Two on the trot for McHugh
Following his success in the previous round, Lachlan McHugh replicated that result with an all-the-way win in round five of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (November 27). Launching from the outside front row, McHugh led all 30 laps of the feature race on a track that remained super fast all night courtesy of heavy rain in the days prior. In his best result thus far this season, Aaron Kelly settled into second spot from the outset and remained in that position at the fall of the flag, with Taylor Prosser clinching his first ever podium result in third spot. Brent Kratzmann finished fourth ahead of Kevin Titman, with Luke Oldfield climbing back to sixth from the rear following a tyre change during a restart with 11 laps to run. Adam Butler surged into seventh spot, leaving Cody Maroske, Ryan McNamara and Mitch Gowland to round out the top ten.
Hamstrung by the border restrictions that prevented their northern New South Wales brethren from joining them on track, a small field of Dirt Modifieds hit the track for the first time this season and the end result was a familiar story as Kevin Britten made easy work of proceedings to lead home Phil Roberts, David Clark, Terry Leerentveld and Matt Pascoe.
A 25-car field of Sprintcars fronted for what would be their fifth consecutive week of racing and the heavy track surface that mother nature had presented certainly ensured a mixed bag of results in time trials, with no less five different drivers spending a moment atop the timesheets before Oldfield blew everybody out of the park with a best effort of 12.770, to secure KRE Quick Time as the only driver to circulate under 13 seconds. Titman (13.020) was second quickest ahead of Cody Maroske (13.051), Tim Farrell (13.225) and Ryan Newton (13.425), with Kelly, Darren Jensen, Dan Murray, Jy Corbet and Prosser rounding out the top ten overall.
With passing opportunities at a premium, Brad Ayers prevailed from pole position in the opening heat, leading home Kratzmann and Butler.
Having grabbed the lead from Nelson Reddacliff, McNamara threw away the win in heat two with a couple of untidy moments that enabled Prosser to pounce and take the race. McNamara had fallen more than five seconds adrift by the fall of the flag, with Reddacliff third home.
Newton launched from the outside front row to lead throughout heat three, leaving pole sitter Murray to settle for second ahead of Oldfield, who advanced from sixth.
James Matthews rode out a wild crash through turn one on the opening lap of heat four, only for Ayers to try and better the effort with a spectacular somersault along the main straight just a lap into the restart. Despite the interruptions, McHugh never looked like losing and romped home more than ten seconds clear of the next best runners in Karl Hoffmans and Andrew Baumber.
A contrasting scenario played out in heat five with Jensen edging out Kelly in the closest finish of the night, with Corbet third.
With the track getting quicker with each race, Oldfield was unstoppable from the front row in the final heat, leading throughout to finish well in advance of Titman and Maroske.
As top qualifier from the preliminaries, Oldfield selected a four inversion for the Spanloc Dash, elevating Kelly into the pole slot with Jensen alongside. McHugh would join Oldfield on row two, followed by Titman, Prosser, Newton and first-timer Baumber. Having dominated the night thus far, Oldfield found himself on the infield with only two laps completed, having apparently run out of fuel. Jensen, meanwhile, also made an early exit with a problem that would ultimately keep him out of the feature race. Kelly made the most of his good fortune to lead throughout and secure pole position for the main event. McHugh finished second ahead of Titman, Prosser and the only other finisher in Newton.
In a somewhat tepid affair compared to what we might typically expect from a last chance B Main, Ryan McNamara, Adam Butler, Karl Hoffmans and Dan Moes would fill the top four spots to guarantee themselves a feature race start, while fifth-placed Kristy Bonsey would also secure a start, filling the vacancy created by Jensen’s withdrawal. Having spun himself out of a direct transfer with just two laps remaining, Corbet would utilise a provisional to also secure a start in the big show.
