Kelly and Smee share the spoils
Taking maximum advantage of late-race restart, Aaron Kelly pounced to snatch victory in round 13 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (May 29). Having led the race from the outset, Ryan McNamara fell victim to a misjudged move from Cody Maroske on what should have been the last lap, leaving him with a damaged front wing and unable to fend of Kelly’s surge in the green-white-chequer sprint to the finish. Brent Kratzmann finished third ahead of Maroske and Jy Corbet, who improved upon his previous best result from seven days earlier.
In the TFH/Helmet Hair 50-lap Jim Holden Midget Classic, Nathan Smee delivered a performance that, whilst quite remarkable in its magnitude, was also quite typical of what we have come to expect from him in events of such stature. Having started dead last in the 22-car field, Smee meticulously manoeuvred his way forward and would wrest the lead from Matt Smith on lap 46.to secure a win that seemed so unlikely, coming on the back of him failing to finish any of his heats or the B Main. On a night that saw the locals utterly outclassed by their New South Wales rivals, Michael Stewart finished in third spot ahead of Matt Jackson and Kaidon Brown, who would also advance from the back row after several setbacks during the heats.
Subbing for series leader Lachlan McHugh in the ECP Racing #7, Maroske started his night well enough with a best lap of 11.457 in qualifying to secure KRE Quick Time, edging out Callum Walker (11.568), Kelly (11.648) and Michael Saller (11.669). Brimming with confidence after his mighty feature race run a week earlier, Corbet (11.783) was next quickest, followed by Kristy Bonsey, Adam Butler, Brodie Tulloch, McNamara and Kevin Titman, with 17 of the 28 entries running under 12 seconds.
Launching from the outside front row, Kratzmann kicked clear of the field to lead throughout the opening heat race, with restarts on consecutive laps for a spin from Jason King and a gentle roll from Sam Bylsma proving no obstacle as he led home Bryan Mann and Adam Butler.
Once an early challenge from Paul Rooks tapered off, Kevin Britten cruised home to win heat two over Richard Morgan and Corbet.
When McNamara surged into the lead on the final lap of heat three, Darren Jensen refused to surrender the position and fought back to take the race in a thrilling finish, with Andrew Baumber finishing third.
Titman joined McHugh as the most prolific heat winner for the season when he downed Kelly and Ryan Newton in heat four.
Jensen prevailed again in heat five, with Kratzmann home second ahead of McNamara on this occasion, with Britten also doubling up in the final heat of the night, outpacing Morgan and Corbet.
Bryan Mann was largely untroubled in leading throughout the B Main, his only challenge coming late in the race when Ryan Newton lunged for the lead though turn three with four laps remaining, only to send himself into a spin that would cost him a place in the feature race and trigger a restart. Rooks finished second ahead of Tim Farrell, with Kaidon Brown also advancing to the main event.
As top qualifier from the preliminaries, Maroske inverted the first three rows in the Dash, relegating himself to sixth and putting Butler and McNamara on the front row. Taking maximum advantage of his good fortune, McNamara raced away from the field to win by more than four seconds despite a late-race spin from Corbet. Second home was Butler, followed by Walker, Kelly, Maroske, Morgan, Kratzmann and Corbet.
