon and Firth battled for fourth and fifth positions respectively. After yellow for Chris Corbett, a crash occurred nearing the end of the race involving Pezzutti, Scott Quirk, Rose and Eggins. All drivers were ok but Eggins was sidelined for the remainder of the race and Brent Hall also was a withdrawal.
In the latter stages Randall wrestled with a car that was going off the pace after “something broke on the car” he later explained.
But there was no stopping Stephenson who took a convincing win from Randall and Robinson.
Stephenson also won a heat, while other heat winners were Robinson, Firth, Cannon, Pezzutti and Eggins. Lee Gorton was the V8 Dirt Modified B-main event winner.
Other main event victors were: Brock Armstrong (Street Stocks), Madison Harkin (Production Sedans), Josh Boyd (Juniors), Brody Boss (Modified Sedans), Robbie Mazzer (Wingless).
Caption: Mr Modified opening round winner Jai Stephenson (centre) surrounded by runner-up Mitch Randall (left) and third-placed Mark Robinson. Trophy girl Bronte Jordan also is pictured. Photo: Tony Powell.