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Kicking Up The Dirt - East Coast Logistics Series Round 1
Joanne White posted Sunday September 17, 2017.

Sprintcars Queensland were finally back in action at AusDeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway last night, kicking off our 2017-2018 Race Season with Round 1 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Series. We had an impressive field of twenty-nine cars turn up for the first night of the new season, a field rich in talent, ambition and passion, and what an incredible show they put on for race fans. With championships in South-East Queensland often coming down to the very last race of the season, the championship chase was on from the very first fall of the green flag. Luke Oldfield, defending series champion, was the man to beat all night and led the field to the start of the A-Main, but Andrew Scheuerle was truly magnificent in the immaculately presented Q25 racer and quickly took control of the race once the lights went green. Scheuerle led the first third of the A-Main before Lachlan McHugh, who had displaced Oldfield in the opening few laps, stormed though to steal the lead. McHugh and Scheuerle traded positions five times in a lap and a half, captivating the crowd and putting on a completely mesmerising display for race fans. McHugh eventually secured the lead and began pulling ahead of Scheuerle, the pair weaving their way through lapped traffic as the laps wore on. Unfortunately for McHugh he cut down a left rear tyre with seven laps left to run and was forced to retire to the infield for the final laps of the race. Scheuerle inherited the race lead and despite Oldfield closing in over the final few laps of the race, it was Andrew Scheuerle who took a hard fought and well-deserved win. Luke Oldfield crossed the line in second while Mitchell Gee had a brilliant run in the Q36 racer to come home in third and round out the night one podium. Peter Lack and Callum Walker completed the top five.

The night started with qualifying and while the early benchmark was set by Paul Rooks, stopping the clock at a quick 12. 107 seconds during the first time trialling session of the season, Rooks would eventually fade to fifth quickest by the time the entire field had taken to the track. Luke Oldfield secured his first Quick Time of the season, recording an 11.916 lap and was the only driver able to break into the 11-second bracket. Callum Walker was exceptionally quick in the Q33 racer, locking in second quickest with a beautiful 12.024 second lap, while Mitchell Gee, back in the seat after an off-track injury last season saw his off-season start a lot earlier than planned, was third quickest in qualifying, stopping the clock at 12.069 seconds. Andrew Scheuerle was just one thousandth of a second quicker than Paul Rooks to lock into fourth quick, with Rooks rounding out the fastest five. Dan Murray beat Peter Lack by four thousandths of a second, the pair qualifying in positions six and seven respectively, while Mark Pholi, Lachlan McHugh and Brad Ayers rounded out the top ten. A fraction outside the top ten Brock Dean beat Mitch Gowland by just 0.002 seconds, while Brett Minett and Ben Hilder both stopped the clock at exactly 12.409 seconds. The top twenty-six cars were separated by less than one second, setting us up for a thrilling night of close competition as our stars entertained the large crowd in attendance.

Heat one started with Andrew Liebke and Glen Sutherland from the front row but it was Liebke, in the immaculately presented and new-look Q47 racer, who got the jump when the green flag flew. Liebke immediately began opening a small lead over his rivals, while Sutherland and Ben Hilder gave chase, but the race was promptly brought to a stop when race leader Liebke collided hard with the turn three wall and inverted the car. Liebke walked away from the crash uninjured but did not make it back trackside for the rest of the night. A full restart followed, with Ben Hilder now from pole position alongside Glen Sutherland. Hilder got a brilliant start and had secured the lead by the time they hit turn one, already starting to open a sizable lead over the rest of the field. Sutherland held down second but immediately came under pressure from Brock Dean on the low side, while Peter Lack tried to make a move on the highline. Lack soon made his way around Dean before switching to the low side and looking underneath Sutherland half a lap later. Sutherland managed to stay ahead of Lack for a couple of laps but Lack was smooth and fast on the bottom and soon slipped underneath the S20 racer to steal second. Luke Oldfield was coming on strong, closing in on the back of Dean and challenging on the highline for track position, but the race was again brought to a stop when Andrew Corbet collected the turn three wall. Corbet was able to keep the car moving and pulled safely off the track but the caution lights had already been thrown. Hilder led the restart from Lack and Sutherland with six laps left to run. Oldfield again took to the high side and, in just half a lap, raced around the top side of Dean before turning his attention to Sutherland. Ben Hilder was virtually untouchable out in front though and went on to take the win ahead of Peter Lack and Glen Sutherland. Luke Oldfield crossed the line in fourth and led Brock Dean, Dan Murray and Mitch Gowland across the line. Andrew Corbet and Andrew Liebke both failed to finish the event.

