JOHN Saad is this year’s Summernats Grand Champion with his Mazda RX-3 sedan. It was a very satisfying moment for John, who after winning Top Judged Elite last year, suffered the heartbreaking setback of alternator trouble with his turbocharged 13B rotary-powered sedan just moments before last year’s Grand Champion grass driving events.

But he was back, and confident, for Summernats 29. After raiding the Elite trophy shelf – the car again won Top Judged Elite, as well as just about every other trophy it was eligible for – John met the criteria for Grand Champion by completing the on-grass motorkhana on Saturday night and the Go-to-Whoa on Sunday.

John had some strong competition for Summernats’ most coveted award. As well as People’s Choice winner Grant Connor and his XR Falcon, John had to edge out the Top 20 Chev Nova of street machine legend Rob Beauchamp – and the built-to-be-driven FC Holden ute of Glenn Profilio (SM, Dec ’15). Rounding out the Elite cars in contention were Michael Ellard’s LS1-powered Rodeo minitruck, Michael Brown’s orange ’72 Rambler Hornet and the Falcon XB GS sedan of Michael Stivala (SM, Apr ’15). John’s win is only the second – and the second in a row – for rotary power, after Nathan Borg’s win in his Mazda-powered red Datsun 1200 ute last year.

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