In a race that delivered action, drama and antagonism aplenty, it was Mitchell Gee who emerged victorious in round four of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (November 16).
Starting from the outside front row on a track that offered multiple racing lines, Gee led all but one of the 30 laps, initially establishing a sizeable lead before a series of restarts brought him back to the field. Securing his first podium result since stepping into Sprintcars, Aaron Kelly took every advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves to snare a runner-up result, with Kevin Titman finishing third by the barest of margins to consolidate his place atop the championship standings. A battle-scarred Ryan McNamara finished fourth, while a topsy-turvy night for Callum Walker eventually resulted in a fifth-place finish.
A perfectly timed and expertly executed outside run from Brock Dean propelled him to victory in round three of the American Tire and Racing Services Midget Series. Dean shadowed Darren Vine for most of the race before switching up-track with five laps remaining and sweeping into the lead. Vine remained second at the flag, with round two winner Rusty Whittaker having to settle for third on this occasion in advance of Anthony Chaffey and Mitchell Rooke.
In other feature races, Sam Gollschewsky outpaced Chris Were and Steve Collins to win the Modlite main event, while Jamie Usher led home Paul Robinson and Cody O’Connell to win the Wingless Sprint feature race.
Utilising the WSS-style qualifying system, it was Ryan McNamara who hit the track first for Sprintcar time trials and was no doubt delighted to do so given the hot conditions were always going to see the track slicken off in rapid time. As such, McNamara’s 11.752 remained unbeaten and he was the only driver to run under 12 seconds. Despite being the last car to take on the clock and a spin on the first of his two timed laps, Callum Walker somehow mustered a 12.034 to finish second quickest, nudging Titman (12.046) back to third. Gee (12.115) was next best ahead of Tim Farrell (12.202), with Brent Kratzmann, Brent Aprile, Adam Butler, Mark Pholi and Dan Murray rounding out the top ten.
Mitch Gowland led the opening moments of the opening heat before being relegated by Nelson Reddacliff, only for both of them to be rounded up by Kratzmann before the race had reached the halfway point. A late surge from Allan Woods propelled him into second, leaving Reddacliff third at the flag.
Heat two was a straightforward affair in which Aaron Kelly led all the way from the front row to nab a win ahead of Nicholas Whell and Adam Butler.
Heat three also resulted in the two front row starters holding firm in their positions as Andrew Corbet took the win ahead of Randy Morgan, with Titman advancing several spots to finish third.
Reddacliff again led early in heat four, only for Corbett to chase him down on this occasion to score another win. Reddacliff remained second, with Butler besting Woods for third after the pair swapped spots several times.
Having endured a flat tyre in his opening heat, Brent Aprile bounced back to win heat five in advance of Morgan, with a third-place finish enough for Kratzmann to emerge as the top qualifier into the Dash.
Kelly led every lap once again to win the final heat as Gee snatched second spot on the final lap, relegating Dan Murray to third
The B Main produced the closest finish possible (literally) when Mark Pholi pipped Mitch Gowland by 0.001 as they swept under the chequer. Whell finished third and it was Brett MInett who secured the final direct transfer spot to set himself for a repeat of his heroics from the previous round.
Having selected pole position in the pre-race inversion draw, Kratzmann was untroubled in leading throughout the Trax Tyre and Auto Dash, downing Gee and Titman to replicate his effort from the previous round and secure the prime position for the feature race. Farrell moved ahead of McNamara to finish fourth, with Butler, Kelly and Corbet completing the field.
