Maitland driver Blake Eveleigh showed his undoubted class with a top 10 finish at the Australian V8 Dirt Modified Championship at Sydney's Valvoline Raceway on Saturday.
Eveleigh finished first in the Sportsman category and ninth overall against Open rivals who enjoyed a distinct horsepower advantage.
The 2016 Australian RSA Street Stockers champion moved up to the class this year after receiving an offer from former racer Chris Griffith to try his hand at the class.
Despite running a 20-year-old Australian-built car by Brad Marr Racing, Eveleigh managed to impressively qualify directly through to the Australian Championship deciding feature race out of position 14 and then went on to finish in an impressive ninth place.
"The goal at the beginning of the weekend was to just qualify into the feature race, and to do that directly and then finish inside the top 10 is something I'm very happy about, as we had well and truly exceeded our expectations," Eveleigh said.
"Running in the Sportsman category has both its advantages and disadvantages, as when the track dries out it allows us to use all of our horsepower but when the track is tacky (fast) that's when the Open cars have a big advantage.
"On the weekend, come the feature race, the track had dried out and that gave me an advantage and I was able to grab it (the advantage) with both hands and move forward throughout the race and bring home a top-10 finish."
Leading up to the Australian Championship, Eveleigh had only contested four race meetings in a V8 Dirt Modified.
In those four race meetings, which have all been at Valvoline Raceway, he had shown plenty of promise - including a top-five feature-race finish in only his second race meeting.
Griffith is full of praise for Eveleigh and the way he has embraced the opportunity to compete in the V8 Dirt Modified class.
"I'm all about trying to get young drivers into the V8 Dirt Modifieds class and Blake is certainly a talent who has already proven himself from a young age by winning an Australian Street Stockers title as a teenager," he said.
"Blake and his family, along with our team, put in a lot of effort in the garage with the car's preparation leading into the Australian championship, and it's fantastic to see us come away from the weekend with a solid result."
Eveleigh and Griffith plan to run the remaining two race meetings at Valvoline Raceway (March 7 and April 4), along with the NSW Title for the Sportsman category at Grafton Speedway on the Easter Long Weekend and the annual Sportsman event at Dubbo's Morris Park Speedway over the June Long Weekend.
Eveleigh said would like to thank Chris and Emily Griffith, Paul Markulin, Scott Cannon, Stu Robertson, Luke Eveleigh, Jamie and Jenny Eveleigh and John Lodge Water Cartage for their support throughout the 2019-20 season.