From the drop of the green to get the feature underway, McNamara bolted and wasted no time in distancing himself from the field, with Walker slotting into second spot as Butler found himself swamped and fell down the order. On lap 10, Kelly moved into second spot, with Brent Kratzmann charging hard on the highline to also relegate Walker, having already rounded up Maroske and Morgan. As the race proceeded without interruption, Kratzmann continued his surge and moved ahead of Kelly to claim second spot, albeit temporarily. With McNamara still in control out front, both Kelly and Maroske would reposition themselves ahead of Kratzmann, with Maroske advancing into second spot and closing in on the lead as lapped traffic became a factor. Just when it seemed certain the race would run non-stop to the chequer with McNamara securing his maiden feature race win, a desperate dive from Maroske into turn one on the final lap changed everything. In a reckless challenge that never looked likely to succeed, Maroske drove over the front of McNamara and, whilst both were able to continue, a spin from Saller in the aftermath triggered a restart. With Maroske penalised two spots, Kelly now found himself back in second ahead of Kratzmann. Facing the final two laps with a damaged front wing, McNamara held on gamely but was unable to prevent Kelly from snatching the lead on the final lap to emerge triumphant and become the third generation Kelly to park in victory lane. Despite his disappointment, McNamara was magnanimous in defeat, with Kratzmann collecting third place ahead of Maroske and Corbet, who rallied late to climb into the top five. Titman was next best ahead of Walker, Jensen and Morgan, with Butler rounding out the top ten. In a race that saw all 19 starters still running at the finish, Brown made up plenty of spots to finish 11th overall with another 50 laps awaiting him. Tulloch, Mann, Bonsey, Britten, Farrell and Saller were next in line, leaving Mitch Gowland and Rooks as the final finishers.
Although the Midget feature race would turn out to be an absolute ripsnorter, the night didn’t start out so well for them with a rollover in hot laps from Jesse Harris followed by a series of incidents in the heats that tested the patience of the huge crowd and proved costly for several fancied contenders.
The chaos started on the opening lap of the first heat when Kaidon Brown got out of shape exiting turn two and was collected by Darren Vine, with the contact launching Vine into a roll and putting both cars on the infield and immediately consigned to the B Main. The restart had covered even less ground before Jay Waugh overcooked his entry into turn one and triggered a kerfuffle that left Cal Whatmore upended and again put both parties on the grass, to be joined by Nick McDowell. Once the race finally got underway, Charlie Brown faced little resistance in leading throughout to defeat Liam Williams and Garry Rooke.
Heat two made it as far as turn four before Mitchell Rooke looped and was collected by Brad Dawson and Rusty Whittaker, with neither Rooke nor Dawson able to continue. From pole position, Michael Kendall was untroubled in leading throughout to defeat Matt Smith and Scott Doyle.
Smee moved into the lead of heat three after just two laps but found himself on the infield a lap later, handing the lead to Kaleb Currie, who would spin himself out of contention a lap later. Having surged from row five, Troy Ware now found himself in the lead and would go on to defeat Michael Stewart as Currie charged back through the field to snare third.
Other than a spin from Kody Stothard on lap two, heat four was devoid of drama as Brad Dawson bounced back from his earlier misfortune to win in advance of Williams and Jackson.
Heat five was marred by a wild wreck from Currie that saw him somersaulting through turn four before coming to rest atop the wall. The Kiwi ace emerged unscathed and, remarkably, would be back on track later in the night. Smee again failed to go the distance, stopping against the fence in turn two with three laps to run as Stewart held sway out front to prevail over Charlie Brown and Reid Mackay.
The final heat saw Smith lead all the way from the front row to finish ahead of Kendall, who advanced from the rear of the field, with Nathan Mathers surviving a clash with Ware to cross in third spot. Exiting turn two on lap eight, Ware miscued an outside pass on Mathers, rode a wheel and was pitched hard into the wall.
Chaos ensued in the opening moments of the B Main with Doyle, Waugh and Kaidon Brown all finishing upside down. With four laps down, Jack Bell looped in turn three to halt proceedings, with only two more laps completed before synchronised spins from Barry Gibbes and Ben Morgan brought another interruption. When Smee spun himself out of third spot before any more could be laps completed, officials had understandably had enough and ended proceedings, leaving Connor McCullough as the victor ahead of Currie, Vine and Bernie Clarke as the transferees into the feature, although both Smee and Kaidon Brown would also be granted a start in the 50-lapper.
