Prosser Prevails in Wild ECL Easter Action
On an action-packed night of competition that delivered chaos, carnage and many a crumpled car, Taylor Prosser stood tall amid the mayhem to snare his maiden Sprintcar feature race win with a dazzling display in round seven of the East Coast Logistics Track Championship at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (April 8). Having started the 35-lap main event from pole position, Prosser led early before losing the lead to series leader Luke Oldfield, only to bounce back brilliantly and hold his nerve through the closing stages. Having endured a series of setbacks throughout the night, a runner-up result was an excellent outcome for Oldfield under the circumstances, while Sydney’s Daniel Sayre finished third ahead of Dave Fanning and Aaron Kelly. Next best were Kevin Titman, Randy Morgan and Brent Kratzmann, with Jy Corbet and Tim Farrell rounding out the top ten.
Although 38 cars fronted for competition, neither Libby Ellis nor Luke Manttan would contest time trial qualifying. Running in the fifth group to hit the track, Ryan Newton topped the timesheets with a best lap of 11.844, with Oldfield (11.891) the only other to drop under 12 seconds. Backing up from a podium result in Maryborough the night before, Jayden Peacock (12.051) maintained his form to be third quickest ahead of Dylan Menz (12.054) and Sayre (12.102), with Corbet, Farrell, Kratzmann, Titman and Prosser the best of the rest. In his first Archerfield appearance, V8 Supercars championship leader Brodie Kostecki timed quickest in his group and 20th overall.
The opening heat race saw Tasmania’s Brody Appleby on track for a winning Archerfield debut until he whacked the main straight wall with the white flag on display, gifting Fanning a win over Brad Ayres and Adam Butler.
The first of many incidents came in heat two when contact between Kratzmann and Oldfield on lap three saw both cars grind to a halt in turn one before being collected by Kostecki, who tipped over. Neither Kratzmann nor Kostecki were able to continue, while Oldfield initially rejoined for the restart before heading infield a couple of laps later with a shredded top wing as Randy Morgan went on to win ahead of Nicholas Whell and Darren Jensen.
Mitch Gowland held on to win heat three from a fast-finishing Prosser, who advanced from the third row, with Kelly clinching third. Ben Atkinson was running strongly in his inaugural Archerfield outing and had cut the quickest lap of the race before he tried to fill a non-existent gap underneath Kelly through turn three and pitched himself into a spin.
Kratzmann bounced back to win heat four, with Whell snaring second again, this time ahead of Corbet.
Atkinson set a cracking pace to win heat five with a quickest lap more than half a second better than anybody else. Fanning finished second ahead of Butler, while a spin from Oldfield on lap four would see him charge back through the field to salvage fifth at the flag.
The final heat only made it as far as turn two before Titman, Sayre, Tony Bridge, Darren Jensen and Josh Fort piled up. Once the cars were untangled, Bridge retreated to the infield as the others restarted, although Jensen would only last a couple of laps with a flat tyre as Dan Murray led throughout from pole position to defeat Kelly and Menz.
With Gowland and Jensen unchallenged in filling the top two spots in the B Main, all interest was, as it always is, centred around the fight for the remaining transfer spots into the feature. Unfortunately for Appleby and Kostecki, they both found trouble again and were out on the opening lap. Starting from the outside of row three, Harry Stewart was the big mover through the early laps with a spectacular outside run that propelled him into fourth, only for the youngster to throw away a feature race start with a spin in turn four. Ayres would secure third ahead of the final transferee in Mark Pholi, with Murray next in line ahead Tarhlea Apelt and Richard Morgan who surged through the field from the seventh row.
The first round of the Boss Hoggs Steakhouse Pole Shootout would see Prosser and Sayre advance at the expense of Oldfield and Whell. In round two, Peacock and Corbet would also find themselves unable to match the pace of Prosser and Sayre, who would move forward to take on Menz and Newton in the final clash. It was Prosser who proved too pacey in round three, locking up pole position ahead of Newton, Menz and Sayre.
Prosser led the pack through the opening lap of the feature race as Newton slotted into second spot ahead of Menz and Sayre, with Oldfield starting strongly to settle in fifth ahead of Corbet and Peacock. The first interruption came on lap six when Menz, who had dropped spots to Sayre, Oldfield and Corbet, came to rest against the turn four wall. Having already moved ahead of Oldfield, Corbet pounced after the restart to relegate Sayre, who would also fall behind Oldfield. Into turn one on lap 12, Corbet dived under Newton but was unable to make a clear pass, sliding up-track and sending Newton into the wall and over and out. With officials ordering Corbet to the rear for the restart, Oldfield now found himself in second spot and wasted no time in surging to the front. Sayre was also coming on strong and slipped ahead of Prosser momentarily with 10 laps to go, only for Prosser to counter immediately. With four laps to go, Prosser went back to the front and then, exiting turn four a lap later, Sayre charged under Oldfield and Prosser to snatch the lead, only for Peacock to slam the turn two wall and halt proceedings, putting Prosser back at the front for the restart. The final interruption came one lap later when Atkinson, who had stormed through the field to be running fourth, also found the turn two wall somewhat unforgiving. Through the final three laps, Prosser held his nerve to score a breakthrough win over Oldfield, who continued his run of podium results to extend his lead in the ECL Track Championship and the Easter Series, with Sayre impressive in third. Fanning and Kelly completed the top five ahead of Titman, Randy Morgan and Kratzmann, with Corbet climbing back to ninth. Farrell completed the top ten, leaving Butler, Gowland, Jensen, Whell and Pholi as the remaining finishers.
