Easy as you like for Oldfield at Archerfield Speedway
The 2022/2023 East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship roared into life at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (November 5) and it was series champion Luke Oldfield who dished up a dominant display to cruise home for an emphatic win.
Having qualified on pole position, Oldfield was in a class of his own throughout the 30-lap feature race and never looked under threat at any stage, leaving his rivals to fight over the minor placings.
Having inherited second spot on lap 10 when Ryan Newton crashed out, Kevin Titman remained runner-up when the chequer fell, with Jy Corbet snatching third in the final corner following contact with Michael Saller that sent the Sydneysider into the wall.
In his best result for quite a while, Mark Pholi fared fourth, with Randy Morgan fifth to the flag. Karl Hoffmans and Trent Vardy were next best, with Adam Butler, Mitch Gowland and Brad Ayres rounding out the top ten.
In the Petzyo Development Sprintcars, Josh Fort was unstoppable through the heats and final, downing Nathan Pronger, Jeremy Gaudry and second-generation rookie Kye Jensen.
Round four of the Wildink Wingless Sprint Club Championship was a family affair that saw Brody Thomsen home first ahead of his brother Scott in the feature race, with Tim Harris third in advance of Jamie Usher and Andrew Robinson.
A small field of Midgets ensured that Michael Kendall made easy work of the feature race, clearing away from the field to finish almost four seconds clear of Brad Dawson, with Darren Vine besting a battle with Cal Whatmore to snare third.
With the original season-opener curtailed by inclement weather a month earlier, it was fine conditions that greeted the 40+ Sprintcar drivers who fronted for the first rounds of racing in both the East Coast Logistics Track Championship and the Petzyo Development Series, with rookies and newcomers aplenty across both championships.
Time trial qualifying certainly sprung some surprises with Taylor Prosser, running in the fourth group to take on the clock, annexing KRE Fast Time with a best lap of 11.769.
Only two others in Jy Corbet (11.953) and Ryan Newton (11.999) were able to slip under 12 seconds, with Jack Bell (12.000), Andrew Baumber (12.022), Peter Campbell (12.033) and Saller (12.080) next best ahead of Jayden Peacock, Trent Vardy and Karl Hoffmans, leaving the likes of Oldfield, Titman and Aaron Kelly down the order and with a lot of work ahead of them.
The fight-back began immediately with Oldfield clearing away from the field to win the opening heat ahead of Kelly, Morgan, Saller and Baumber, while Campbell would become the first spinner of the new season when he somehow slid to a halt in the main straight on the opening lap.
Prosser, meanwhile, would see his qualifying heroics undermined somewhat when he contacted the turn four wall with two laps remaining.
A ballsy outside run through turns one and two on the opening lap carried Gowland into the lead of heat two, an advantage he held to the end in defeating Ayres and Harry Stewart, who would prove to be a revelation as the night progressed.
Titman enjoyed an untroubled run from pole position to win heat three from Pholi and Bell, before backing up in heat four to win again, this time over Oldfield and Morgan.
After such a promising start to proceedings, heat five would see Prosser come crashing back to earth, both literally and figuratively, when a scrappy start saw him ride a wheel and launch into a series of somersaults through turn one that also snared Bell.
Once the wreckage was cleared, it would be Ayers leading home Saller and Gowland.
The final heat of the night would fall to Kelly ahead of Stewart, whose effort was good enough to carry him into his first ever Dash. In finishing third, Vardy would also secure a place in the showdown to sort the starting order in the feature.
The first of the Development Series heat races would see Fort outpace Ron Hendrickson and Libby Ellis, with heat two going the way of Brad Keiler over Nathan Pronger and Jeremy Gaudry.
Proving too pacey once again in heat three, Fort led home Ellis and Cameron King on this occasion, with Keiler also securing a second win to start alongside Fort on the front row in the feature. Gaudry grabbed second in this instance, with Pronger home in third spot.
The Petzyo Development Series feature race (C Main) would see Fort continue his winning ways, cruising home with little resistance to secure a place in the B Main, to be joined by the next three finishers in Pronger, Hendrickson and Gaudry.
