After struggling with a brake issue in qualifying heats, Rowe used the KR&MA McArdle & SONS Transport Knock-Out to advance from 5th in points to the front row of the A-Main alongside Bennett, who took the Knock-Out win, with Murphy out of position three, SA's Nathan Squiers and Ben Hall from 4th and 5th respectively; and Harders claiming 6th position for the 30-lap decider.
Rowe got the jump at the start with Bennett quickly slipping in behind him; before the pair set-out for an all-out battle! Behind them the war continued with Murphy, Hall, Harders, Squiers and NSW's Michael Stewart trying every line in an attempt to get the up on their nearest competitor.
A caution at almost the mid-race mark due to a stopped Todd Waddell, saw the intensity increase again at the restart as Bennett, Murphy and Hall all stepped up the onslaught. But while Bennett made a number of potential moves; Nick Rowe held his lead for the remainder of the race, claiming the 66th running of the SA title, and became the first Western Australian winner of the event since Wayne Cover in 97/98.
"I just can't thank Westline Speedway Whyalla enough for putting on a great show" noted an elated Nick Rowe after the event; "plus, all the boys for the tough racing, and all the crew at Bennett Motorsport; it was a great night!"
South Australian Todd Bennett continued his sensational season, claiming 2nd place at the event in the Bennett Crash Repairs, BCR Motorsport S25. Bennett was followed home by NSW's Paul Murphy in the SA Hardwyer Motorsport S6 of SA Speedcars President Mark Harrington; current Five Crown Series leader Michael Harders in the Auto-Upgrade Q14 who slipped into 5th place when Ben Hall's S71 dropped a plug lead in the last lap!
"I would like to thank Westline Whyalla Speedway for putting on a great SA Title for us Speedcars" declared an excited Bennett after the event. "Thank you to my sponsors, Clare Valley Toyota, MGA Insurance Brokers, Hoskin Race Engines, Bennett Crash Repairs & Hatwell Traders. Also thanks to Mum, Dad & Rory for all their hard work. I had great pace all night & enough to take the win, but Nick Rowe drove a great race and I just couldn't quite get around him. It feels great to be SA2 & the only South Aussie in the top 4!".
NSW's Paul Murphy's third place in the SA6 machine also cemented his position in the Five Crown Series which continues into Western Australia in April.
Heat wins were claimed by Brad Warwick of WA (his first ever!), Todd Bennett (SA), Paul Murphy (NSW) and Nick Rowe (WA). The KR & MA McArdle & Sons Transport Knock-Out was won by Todd Bennett earning himself a new right rear tyre.
SA Speedcars would like to send out a big thanks to the members, volunteers and sponsors of Westline Speedway Whyalla for a fantastic event. Likewise to the competitors and teams who travelled from across Australia with the support of Speedcars Australia INC. and Speedway Australia to put on another bout of wheel-to-wheel Midget action in South Australia. Your support is very much appreciated!
66TH SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SPEEDCAR CHAMPIONSHIP - WESTLINE SPEEDWAY, WHYALLA, 19TH MARCH 2016:
HEAT ONE: 1. S10 Brad Warwick WA, 2. S6 Paul Murphy NSW, 3. W7 Todd Waddell WA, 4. S25 Todd Bennett SA, 5. Q14 Michael Harders QLD, 6. S16 Tim Caddy SA.
HEAT TWO: 1. S71 Ben Hall SA, 2. N51 Michael Stewart NSW, 3. S86 Nathan Squiers SA, 4. S88 Todd Wigzell SA, 5. N89 Braydan Willmington NSW, 6. W79 Nicholas Rowe WA, DNS S35 Brett Ireland SA.
HEAT THREE: 1. S25 Todd Bennett SA, 2. S86 Nathan Squiers SA, 3. S88 Todd Waddell SA, 4. W7 Todd Waddell WA, 5. N51 Michael Stewart NSW, DNF S16 Tim Caddy SA, DNS S35 Brett Ireland SA.
HEAT FOUR: 1. W79 Nicholas Rowe WA, 2. Q14 Michael Harders QLD, 3. S6 Paul Murphy NSW, 4. S10 Brad Warwick WA, 5. N89 Braydan Willmington NSW, 6. S71 Ben Hall SA.
30 LAP A-MAIN: 1. W79 Nicholas Rowe WA, 2. S25 Todd Bennett SA, 3. S6 Paul Murphy NSW, 4. Q14 Michael Harders QLD, 5. S71 Ben Hall SA, 6. S86 Nathan Squiers SA, 7. N51 Michael Stewart NSW, 8. S88 Todd Wigzell SA, 9. N89 Braydan Willmington NSW, 10. S10 Brad Warwick WA, 11. W7 Todd Waddell WA, 12. S16 Tim Caddy SA DNF, 13. S35 Brett Ireland SA DNS.
Photos courtesy of Michael Zubrinich, Paris Charles (via Bennett Motorsports), Angela Harders and Alan Wiercinski.