Sydney Success for Queensland Young Gun
Ryan Newton became the latest interstate invader to join the list of Sprintcar feature race winners at Eastern Creek Speedway when the young Queenslander blitzed the field to win round 13 of the ECR Track Championship on Saturday night (March 18). Newton started on the inside of row four and used the highline to round up his rivals and negotiate lapped traffic, emerging with the lead on lap 21. Daniel Sayre enjoyed a brief stint at the front after deposing Lachlan Caunt from the lead on lap 18 but would ultimately have to settle for second, while a last-lap leap would see Sam Walsh round up both Caunt and Aaron Kelly to snatch third. Warren Ferguson, Luke Stirton and Kaiden Brown were next in line, with Zac Pacchiarotta and Ben Atkinson rounding out the top ten.
For the second week in a row, it was Caunt who proved too pacey in time trial qualifying, stopping the clock at 11.849 to secure an early points advantage. Jordyn Brazier (11.867) was second quickest ahead of Newton (11.956), Ferguson (11.963) and the last of the sub-12 runners in Sayre (11.974). The remainder of the top ten comprised Pacchiarotta, Luke Thomas, Kelly, Jake Baines and Brett Hobson, while Ashleigh Jack and Walsh, both of whom sat atop the timesheets at different stages of the session, would end up 11th and 12th respectively.
Although he led every lap of the opening heat from pole position, it was a narrow win in the end for James Thompson over Atkinson and Thomas as Caunt charged into fourth.
Jai Stephenson got a great start in heat two to lead the field initially, only for contact between Jack and Brazier to leave the latter with damage to both ends of the car and out of action. At the restart, Stephenson had a shocker and found himself shuffled back to eighth on the opening lap as Jessie Attard raced to the front and remained in control to the chequer. Stirton advanced a couple of spots to secure second, with Kaiden Brown the best of the rest in third.
Newton suffered a setback in heat three when a dislodged shock absorber thwarted his challenge, leaving Troy Little to prevail over Michael Saller and Luke Geering.
Afforded a chance to make amends with another front row start in heat four, Stephenson made no mistakes on this occasion and raced away to defeat Kelly and Jack.
Michael Stewart outpaced Alex Attard and Kaidon Brown in heat five before Little doubled up with another win in the final preliminary, this time over Baines and Atkinson. Jessie Attard was running in third before upending along the back straight to suffer an inglorious end to his night. Brazier, meanwhile, endured more misery when the driveline literally fell out of the car prior to the race getting underway.
Thompson was untouchable in the B Main, launching from the outside front row and remaining in possession of the lead through to the finish. Grant Tunks climbed into second spot ahead of Jeff Lawler, with Brendan Scorgie filling the final vacancy in the feature race field when Luke Geering threw away a transfer spot with a spin on lap 10.
The pre-race grid draw would see the top qualifier in Caunt start from position four in the Dash with Sayre alongside, elevating Kelly and Ferguson to the front row. Taking maximum advantage of his good fortune, Kelly kept Caunt at bay to clinch the win as Ferguson fell to fourth behind Atkinson but remained ahead of Sayre, Stirton, Newton and Thomas as the remaining finishers.
Although it was Kelly occupying pole position for the 30-lap feature race, it was no real surprise to see Caunt lead the field away as Atkinson endured a terrible start that saw him fall to seventh on the opening lap. Lapped traffic came into play as early as lap three as Caunt led Kelly, Ferguson, Stirton and Sayre through the tailenders. Sayre had sailed into third after six circulations and this order remained unchanged until Kelly went to the front on lap 13. Two laps later, Caunt was back in front and, with Kelly struggling to execute a pass on the lapped car of Baines, Sayre slipped into second spot and then chased down Caunt to wrest the lead on lap 17, only for Stewart to stop in turn four. Caunt was reinstated at the front of the field for the restart with Newton now lurking ominously in fourth, having despatched Stirton and Ferguson. Underway again and Sayre immediately went back to the lead as Newton continued his march forward, rounding up Caunt on lap 19 before sailing past Sayre on lap 21 to take control of the contest. When Jeff Lawler stopped in turn one with three laps remaining, the ensuing restart failed to hinder Newton in his mission as he completed the final laps to score his first ever feature race win in Sydney. Whilst Sayre remained in second spot, Caunt found himself punted from the podium when a final-lap flourish from Walsh catapulted him into third, leaving Kelly fifth at the flag, followed by Ferguson, Stirton, Brown and Pacchiarotta, with Atkinson backsliding further to round out the top ten. Despite his heat race double, Little could manage no better than 11th, with Thomas, a pair of Attards and Thompson the best of the rest.
