McHugh takes five
Lachlan McHugh continued his remarkable run of form with an all-the-way win in round two of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (November 14), securing his fifth feature race win for the season. Just as it looked as though Luke Oldfield was on track to finish runner-up for the sixth time in a row, Callum Walker had other ideas and pushed Oldfield back to third to secure his first podium result of the season. Mitchell Gee also secured his best result for the season thus far with a strong run into fourth spot, while defending track champion Aaron Kelly finished two spots back in sixth.
In round three of the TFH Midget Series, baby-faced teenager Bodie Smith served notice to his more experienced rivals when he raced to victory in the shortened 20-lap feature race, leading home Darren Vine, Nathan Mathers, Matt O’Neill and Dean Meadows to continue a run of success that has already snared him two Compact Speedcar feature race wins this season.
Despite a couple of late scratchings a 29-car field hit the track for time trial qualifying, with Andrew Baumber, Dave Fanning, Jayden Peacock and McHugh all enjoying a brief period at the top of the timesheets before Walker usurped them all with a best lap of 11.867. McHugh (11.885) and Oldfield (11.920) were the only others to slip under twelve seconds and it is quite remarkable that some four hours and 50+ laps later, the same three drivers remained as the top of the tree, albeit in a different order. Previous round winner Cody Maroske (12.001) and Gee (12.028) were next best ahead of Kelly, Brent Kratzmann, Darren Jensen, Jayden Peacock and Dylan Menz.
After qualifying a lowly 24th, Kevin Titman found himself on the front row for heat one and led throughout to win ahead of Baumber and Nicholas Whell.
Whilst Brad Ayers also took maximum advantage of a front row start to win heat two, there was action aplenty behind him as McHugh charged from the outside of row four to finish second, relegating Mitch Gowland with a lap remaining.
Andrew Corbet outpaced Allan Woods and Peacock to win heat three, which was halted momentarily on lap three when an argument over territory resulted in both Tim Farrell and Lachlan Caunt getting upside down.
Titman won from the front again in heat four, this time ahead of Peacock and McHugh, whose advance from the fourth row would propel him to the top of the standings heading into the Pole Shootout.
Despite starting sixth in heat five, Kelly had surged to the front of the field after just five laps and went on to defeat Farrell and Fanning.
In the final heat of the night, it was Adam Butler who proved too pacey in leading Mitch Gowland and Maroske to the chequer.
The opening heat of the Petzyo Development Sprintcars went to Nicholas O’Keefe over Jeremy Gaudry and Brant Chandler, with Gaudry using the high side of the track to good effect on his way to winning heat two from Jason King and Chandler.
In the C Main, which also doubled as the final for Development Sprintcars, it was Gaudry who again proved too swift, leading home Chandler, King, Erin Vanderreyden and Zac Howell.
Dylan Menz was untroubled in leading throughout to win the B Main, finishing 1.5 seconds ahead of Kristy Boney, who finished a similar margin clear of third-placed Ayers. As always, all interest centred on the battle for the final transfer spot and it was Farrell who advanced from ninth to deny Andrew Corbet, Anthony Lambert and the rest from a start in the feature race.
The opening round of the Pole Shootout saw Mitchell Gee and Callum Walker advance to the next stage, leaving Brent Kratzmann and Peacock to start the feature from row four. Maroske and Gee topped the clock in round two, eliminating Walker and Kelly as they advanced to take on Oldfield and McHugh, the latter easily outpacing the others to secure pole position for the main event. Maroske was second quickest, confining Gee and Oldfield to the second row of the grid.
At the drop of the green to get the East Coast Logistics feature race underway, McHugh launched clear of the pack and that is where he remained throughout, hitting lapped traffic within five circulations and, as the only driver to run sub-13 second laps, maintaining a comfortable margin through to the chequer to maintain his record of having won every feature race he has finished so far this season. Maroske occupied second spot in the early going, only for his impatience to end his challenge when he punted the lapped car of Mark Pholi into orbit through turn four on lap 10 and was subsequently banished to the back for the restart, elevating Oldfield into a very familiar position. However, Oldfield could not keep pace with McHugh and he would soon find himself under pressure from Walker, who would advance into second spot on lap 22. Both Walker and Oldfield would survive a late scare when Farrell spun into the path of the duo in turn one with just two laps remaining that thankfully saw all three cars emerge unscathed. Mitchell Gee finished strongly to secure his best result of the season in fourth, with Titman fifth and Kelly sixth ahead of Kratzmann, Fanning and Jensen, with Menz climbing to tenth. Farrell, Maroske, Butler, Bonsey, Ayres, Peacock and Woods rounded out the field with Pholi the only starter not to go the distance.
