Despite the presence of some of the best Midget exponents in the business including New Zealand star Michael Pickens and four American aces in Rico Abreu, Andrew Felker, Brady Bacon and Zach Daum, Sydney’s Nathan Smee trumped them all to win the World Midget Championship preliminary feature race at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Friday night (January 20). After an inglorious start to the night that saw him spin during time trials, Smee bounced back to ultimately qualify on the outside front row alongside Daum for the 25-lap main event supported by Speedcars Australia. With an engine breakage preventing Pickens from taking his place in the feature race field, it was Daum who seemed the man most likely to dominate the race, but Smee had other ideas and gazumped the Illinois native when the green flag flew to lead the opening laps.
Daum was dogged in his pursuit and actually assumed the lead at one stage, only for Smee to snatch it back almost immediately and resist any further challenges. As the laps wound down, Daum found himself under attack from Troy Jenkins and it was an error from Daum with just two laps remaining that enabled Jenkins to seal the deal and slip into second spot, although Daum finished the night atop the point standings. In a race of high attrition, Sydney teenager Kaiden Brown finished fourth ahead of Scott Farmer and Brad Young, with Dallas Sharp the only other finisher.
An incident in turn four on lap three proved costly for several fancied contenders with Abreu, Matt Smith, Scott Doyle, Chris Singleton and Brock Dean amongst those unable to restart. With Anthony Chaffey already on the infield and Brady Bacon joining the casualty list just one lap into the resumption, only 10 cars remained with 21 laps still to run. Chris Gwilliam exited on lap nine, Reid Mackay followed suit on lap 13 and then, when Felker parked on lap 17, just seven cars remained active for the final eight circulations.
It was Pickens who plucked fast time in qualifying, stopping the clock at 13.311 to outpace Daum, Bacon, Doyle and Chaffey. Next quickest were Jenkins and Rico Abreu, followed by Smee, Smith and Gwilliam.
Following a seemingly innocuous moment in his opening heat that saw him finish upside down, Abreu bounced back superbly to win his remaining two heats. Having also tipped over in his opening outing, Bacon also recovered well to score a heat win, with Pickens, Smee, Jenkins, Daum, Gwilliam and Brad Young also visiting victory lane.
In the Australian Compact Speedcar Championship, Robbie Stewart was a cut above the rest in the opening night of qualifying, winning all three of his heats to finish the night as the benchmark performer. Wayne Corbett sits second overall, having won two of his heats, as did Canberra’s Jason Essai, while defending champ Darren Vine and Chris Pidgeon claimed one apiece.
Racing continues at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway tonight (January 21) with the championship finals for both the Midgets and Compact Speedcars plus fireworks and the Caravan, Boat and Dunny Derby.