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Kicking Up The Dirt - ECL Track Championship - Round Ten
Joanne White posted Sunday March 5, 2017.

Despite the threat of inclement weather, a high-quality field of thirty-seven Sprintcars rolled into AusDeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway last night, Saturday 04 March 2017, ready to put on a spectacular show. While the track started off a little too wet and made early track conditions somewhat greasy, it soon turned into an extremely racy track, with multiple racing lines that the drivers took full advantage of as they put on a spectacular show. In the end though, with the first of two scheduled twenty-lap A-Main events heading trackside and getting ready to line up, Mother Nature intervened and we were forced to abandon the race meeting. Luke Oldfield and Peter Lack had been the star performers of the night and were set to share the front row for the start of the race, with Bryan Mann, Ben Hilder, Andrew Scheuerle and Cody Maroske completing the first three rows on the starting grid.

Qualifying got under way in groups of five or six cars, the first group getting a number of hot laps to try and bring the track in a little before qualifying started. Despite their efforts, the track remained quite wet, really coming in towards the end of the qualifying run, with Mitchell Gee, the fastest of the first group, slipping back to eighteenth once all cars had taken to the track. Luke Oldfield secured quick time in the qualifying run, stopping the clock at 11.733 seconds, with Bryan Mann just two hundredths of a second slower and securing second with a time of 11.753 seconds. Andrew Scheuerle was a solid third (11.878) while Ben Hilder (11.930) narrowly beat Cody Maroske (11.950) to complete the fastest five. Maroske beat Brock Dean by three thousandths of second, with Dean and Dave Whell the only other cars to break into the 11-second bracket. Rising Star Dylan Menz was just two thousandths of a second quicker than Kevin Titman, with Darren Silcock beating Brent Kratzmann, who had been in the first group to qualify, by the same small margin. Phill Foster made his return to Sprintcar racing after a number of seasons on the sidelines, and he and newcomer Karl Hoffmans recorded identical times. Nelson Reddacliff beat Chris Harrison by just 0.002 seconds, while the top twenty-one cars were separated by less than one second. Unfortunately Brent Kratzmann and Mark Pholi would take no further part in proceedings.

Heat one started with Lachlan McHugh and Anthony Lambert from the front row with Lambert getting the better start and quickly securing the lead ahead of McHugh and Dave Whell. Mitchell Gee quickly made his way underneath Whell, leaving Whell to try and defend his position from Luke Oldfield and Kevin Titman. McHugh was all over the back of Lambert, putting all kinds of pressure on the Q90 racer as he searched high and low for a way past. Lambert drove a strong and faultless race, holding McHugh at bay as the pair put on a spectacular show. Luke Oldfield was putting all kinds of pressure on Dave Whell mid-field with Kevin Titman closing in fast. Oldfield, Whell and Titman began closing the gap to Gee as Lambert managed to pull a couple of car lengths ahead of McHugh. Anthony Lambert managed to extend his lead as they entered lapped traffic before going on to take the win ahead of Lachlan McHugh, Mitchell Gee, Luke Oldfield, Dave Whell, Kevin Titman, Brock Dean, Darren Silcock, Kevin Hill, Mitch Gowland and Tim Ford.

Andrew Marks, in his first race meeting in six months, started heat two from pole position with Brad Ayers alongside. Marks and Ayers raced side-by-side into turn one, but it was Ayers on the high side who managed to secure the lead. Marks settled into second with Simon Jupe and Dylan Menz right on his tail and Cody Maroske closing in fast. Menz and Maroske had a brilliant battle for most of the race, the pair putting on a show that captivated the crowd. Maroske was relentless as he searched for a way past Menz, all the while Menz edged closer to Jupe. As the laps wore on and Menz gained on Jupe, the battle shifted slightly as Menz held the advantage over Maroske and started putting his own challenge to Jupe. A last lap charge by Menz as he and Jupe exited turn four two abreast saw the pair race side-by-side across the line. Brad Ayers seemingly easily took the win with Andrew Marks hanging on to finish second. Simon Jupe crossed the line third ahead of Dylan Menz and Cody Maroske with Dan Murray, Bryan Mann, Chris Harrison, Neil Howard and Brendan Parker rounding out the finishers. Unfortunately for Brett Minett, who had been scheduled to start from position three, he suffered mechanical problems in the Q94 racer prevented him from starting the race.

