Roaring forty for ECL Series return
Perhaps not surprising in the wake of the news that the 2021/2022 Australian Sprintcar Championship has been relocated to Archerfield Speedway, a cracking field of 40 competitors will hit the track this weekend for round 10 of the East Coast Logistics Track Championship, incorporating round six of the Petzyo Development Series. Originally scheduled for Perth, the ongoing Western Australian border closures left event organisers with no choice but to find an alternative home for the national title and, despite the short notice, the Archerfield promoters have taken on the challenge and will stage the event over two nights on April 30/May 1. As such, the next few weeks are going to prove critical for competitors to fine-tune their Archerfield set-ups in preparation for their shot at securing the coveted Australia #1. Meanwhile, backing up from their own national championship campaign at Archerfield last month, Midgets will also feature on Saturday night in round seven of the TFH Series, with Wingless Sprints, Lightning Sprints, Microsprints and Formula 500 Juniors completing a huge open wheel program.
Having won four of the nine rounds contested thus far Luke Oldfield sits atop the ECL Championship standings and he heads the entry list on Saturday night. Quite remarkably, Oldfield has finished on the podium no less than eight times and is most certainly the performance benchmark to which all others must aspire if they intend to contend on Saturday night or in the weeks ahead. As such, South Australia’s Steven Lines is the first of an expected influx of interstaters to feature over the next few weeks in search of track time in the lead-up to the Australian Championship. Making his first appearance in Brisbane for the season, Lines comes to town on the back of a top-five finish in Toowoomba last weekend that, whilst impressive, ultimately resulted in him becoming yet another highly-credentialed driver who has been unable to upstage Oldfield in his home territory. Having twice won the prestigious Grand Annual Classic and finished on the podium in Australian Championship competition on three occasions, Lines possesses an extensive record of success and, given that there is nobody in the field who has beaten Oldfield in an ECL feature race this season, it may well be Lines who has to show that it can be done.
So, if not Lines, then who will it be? Aaron Kelly and Bryan Mann are both former track titleholders and, although neither has found success so far this season, they should certainly not be overlooked as serious threats. Both drivers have endured misfortunes but it is Kelly who has looked the more likely of the two, having finished inside the top five on four occasions, including once on the podium. Mann, meanwhile, has really struggled at times and a return to something near his best form will have him well and truly in the mix, although he will first need to outpace the likes of Brent Kratzmann, Cody Maroske, Adam Butler, Ryan McNamara, Allan Woods, Kevin Titman and Darren Jensen before making any play for the lead. This season has certainly seen the emergence of several young guns who have demonstrated a combination of skill and ballsy bravado that has resulted in plenty of excitement, and even a few podium results along the way, but it has been a lack of consistency that has ultimately prevented them visiting victory lane. Ryan Newton, Taylor Prosser, Jy Corbet, Randy Morgan and Karl Hoffmans have all demonstrated the potential for success and regularly upstaged their more experienced opponents, so maybe this Saturday it will be youthful exuberance that prevails.
In contrast to the somewhat one-sided nature of the Sprintcar competition this season, the Midget action has resulted in seven different feature race winners from as many events, the most recent of which was the Australian Championship won by Matt Smith last month. Whilst a few competitors seem to be taking time off to reflect upon what went wrong in a national title event that proved a disappointment for so many of the locals, a strong 21-car field has still been assembled for round seven of the TFH Midget Series. Having emerged as the best of the locals in the Australian Championship final with a third-place finish, ex-pat Kiwi Michael Kendall will be looking to parlay that form into a second TFH feature race win for the season. Charlie Brown and Rusty Whittaker have also been victorious this season and will be equally determined to become the first two-time winner, however with former national champ Kaidon Brown in the field fresh from his runner-up result in the national title, and the likes of Scott Farmer and Darren Vine amongst those yet to satiate in the spoils of victory, there is every chance a new name will appear on the feature race winners list. In fact, following his terrific showing in the national championship that saw him upstage many higher profile and more experienced competitors, Lachlan Paulger is certainly another who could find himself somewhere in the vicinity of victory lane.
