In a race that took an eternity to run and will never likely be remembered fondly by anybody who witnessed it, Sam Walsh prevailed in round 15 of the Eastern Creek Speedway Sprintcar Track Championship on Saturday night (April 15). Having qualified on pole position by virtue of his win the Dash, Walsh was never headed in a 30-lap feature race that saw just nine of 25 starters survive the craziness and make it to the finish. A late surge from Jessie Attard propelled him into second ahead of Troy Little, Zac Pacchiarotta and Ben Atkinson.
Of the 34 cars who took on the clock in qualifying, it was Luke Stirton who emerged with Quick Time, a best lap of 11.807 putting him ahead of Luke Thomas (11.855), Walsh (11.897), Kyle Mock (11.906) and Lachlan Caunt (11.986). Luke Sayre, Zac Pacchiarotta, Ashleigh Jack, Alex Attard and Blake Skipper rounded out the top ten, while the likes of Kaidon Brown, Warren Ferguson and Michael Stewart were amongst those who qualified outside the top 24 inversion and would find themselves starting rearward in their heat races.
Daniel Sayre got the preliminaries underway with an all-the-way win in the opening heat, leading home Brett Hobson and Grant Tunks.
Troy Little was similarly untroubled in winning heat two over Jessie Attard and Aaron Kelly, while heat three went the way of Jake Baines in advance of Ashton Mineeff and Alex Orr.
A terrible start from Kyle Angel in heat four would allow Sayre to again race straight to the lead and hold sway through to the finish, with Walsh charging from the fourth row to secure second ahead Jack and Stewart.
After such a strong start to proceedings, Stirton’s night ended early, and somewhat spectacularly, in heat five when he wiped out big time in turn one with three laps to go. Having rounded up Mineeff and Jeff Lawler to assume the lead, Alex Orr would go on to win from Alex Attard and Aaron Kelly.
Little also doubled up to win the final heat, ahead of Atkinson and Jessie Attard on this occasion.
It was hardly surprising that, having been confined to the B Main, Stewart, Ferguson and Brown would emerge with the top three positions to secure a feature race start, leaving the rest of the field to fight for any remaining spots. Mark Attard was next in line, while Bailey Goodwin would also be granted a start in the main event in his first ever Sprintcar foray.
Having selected position one in the pre-race grid draw, Walsh was untroubled in winning the Dash to lock down pole position for the feature race. Caunt claimed second ahead of Thomas, Orr, Alex Attard, Atkinson, Pacchiarotta and Mock.
Walsh went straight to the front upon commencement of feature race hostilities, but the field only made it as far as turn two before a spin from Kelly would require the field to regroup for restart, albeit without Stewart, who headed infield. Chaos reigned on lap two when Atkinson tagged the back of Jessie Attard in turn two to trigger a pile-up along the back straight. Atkinson, who admitted fault, was hit hard by Sayre, who was then collected by Ferguson before Brown and Kelly also became involved. Whilst Atkinson was able to resume at the rear of the field, Sayre, Brown, Ferguson and Kelly were all out of the race with 29 laps still to run, with a fuel leak also forcing Mark Attard to the infield. From this point, a series of restarts ensued with Walsh maintaining his composure through the myriad mishaps that would eliminate Jack, Hobson, Mock, Orr and Blake Skipper to leave less than 10 cars to go the distance. Lachlan Caunt was running strongly in second spot, only to find himself out of fuel with four laps to run, elevating Little into second spot. Finishing strongly, Jessie Attard would relegate Little to third on the final lap, with Alex Attard crossing in fourth, only to bypass the scales post-race and hand the position to Pacchiarotta, who persevered despite a misaligned front wing. Atkinson had climbed back through the field to end up fifth, leaving Grant Tunks, Bailey Goodwin, Luke Thomas and Jake Baines as the remaining finishers.
Andrew Sayre slayed the field in the first heat for Wingless Sprints, finishing more than four seconds clear of Corey Sammut, with Matthew Nikiforoff winning a battle with Australian champ Kyle Mock for third.
Mark Blyton outpaced Jason Davis and Andrew Seery to win heat two, with Blake Darcy downing Jason Bates and Nathan Dicker in heat three.
Mock skedaddled from pole position in heat four to be more than two seconds clear of the pack after just four laps and expanding his advantage further as the laps wound down, with Warren White and Nikiforoff filling the minor placings
Heat five saw Bailey Goodwin first to the flag ahead of Davis, Blyton and Bates, while the final heat produced the closest result of the night with Tyson Williams prevailing over Nathan Dicker and Sayre.
The B Main went the way of Brayden Shute over Michael Braggs and Victoria’s Dillon Seily, with Kaitlyn Darvill snaring the final transfer spot into the feature race.
Mock and Blyton shared the front row for the 20-lap feature race and it was Mock who motored to the lead when racing commenced, establishing a sizeable lead as Blyton headed off the likes of Davis, Williams, Goodwin and Sayre. While seemingly in control of the race, a flat tyre would send Mock to the infield on lap 17, elevating Blyton into the lead ahead of Williams, Goodwin, Bates, Sayre and Shute, who had stormed through the field to put himself in contention for a podium, only to ride out a vicious series of rolls through turn three on lap 21 that resulted in the race being declared as a lengthy delay ensued while he was carefully extracted from the cockpit. Blyton was awarded the win ahead of Goodwin, Williams, Bates and Sayre, who were followed by Sammut, Darcy, Seery, Shane Sheedy and Nikiforoff,
Blake Conyers conjured a win in the opening heat for AMCA Nationals, leading every lap to down Mark Eveleigh and Jarrad Eveleigh.
Heat two started in spectacular fashion when Spano Gutierrez found himself squished between two rivals, upending before the field had even reached turn one. From the restart, Jai Jones would lead throughout to defeat Raymond Kime, who relegated Boyd Bowden back to third on lap five.
Heat three saw no positional changes amongst the first three with Shane Cartwright home first ahead of Darrell Kime and Steve Potts.
Jones set the pace in the opening laps of the feature, clinging to his lead until lap nine when both Bowden and Cartwright moved ahead. Cartwright threw everything at Bowden in his pursuit of success, but Bowden held firm to clinch the win. A fast finish from Raymond Kime would see him secure third, pushing Jones back to fourth ahead of Potts, Andy Wilcox, Lyndsay Cornwell, Shane McPhee, Tony Brown and Melanie Jones.
The first of the Lightning Sprint heats saw Scott Withers outgun the field to lead home Chris Davis and Scott Moir, with AJ McTaggart taking out heat two over Davis and Danny Stone.
In the feature race, Davis was untroubled from pole position and cleared away to finish more than 3.5 seconds clear of Withers, with Stone finishing third. Matt Reed and Jack Selmes completed the top five ahead of the only other finishers in Peter Styles and Aaron Bell.
The next event at Eastern Creek Speedway is Saturday, April 29 featuring round 16 of the Sprintcar Track Championship, along with the Midget 50-lapper and the New South Wales Compact Speedcar Championship.