Tearing through the scrub and red sand of central Australia on an ATV at full throttle takes plenty of bravery, yet the leap into a speedway Sprintcar was still a nervous moment for Bullsbrook driver Ryan Lancaster.
The former winner of the Finke Desert Race was looking for a different direction in motorsport and having driven Junior Sedans when he was younger, Sprintcars held his attention.
“I used to professionally race ATVs all around Australia and the world and my body got banged up to the point where I had to retire,” he said.
“I raced a Mini Cooper in Junior Sedans for a couple of years when I was around 10 or 11, so when my stepdad and mum suggested Sprintcars that was how it all got started. We had always been huge fans of Sprintcars, we just weren’t financially able when I was younger.”
Now running three businesses, Lancaster was able to dip a toe into the Sprintcar world and see if expectations met reality.
“They are the pinnacle of cars for me. It was the scariest thing I have ever done, and I went from feeling so confident on a motorbike to being out of place in the Sprintcar. They are just a different beast, and they look a lot easier from the outside in.”
Lancaster’s name has been found predominantly mid-pack this season, where it can be tricky to escape any carnage ahead.
“We’ve been up and down,” he said. “We have a lot of businesses so it has been difficult to commit to the whole year, but when we are on the track we have been quite good.
“We have had a lot of DNFs and a lot of bad luck. We had a motor failure, and I have been involved in three crashes in front of me with nowhere to go, which have wrecked the car. When we’ve got time to prepare we are time trialling well and getting up towards the front, which makes it easier. We are definitely a top five car, and hopefully next year in the top three.”
Lancaster proved that top five credential with a fifth place finish at the Sprintcar Gold Cup recently. For this weekend’s Speedway Grand Final, which also serves as the final round of the Maddington Toyota Triple Crown, he would like to go a couple of spots better.
“That fifth did give us confidence, because we missed the set up in time trials, but I was able to pass four or five cars in the feature even though it wasn’t a passing track. That’s a good little reward for the team.
“For the Grand Final hopefully we can start the night with solid qualifying, and then it is about sticking 30 solid laps in the feature. I do struggle a bit in the features; I think it is more a mindset issue than fitness or set up.”
With the Motorplex off-season soon to come, Lancaster said he will regroup with a new approach for next season.
“We are gearing up for a big year. We have got someone paid to get the car ready which takes pressure off myself; that is the first time we have done that. I’ve sometimes found it impossible to work on the car myself, and when you only put in 50%, that’s what you get out.”
The Perth Motorplex Speedway Grand Final takes place over two nights this Friday and Saturday, with different divisions running on each night. Gates open at 4.30pm both nights, with heats from 5pm and the main show from 6pm.
Words: Luke Nieuwhof
Pic: Peter Roebuck