MAINLAND speedway drivers set the early pace in the first night the Gowans Motor Group Sprintcar Classic at Latrobe last night.
After four hectic heats on a lightning fast track, Victorian driver James Hennessey topped the qualifying sheets heading into the first of two double-points finals which carry over to tonight's second night of racing.
Fellow Victorian driver, four- times Tasmanian champion and former Devonport racer David Murcott was also impressive in his fourth heat win to also be near the top of the leaderboard, looking confident and comfortable on his former home track.
The best of the local drivers last night was Launceston's Kurt Luttrell, who won the first heat, with reigning Tasmanian champion Jason Redpath, of Moriarty, also showing plenty of early speed with a second and a third place from his two heats.
Launceston's Jamie Bricknell was also placed in his two heats to be well in contention ahead of tonight's second night of racing, while Hobart's Shaun Dobson was also showing plenty of pace in his last hit-out before heading to New Zealand next week to take on the Kiwis.
On the same programme, Sassafras Formula driver Matthew Redpath (Jason's cousin), won his father's memorial event, the Peter Redpath Memorial Race for the second time in a brilliant display.
Earlier in the night Hobart's Cameron Briggs won the king of Latrobe for Tassie sixes leading from start to finish to win from Marcus Cleary and Dwaine Sonners in a Southern trifecta.
Racing continues tonight with six more heats and a 35-lap final in the sprintcar classic, with the programme also including the Tasmanian Modified Production Sedan Championship, plus racing for lightning sprints, street stock sedans, junior sedans, speedway karts and sidecars.
Gates open at 3pm, with racing for speedway karts and sidecars from 4pm and the main programme starting at 6pm.
Gowans Motor Group Sprintcar Classic - Heat one: K Luttrell, 1; S Dobson, 2; A Redpath, 3. Heat two: T Austin, 1; J l Lee, 2; J Redpath, 3. Heat three: J Hennessey, 1; Redpath, 2; C Smith, 3. Heat four: D Murcott, 1; T Hutchins, 2; J Bricknell, 3. Peter Redpath Memorial (Formula 500s) - Heat one: B Whitchurch, 1; M Redpath, 2; M Kelly, 3. Heat two: E Dobson, 1; N Kingston, 2; M Kelly, 3. Final (20 laps): M Redpath, 1; B Whitchurch, 2; N Kingston, 3. King of Latrobe (Tassie sixes) - Heat one: M Cleary, 1; D Sonners, 2; C Briggs, 3. Heat two: C Briggs, 1; B Price, 2; M Cleary, 3. Final (15 laps): C Briggs, 1; M Cleary, 2; D Sonners, 3. V8 AMCAs - Heat one: J Smith, 1; A Bassett, 2; M Graham, 3. Heat two: A Ryder, 1; L Piper, 2; R Bassett, 3. Final (15 laps): J Smith, 1; M Graham, 2; A Ryder, 3. Wingless sprints - Heat one: T Watson, 1; B Herbert, 2; J Rolls, 3. Heat two: H McBain, 1; C Breen, 2; T Watson, 3. Final (15 laps): C Breen, 1; B Herbert, 2; T Watson, 3. Street stock sedans - Heat one: A Cooper, 1; C Bauld, 2; J Sylvester, 3. Heat two: D Riley Jr, 1; R Riley, 2; A Cooper, 3. Heat three: M Atkinson, 1; J Riley, 2; T Auton, 3.