THE boy from Burrumbeet James Herbertson upstaged a crack field to win last night’s Australian Drivers’ Championship at Globe Derby.
It’s a win that almost didn’t happen when Herbertson and Kate Gath – Victoria’s two representatives – were bumped off their flight from Melbourne to Adelaide.
Delays to flights for other interstate drivers forced South Australian officials to push the start of the Globe Derby meeting back an hour to ensure the quality and integrity of the prestigious series.
“I turned-up to get on the flight and even though I was booked on, I was told first-in, best-dressed and I didn’t have a seat so I got moved back to a 3pm flight, which meant I wouldn’t make the start of the series,” Herbertson said.
“I went to the café and saw Kate (Gath) where she told me the same thing happened to her.
“It was stressful and certainly a bit of a headache to get here.”
It was worse for Tasmanian representative Rohan Hillier. His flight was cancelled, forcing him out of the series.
In a fantastic 11-race series which went right down to the wire, Herbertson prevailed by just two points in a trifecta of Australia’s young guns.
Herbertson finished with 61 points from NSW star Cam Hart (59) and WA’s Emily Suvaljko (57).
“It still hasn’t really sunk in,” Herbertson said. “It’s a pretty unreal moment.
“Winning is incredible because I’m surprised I even got the call-up to represent the state (Victoria). We’ve got so many great drivers.
“I was very nervous going into it. Representing your state is a big thing.”
The win continued Herbertson’s meteoric rise through the ranks. He finished second in the Victorian Drivers’ Premiership to Hall of Famer Chris Alford last season and has raised the bar again to hold a 19-win lead over Greg Sugars in the premiership.
Herbertson has also secured Inter Dominion pacing and trotting drives on Supreme Dominator and Maori Law.
“I’ve had a fantastic couple of years with some great support,” he said.
“I’m proud of the fact I’ve been to do without the backing of any of the really big stables, more teaming with so many different trainers.
“When you win big races with the smaller stables, you really feel a big part of it all.”
AUSTRALIAN DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STANDINGS
61 James Herbertson (Vic)
59 Cam Hart (NSW)
57 Emily Suvaljko (WA)
56 Wayne Hill (SA)
54 Narissa McMullen (Qld)
52 Ryan Hryhorec (SA)
49 Gary Hall Jr (WA)
48 Kate Gath (Vic)
45 Grace Panella (NSW)
38 Conor Crook (Tas)
37 Dani Hill (SA)
28 Pete McMullen (Qld)
*Note: Dani Hill was late replacement for Rohan Hillier