A small field of Midgets contested a couple of heats and a 15-lap feature race and it was Matt Jackson who proved too quick in the first outing, outpacing Mitch Brien and Matt Geering, who would go on to win heat two over Daniel Peterson and Brien.
Alan Day led the opening lap of the feature race before Jamie Hall took over for a couple of go-rounds until Mitch Brien assumed the position. Geering took over second spot from Hall on lap six with both Jackson and Nathan Smee closing in, the pair having started at the back of the field. With six laps remaining, Jackson and Smee had climbed into the top four but neither could make much headway in chasing down the leaders, leaving Brien as the winner ahead of Geering, Jackson, Smee and Jay Waugh. The remaining finishers comprised Hall, Daniel Paterson, Dan Biner, Day, Jeff Burns and Ethan Brown.
Heat wins within the Wingless Sprint fraternity were shared around, with Mark Blyton, Jarrad Rust, Guy Stanshall, Jason Davis, John Newman and Tyson Williams all visiting victory lane. Heat two was punctuated by a stoppage when Kaitlyn Darvill and Kaila Blayney tangled, sending Blayney upside down. To the credit of her and her team, Blayney would make it back on track for heat four and was rewarded with a third-place finish.
In the B Main, the first four runners had distanced themselves from the rest of the field and looked to have the transfer spots secured, only for Graham Flood to fall away as Brad McCarthy surged forward to secure a place in the feature. Rust and Brayden Shute filled the top two spots, with Peter Bourke also making the cut as Flood fell to fifth.
Davis jumped to an early lead in the feature race and held sway until Blyton found his way to the front on lap seven. Having worked his way forward to be third after 11 laps, Jason Bates rounded up Davis on lap 15 but had no answer to the pace of the leader as the Dubbo veteran raced to the chequer for an impressive win in the lead-up to the Australian Championship. Bates and Davis filled the minor placings ahead of Rust and Bailey Goodwin, who bumped Stanshall aside with three laps to run. Behind Stanshall came Tyson Williams, McCarthy, Sean Dicker and Peter Granger, with 21 of the 24 starters still running at the finish.
Street Stocks were first to hit the track and the opening heat saw Troy Dawes master the slippery conditions and race away to win ahead of Danny Glover and Steve Walsh as last-start feature winner Shaun Davoodi advanced from the back to finish fourth.
Davoodi made easy work of heat two to finish more than four seconds ahead of Matt Alexander and Anthony Attard, with the final heat seeing Shannon Alexander home first in advance of Rick Aberley and Charlie Dobson.
The first few laps of the feature were hampered by some shenanigans amongst the backmarkers that brought about a couple of restarts. Once underway though, Davoodi established a sizeable lead in rapid time and was looking comfortable out front until a spin from Caitlyn Healey brought about another restart with nine laps remaining. In the run to the chequer, Davoodi found himself under pressure from a group of four that included Ray Tyler, who had clocked the fastest lap of the race in his advance to the top five, only to make a smoky exit with five laps to run. Despite a determined chase from Dawes, there was no stopping Davoodi as he held firm to secure his second feature race success in as many weeks. Dawes remained second at the flag ahead of Matt Alexander, Shannon Alexander and Aberley, with Butch Dawes, Dodson, Attard, Blake Saunderson and Trent Allen rounding out the top ten.
The next event at Eastern Creek Speedway is a two-night extravaganza on Friday/Saturday, March 31 and April 1 featuring the New South Wales Sprintcar Championship. Supporting action over the two nights will feature Late Models, Wingless Sprints, Midgets and Street Stocks.