Of the seven Wingless Sprint feature races contested at Archerfield this season, the last four have been won by drivers hailing from New South Wales, leaving the locals with little to show for their efforts in recent weeks. Even the Queensland championship last weekend in Bundaberg was won by a southerner, so this Saturday presents as an ideal opportunity for the Queenslanders to bounce back with Michael Butcher the sole interstate entry amongst the 23 nominations. The fact that Butcher finished fifth in Bundaberg means that he will be far from an easy hurdle to overcome, however Liam Atkinson and Robert Mazzer, who are the only Queensland-based feature winners at Archerfield this season, both finished ahead of Butcher in the state title and will therefore be looking to repeat that result. Steve Pilkington, Ben Manson, Jamie Usher and Ian Milnes are the only other drivers in the field who have featured on the podium so far this season, leaving more than 15 others with plenty to prove in what will invariably be another close contest.
Gates open at 3.00pm for online ticketholders, with general admission ticket sales from 4.00pm. and early racing from 5.00pm. The main program, which will also feature racing action from Lightning Sprints, Microsprints and Formula 500 Juniors, will get underway at 6.00pm.
East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship round ten nominations: Aaron Kelly, Adam Butler, Allan Woods, Andrew Baumber, Anthony Lambert, Brad Ayers, Brent Kratzmann, Bryan Mann, Cody Maroske, Dan Murray, Darren Jensen, Dave Fanning, Geoff Davey, Harry Stewart, Jason King, Jy Corbet, Karl Hoffmans, Kevin Britten, Kevin Titman, Kristy Bonsey, Luke Oldfield, Mark Pholi, Mitch Gowland, Peter Campbell, Randy Morgan, Ryan McNamara, Ryan Newton, Steven Lines, Taylor Prosser, Tim Farrell
Petzyo Development Sprintcars round six nominations: Brad Keiler, Cameron King, Craig Hyde, Dan Moes, Erin Vanderreyden, James Matthews, Jason Bottin, Libby Ellis, Nicholas O’Keefe, Richie Rob
TFH Midget Series round seven nominations: Barry Gibbs, Bernie Clarke, Brad Dawson, Casey O’Connell, Charlie Brown, Chris Moor, Darren Dillon, Darren Vine, Dylan Menz, Jesse Harris, Kaidon Brown, Lachlan Paulger, Michael Kendall, Reid Mackay, Rob Stewart, Rusty Whittaker, Scott Doyle, Scott Jeynes, Scott Farmer, Tom Clauss, Tony Stephen
Wingless Sprint nominations: Adam Hotchkis, Andrew Carrick, Andrew Robinson, Anthony Joyce, Ben Manson, Brett Russo, Chris Catchpole, Daniel Barton, Dave Sansby, Ian Milnes, James Grady, Jamie Usher, Jayden O’Toole, Josh Thompson, Lance Dawson, Liam Atkinson, Michael Butcher, Robert Mazzer, Scott Mortenson, Shaun Knight, Stephen Pocock, Steve Pilkington, Stuart Jefferies
Lightning Sprint nominations: Scott Jukes, Wayne Jukes, James Elliott, Andrew Kimm, Kurt Wilson, Wayne Iacono, Darren Baldwin, Michael Gollagher, Scott Genrich, James Kennedy
Microsprint nominations: Bryce Moorman, Cameron Munro, John Lawson, Kaitlyn Field, Matt Hanford, Matt King, Michael Shearer, Shane Munro
Formula 500 Junior nominations: Bailey Leeson, Brooke Wilson, Charlie Bowen, Chay Corbet, Cooper Norman, Daisy Smith, Jai Bateman, Sean Rae
For further information and event updates, please stay tuned to Facebook or the track website at www.brisbanespeedway.com.au