Goodyear wins final but Oldfield is champ
Tasmania’s Jock Goodyer prevailed in a remarkable feature race to win the final round of the Speedway Australia QLD/NSW States Sprintcar Series at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (January 15). Luke Oldfield finished in second spot, a mere 0.33 behind Goodyer after 35 laps of racing and, in so doing, he became the only driver to finish inside the top five at every round, landing on the podium on three occasions, including a win in round two, which was more than enough to secure the championship. Californian WoO star Carson Macedo featured prominently in an epic scrap for the first four places and ultimately secured third following the demise of Lachlan McHugh on lap 30, with a late surge from Brock Hallett carrying him to fourth at the flag. Young guns Ryan Newton and Jy Corbet were next best ahead of Adam Butler, Aaron Kelly and Darren Jensen, who climbed more than ten spots, with Richard Morgan rounding out the top ten.
Doing double duty in preparation for his national championship defence, Macedo proved too pacey in the TFH Midget feature race, chasing down Michael Kendall to become the fifth different winner from as many rounds in the series. Finishing third for his first podium appearance of the season was Brock Dean, while Matt Geering and Lachlan Paulger were both impressive to be next home in advance of Rusty Whittaker, Casey O’Connell, Brad Dawson, Cal Whatmore and Jordan Mackay, who transferred from the B Main.
With several of the so-called stars having abandoned the series rather than face the prospect of being upstaged once again, a 26-car field took to the track for Sprintcar time trial qualifying and, despite being first on track, Kristy Bonsey would clock a very impressive 11.919, a time that would only be beaten by two others before Goodyer served up a best lap of 11.739 to finish on top. Corbet (11.797) and McHugh (11.816) also bested Bonsey, leaving Oldfield (11.922) fifth overall ahead of Adam Butler, Andrew Baumber, Robbie Farr, Kevin Titman and Hallett.
Bryan Mann assumed the lead on lap two of the opening heat and looked on track for a win until Goodyer loomed large in the closing stages. Refusing to move from his chosen path on the bottom of the track, Mann subsequently offered no resistance when Goodyer surged around the outside on the final lap to snatch victory, with Brad Ayers finishing in third spot.
Trent Vardy showed a bit more fight in the second heat as he tried desperately to fend off the advances of Macedo, who ultimately assumed control on lap five. Oldfield would charge into second spot with Robbie Farr in pursuit as Vardy fell to fifth behind Corbet, who had earlier sent Darren Jensen upside down when the pair clashed exiting turn four.
A couple of spins from Leigh Holman and Tarhlea Apelt proved minor irritations in heat three but had no bearing on the result, with Kelly leading all the way from pole position to win ahead of Titman and McHugh.
Kelly enjoyed another front row start in heat four, but failed to take any advantage on this occasion, spinning on the opening lap to kybosh his chances and hand the lead to Titman, who held firm at the front despite a barnstorming finish from Goodyer. In the end, a mere 0.161 separated the pair at the chequer, with Karl Hoffmans home third.
A starting infringement proved costly for Vardy in heat five, leaving him unable to keep pace with Newton and Farr, who finished first and second respectively.
Too timid in his first heat, Mann was in the thick of everything in the opening moments of the final preliminary, making contact with Oldfield and then later with Morgan before cannoning into the infield marker in turn three and bouncing into the path of Tarhlea Apelt. The subsequent restart proved no barrier for Oldfield, who would go on to take the race from Macedo and McHugh.
Despite a moment on lap four when the fight for last place between Richie Rob and James Matthews resulted in the latter getting upside down in the main straight, the last chance B Main proved a somewhat straightforward affair as Hoffmans led home Prosser, Morgan and the last feature race transferee in Jensen.
The opening chapter of the Pole Shootout saw Butler and Bonsey exit first as Macedo and Farr advanced to take on Corbet and Titman. The next instalment saw Macedo advance again, this time joined by McHugh, who would go on to win the final showdown over Oldfield, Goodyer and Macedo to secure pole position for the series decider.
McHugh won the start to lead the field away in the feature race, with Goodyer bettering Oldfield and Macedo to secure second. Such was the pace up front, lapped traffic became a factor as early as lap six but, on a race track offering multiple lanes, the leaders encountered few problems and McHugh was able to extend his lead as Oldfield hounded Goodyer in what became an incredible scrap for the duration of the race. McHugh looked well and truly in control of the race when Newton, having moved forward to take fourth from Macedo, spun in turn three with nine laps remaining and was very fortunate that, with most of the field having been lapped by the leaders, he was able to restart sixth behind Corbet, who was plenty fast despite contact with the wall in the early going. Goodyer pounced at the restart to zoom past McHugh and assume the lead, with Macedo diving underneath both McHugh and Oldfield through turns three and four, with the latter emerging the winner of the exchange by securing second spot as McHugh now found himself third. A lap later, the race was halted again when Titman tipped over in turn four and, with Goodyer leading the field away again, Macedo charged under McHugh and forced the Gold Coaster uptrack until he ran out of room and had to concede positions to both Macedo and Farr, who was now in the mix after a slow start. Unfortunately for Farr, he spun to a halt in turn four with five laps to run and opted to park rather than resume from the back of the field. Upon resumption once again, Goodyear continued to lead Oldfield as McHugh, having failed in his attempt to displace Macedo from third moments earlier, would endure a heartbreaking end when he tipped over in turn two. With no more interruptions and Macedo unable to mount any further challenges, Goodyer and Oldfield maintained their positions at the front as the Tasmanian collected his fourth feature race win in Queensland this season. Although falling short by the barest of margins, Oldfield had plenty to celebrate as the series champion, while Macedo found himself on the podium again in third. Having fallen a lap in arrears at one stage, Hallett found himself back on the lead lap as a result of the restarts and, having stumbled upon some pace that had deserted him for so much of the race, he mounted a late rally to depose both Newton and Corbet to secure fourth. Butler finished in seventh spot ahead of Kelly and Jensen, who started 20th, with Morgan and Andrew Baumber next best in advance of Bonsey, Hoffmans, Ayers and Mann. Although Vardy and Prosser failed to execute the final turn, they were credited with 16th and 17th respectively, leaving McHugh, Farr and Titman as the only non-finishers.