Rob Hamilton and Stewart Craig led the field to the green in heat two, with Craig getting the initial jump and settling into the race lead. Hamilton settled into second but immediately came under pressure from Dave Whell, while Brent Kratzmann took to the high line to race around Brett Minett. Minett looped the Q94 racer in turn four but was able to keep the car moving, while Phill Foster spun in turn three and was collected by Andrew Marks. Stewart Craig led the restart from Whell and Hamilton, with Hamilton immediately forced to try and defend his position from a very hard-charging Kratzmann. Callum Walker began searching for a way past Mark Pholi, as Pholi edged ever closer to Hamilton, who had relinquished his position to Kratzmann. Kratzmann set his sights on Whell and closing the gap, and had a massive look on the inside, only for Whell to fight back on the top side to maintain his advantage. Paul Rooks joined the battle between Hamilton and Walker, while Kratzmann ran wide in turn four and surrendered a position to Pholi. Stewart Craig took the win, an impressive effort in his first Sprintcar race for a number of years, with Dave Whell across the line in second. Mark Pholi secured third and led Brent Kratzmann, Rob Hamilton, Paul Rooks, Callum Walker, Brett Minett, Phill Foster and Andrew Marks home.

Karl Hoffmans and Michael Saller led the field to the green in heat three, with Saller taking the lead in turn one. Hoffmans held down second for half a lap until Allan Woods powered around the high side and into second while behind them Lachlan McHugh, Andrew Scheuerle and Mitchell Gee were all trying to make their way past Brad Ayers and Nelson Reddacliff. McHugh led the charge, slipping underneath Reddacliff, with both Scheuerle and Gee following a lap later. McHugh swiftly made his way ahead of Ayers and Hoffmans, and began chasing after Woods, while Scheuerle searched high and low for a way past Ayers and Hoffmans, using years of experience to make his way underneath the pair as the laps wore away. Michael Saller went on to take the win ahead of Allan Woods and Lachlan McHugh, with Andrew Scheuerle fourth past the chequered flag. Mitchell Gee came home in fifth and led Brad Ayers, Nelson Reddacliff, Karl Hoffmans, Kevin Hill and Bryan Zelinski across the line.

Andrew Marks started heat four from pole position with Glen Sutherland alongside. Marks got a brilliant start and quickly secured the lead when the lights went green, while Allan Woods raced around the outside of Sutherland and into second. Unfortunately though Mark Pholi and Mitch Gowland came together in turn two, leaving Paul Rooks with nowhere to go and the race was brought under caution. Gowland and Rooks took to the restart but Pholi had front end damage that prematurely ended his race. A full restart followed and once again it was Marks who took control when the race resumed. Woods again swiftly raced around the outside of Gowland and Sutherland before turning his focus to Marks. Woods chased Marks for several laps, searching for a way through and waiting for the right opportunity, while behind them Luke Oldfield was weaving his way through the field and was quickly closing in on the leaders. Woods raced around the top side of Marks, only for Marks to try and fight back hard on the bottom, the pair racing side-by-side for a lap and a half before Woods finally took control. Oldfield quickly made his way underneath Marks before stealing the lead from Woods just one lap later and immediately began opening a comfortable margin over his rivals. Luke Oldfield went on to take the win with Allan Woods home in second. Andrew Marks did an incredible job to cross the line in third, withstanding a late race charge from Glen Sutherland, who ultimately finished fourth. Mitch Gowland, Brad Ayers, Paul Rooks and Kevin Hill rounded out the finishers while Mark Pholi did not complete the ten lap journey.

