ASPIRATIONS of back-to-back Victorian sprintcar titles will take a back seat with Simpson’s Tim Rankin this weekend as he prepares for a hometown stoush with mentor and great mate John Vogels.
Nanjing Night Net

While Warrnambool pair Jamie Veal and Darren Mollenoyux battle for the lead in the Sprintcar Racing Association of Victoria series at Simpson Speedway, the personal war between Simpson duo Vogels and Rankin for third in the points is set to divide the small farming community.

Rankin, who grew up watching the action at the track, is giving the Simpson showdown priority over tomorrow night’s defence of his Victorian title at Avalon, which also doubles as the penultimate round of the SRA series.

The 23-year-old is realistic about his chances in the series.

“At the end of the day, it is me and Johnny in a race for third and Vealy and Molly in a race for first,” Rankin said.

“It should be a great night’s racing. You could be a hero or you could be zero.”

Rankin said fellow Simpson driver Vogels was more than another competitor.

“We are really thinking about the series. We are in a good battle with John and I want to finish third. If I finish fourth to John it won’t be the end of the world. He’s a great driver and a guy who has helped me out a hell of a lot.

“I see John as a great friend of mine. He’s built motors for me, I’ve looked up to him in becoming a driver.”

Rankin, who is yet to win a round of the series this season, rates his second behind Steven Lines at Mount Gambier early in the season as his best result.

But he has switched back to his first sprintcar, a five-year-old Cool chassis, for this weekend’s double-header as he looks to bank some points. Rankin said he intended to end his season early, with the SRA grand final at Premier Speedway in two weeks his finale.

“I’m not going to do Easter,” he said.

He said he wanted to switch his focus to next season but revealed he could even sit out next season in favour of saving for a big assault the following year.

“To run at the very top you have to be financially good,” he said.

“I took a year off a couple of years ago and I was able to get some good gear and we went for it a year later.”

Rankin said he was excited about returning to his home track tonight.

He said he had a distinct advantage on the egg-shaped circuit rather than the ovals the class usually raced on.

He said he carried no heavy expectations into tonight and tomorrow night, despite being the Victorian champion.

“Being Victoria 1, it doesn’t feel like it. It was just one race I won. I won one race last year and that was it. I don’t see it as having any added pressure,” he said.

Series leader Veal, Mollenoyux, Vogels and Rankin can expect some extra hot competition tonight and tomorrow at Avalon, with former national champions James McFadden and Robbie Farr entering.

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