In hot, humid conditions at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (January 25), Brent Kratzmann took maximum advantage when good fortune finally fell his way, racing to victory in round 10 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship. Taking over the lead when series leader Aaron Kelly spun to a halt in his effort to miss a crashed car in turn four, Kratzmann led Allan Woods and Adam Butler to the chequer in race that dished up heroics and hard luck stories in equal measure. A crazy final lap enabled Callum Walker to snatch fourth ahead of Mitch Gowland, with both drivers having started on the sixth row of the grid.
The American Tire and Racing Services Stan Burrow Midget Stampede certainly delivered a spectacle befitting a race held in such high regard by the local Midget community. Rusty Whittaker and Troy Ware engaged in a fabulous fight for the lead that eventually fell in favour of Whittaker, with opening round winner Glen Wright finishing in third spot ahead of Mitchell Rooke and Reid Mackay.
Other feature winners on the night included Bodie Smith (Compact Speedcars), Michael Taylor (RSA Sedans), Ben Harris (Open Sedans) and Maverick Dack (Ford vs Holden vs Sigma).
Whilst the absence of several regular front runners on interstate duty had little impact on the quality of the racing that transpired, there were some new faces at the top of the timesheets in qualifying with Dan Murray clocking KRE Quick Time with a12.191 lap against the clock. Brodie Tulloch (12.293) was next quickest ahead of Karl Hoffmans (12.327), Kratzmann (12.438) and Gowland (12.501), with Bryan Mann, Woods, Tim Farrell, Butler and Kristy Bonsey rounding out the top ten.
Kelly was untroubled in winning the opening heat from pole position as Kratzmann charged from sixth to secure second ahead of Anthony Lambert.
Walker was also an all-the-way winner in heat two, pouncing from the outside front row to lead home Kristy Bonsey, who withstood a strong late surge from Mann.
Heat three brought the two previous heat winners together, but neither was able to chase down Lambert. While Kelly finished second ahead of Bonsey, Walker was unable to make much impression on this occasion, falling to sixth behind Kratzmann and Hoffmans. Mann was charging hard again, only to ride the back straight wall and flip out in what would be the first of several frustrations for the former track champion.
After triggering a skirmish in turn two of the opening lap of the final heat that resulted in Gowland and Murray tangling and restarting from the rear, Woods emerged unscathed and actually found himself promoted to the front row when Butler was deemed to have jumped the start. Woods took full advantage of his good fortune to lead home Butler and Tim Farrell.
An eventful B Main went to Scott Genrich ahead of Nicholas Whell and Sean Rose, with Libby Ellis also securing a transfer into the main event. Geoff Davey rode out a wild wreck along the back straight after contact with Ron Hendrickson, who was also forced out, while Peter Campbell tipped himself over in turn four while in a transfer position.
It was Hendrickson and Davey who shared the spoils in the Petzyo Development Series heats with a win apiece.
The Trax Tyre and Auto Pole Shootout started with Kelly and Butler advancing from the Bronze round, leaving Bonsey and Murray to start from the fourth row of the feature race grid. Kelly advanced again from the Silver round, taking Woods with him to meet Kratzman and Tulloch in the final showdown as Butler and Hoffmans bowed out. It was Woods who emerged with pole position in the Gold round, with Tulloch to share the front row, leaving Kelly and Kratzmann to launch from row two.
It was Tulloch who surged from the outside front row to lead the field away in the 30-lap feature event, with Woods slotting into second as Kelly immediately moved ahead of Kratzmann, who made contact with main straight wall at the end of the opening lap. Riding the ragged edge up high on the track, Tulloch continued to lead when Mann spun to a halt in turn three to bring about a restart. Immediately after the resumption, Kelly pounced to relegate Woods and then rounded up Tulloch four laps later to take over the lead. When Bonsey crashed out in turn three on lap 10, Walker found himself with nowhere to go and was forced to halt the Cylinder Head Warehouse #33 and restart from the rear. At this stage, Tulloch had dropped to fourth behind Kratzmann and Butler, both of whom had demoted Woods earlier, with Farrell also closing in. Lap 15 proved costly for Kelly as he spun to a halt when confronted with Nelson Reddacliff bouncing back to earth after a climbing the turn three wall. With Kelly banished to the back, Kratzmann would lead the restart ahead of Butler, Woods and Farrell, who had moved ahead of Tulloch a lap earlier. Kelly spun again on the next lap, this time in turn one, and then Tulloch forced another halt to proceedings with 12 laps remaining when he rode the back straight wall before stopping in turn three and limping to the infield. A final restart came with four laps to run following contact between Whell and Genrich that sent the latter bouncing to a stop in the main straight and the interruption certainly proved costly for Butler, with Woods pouncing to snatch second spot. When Farrell and Mann, who had surged back to fifth, somehow found themselves askew in the back straight on the final lap, Walker, Gowland and Lambert all pounced to advanced their positions, leaving Farrell to salvage seventh ahead of Kelly, Murray and Genrich, with Ellis the only other finisher as Mann was left stranded with the chequer in sight.