Heat five started with Karl Hoffmans and Nelson Reddacliff from the front row, with Hoffmans getting the jump when the green flag flew. Unfortunately Hoffmans spun the Q3 racer in turn, with the entire field doing a magnificent job to avoid contact. Saller joined Reddacliff on the front row for the restart and quickly secured the lead when the race resumed. Reddacliff settled into second but inherited the race lead when Saller spun in turn two with just one lap completed. Reddacliff led the restart from Dave Whell and Brock Dean, while behind them Callum Walker and Mitchell Gee argued over the minor positions as they closed in on Dean, while Dean caught the tail of Whell and raced up the inside of the Q4 racer to steal second. Whell soon came under pressure from both Gee and Walker, with Gee getting by on the low line, while Walker spent a couple of laps searching the top before bringing the race under caution when he spun in turn two. Reddacliff led the restart from Dean and Gee but contact between Dan Murray, Andrew Corbet and Michael Saller before they took the green brought the race back under caution. When the race resumed it was Reddacliff again who controlled the start, but a couple of laps into the restart and Dean and Gee both capitalised on a small mistake from Reddacliff and quickly raced through on the inside. Whell soon got the better of Reddacliff but it was Brock Dean who went on to take the win ahead of Mitchell Gee and Dave Whell with Nelson Reddacliff fading to fourth by the fall of the chequered flag. Dan Murray finished fifth and led Callum Walker, Karl Hoffmans, Michael Saller, Bryan Zelinski and Andrew Corbet across the line.

The sixth and final heat of the night saw Rob Hamilton and Brett Minett share the front row for the start, with Hamilton taking the lead early, only for Minett to challenge on the high side before switching to the bottom to get the job done. Minett stole the lead while further back in the field Peter Lack raced underneath Lachlan McHugh and Ben Hilder before turning his attention to Brent Kratzmann, while Andrew Scheuerle raced underneath Hilder just as McHugh was attempting to go around the high side. Kratzmann had a look around the top side of Stewart Craig, but opened the door on the bottom for Lack to slip through. Kratzmann fought back and used the bottom to regain his position from Lack half a lap later, before getting past Craig on the following lap. Lack made his way around Craig with Scheuerle and McHugh close behind, and while Scheuerle tried to race around his team-mate Craig, McHugh began challenging on the bottom, the trio going three wide through turn four with McHugh leading them into turn one. Meanwhile Lack had caught Kratzmann and Hamilton and systematically made his way past both, with Kratzmann slipping underneath Hamilton moments later. Hamilton soon came under pressure from a very hard-charging McHugh with only half a lap left to run. Kratzmann got wide in turn four and drag-raced Hamilton towards the chequered flag. Contact between the pair moments before they crossed the line could have easily ended in disaster for both drivers when the right rear of the Q11 car of Hamilton climbed over the left front of the Q2 of Kratzmann. Scheuerle and McHugh were right on their tail, the pair splitting to go either side of Kratzmann and avoid contact. Brett Minett had secured the win ahead of Peter Lack, and, after officials reviewed the last lap incident, Rob Hamilton was credited with third. Andrew Scheuerle finished fourth ahead of Lachlan McHugh and Brent Kratzmann, with Ben Hilder, Stewart Craig and Phill Foster rounding out the finishers.

Luke Oldfield and Andrew Scheuerle lined up alongside each other on the front row for the start of the Dash event. They raced wheel-to-wheel into the first corner but it was Oldfield who secured the lead. Scheuerle stayed with him while behind them Callum Walker and Mitchell Gee fought over third and fourth and Lachlan McHugh and Peter Lack tried to make their way forward. Walker raced underneath Gee only for Gee to come back on the high side half a lap later while McHugh quickly closed the gap and raced around Walker. Brock Dean had a brief look underneath Lack, as Lack began challenging Walker for position, but there was no stopping Luke Oldfield out in front with Oldfield going on to take the win and earn pole position for the first A-Main of the season. Andrew Scheuerle crossed the line in second and would share the front row with Oldfield for the feature event, while Mitchell Gee and Lachlan McHugh finished third and fourth respectively. Callum Walker was fifth across the line ahead of Peter Lack, Brock Dean and a very impressive Dan Murray.