From the outset, McHugh was on a mission and left Kelly in his wake as he zoomed off into the distance. The margin evaporated on lap six when Baumber, having been shuffled back through the field after an untidy start, spun in turn four on lap six to trigger a restart. When Corbet spun in turn four on lap 14, McHugh again saw his lead advantage disappear, with Kelly still sitting second ahead of Prosser, Oldfield, Titman, Newton, Kratzmann and the rest. Any hopes Oldfield had of maintaining his perfect run of podium results were dashed on lap 19 when he was baulked by a lapped Baumber as they exited turn four. Newton subsequently rode over the right rear of Oldfield and was launched into a heavy flip that ended atop the back straight wall. Requiring a tyre change during the extended delay, Oldfield would restart at the back of the pack as McHugh again made easy work of the restart to lead Kelly, Prosser, Titman, Kratzmann and Butler, who to this point was the biggest mover through the field. Despite a final restart was that was required with just two laps remaining when Baumber parked in turn three, McHugh was untroubled in maintaining his lead to secure consecutive wins. Kelly clinched his best result of the season in second spot, while Prosser would earn his first ever podium appearance despite the best efforts of Titman, whose last-gasp attempt to snatch third would only result in him dropping a spot to Kratzmann. Despite the fact that everybody was clocking faster lap times than they did in time trials, Oldfield was still able to surge back to sixth by the fall of the flag, followed by Butler, Maroske, McNamara and Gowland. Next in line were Murray, Hoffmans, Moes, Bonsey and Corbet, with Farrell the final finisher in stark contrast to his podium result at the previous round.
Matt Pascoe had skipped well clear of the field in the opening Dirt Modified heat, only to slow with a lap to run and limp home, handing the win to Phil Roberts from Terry Leerentveld and Kevin Britten.
Having failed to go the distance in the first heat, David Clark bounced back to take heat two. Whilst Leerentveld finished second once again to emerge as top qualifier, it would be the third and fourth place finishers in Roberts and Britten who would share the front row for the feature.
Needless to say, Britten was untroubled in leading throughout the 15-lap finale, the national champ extending his lead to more than eight seconds on his way to a new track record for the distance. Roberts remained second ahead of Clark, Leerentveld and Pascoe, who had lost the best part of half a lap in his efforts to avoid a major moment with an ailing Geoff Phillips, who was looking to exit the track on lap three.
Bruce Marshall downed Nathan Tomkins and Scott Hitchcock to win the opening heat of AMCA Nationals action, with Graeme Holland cruising clear of the field to win heat over Jay Allen and Steve Potts.
Peter Greer scored his first ever heat race success when he outpaced Maverick Dack and Potts in the third preliminary, while the final heat went to a delighted Rob Turner ahead of Hitchcock and Holland.
Patience and precision carried Potts to victory in the Shock Absorber Therapy feature race, trailing Hitchcock patiently for a dozen laps before executing an outside pass through turn four. Once in front, Potts cleared away to win by more than five seconds as Hitchcock clung to second spot despite the attentions of Marshall. Holland and Tomkins completed the first five, with Troy Price and Ray Muller the only other finishers. Neither Greer nor Turner were able to go the distance, with the latter spearing into the turn three wall on lap eight. Dack, Allen, Shane Stacey, Leonie Knight and Brett Robotham also retreated to the infield.
Following heat wins to Liam Williams, Kurt Wilson and Mitchell Whittaker, the front row for the Mainstreme Automotive Formula 500 feature race was a family affair comprising the husband-wife duo of Liam and Kristin Williams. It was Liam who got the best of the start and there was no stopping him from that point as he led all 15 laps to also clock a new track record for the distance. Kristin crossed in second spot ahead of Wilson, Amanda Chaffey and Kacy-Lee Black, with Whittaker slipping to sixth after starting third. Brock Thornton, Jared Boyes, Tomas Partington and Brady Argles completed the top ten.
Wingless Sprint preliminaries went the way of James Grady, Lachlan Robertson, Robert Mazzer and Ben Manson, whose outside swoop around Stuart Jefferies in the final heat was particularly impressive given the conditions. The LB Technologies feature race was all Mazzer though as he led all 20 circulations, was the only driver to record a best lap under 15 seconds and etched a new track record for his efforts. Jamie Usher snared second spot ahead of Manson, leaving Brody and Scott Thomsen to round out the first five. In his first season of Wingless competition after switching from Stockcars, Jefferies has wasted little time finding his feet, finishing sixth ahead of Ian Milnes, Grady, Steve Pilkington and Jayden O’Toole.
Wayne Kirkman and Keith Craft shared the spoils in the combined heats for Open A and Outlaw Sedans before Kirkman cantered home in the feature race to win by more than 15 seconds. Despite the fact that the three cars snookered behind him all recorded considerably faster lap times, none were able to execute a pass and Colin Morris subsequently held on to finish second ahead of Craft, Bob Ware and Michael Taylor.
The next meeting at Archerfield Speedway is scheduled for Saturday, December 11 featuring round six of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and round three of the TFH Midget Series, plus Petzyo Development Sprintcars, AMCA Nationals, Wingless Sprints and Compact Speedcars.