Heat three saw Callum Walker and Kristy Bonsey share the front row for the start, with Andrew Liebke and Anthony Vanderreyden from the second row. Bonsey got a great start when the lights went green and quickly secured the race lead while Vanderreyden raced around the high side of Walker to momentarily steal second. Walker immediately fired back on the bottom and regained his position while Peter Lack, who had started out of position six, raced around the outside of Liebke before slipping through on the inside of Vanderreyden and challenging Walker for second all before the race was half a lap old. Andrew Scheuerle worked the high side as he made his way past Liebke, leaving Liebke to battle against his own team-mate Paul Rooks, all with Ben Hilder closing in fast. Liebke, Rooks and Hilder had a thrilling battle deep in the field, and Scheuerle continued to make his way forward as he tried to race around Vanderreyden. Contact between Vanderreyden and Scheuerle entering turn one almost ended in disaster when the right rear of the ACT72 racer climber over the left front of the Q25 car of Scheuerle. Vanderreyden spun onto the infield and while Scheuerle persevered on track for another couple of laps, he soon pulled the car out of the race with front end damage. Back at the front of the field it was hard to take your eyes off race leader Bonsey and she managed to withstand enormous pressure from a hard-charging and relentless Peter Lack. Lack had a massive look on the inside of Bonsey as they rounded turns three and four, only for Bonsey to hold her ground and fight back on the topside to maintain her lead. Callum Walker soon joined the fight, searching for his own way through, while Liebke and Rooks raced two-wide for a few laps before Hilder was able to get around Rooks and split the duo. The race was then brought under caution when Nelson Reddacliff got into the turn one fence and while Reddacliff was not injured in the incident his night of competition was over. Bonsey led the restart from Walker and Lack but all eyes were on Peter Lack as he took to the high side to race his way around Callum Walker. It took Lack three quarters of a lap to secure the advantage over Walker and, with plenty of momentum in the Q5 racer, Lack set his sights on Bonsey. With the white flag in the air Lack raced around the outside of Bonsey to steal the lead and while Bonsey tried to fight back she was also forced to defend her position from Walker. Peter Lack took the win with Kristy Bonsey having a sensational drive to cross the line in second ahead of a very hard-charging and impressive Callum Walker. Andrew Liebke finished fourth and led Paul Rooks, Ben Hilder, Phill Foster, Karl Hoffmans and Scott Johnston across the line. Nelson Reddacliff, Andrew Scheuerle and Anthony Vanderreyden all failed to finish the event.

Brett Minett was supposed to start heat four from pole position but niggling mechanical problems in the Q94 racer saw him on the infield before the race had begun. Kristy Bonsey inherited pole position with Andrew Marks alongside and Simon Jupe and Kevin Titman now sharing the second row. The first start was aborted when officials deemed Bonsey to have jumped the start. She was relegated back to the second row for the restart with Jupe now from pole position. Jupe got the jump on the start and quickly settled into the race lead in advance of Marks and Bonsey. Titman was quick on the high side and quickly raced around the high side of Bonsey and began challenging Marks for second, while Bonsey valiantly fought back hard on the bottom. With barely a lap completed the race was brought under caution for Brock Dean who had slowed to a stop high on the track on the back straight. Jupe led the restart from Marks, Titman and Bonsey, with Titman immediately all over the back of Marks and quickly slipping through on the bottom as they rounded turn two. Bonsey set her sights on Marks and kept the pressure up as she searched for a way through, while Luke Oldfield was on a mission to get to the front and had made his way onto the tail of Marks and Bonsey. Working the high side beautifully Oldfield raced his way around Bonsey in turns one and two before getting past the high side of Marks just half a lap later. Oldfield set out after Titman and Jupe and soon made his way into the lead once lapped traffic came into play. Luke Oldfield went on to take the win ahead of Simon Jupe and Kevin Titman while Andrew Marks managed to hang on to fourth despite a last corner charge by Bonsey that saw the pair cross the line side-by-side. Kristy Bonsey finished fifth and led Dave Whell, Brock Dean, Darren Silcock and Scott Johnston across the line.