Thirteen cars lined up for the fifteen-lap B-main event, with Mitch Gowland and Brett Minett to lead them away. Minett got a brilliant start and quickly settled into the race lead, but it was only a couple of laps before Mitch Gowland took control and forced Minett to settle for second. Behind them though Ben Hilder was all over the back of Glen Sutherland, the pair putting on a spectacular show as they fought over third and fourth, while behind them Nelson Reddacliff and Michael Saller searched for a way past Stewart Craig. Rob Hamilton, Andrew Marks and Andrew Corbet battled over minor positions deep in the field but there was no stopping Mitch Gowland out in front as he raced to victory and secured the first of four transfers to the A-Main event. Brett Minett crossed the line in second, with Ben Hilder third ahead of Glen Sutherland in fourth, all four drivers earning a position at the tail of the A-Main field. Michael Saller finished fifth and only narrowly missed a transfer to the main race, while Stewart Craig crossed the line in sixth, a tremendous effort for his first night back in competition. Nelson Reddacliff finished seventh and led Rob Hamilton, Kevin Hill, Karl Hoffmans and Bryan Zelinski across the line. Andrew Corbet and Andrew Marks tangled in turn one on the final lap and failed to finish the event.

The A-Main field rolled onto the track, eighteen cars set for a thrilling 30-lap affair with Luke Oldfield and Andrew Scheuerle to lead them to the green. Scheuerle secured the lead when the lights went green but the race was brought under caution when Mitch Gowland spun to a stop in turn one. Second time around it was again Scheuerle on the high line who managed to take control of the race when the green flag flew, leaving Oldfield to settle into second, Mitchell Gee, Lachlan McHugh and Peter Lack were right on the tail of Oldfield while deeper in the field Allan Woods made his way underneath Dan Murray and set out after Brock Dean. Dave Whell and Brent Kratzmann were both looking to follow Woods, with Kratzmann working the top to get around Murray just as Whell challenged on the bottom. The trio were three wide coming out of turn four, with Brett Minett on the high side right behind Kratzmann, but it was Kratzmann who led them all into turn one. Whell fought back on the bottom, while Minett continued to run the top side until he slammed the wall coming out of turn two and inverted the Q94 racer bringing the race to a stop. Minett walked away from the wreck but was unable to restart the race.

Andrew Scheuerle led the restart from Luke Oldfield, Lachlan McHugh, Mitchell Gee and Peter Lack with twenty-eight laps left to run. Less than a lap into the restart McHugh slide underneath Oldfield as they rounded turn three to steal second and set out after Scheuerle and the race lead. Lack was all over the back of Gee, who in turn was challenging Oldfield for third, while Kratzmann and Whell resumed their battle and exchanged positions several times with Kratzmann eventually securing the advantage. McHugh spent several laps trying to close the gap to Scheuerle, edging closer still as lapped traffic came into play, but things really started to heat up once McHugh had caught the tail of the Q25 racer. McHugh swiftly slide underneath Scheuerle as they rounded turn three, only for Scheuerle to return the favour half a lap later in turn one. McHugh once again ducked back underneath Scheuerle through turn two, with Scheuerle again returning serve as they made their way through turn four. The racing was fast, clean and captivated the crowd as the pair fought over the lead, with McHugh then powering through underneath Scheuerle once more, the fifth lead change in just two laps, and this time making it stick. Scheuerle tried to fight back but McHugh started to pull away and gained ground once he was able to get a lapped car or two between himself and Scheuerle. Mitchell Gee was all over the back of Luke Oldfield, while Peter Lack soon found Callum Walker on his tail. With half a dozen or so laps left to run disaster struck for race leader McHugh when his left rear tyre let go and he was forced to the infield, handing the lead to Scheuerle. Deeper in the field Lack and Walker were embroiled in their own intense battle, the pair trading places several times as they raced for a top five finish. Whilst Oldfield began closing in on Scheuerle in the last few laps of the race, it was Andrew Scheuerle who took the win with Luke Oldfield forced to settle for second. Mitchell Gee crossed the line an impressive third while Peter Lack secured fourth ahead of Callum Walker. Allan Woods finished sixth and led Brent Kratzmann, Brock Dean, Dave Whell, Glen Sutherland, Mark Pholi, Brad Ayers, Ben Hilder and Dan Murray across the line. Lachlan McHugh, Paul Rooks, Mitch Gowland and Brett Minett all failed to finish the event.

If last night is anything to go by we are in for a truly MASSIVE season. These drivers really know how to put on a show and they don’t come much better than what we were privileged to see last night. But this is only the beginning of the season and there is plenty more thrilling racing action to come – you do not want to miss a moment of the show. It all continues next Saturday night, 23 September 2017, at Hi-Tec Oils Speedway in Toowoomba. Come along and cheer on your favourite – we hope you see you there!


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