The series standings would see Oldfield finish ahead of Goodyer, Macedo, McHugh and Hallet, who was followed by Newton, Kelly, Hoffmans, Prosser and Titman.
With the two biggest races of the season upcoming on consecutive weekends, a 27-car field fronted for round five of the TFH Series and it was Dylan Menz (14.080) who topped the timesheets in qualifying to continue his rapid rise in the ranks, with Paulger (14.213) second best ahead of Formula 500 hotshoe Liam Williams (14.249), Darren Dillon (14.343) and the NSW-based duo of Matt Geering (14.344) and DJ Raw (14.370). Completing the top ten overall were Tom Clauss, Scott Doyle, Michael Kendall and Whatmore and, while Macedo timed 11th, the likes of Whittaker, Dean and O’Connell were mired much further back.
There were a few missteps before the opening heat could get underway, with a spin by Gavin McDowell followed by a crash in turn three put both Raw and Tony Stephen on the infield before a lap was completed. Brad Dawson led the field away and remained out front at the chequer, despite a big surge from Kendall that would fall short of success by just 0.121, with Williams third in the #46 previously piloted by Chris Singleton.
Despite starting third, Macedo took control of heat two on the opening lap and streeted the field, although a restart with three to go following twin spins from Geering and Paulger would reduce the winning margin to a respectable level, with Dean and Whittaker filling the minor placings.
After a wretched start to the season, there was some brief respite for Darren Vine in heat three when he rounded up Scott Jeynes to grab the lead and the win. Jeynes would fall to third by races end as Whatmore snared the runner-up result.
O’Connell made easy work of a pole position start in heat four to lead throughout, with Whittaker second and Dawson third.
Macedo was unstoppable again in heat five in downing Dean and Geering before Kendall cleaned up in the final heat over Dillon and Whatmore.
Jordan Mackay romped home in the B Main, finishing more than five seconds clear of Jeynes and Charlie Brown, who missed the heats courtesy of an engine that would not fire, with Jesse Harris securing the final transfer position into the feature.
In his first Midget outing since a cameo appearance in the 50-lapper a season or so ago, it was Williams who emerged as top qualifier from the preliminaries, only for the eight-car inversion to put him on the outside of the fourth row for the 20-lap feature race as Dawson assumed pole position alongside Whatmore. Any hope Williams had of upsetting the establishment came to a very abrupt, and spectacular end, when he launched into a huge flip that took him high into the turn three catch fence, thankfully from which he emerged unscathed as the field regrouped for a restart. Dawson led the field away but it was Kendall immediately on the move from sixth, rounding up Geering, Whatmore, Macedo and Dawson within two laps to hit the front. A lap later, Macedo moved to second and the chase was on. Macedo closed in and, after a few failed attempts to wrest the lead, he slid under Kendall through turn one on lap 11. With Macedo moving up-track through turn two, Kendall found himself with no room to move and the expat Kiwi was forced to concede the position. By lap 15, Menz had moved to third, only to find himself in a spin alongside the lapped car of Jeynes in turn one a lap later, elevating Dean onto the podium after a big charge from the seventh row. The restart proved no obstacle for Macedo as he kept Kendall in check to secure the win over Kendall and Dean, with Geering climbing back to fourth after falling as far as tenth at one stage. Paulger was exciting as always in finishing fifth ahead of Whittaker, O’Connell, Dawson, Whatmore, Mackay and Raw. Next best were Clauss and Darren Dillon, with Menz, Jack Bell and Jeynes the remaining finishers as Vine continued his run of outs with an early exit, joining Brown and Doyle on the infield.
No doubt aware that the late addition of the race meeting to the schedule would see several regular frontrunners missing from the line-up, David Eggins made a sneaky trip across the border and made easy work of the Wingless Sprint feature race. The battle for the minor placings was a much closer contest as Liam Atkinson defied the best efforts of Steve Pilkington to snare second spot. Stuart Jefferies and James Grady, both of whom have recently switched from other categories, completed the first five.
Wingless heat winners were Atkinson, Eggins and Shaun Knight, who qualified alongside Eggins on the front row of the feature but unfortunately played no part in proceedings.
Brady Argles downed Mitchell Whittaker and Kurt Wilson to win the first of the Formula 500 heats, while the second outing saw Brodie Davis set a cracking pace to defeat Tomas Partington and Wilson.
The feature race was all Partington in a race that failed to reach any great heights as a spectacle, with only the NSW-based pair of Blake Matthews and Jac Laynerie making any significant gains. As such, Partington led throughout the 15-lapper to make his first visit to victory lane, with Brodie Davis narrowing the gap in the closing stages to ultimately finish within one second of Partington. Motoring into third was Matthews, followed by Wilson, Argles, Laynerie and the rest.
Racing continues at Archerfield Speedway this Saturday night (January 22) with a huge double-header program featuring the Australian Dirt Modified Championship and the Queensland Midget Championship, along with AMCA Nationals, Compact Speedcars and Open B/Limited Sedans.