Ardie out to cement legacy as Australia's best junior
JONIC: There is no name that holds more power or garners more interest in the junior sedans class than prodigious Ipswich driver Ardie Jonic.
Australia's leading junior sedans driver won his ninth state title in Gympie last week, and this weekend will aim to defend his recently-won national title at Maryborough Speedway.
He has held the Australian title which he won in Darwin, for just five months, but that reign is a little short for the Goodna-based prodigy's liking.
He will have to do it against one of the most diverse fields in the history of the title, with this the first time every state and territory is represented.
Jonic said he expected Mitch Glynn and Erik Wallace to be among the top runners, but admitted he was interested in how interstate drivers adapted.
"I do race against the interstate drivers a lot, but them coming over here, we don't see that much of them coming to our territory and racing on our tracks, so I'm interested to see how they go,” Jonic said.
"I also know we have a lot of tough competitors who come from Queensland so it's going to be really hard racing.
"I had a lot of bad luck at the start of my career but we did manage to get it five months ago. We haven't held it for very long but we're coming back to get it again.
"There is always a lot of pressure for the Australian title, it's the biggest title for juniors, but wherever it is we will try to get it.”
With his lofty reputation, it would be easy for 16-year-old Jonic to get carried away, but the teenager is well-grounded despite the opportunities, both in speedway and on asphalt, which have come his way.
"It comes natural, you can't think you're better than everyone else,” Jonic said. "You have to take a look at yourself and you can see it's not right.
"It's better to come in humble and know your competitors can beat you because it will keep you on your feet, keep your mind straight, and keep you going harder and harder to be the best.
"Anything can change in a matter of seconds, one lap can affect your whole race.”
Jonic's ever-expanding trophy cabinet, which could very well house two national titles come Monday, could play a major role when he decides whether or not to continue racing in the junior class.
He has the option of one more season, but given his domination of the class he could move either into a senior speedway category or swap the dirt tracks for asphalt.
"We're not sure yet, we've already got a lot of titles under our belt so we may have to move on,” Jonic said.
"We have been racing asphalt, doing a bit of F4 racing so we could lean towards that but we don't yet,” he said.
Jonic's long-term goal is to move to asphalt, where he could emulate the heroics of a recently-retired Supercars driver and Australian legend.
"Definitely Craig Lowndes, he's such a legend,” Jonic said.
"(Whatever I decide to do) I definitely do want to move to asphalt in future but I'll never forget speedway, it's taught me so much and it keeps me on my feet. It reminds me of where I've come from.”