The Lodge family racing team are in the hunt to claim another Australian title with John Lodge jnr in the field for the Late Models class championship in Sydney.
In a remarkable transition to the class, the Australian titles held at Valvoline Raceway on Friday and Saturday nights will be just the Kurri Kurri driver’s fourth racing meeting in the class.
“We’re definitely not putting too much pressure on ourselves heading into the Australian title, but we’ll be hoping for a strong result,” said Lodge, whose sister Kiona Sunerton won the Australian RSA Street Stockers Championship on Australia Day.
“The country’s best Late Model drivers will be racing, so it’s going to be quite a challenge, but our recent form has given us a bit more confidence, so we’ll be aiming to qualify for the feature race and hopefully challenge for a top-10 result.”
Lodge has reason for confidence with a runner-up finish last Saturday night at Valvoline Raceway in just his third meeting in the class.
Having stepped into the class after his family-run team purchased the Rocket XR1 Late Model from Ryan Fenech, the 29-year-old had a ninth placing in a “did not finish” because of mechanical issues at his first meeting and followed it up running fifth at his second meeting.
Last Saturday, Lodge time trialled sixth fastest and later started out of position nine on the grid in a tough field of 22 feature-race starters
He delivered a hard-charging performance, surviving the cut and thrust to make his way into the runner-up spot just two laps prior to the race being declared early due to time constraints.
“To finish on the podium in just my third race meeting in the class is something that was beyond my expectations and I couldn’t be happier with how everything is progressing,” he said..
“Stepping into such a fantastic car has been a massive help and it’s allowed me to get up to speed quite quickly. Transitioning into Late Models has been a big team effort and I can’t thank my team, especially my crew chief Bainy (Gary Bain), enough for their efforts.
“We’re all learning a lot about Late Models and enjoying ourselves along the way. I also have to say a big thank you to my family and sponsors for all of their support and for helping to make this all a possibility.”
Lodge has tasted success in a few different classes throughout his career, including RSA Street Stockers, where he became an Australian Champion. He also won the Aussie Driver Search in the V8 Ute category.