Hallett Prevails in State Title Preliminary

The opening night of competition in the 64th running of the New South Wales Sprintcar Championship at Eastern Creek Speedway on Friday night (March 31) has resulted in a Preliminary feature race win for Victoria-based Queenslander Brock Hallett, who led all 20 laps to defeat Australian champ Jock Goodyer in tricky conditions. Whilst it was certainly no surprise to see Hallett and Goodyer secure the top two spots given they have been the dominant performers around the country this season, Luke Stirton certainly upstaged many more fancied runners with his run into third spot ahead of Lachlan Caunt and last-start feature winner Ryan Newton. Having started from row five, Matt Dumesny would advance to sixth, with Kaidon Brown, Jy Corbet, Ben Atkinson and B-Main winner Grant Anderson rounding out the top ten.

A 37-car field fronted for competition and it was Brown, as only the second car on the track, who set the early benchmark in qualifying, stopping the clock at 11.628 and remaining atop the time sheets through another 12 runners before Newton notched a best lap of 11.609. Stirton promptly bested Newton’s effort with an 11.464 circulation and survived every subsequent challenge until Goodyer clocked 11.410 as the second-last runner to secure maximum points. Hallett (11.496) would wind up third quickest behind Stirton, with Corbet, Caunt, Troy Little, Atkinson and Jordyn Brazier next best, leaving Newton ninth overall ahead of Marcus Dumesny and Brown.

The initial start of the opening heat was deemed unsatisfactory by race officials, but the ensuing redo delivered the exact same scenario with Matt Dumesny making easy work of pole starter Luke Sayre to lead the field away. Lapping more than half a second quicker than anybody else, Dumesny raced away to win by more than five seconds. Sayre remained second to the flag, with Alex Orr third as Goodyer failed to make any progress from the fourth row and actually dropped a spot to finish ninth, a result that would ultimately see him bumped from the front row of the feature.

A chaotic start to heat two saw Robbie Farr feed a right rear wheel to Aaron Kelly in turn one that resulted in both Kelly and Michael Saller finishing upside down and thereby denied any chance of securing direct entry into the main event. With Farr banished to the back for his part in the incident, a local trifecta would result with Daniel Sayre leading home Caunt and Brown.

With polesitter Jake Baines failing to launch with any urgency, Michael Stewart pounced from the outside front row in heat three, only for the race to be halted before a lap could be completed courtesy of a wild ride from Marcus Dumesny in turn four that put the former national champ on the infield. Baines was slow to go again at the restart, enabling Stewart to skip clear as Jackson Delamont, Corbet and Hallett also moved ahead and finished in that order, more than three seconds adrift of Stewart.

A duel of the Dumesny’s lit up heat four with Marcus leading early before Matt swept to the front on lap six to secure the win, leaving Morgan as the best of the rest in third spot.

Farr suffered another setback in heat five when an engine ailment forced his retreat to the infield before the race got underway, elevating Alex Orr to the outside front row alongside Baines, who would again offer little resistance and backslide through the field as Orr took maximum advantage of his good fortune to lead home Little, while a much stronger showing from Goodyer on this occasion would net third.

Needing maximum points in the wake of his earlier misfortune, Saller made no mistake in winning the final heat of the night. Newton nabbed second spot ahead of Stewart, while a fourth-place finish was enough for Hallett to secure pole position in the feature.

The first three positions in the Preliminary B Main were never really in doubt once the race commenced, with Anderson, Sam Walsh and Warren Ferguson ensuring their presence in the feature. The fight for the final transfer spot was a doozy though with Morgan occupying fourth initially before being forced to the infield on lap eight, leaving Farr, Saller and Kelly to fight it out. When Brendan Scorgie slammed the turn one wall with six laps remaining, a restart was needed and it was Kelly who pounced upon resumption, rounding up Farr and Saller to slip into fourth. Unfortunately for Kelly, Farr found his way back to fourth with less than two laps to run, leaving both Kelly and Saller to miss the cut.