It was Gee who blasted away from the outside front row to lead the feature race, leaving Kratzmann to fend off Titman, Farrell, McNamara and the rest. Zooming clear of the field, Gee rounded up the backmarkers in very rapid time and had placed five lapped cars between himself and Kratzmann when a spin from Corbett brought about a restart on lap 13. Back underway and Gee continued to hold sway until a spin from Woods in the back straight halted proceedings again with 11 laps remaining. From the restart, Kratzmann pounced to pinch the lead from Gee, who charged back underneath through turn one on the next lap. Refusing to concede the position, Kratzmann bounced up over the cushion, tagged the wall and saw his victory hopes disappear. Some silliness prevailed from this point as an ailing Kratzmann seemingly laid in wait for Gee as the former Queensland champion loomed to put him a lap in arrears, only for a wild crash from Butler to halt proceedings once again with five laps to run. Butler, whose form this season has been excellent, was on track for a top-five finish when he somersaulted through turn three after contact from McNamara, who had moved uptrack to avoid a stricken Morgan. Having surged through the field from 11th to third, Morgan was also eliminated at this point, while McNamara soldiered on with a damaged front wing. Gee completed the final laps to take the race ahead of Kelly, who had relegated Titman a lap prior to the final restart. McNamara also moved ahead of Titman on the penultimate lap, only for the series leader to launch a final surge in the sprint to the chequer that would see him snatch third by just .009. Having started back in 12th after missing his opening heat race, Walker meticulously moved forward and would find himself fifth at the flag, followed home by Farrell and a barnstorming Minett. Corbet, Pholi and Whell rounded out the top ten ahead of Kristy Bonsey, Gowland, Murray and a seething Kratzmann, with Woods, Aprile and Lambert failing to go the distance.
The opening Midget heat saw Cal Whatmore start from the back of the pack and chase down the entire field to take the win in advance of Charlie Brown and Tom Clauss.
It was defending track champion Whittaker who proved too strong in heat two, downing Nathan Mathers and Zac McDonald.
Dean downed Whittaker and Whatmore in heat three, with Vine victorious in the final heat over Brown and Ricky Robinson.
From the outside front row, Vine outjumped Whittaker to lead the feature race away as Brown, who started from position three and immediately switched to his preferred highline, found himself bogged down and dropped out of the top ten. Whittaker would woud fall to fifth by the end of the opening lap as Dean slotted into second spot. From here, Dean would sit patiently behind Vine as the pair distanced themselves from the field. Brown’s efforts to regain lost ground were eventually curtailed courtesy of a flat tyre. With Vine refusing to budge from the bottom and the laps winding down, Dean moved uptrack five laps from home and encountered little resistance as he charged into the lead to become the third different winner from as many rounds. Vine remained second as Whittaker climbed back to third ahead of Anthony Chaffey and Mitchell Rooke who, as he did in the previous round, surged late to finagle fifth ahead of Nathan Mathers, Matt O’Neill, Whatmore, Dillon and Chris Singleton.
The Wingless Sprint feature race followed a similar trajectory as Usher shadowed Robinson before swooping late to snatch the win. Cody O’Connell finished third, but if there was ever a driver who deserved a better fate than he ultimately endured it was Casey O’Connell. The Junior Sedan graduate used the cushion high on the track to great effect, chasing down the leaders and even taking the lead momentarily before contact with a lapped car sent him into orbit and crashing out in turn three. Michael Lampard finished fourth ahead of Lachie Robertson, Mick Reid and Dave Jobe, who did a great job to get back on track after tipping over in the heats.
Robinson, Usher, Casey O’Connell and Dave Ellis picked up heat wins, with the latter making an early exit from the feature.
Despite starting from the back of the field, Sam Gollshewsky scored a remarkable win in the opening Modlite heat, finishing more than 13 seconds ahead of the field. It was no surprise then that Gollschewsky would also go on to win the feature race, leading home Chris Were and Steve Collins, both of whom also collected heat wins. Joel Smith was next best, followed by Dan Lewis, Jac Carnall, Julian Olley, Joshua Smith, Chris Fing and Calum Beerling. The only other heat winner was Will Butler, but a spin in turn one ended any feature race aspirations he may have possessed.
Heat wins in Formula 500 Juniors were shared around, with Taylor Prosser (2), Ryan Newton and Taylor Morgan all enjoying a moment in the spotlight.
The next meeting at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is on Saturday, November 30 and will feature round five of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship plus Super Sedans, Lightning Sprints, Formula 500s, Microsprints and Ford vs Holden vs Sigma sedans.
Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is proudly supported by:
East Coast Logistics
Queensland Speedway Spares