Unfortunately for Fort, his feature race aspirations evaporated early in the B Main when a spin in turn two on the opening lap morphed into something bigger that resulted in him finishing atop Pronger, putting both cars on the infield. Ayres kept Hoffmans and Butler at bay to take the race, with Cody O’Connell clinching fourth to secure a feature race start in his first night of Sprintcar competition.
Despite starting from the second row, it took less than half a lap for Oldfield to sweep into the lead of the Boss Hogg’s Steakhouse Dash before racing away to secure pole position for the main event.
Newton nailed second to join Oldfield on the front row for the feature, with Titman advancing from fifth to secure third ahead of Saller and Stewart who, despite dropping a spot in the 6-lap scramble, announced his arrival as yet another young talent ready to upstage the establishment.
The feature race started without incident as Oldfield immediately cleared off into the distance, leaving his front-row partner Newton to fend off Titman and Saller. However, Newton’s challenge was done on lap ten when he found himself devoid of sufficient space to navigate around a spun Campbell and a stricken Stewart, whose Titan Garages #96 had shed a wheel.
The contact with Stewart was enough to render Newton a spectator and elevate Titman into second spot for the restart and, with Saller now third, these positions remained unchanged when proceedings were halted again two laps later following a spin from Bell in turn two.
Further back, Corbet was on the charge after starting 13th and quickly rounded up Pholi and Morgan to move into fourth. With the tailenders persisting with running the bottom even though the leaders had demonstrated that the fastest groove was up higher, Oldfield encountered no difficulties in negotiating lapped traffic and cruised home to finish more than three seconds clear of Titman.
The fight for third took a somewhat controversial turn in the last corner when a last-gasp challenge from Corbet, which was less than perfect in its execution, resulted in contact with Saller which put the latter into the fence and elevated Corbet onto the podium.
Pholi and Morgan completed the top five ahead of the only others to finish on the lead lap in Hoffmans and Vardy. Rounding out the top ten were Butler, Gowland and Ayres and, with Kelly exiting on lap 12 with a flat tyre, it was O’Connell, Andrew Baumber, Bell and Campbell who completed the finishers.
Just a dozen Midgets hit the track for their opening hitout, with 10 ultimately taking the green in the feature race. Dawson prevailed in the opening heat over Vine and Kendall, who would subsequently take out the second preliminary, downing Scott Doyle and Brodie Tulloch.
The 20-lap feature race proved a cakewalk for Kendall, who led every lap and ran a lonely race at the front, with Dawson likewise entrenched in second spot for the duration.
Third was a different story though with Vine deposing Doyle from the spot on lap two and looking as though he might round up Dawson until Cal Whatmore entered into the stoush.
Lap 16 saw Whatmore, showing no ill-effects from the monumental wipe-out that ended his 2021/2022 season prematurely, slip ahead of Vine, who was piloting the Craig Thompson Engineering #57 campaigned previously with little success by Bernie Clarke.
When the merest of gaps opened through turn four with two laps to run, Vine pounced to reclaim the position, leaving Whatmore to lament a lost opportunity in fourth, followed home by the only other finishers in Boyd Chaffey and Tom Clauss.
Wingless Sprint heat wins were shared between Brody Thomsen, Tim Harris, Scott Thomsen and Nicholas Whell, with the Thomsen boys sharing the front row for the feature event. From pole position, Brody would lead every lap despite the best efforts of his brother, with less than half a second separating them at the completion of 20 circulations.
Harris and Jamie Usher would also finish where they started in third and fourth respectively, with Andrew Robinson advancing a couple of spots to climb into the top five ahead of Whell, who dropped as low as eighth at one stage before rallying to regain a couple of positions. James Barton, Chris Catchpole, Jayden O’Toole and Stuart Jefferies rounded out the top ten.
It was a less than impressive start to the season from the Lightning Sprintcar brigade who, having promised 11 cars, fronted with just seven and had only four face the green in a feature race taken out by Andy Kimm from James Elliott and Luke Graham. Heat wins were shared between Kimm and Harley Graham, who was running second in the feature before a spin that was followed by a restart infringement and his subsequent relegation that would deny him a runner-up finish.
The next meeting at Archerfield Speedway is on Saturday, November 19 featuring round two of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship, round four of the McCosker Super Sedan Series and the Queensland Compact Speedcar Championship, plus Formula 500s and Open Sedans.