Unbeknownst to anybody at the time, the opening Midget heat race would provide a preview of the feature race results with Whittaker leading Wright to the line. Mackay finishing in third spot, while Darren Vine ended his night before it really began when he executed a wild series of rolls through turn three.
Charlie Brown proved too quick in heat two, finishing ahead of Matt O’Neill and Cal Whatmore.
Tom Clauss triumphed in heat four in advance of Wright and O’Neill, with Brad Dawson the only other finisher. Brock Dean saw his hopes for a fourth consecutive feature race win evaporate when he headed infield with an engine problem that would bring his night to a premature end.
Brown doubled up to win heat four and secure pole position for the feature race, leading home Troy Ware and Mackay on this occasion.
Any thoughts that, in the absence of Vine and Dean the feature race would fail to meet expectations, were quickly dispelled once the field was unleashed. It was Whittaker who got the best of the start in the 25-lap Stan Burrow Stampede feature race, pouncing from the second row to lead the opening lap, only to find himself relegated to third on lap two as Ware and Wright moved ahead. Having been shuffled back to fourth in the opening exchanges, Brown brought about the first restart when he spun in turn four on lap five and, whilst he was no doubt cursing himself for the mistake, it did prove the catalyst for an exciting charge back through the field that saw him run the outside line to climb as high as fourth and clock the fastest lap of the race before another spin denied him any reward for his efforts. The only other interruption came on lap seven when Dawson rode a wheel and flipped out. Whittaker moved into second spot behind Ware on lap 11 and from here the pair engaged in a furious battle with slide jobs and lead changes aplenty, with Wright situated in third spot and ready to pounce should an opportunity arise. Despite his very best efforts that saw him edge ahead of Whittaker on more than one occasion, Ware couldn’t make the pass stick and Whittaker would emerge the victor, his second series win for the season. Behind Ware and Wright came Mitchell Rooke, Mackay and Clauss, with O’Neill, Nathan Mathers, Whatmore and Barry Gibbes rounding out the top ten ahead of the only other finishers in Ashley Booker and Kody Stothard.
Bodie Smith was the standout in the Compact Speedcar events, winning two heats before also taking out the feature race. Rob Stewart, who won the other heat, finished in second spot ahead of Mark Maczek, Dave Collins and Chris Pidgeon, who salvaged a reasonable result in the wake of a spin on lap two that resulted in a rear-of-field restart.
Michael Taylor and Zane Williams collected heat wins in RSA Sedan action and then went on to fill the top two spots in the feature, with Taylor emerging a narrow victor. Daniel Taylor finished in third spot ahead of Adrian Browne, Brad White, Michael Laver and Shannon Knight.
Following heat wins to Bob Ware and Ben Robertson, the Open Sedan feature race descended into farce when all of the Super Sedan-mounted A Grade competitors found themselves on the infield after just one lap following a series of incidents, the most serious of which saw Robertson force Ray Lane into the main straight wall rather than concede the lead, a move for which he was rightfully ordered to the infield to join Lane, Brad Trussell, Keith Craft and Ware, who had earlier crunched the concrete. In the end, Bern Harris avoided the chaos to emerge as the feature race winner.
Producing their biggest field of the season also delivered the best racing thus far from the Ford vs Holden vs Sigma competitors, with heat wins shared between Terry Russell, Bernie Wright and Dallas Dack. However, it was only Russell who backed up to finish on the podium in the feature race, clinching third behind Maverick Dack and Kim Dack.
The next event at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is on Saturday, February 15 featuring round 11 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and round seven of the American Tire and Racing Service Midget Series, plus Lightning Sprints Formula 500s, Wingless Sprints and Ford vs Holden vs Sigma.
Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is proudly supported by:
East Coast Logistics
Queensland Speedway Spares