McHugh wins, Oldfield thrills again

It was business as usual at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (December 26) with Lachlan McHugh continuing his remarkable run of success while Luke Oldfield once again thrilled the crowd in pursuit, except on this occasion Oldfield would ultimately find himself absent from the podium celebrations as McHugh secured his sixth win from seven starts at Archerfield this season, the last four of these in succession. For the second week in a row, Cody Maroske was gifted a pole start in the feature race but again found himself unable to keep McHugh and Oldfield at bay as they swept to the front. However, when a flat tyre ended Oldfield’s run just a few laps from home, Maroske would find himself in second spot at the chequer, with Callum Walker repeating his effort from the previous round with a third-place finish.

In round five of the TFH Midget Series, Bodie Smith and Rusty Whittaker bounced back from horror runs in the Queensland Championship seven nights earlier to fill the top two spots in the feature race, but not before contact between the pair ensured a controversial finish that fell in favour of Smith. With a late pass to secure third, Darren Vine continued his run of podium results and is yet to finish outside the top three in a feature race this season.

A 34-car field hit the track for qualifying and, whilst an upset looked on the cards when a best lap of 11.728 from Taylor Prosser looked as though it might be enough to secure KRE Quick Time, only for McHugh (11.435) and Oldfield (11.548) to push the rookie back to third overall. Nicholas Whell (11.740) and Kelly (11.755) were next best ahead of Maroske, Adam Butler and Ryan McNamara, who were the only others to drop below 12 seconds, with Andrew Baumber and Jock Goodyer rounding out the top ten.

It was a very inauspicious start to the heats for Randy Morgan when he tipped over in turn four on the opening lap of heat one. Once the race did get underway, Jayden Peacock jumped to the front and maintained that position despite some late-race pressure from Maroske and McHugh.

With Oldfield unable to take his place in the field for heat two, Darren Jensen proved too quick for the field, leading home Brent Kratzmann and Tim Farrell.

Andrew Corbet joined the winners list when he kept Kristy Bonsey at bay to win heat three, with Goodyer advancing into third.

Despite starting seventh, McHugh romped home to win heat four, finishing more than three seconds clear of Jensen and Brendon Claridge.

The biggest winning margin of the night came courtesy of Kratzmann in heat five when he raced home more than six seconds the better of Brad Ayers, who withstood a late charge from Walker.

Back on track for the final heat, Oldfield was desperate to make amends but had to settle for second behind Goodyer, with Kevin Titman third finishing in third spot.

With McHugh, as top qualifier, selecting a six-car invert for the Dash, Nicholas Whell found himself starting from the outside front row. When pole starter Aaron Kelly launched into a wicked wheelstand at the drop of the green, evasive action ensued from those following, enabling Whell to skip clear. Despite the best efforts of McHugh and Maroske, the Toowoomba-based youngster held firm to secure pole position for the feature race. Oldfield finished fourth in advance of Walker and Goodyer, leaving McNamara and Kelly to complete the finishers.

A full field faced the starter for the B Main and for much of the running it looked as though Butler had the race safely in his keeping, only for Farrell to offer up an alternative scenario in which he moved to the front and emerged victorious. In finishing second, Butler was safely though to the main event, while it was only in the last three laps that Titman and Woods, both of whom are feature race winners at Archerfield, were able to secure the final two transfer spots at the expense of Corbet.