With a strong contingent of interstaters on hand in preparation for their upcoming Australian Championship, it was the locals who drew first blood in round two of the Brisk Spark Plugs Wingless Sprint Easter Trail with Liam Atkinson leading home Cody O’Connell and Sydney’s Bailey Goodwin in the opening heat.
Heat two was a different story altogether though, with two Sydneysiders in Andrew Sayre and Jason Bates filling the top two spots ahead of Victoria’s Travis Millar and New South Wales champ Jacob Jolley.
It was another Victorian in Blake Walsh who prevailed in heat three, outpacing Brody Thomsen and Stuart Jefferies.
The interstate ascendancy continued in heat four when Paul Weel outpaced Goodwin and Lachlan Robertson, before Ben Manson restored some local pride in downing Walsh and Jolley in heat five.
The final heat of the night went the way of Chris Ansell over Jayden O’Toole and Michael Butcher.
The B Main would see Allan Woods chase down Jayden O’Toole to secure the win, with Jaidyn Boulding and Stuart Jefferies making their way past Chris Catchpole to snare the final spot on the feature race grid.
It what might be some cause for concern about local hopes in the national title, the Thomsen brothers would be the only Queensland drivers to finish amongst the first eight in a feature race that developed into a somewhat processional affair with so many content to play follow-the-leader around the bottom on a track that, as evidenced in the Sprintcar feature, offered plenty for those willing to run high. It was Goodwin who got the best of the start from the outside front row and go on to lead all 25 laps and win by more 1.5 seconds despite a late-race restart. Walsh slotted into second, with Weel in third spot until his battery somehow evacuated and plonked on the main straight. Walsh remained second until lap 21 when Jolley forced the issue along the main straight and muscled his way underneath. Opting to avoid a more serious altercation, Walsh conceded the position, enabling Scott Thomsen to also pounce and relegate Walsh to fourth. Brody Thomsen finished fifth, followed by Sayre, Ansell and Bates, with Robertson and O’Toole rounding out the top ten.
With the strongest field of the season so far for round two of Aero6four Formula 500 Tri-Series, it was the heat races that delivered all the highlights. Taylor Morgan opened proceedings with a win over the North Queensland-based duo of John Magro and Brodie Davis, with James Kennedy clocking the fastest lap of the race in his charge from row five into fourth.
Heat two went to Liam Williams over Liam Russell and Bailey Leeson in the most straightforward of the preliminaries.
Jake Hooper inherited victory in heat three when Bryce McGregor spun himself out of the lead in the final turn. Having got a great start from row two to lead the opening lap, Hooper fell back to fourth at one stage before rallying to finish ahead of Davis and Ash Ewing.
Dylan Willsher scooted clear from pole position to lead throughout the final preliminary, finishing more than 1.5 seconds clear of Kennedy, with Cameron Jaenke leapfrogging into third when Leeson looped in the final turn and was collected by Hooper.
The feature race only made it to turn one before Amanda Chaffey tipped over to bring about a complete restart, with the two Northern Territory representatives in Jaenke and Scott Leohnardt joining her on the infield without completing a lap. Whilst run at a cracking pace, passing was non-existent beyond the opening couple of laps as Willsher raced clear of the field. Williams chased forlornly in second spot with seemingly no hope of reeling in Willsher until a spin from Hooper with two laps to run changed everything. When Willsher faulted at the restart, Williams pounced to grab the lead, with Davis advancing to second as Willsher headed infield, elevating Kennedy on to the podium. Russell finished fourth ahead of Brady Argles, Leeson, Morgan and Hooper, with Ron McDonnell the only other finisher.
In his return to the Lightning Sprint ranks, Tyler Stralow spanked the field in the 15-lap feature race, which ended in spectacular fashion when pole qualifier Andy Kimm rode out a wild wreck in turn three on the final lap. Heat wins were shared between Stralow, Kimm and Wayne Iacono who, in also finishing second in the feature race, proved that a car need not be pretty to be fast. Harley Graham collected third place in advance of Keith Blatch and James Elliott, leaving Jack Selmes, Jack Carnall, Jim Gollagher and Michael Gollagher to complete the finishers.
The next event at Archerfield Speedway is the Australian Wingless Sprint Championship over two nights on Saturday/Sunday, April 29 and 30. Saturday night will also feature AMCA Nationals and Compact Speedcars, while the Sunday program will include round eight of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship, along with Formula 500s and Lightning Sprints.