With just half of the field able to successfully negotiate the 10-lap distance, Brad Dawson prevailed in the first Midget heat of the night, downing Mathers and Cal Whatmore.
In his first ever look at the Archerfield circuit, Meadows performed particularly well to lead for much of heat two, only succumbing to Rusty Whittaker with two laps remaining, with Smith snaring third.
Whittaker downed Vine and Matt O’Neill to win heat three before Smith won by almost identical margin in the final heat, outpacing Dawson and Mathers.
The loss of Ricky Robinson, Mitchell Rooke, Nick McDowall and Charlie Brown (again) in the heats left 17 cars to contest the TFH Hire Services feature race and the first attempt to get it underway was abandoned as a result of a spin from Darren Dillon in turn three. Although he started the night strongly by clocking quick time in qualifying, Dillon failed to make much impression in the heats but found himself at the front of the field when top qualifier Whittaker drew an inversion that saw him relegated him to sixth on the grid. With Dillon now at the back, the next attempt saw Smith swoop to assume control and, despite Vine drawing on his considerable experience and his best efforts running the cushion, the youngster held his nerve to keep Vine at bay and remain in possession of the lead when the race was declared five laps early in the wake of Anthony Chaffey crashing out in turn three. Mathers was largely untroubled in third, with O’Neill annexing fourth ahead of Meadows, Jordan Mackay and Dawson, leaving Tom Clauss, Scott Jeynes and Lachlan Paulger as the only other finishers. Whittaker exited on lap eight and was joined on the grass by Dillon, Whatmore, Matt Hefford, Scott Doyle and Tony Stephens.
Round two of the Touch Ups Done Right Formula 500 Series resulted in Liam Williams making his first foray into victory lane this season, inheriting the feature race lead when James Kennedy spun out of the lead on lap 10. Ryan Newton and Bryn Upshall filled the minor placings ahead of Brock Thornton, Tarhlea Apelt and Brady Argles, with Adrian Farrell, Royce Harvey and Libby Ellis the only other finishers in a small field from which opening round winner Kristin Brown failed to complete a lap, to be later joined on the infield by Dekota Gay.
Upshall upstaged Kennedy and Newton to win the opening heat before Williams outpaced Thornton and Kennedy to win heat two.
Having won three of the four heats between them, including a 1-2 result in heat three, the O’Connell brothers would go on to achieve an identical result in the Wingless Sprint feature race, dicing throughout the 20 laps. An initial attempt to get proceedings underway was curtailed when an untidy start resulted in Dan Evans somehow finishing upside down in the main straight, but when the race did go green it was Casey who outjumped his pole-starting older sibling Cody to lead the field away and, despite being entrenched in their own battle, they were also able to distance themselves from the field. Casey would hold sway until lap 15 before Cody snatched the lead and held firm to secure a narrow win. Ryan Harris had moved into third after three laps and enjoyed a largely unchallenged tenure on the position, with Paul Robinson, Paul Newcombe and Lachie Robertson the best of the rest ahead of Shaun Knight, who was the only other heat winner on the night.
Whilst it was Rob Holmes and Jim Kennedy who shared the spoils in the Stockmans Civil Lightning Sprint heats with a win apiece, come feature race time it was the experience of Keith Blatch that proved too much for the field. Blatch led all 15 laps to finish ahead of Kennedy, Andrew Kimm, Tyler Stralow and Darren Baldwin, leaving last-start winner Michael Gollagher in sixth spot.
Taylor Morgan proved a dominant force in the Formula 500 Juniors, winning both heats before blitzing the field in the feature race to finish more than five seconds clear of her nearest rival. Whilst Jared Boys enjoyed an equally unchallenged run into second spot, third place wasn’t decided until the final lap when Henry Titman rounded up Noah Ball to grab the spot. Ewan Oliver, Kacy-Lee Black, Tim Devine and Amanda Chaffey completed the finishers.
The next event at Archerfield Speedway on November 28 will feature round three of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship, plus Dirt Modifieds, AMCA Nationals, Formula 500s, Compact Speedcars and Open Sedans.