At the first attempt to get the feature underway, Whell went way too early and found himself relegated to the second row for a rerun, putting Maroske on pole position for take two. As was the case the previous week, Maroske led the opening stages of the race with McHugh, Oldfield and Walker in pursuit. On lap eight, McHugh shot to the front, leaving Maroske to deal with the advancing Oldfield. The race was halted on lap 11 when Titman, who had charged from 16th to seventh, crashed out in turn one, with another restart required almost immediately when Whell spun in turn four. As spectacular as ever on the highline, Oldfield would round up Maroske on lap 17 and set forth on yet another pursuit of McHugh. Although closing the gap a little to McHugh, Oldfield looked most likely to secure another runner-up result until McNamara decided to spin in turn four with just four laps remaining. Unable to maintain sufficient air pressure in a deflating right rear tyre while circulating slowly to await the restart, Oldfield immediately relinquished his position to Maroske upon the resumption of racing and persisted as long as he could before eventually being credited with a 15th-place. With his most serious challenger stymied, McHugh was untroubled in completing the final four laps to extend his track championship lead. Maroske remained second ahead of Walker and Kelly, who finished very strongly after a slow start, with Goodyer replicating his previous round result in fifth. A stellar run from Butler saw him surge through the field from 16th to finish sixth, while Whell recovered to salvage seventh ahead of Kristy Bonsey, McNamara and Tim Farrell. Rounding out the finishers were Claridge, Jensen, Andrew Baumber, Prosser and Oldfield, leaving Titman, Woods and Kratzmann as the only retirees.

The opening heat of Midget action saw Brodie Tulloch hold firm in the face of some serious intent from Chris Singleton to secure his maiden win in the category, with Jordan Mackay finishing third. A typically boisterous charge in the opening laps from Charlie Brown did not go according to plan, ending with a rollover in turn four to continue his run of misfortunes.

Vine rounded up Kody Stothard on lap two and raced away to win heat two over Whittaker and Cal Whatmore, while heat three would see Whittaker back on track and first to the flag in advance of Matt O’Neil and Smith.

The final heat went to Scott Doyle ahead of Brad Dawson and Nathan Mathers while Tulloch, despite the possibility of securing a front row start for the feature with another strong result, made little impression and finished at the back of the field.

It was a familiar front row of Whittaker and Vine for the feature and, following an initial restart resulting from a spin by O’Neil in turn four on the opening lap, it was Whittaker who shot to the front at the drop of the green as Vine found himself relegated by Singleton. Clocking the fastest lap of the race on lap two, Whittaker set about distancing himself from the field, only to have the margin evaporate when a spin by Scott Jeynes bunched the field for a restart on lap six. A lap later it was Barry Gibbes who halted proceedings with a spin before a lengthy period of uninterrupted racing enabled Whittaker to establish what looked a race-winning margin, despite the fact that Smith had surged into second, having advanced from ninth. Further back, Brown was emulating his state championship charge and was closing in on the top five after starting 13th. When Gibbes spun again with five laps to run, Smith was now poised to pounce and the teenager charged under Whittaker into turn three on lap 24, nosing into a gap that was barely there, making contact with Whittaker and bouncing clear in possession of the lead. Whittaker had no answer and had to settle for second, while a late pass from Vine enabled him to snatch third from Singleton. With only Smith and Whittaker clocking quicker laps, Brown was able to climb his way into fifth for the second week in row, leaving Mathers, Whatmore, Dawson, Tulloch and O’Neill to round out the top ten.

Sam Gollschewsky enjoyed an unbeaten run in Modlite competition, winning two heats before also taking out the feature race. Terry Leerentveld and Klinton Hancey, who also won a heat, filled the minor placings in the feature, which ran without interruption. Chris Were and Dan Lewis were next best ahead of Corey Stein, Neil Gregson, Dylan Hunter, Chris Crowe and Steve Collins, who was the only other heat race winner on the night.

Tyler Stralow led home a small field to win the Lightning Sprint feature race, downing Kurt Wilson, Jason Rae, Jayden Mathers and Michael Gollagher, while Scott Jukes was the only other finisher, having thrown away third place with a spin in turn four with 6 laps remaining.

Racing continues at Archerfield Speedway this Wednesday night (January 30), with round six of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and round nine of the McCosker Super Sedan Series, plus AMCA Nationals, Compact Speedcars, Stockcars, Monster Trucks and Fireworks.