Heat five hit the track with Anthony Vanderreyden and Lachlan McHugh set to share the front row for the start, with Mitchell Gee and Anthony Lambert from the second row. Vanderreyden managed to secure the lead when the green flag flew, with McHugh settling into second ahead of Gee, while Andrew Scheuerle moved ahead of Dan Murray and Cody Maroske started to make his way forward. Maroske raced under Murrray and began challenging Scheuerle for position, the pair both searching for a way past Lambert. Scheuerle committed to the high side and managed to gain the advantage back from Maroske, before sliding almost effortlessly underneath Lambert less than half a lap later. Murray had made his way to the bottom of the track and was now challenging Maroske for position, while Scheuerle closed in on the leading trio. Gee had managed to make his way in front of McHugh, with Vanderreyden still leading and doing a magnificent job out in front, as Scheuerle quickly closed in and joined the battle. McHugh raced back underneath Gee through turn four to regain second in a captivating display of racing by two of the young guns of the sport, but just a lap or two later and the race was brought under caution for the spun car of Karl Hoffmans in turn two. Vanderreyden led the restart from McHugh, Gee and Scheuerle with McHugh all over the back of Vanderreyden and relentless in his search for a way past. Scheuerle took to the high side coming out of turn four and raced around the top of Gee to move into third in turn one, before racing under both McHugh and Vanderreyden in turn two, taking full advantage of a small opening on the bottom, and took control of the race. Scheuerle immediately started opening a significant margin over his rivals while McHugh and Gee continued to search for a way past Vanderreyden. McHugh eventually got the job done on the high side as they raced down the main straight, while Gee was forced on the defensive as Cody Maroske and Bryan Mann joined the battle for the minor places. Gee soon got around Vanderreyden while Mann skilfully weaved his way through the field, displacing Maroske and Vanderreyden before the fall of the chequered flag. Andrew Scheuerle went on to take a well-earned win ahead of Lachlan McHugh and Mitchell Gee, with Bryan Mann coming home in fourth. Anthony Vanderreyden was fifth across the line ahead of Cody Maroske, Anthony Lambert, Dan Murray, Mitch Gowland, Phill Foster, Karl Hoffmans and Tim Ford.

The final heat of the night started with Rob Hamilton and Callum Walker from the front row with Hamilton getting a brilliant start and securing the lead as they navigated turn one. Walker settled into second ahead of Brad Ayers and Andrew Liebke but it was Ben Hilder who had a massive run on the bottom. Paul Rooks was on the topside searching a way around Liebke, with Peter Lack behind him trying to make his way in front of Dylan Menz. Hilder found some incredible momentum on the bottom and raced under both Menz and Lack in turn two before securing the advantage over Rooks as they raced down the back straight. Rooks and Menz fought back of course, with Rooks working the top and trying to find a way around Liebke, who was now trying to race underneath Brad Ayers. Liebke made his way in front of Ayers coming out of turn four, only for Ayers to race back around the top half a lap later to regain his position, with Hilder looking to slip through on the bottom of both Rooks and Liebke. Meanwhile Peter Lack was coming on strong and raced straight under both Rooks and Liebke in turn four before turning his attention to Hilder, while Rooks raced around the outside of Liebke. Rooks had a brief look on the high side of Lack, only to be caught behind Hilder as Lack raced through on the bottom. Rooks raced under Hilder in turn three, only for Hilder to slide back underneath the Q64 racer half a lap later. Chris Harrison had an impressive run from the back of the field and started searching the highline for a way around Liebke and Rooks, but in the end it was Callum Walker who took the win less than three tenths of a second ahead of Peter Lack who had a brilliant run in the later stages of the race to move into second. Rob Hamilton crossed the line in third and led Ben Hilder, Brad Ayers, Paul Rooks, Andrew Liebke, Chris Harrison, Dylan Menz, Neil Howard, Kevin Hill and Brendan Parker across the line.

Six cars rolled out for the C-Main event to be contested over eight laps, with Mitch Gowland and Neil Howard to share the front row. Gowland got the jump on the start and quickly settled into the race lead ahead of Howard, while Scott Johnson managed to secure third after an opening lap battle with Kevin Hill. Hill chased Johnston hard for much of the race but was unable to make a move but there was no touching the pair out in front. Mitch Gowland went on to take the win ahead of Neil Howard, both drivers transferring to back of the B-Main race. Scott Johnson crossed the line in third and led Kevin Hill, Tim Ford and Brendan Parker across the line.