Hallett and Caunt would share the front row for the feature race, with Stirton and Goodyer on row two ahead of Little, Atkinson, Corbet, Brazier and the rest. With Caunt running far too wide through turn one and falling to fourth, Hallett would lead the opening laps ahead of Stirton and Goodyer, with the latter advancing to second on lap three. When Jackson Delamont landed heavily after inverting in turn two, the ensuing delay proved problematic for Farr, a deflating right rear tyre ending his race as the field reassembled for a restart that only lasted two laps before a spin from Marcus Dumesny, who had rounded up Corbet, Little and Brown a lap earlier to be on the cusp of the top five, brought about another delay. The second half of the race was completed without incident and although Goodyer was able to narrow the gap as they negotiated lapped traffic, Hallett was always in control and completed those final laps without incident to secure the win and the points lead heading into night two. Stirton remained third to the flag and sits equal second overall in the standings, with Caunt likewise holding firm in fourth. A late-race flourish would see Newton round up Corbet, Brown and Matt Dumesny to fly into fifth. Behind this group came Atkinson and Anderson, whose surge from the rear of the field should have him confident of an even better result on Saturday. Little, Ferguson, Brazier and Stewart were next in line ahead of Marcus Dumesny, with Daniel Sayre, Orr and Walsh the remaining finishers.

In the first of the Wingless Sprint heats, Mark Blyton enjoyed a ridiculously easy run around the outside to hit the lead on lap two and race away to win comfortably from Bailey Goodwin and Brian Briton, with Max Risbriger surging from the rear to finagle fourth.

Heat two proved an effortless stroll for Andrew Sayre, leading all the way to defeat Jason Davis and Guy Stanshall.

Tyson Williams triumphed in heat three over Jason Bates and Brad McCarthy before Blyton doubled up to win heat four, this time from Jack Hotchkis and Blake Darcy.

Sayre also snared a second success when he prevailed in heat five ahead of McCarthy and Davis, with Bates besting Goodwin and Williams to win the final preliminary

Jamie Dicker led throughout the B Main to finish more than two seconds clear of runner-up Kaila Blayney. With both John Egan and Brayden Shute dropping out of the contest whilst occupying transfer positions, it would be Jim Hordiewicz and Trent McRae who benefitted from their demise to land themselves a place in the feature race.

Sharing the front row for the feature, Bates and Blyton would occupy the top spots respectively through the first ten laps as Wiliiams and Goodwin swapped third spot. Having only reclaimed third from Williams a lap earlier, Goodwin surged on lap 11 to firstly relegate Blyton before usurping Bates from the lead. The restart that came following a spin from Jack Hotchkis in turn four with seven laps remaining would prove costly for Goodwin, with Bates pouncing to reclaim the lead. Blyton, meanwhile, was ambushed by both Williams and Davis to find himself fifth when yet another restart was called in the wake of a spin from Mathew McRae in turn two. When Dicker rode out a wild wreck along the main straight on lap 17, officials were left with little option but to declare the event with Bates the winner from Goodwin, Williams, Davis, Blyton, McCarthy and Victoria’s Blaine Densley, with Stanshall, Darcy and Briton completing the top ten.

Lachlan Onley was again the dominant force in the Late Model events, winning both of his heats in very similar fashion, snatching the lead on the final lap on both occasions.

In the opening heat, Onley pipped Damien Hodges with Blake Lutiger a long way back in third, while his second heat win came at the expense of Joel Carrig and Todd Bayley.

Having failed to finish his opening heat, Tasmania’s Brad Smith bounced back to win the final preliminary over Robert Carrig and Bayley.

It was hardly surprising to see Onley outjump his front row partner Robert Carrig to lead the feature race away. Restarts punctuated the opening stages of the race, the first coming on lap two when Bayley parked in turn four, only for Carrig to do likewise in turn three, albeit in more spectacular fashion, before another lap was completed. The next attempt to get the race back underway didn’t even make it to the start line as a multi-car melee unfolded in turn four, leaving just ten cars to contest the remaining 18 laps. Running through to the chequer without further interruption, Onley was never threatened and was more than two seconds clear of the field at the halfway point. A surge from Disney saw him advance to second before Smith roared around the outside to reclaim the position. With lapped traffic a factor late in proceedings, Smith whittled the lead down to less than 1.5 seconds but Onley could not be stopped and clinched yet another feature race win. Disney held third to the end, with Damien Hodges fourth, followed by Daryl Grimson, Mark Towers, Greg Hodges, Matt Croker and Alan Baker. .

Racing in the 2022/2023 New South Wales Sprintcar Championship continues on Saturday night (April 1), along with Wingless Sprints, Street Stocks and Fireworks.

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