Pronger keeps state crown in the family
by Lee Gaskin
STEPPING out of his father's shadow has been a difficult task for Bundaberg's Nathan Pronger.
But his maiden Queensland Formula 500 title may have done just that.
Pronger claimed the crown at Maryborough last Saturday night, but it was not without a valiant attempt from his dad Mick as he attempted to win his sixth overall and third straight Queensland title.
Mick was in control of proceedings until with "four to five'' laps to go he had to retire from the final with mechanical problems when his gearbox gave up.
While elated, Nathan said he was "a little dissappointed'' his father failed to finish.
"It would have been nice to go one, two, but after watching him for many years now I know what I feels like (to win a title), and it's great,'' Pronger said.
"In the race I was just biding my time, and most of the way I was following Dad and making sure I stayed out of trouble.
"Then in the last six laps I started to push for the lead, and it was just unfortunate Dad had to pull out.''
On what he described as perfect racing conditions, Pronger said the Maryborough track made for some exciting action.
"The track was dry and very quick,'' he said.
"Cars were going two or three wide around the bend and there were lots of opportunities to pass which made for a top race.''
The sky now appears the limit for the second-generation racer, with the Winternationals in Hamilton, Victoria on Saturday night the next mountain to climb.
Victory in the prestigous event is not beyong the realm of possibility, with the younger of the two Pronger's currently in second place on the 2005/2006 Oval Express F500 Series Pointscore table, with elder statesman Mick staying in touch in fifth position.
However, crossing the chequred flag in first place for Nathan will be made all the more difficult due to the fact he will be competing in a borrowed vehicle.
"I'm hoping to do well, but I'm not 100% confident,'' Pronger said.
"I'm going to be driving in a car I don't know, so getting all the adjustments and knowing how far I can push the car is going to be the biggest challenge.
"But if I can be competitive and get a top five finish that would be great.''
Racing is in the blood of the 21-year-old, and he knows he has a long way to go yet to surprass the feats of his champion father.
"He (Mick) has won five Queensland titles, so I've got a few to go before I catch up,'' Pronger said.