The B-main was scheduled over 15-laps and with only four of the sixteen starters able to secure a transfer to the A-Main the stage was set for a breath-taking race. Mitchell Gee started from pole position with Brad Ayers alongside and Lachlan McHugh and Anthony Lambert sharing the second row. Gee quickly secured the lead with Ayers in second ahead of McHugh and Lambert with Andrew Marks holding down fifth. Unfortunately the race was brought to a very sudden and abrupt stop when Anthony Vanderreyden rode the right rear wheel of Rob Hamilton as they entered turn three and rode out a massive wreck in the ACT72 racer. There was a lengthy delay while the crash crew and track staff attended to Vanderreyden and helped him exit the car. His car suffered significant damage and Anthony has suffered a badly broken left arm. He has spent the night in hospital and was scheduled for surgery today. Everyone at Sprintcars Queensland wish Anthony all the very best for speedy recovery. Once Vanderreyden was off the track and in the very capable hands of the medical crew a full race restart followed with Gee and Ayers to again lead the way. Gee again got the jump when the lights went green, with Ayers settling into second but immediately under pressure from McHugh. With less than a lap completed McHugh raced through on the bottom to steal second and set out after Gee. What followed for both Gee and McHugh is just a small glimpse of what the future of Sprintcar racing looks like. Both drivers had had a tough night after having disappointing qualifying runs, both were in the first group on the greasy track, and had worked hard during the night trying to make their way into the main race. The show they put on last night as they argued over the race lead in the B-Main was nothing short of sensational and captivated much of the crowd. However they were not the only ones putting on a show and if one had six pairs of eye it probably would not have been enough to see and take in all the brilliant racing that was unfolding on a multi-lane race track. Andrew Marks led Kristy Bonsey, Phill Foster and Andrew Liebke mid-field with Liebke in particular making up significant ground when he took to the high side and made his way past Bonsey, Foster and Marks in the space of lap. Marks tried to fight back on the bottom but Liebke soon started to pull away and close in on the cars in front. Chris Harrison brought the race under caution when he spun in turn four with ten laps left to run. Gee led the restart from McHugh, Ayers and Lambert, with Liebke sitting just outside of a transfer position. Darren Silcock raced under Marks when the race resumed, while Lambert and Liebke searched for a way past Ayers, and Gee and McHugh ran away from the field, still embroiled in their own battle for supremacy. With Silcock now clear of Marks and closing in on Liebke and Lambert, Liebke committed to the high line and managed to steal fourth. Brett Minett, after having mechanical issues in the Q94 racer all night, finally seemed to have sorted the problem and was coming on strong from towards the rear of the field. Minett found a comfortable line on the topside of the track and quietly set about climbing his way through the field. After starting back in thirteenth Minett managed to make his way into seventh. Mitchell Gee went on to take the win ahead of Lachlan McHugh, with Brad Ayers and Andrew Liebke across the line in third and fourth respectively. Gee, McHugh, Ayers and Liebke would transfer to the back of the grid for the start of the first A-Main event. Darren Silcock finished fifth in the B-Main, only narrowly missing an automatic transfer, but as first reserve it was entire possible he would get another start. Anthony Lambert was next across the line and led Brett Minett, Phill Foster, Andrew Marks, Kristy Bonsey, Mitch Gowland, Rob Hamilton, Karl Hoffmans, Chris Harrison and Neil Howard across the line. Anthony Vanderreyden was the only driver who did not finish the event.

Light rain began falling over the venue as the B-Main concluded, but AusDeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway Promoter John Kelly was determined to try and get the mains in. The first A-Main was pushed onto the track with most of the cars started and getting ready to line up for the start, but track conditions quickly became too dangerous to attempt a start and cars and drivers were sent back to the pits to wait out the rain. We waited for a short while as officials and track staff assessed the weather and track conditions, but with more rain coming and track conditions unsuitable for racing, the meeting was abandoned, giving teams enough time to pack up before heavier rain arrived. Sprintcars Queensland thank John Kelly and his track team for their efforts in trying to get the show in, and we thank all the drivers, family, friends, sponsors and fans who stuck with us through the threat of imminent rain to witness some intense racing action. Sprintcars will return to AusDeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway next weekend what is sure to be another captivating night of Sprintcar racing. We hope to see you there!

 

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