At the completion of qualifying, Kendall, Smith, Stewart and Charlie Brown sat equal atop the pointscore, but a somewhat befuddling pre-race inversion process resulted in Rooke landing on pole position alongside Mackay, with Mathers and Williams sharing row two ahead of Jackson, Smith and the rest of the 22-car field. Through turn two on the opening lap and Ware got himself into trouble again with a spin that saw him collected by both Vine and Kaidon Brown, although all three would make the restart. Rooke led the field away and was still in command on lap five when Harris, who had done a great job to bounce back from his hot lap mishap and qualify directly into the feature, unfortunately tipped over again, this time in turn four. Back underway and it wasn’t long before Smith pounced, firstly rounding up Williams before running down Rooke to assume the lead. Kendall’s campaign came to an abrupt end when the #35 refused to turn left into turn three, pitching the expat Kiwi into the wall. Vine also exited at this stage with a flat tyre with Smith maintaining his advantage as Rooke slipped back to fourth behind Mackay and Stewart, who was superb on the top of the track and quickly surged into second spot. Stewart and Smith were soon engaged in a terrific scrap that saw the lead change hands on numerous occasions, with Charlie Brown having disposed of Williams, Mackay and Rooke to move into third. Further back, Smee was scything through the field and was firmly ensconced inside the top ten after 15 laps and within the top five before the race had even reached the halfway point. By lap 35, Smee had moved ahead of Charlie Brown and Stewart to secure second spot and had Smith in his sights. Brown’s race unfortunately ended on lap 42, moving Jackson into fourth, with Smee sweeping past Smith to snatch the lead on lap 46. Smee completed the final laps to complete a remarkable run and demonstrate once again that real racers don’t need to start up front to get the job done. Smith was gallant in defeat, Stewart was sensational on the highline and, with Kaidon Brown climbing to fifth behind Jackson, a NSW sweep of the top five was complete. Ware was the first Queenslander home in sixth spot, some seven seconds off the lead but a good result given what he had endured. The courageous Currie was next in line ahead of Matt Geering, Dawson and Harley Smee, leaving Chris Singleton, Mathers, Stothard and McCullough as the remaining finishers, with Williams, Rooke and Mackay amongst those who failed to go the distance.
Following heat wins to Matt Hardy, Steve Potts, Cody Simmons and Bruce Marshall, the final round of the Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship delivered exactly what we have come to expect from the category, with Hardy, Potts, Marshall and Tony Blanch all involved in a fight at the front of the field. At the end of 20 frantic laps, it was Hardy who emerged the victor, surviving challenges from Blanch and Marshall before securing back-to-back feature race triumphs. Whilst it was Marshall who, having relegated both Potts and Blanch, looked the most likely to chase down Hardy, another flat tyre ended his challenge just a few laps from home, while a mistake from Blanch enabled Potts to secure second spot. Shane McKinnell was the best of the rest in fourth spot, followed by Cody Simmons, Michael Denning, Thomas Vickery, Tim Luscombe, Paul Reeves and Brett Robotham.
Terry Leerentveld scored two heat wins to secure pole position for the final round of the Dondex/Redcliffe Wrecking Modlite Extreme Series, but it was Australian champ Sam Gollschewsky who proved unstoppable in the feature race. Assuming his familiar position at the front of the field, Leerentveld set the early pace, only to find himself unable to keep Gollschewsky at bay when the challenge materialised on lap 11. Dan Lewis finished in third spot ahead of Dylan Hunter and Callum Beerling, with Tyson Snow recovering from a spin on lap four to secure sixth. Warren Hooper, Julian Olley, Adrian Reinke and Abi Meehan completed the top ten.
No surprises in the Compact Speedcar events with Bodie Smith (2) and Harry Stewart splitting the heats before finishing first and second respectively in the feature race. With a very small field dishing up a somewhat underwhelming conclusion to the Boss Hogg Club Championship, Richard Treanor, Andrew Parkes and Dave Collins were best of the rest in the feature race.
Tim Devine, Bailey Leeson and Blake Matthews all recorded heat wins in Formula 500 Juniors and it was the latter who would also prevail in the feature race. Henry Titman filled second spot and was followed home by Leeson, Devine and Chay Corbet.
The 2020/2021 Archerfield Speedway season draws to a close next Saturday night (June 5) with the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship Grand Final and the Wingless Sprint 50-lapper, plus Lightning Sprints, Microsprint, RSA Sedans, Stockcars, Open Sedans, Junior Sedans and Ford v Holden v Sigma sedans.