Murcott Outpaces Oldfield at Archerfield
The 2016/2017 East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship is set for a thrilling conclusion after the two leading series contenders experienced mixed fortunes in the penultimate round of racing at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (May 13). Two-time national champion Dave Murcott triumphed in the 30-lap feature race ahead of Luke Oldfield, who started the meeting just 11points behind series leader Andrew Scheuerle in their fight for the championship. Callum Walker scored the best result of his fledgling career when he secured third place ahead of Kevin Titman,David Whell, Allan Woods and Ben Hilder, with Scheuerle salvaging an 8th-place finish after restarting from the rear following a tyre change during a restart on lap three.
In the 50-lap Midget feature race, Darren Vine powered to victory in a race run at a frantic pace with minimal interruptions. Brock Dean annexed second spot ahead of Rusty Whittaker, Nathan Smee, Kaiden Brown and Scott Farmer, who looked on track to score an upset win when he had raced clear of the field before throwing away the lead with a spin on lap 26. Troy Ware, Reid Mackay, Rodney Harders and Scott Doyle rounded out the top ten with the only other interruption coming just two laps from home.
A 27-car field fronted for round 14 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and time trial qualifying had a very familiar feel with Oldfield stopping the clock at 11.431 to set KRE Fast Time to gain an early edge over Scheuerle, who timed third quickest behind Bryan Mann. Hilder, Walker, Peter Lack and Brent Kratzmann were next quickest ahead of Adam Clarke, Woods and Dan Murray, while Murcott could do no better than 13th behind Brett Minett and Cody Maroske.
The opening heat result drew a rousing reception from fans when Kristy Bonsey kept Murcott at bay to score a win, with Mark Pholi finishing third.
Andrew Liebke aced heat two ahead of Titman and Clarke, who became the 74th driver to take part in the series this season and looked strong from the outset in his return to the Sprintcar ranks.
Phil Foster downed David Whell and Kevin Britten in heat three, while Brad Ayers annexed heat four in advance of Oldfied and Nelson Reddacliff.
Paul Rooks powered home to win heat five ahead of Maroske and Mitch Gowland, before Murcott proved too quick in the final heat to lead home Lack and Pholi.
The Lucas Oils Pole Shootout saw Murcott advance from the bronze round through the silver showdown and into the Gold Dash where he downed Oldfield, Scheuerle and Clarke to secure pole position for the main event.
Bonsey booked her place in the feature field with a good win in the B Main, with Rooks, Pholi and Britten also securing a place in the main event.
Taking maximum advantage of his pole position start, Murcott zoomed into the lead of the feature at the drop of the green and remained in the premier position when the chequer appeared 30 laps later. It was far from easy for Murcott though, with Oldfield chasing relentlessly and snatching the lead on two occasions, the first of which came on lap 12 but saw Murcott regain the ascendancy almost immediately. Starting from position three, Scheuerle biked big time in turn two and lost momentum before contact with Woods in turn four would bring about a flat left front tyre. However, when Rooks, Pholi and Ayers crashed out in turn two, the ensuing delay in untangling the cars enabled both Scheuerle and Maroske to change a wheel and resume from the rear. Maroske would ultimately follow Scheurele in his climb through the field, finishing ninth overall. Bonsey, Britten, Ayers and Kratzmann completed the finishers, while Lack looked on target for another podium result, only to be cruelly denied when he expired on the final lap while running third.
The opening round of Midget heats started with Whittaker downing Smee and Brown, with Doyle victorious over Vine and Dean in heat two.
Heat three fell in favour of Farmer from Vine and Whittaker, with Ware winning the final preliminary from Dean and Brown.
When top qualifier Whittaker inverted the first five rows of the grid for the feature, Farmer found himself on pole position alongside Reid Mackay. When the green flag flew, Farmer fled and, with 20 uninterrupted laps on the board, he had established what looked to be a winning lead on a track that remained super fast until the very end. Having started fourth, Vine had advanced into second after just one lap and he was still entrenched in the runner-up spot when Farmer faltered on lap 26, bringing the race under caution when he spun to a halt in turn three. Vine took control from the restart ahead of Dean, who had moved to third from fifth after 16 laps, with 12th-starting Whittaker having disposed of the likes of Brown, Smee, Ware and Brendan Palmer to surge into third spot. As the laps wound down, Smee and Brown were too entrenched in their own battle to make much impression on the lead trio and even a final restart with two laps remaining failed to usher any changes to the order amongst the top five. Farmer pounced in the final moments to slip ahead of Ware and salvage sixth, with Mackay, Rodney Harders, Doyle, Jason Bell and Mark George completing the finishers.
Glenn Wright put in a terrific drive in the fastest-from-the-rear Wingless Sprint feature race, storming from the back row of the grid to finish the season in with an impressive win over Jason King, Cody O’Connell, Brian Dixon and John Slack. Having started alongside Wright at the rear, Adam Butler was also making progress through the field until he rode out a heavy wreck in turn three on lap 8, the ensuing restart providing Wright with the impetus to chase down Dixon, who dropped three spots in as many laps through the closing stages.
The Lightning Sprint feature race didn’t reach any great heights as Keith Blatch established a handy lead early and then maintained that advantage to the chequer with a minimum of fuss. Dave Fanning filled the runner-up spot almost five seconds ahead of Wayne Iacono, with Australian champ Kurt Wilson finishing fourth ahead of Peter Campbell.
Only 9 of 14 nominated competitors fronted for the Microsprint events and Shane Munro outclassed the small field, clocking two heat wins before racing away to win the feature race by more than seven seconds. Connor McCullough and Peter Challen filled the minor placings, with Jason Summers and Jonathan Gunn next best.