Back home from his World Series travels, Lachlan McHugh delivered a timely reminder of his considerable capabilities when he stormed to victory in round 12 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (March 9). Luke Oldfield finished in second spot, with a late-race restart enabling Kevin Titman to climb into third place ahead of Peter Lack and Ben Hilder. Australian champion Andrew Scheuerle led most of the race before succumbing to McHugh on lap 23 and then crashing out following contact with a lapped car.
In the Polar Ice Midget feature race, Scott Farmer secured a lucky break that proved critical in his win over a hard charging Callum Walker, who was fearless in his return from injury, with Darren Vine clinging to third ahead of Brock Dean and Rusty Whittaker.
Other feature winners on the night were Liam Williams (Formula 500s), Lee McKinnell (AMCA Nationals), Nick Gannon (Compact Speedcars), Wayne Kirkman (Open Sedans) and Colin Kane (RSA Sedans).
A 29-car field hit the track for Sprintcar qualifying and there were few surprises at the top of the timesheets with Luke Oldfield stopping the clock at 11.790 to clinch KRE Fast Time. Scheuerle (11.802) was second quickest ahead of Lack (11.934), Michael Saller (11.980) and Titman (11.991), with Kratzmann, Bryan Mann, Cody Maroske, Allan Woods and Hilder rounding out the top ten.
Looking to bounce back from the disappointment of the previous round, Kristy Bonsey started the night with a win in the opening heat, leading home Anthony Lambert and Ryan McNamara.
McHugh made his intentions clear in heat two, charging around the outside of Adam Butler on lap five to take control of the race. Scheuerle advanced from the fourth row to finish second behind McHugh while Butler withstood the best efforts of Maroske to finish third.
In his first meeting for the season, Peter Campbell launched from pole position to lead heat three for the briefest of moments before spinning in front of the field in turn two. Andrew Corbet took control from the restart and would go on to win the race in advance of Hilder, who swept into the lead momentarily on lap six, with Lack annexing third spot.
Titman bounced back from a crash in his opening heat to take out heat four, leading Hilder and McHugh to the line.
Heat five started in spectacular fashion when Kratzmann climbed over Oldfield and rode out what looked a heavy end-for-end flip, only to take his place at the back of the field for the restart after some minor repairs. Oldfield was also able to resume at the back minus his front wing and, in a remarkable performance under the circumstances, he advanced to third behind Woods and Kevin Britten.
Mann made his return a winning one when he chased down Paul Rooks to take out the final heat of the night, with Lack third once again.
It was Saller who drew the coveted pole position for the Spanloc Dash, but it was Scheuerle who raced away to take the 6-lap sprint, finishing more than three seconds clear of the Sydneysider. Oldfield started and finished third, while McHugh moved forward from seventh to finagle fourth ahead of Lack, Mann, Maroske and Hilder.
Britten was untroubled in taking out the B Main over Corbet and Adam Butler, while Brandon Haynes moved ahead of both Bonsey and Ryan McNamara to grab the final transfer into the feature race.
At the drop of the green, Scheuerle led the field away as McHugh zoomed clear of Saller and Oldfield to grab second. Oldfield moved ahead of Saller on lap two, with Hilder also making great inroads further back. After a couple of impressive laps that had seen him advance four spots from the back, Haynes undid his good work with a spin in turn four on lap three to bring about a restart. By lap four, Hilder had surged to fifth as McHugh closed in on Scheuerle, slipping ahead momentarily on lap nine, only to have Scheuerle reclaim the lead immediately. Another slide-job took McHugh to the front again on lap 22 but it wasn’t until the next lap that he grabbed the lead for good. A lap later saw Scheuerle looking to lunge underneath McHugh and the lapped car of Corbet in turn three when he tagged the latter and sent him somersaulting through turn four, the impact sufficient to also render Scheuerle a spectator, elevating Oldfield into second and Hilder to third for a six lap run to the chequer, although neither had anything to stop McHugh’s victory charge. The stoppage proved a godsend for Titman and Lack as both were a long way back prior to the interruption but were able to surge home and deny Hilder a place on the podium. Mann secured sixth and Kratzmann finished seventh, with Anthony Lambert, Saller and Woods next best ahead of Paul Rooks and Ryan McNamara, who did his best to steal the post-race attention away from the placegetters with a wild flip after taking the chequer. With Maroske exiting on lap 15, Haynes and Butler were the only other finishers in what was yet another terrifically exciting exhibition.
Not to be outdone, the Midgets also turned on the action in round nine of the Polar Ice Track Championship and, despite 12 months or so out of the cockpit as a result of injuries sustained last season, Callum Walker (14.024) cut the fastest lap in qualifying. Next quickest were Farmer, Vine, Dean and Whittaker, all of whom would feature prominently in the main event.
Vine led home Whittaker and Bodie Smith in the opening heat, with Dean downing Farmer and Tim Farrell in winning heat two.
Heat three saw Vine victorious again, this time ahead of Farmer and Smith, who surged back to third despite a spin for which he was banished to the back of the pack.
The final heat was abandoned with four laps remaining when a series of incidents delayed proceedings and left Whittaker, Dean, Cal Whatmore and Lachlan Paulger on the grass. Tom Clauss survived the chaos to be awarded the win, with Brad Harrison and Walker filling the minor placings.
A couple of restarts punctuated the opening laps of the feature, the first coming courtesy of a tangle involving Mitchell Rooke and Harrison in turn four on the opening lap. Cal Whatmore then halted proceedings again on lap three when he looped in turn one, with Vine holding sway at the front of the field through the interruptions despite the close attentions of Farmer. Exiting turn four on lap four, Farmer climbed over the right rear of Vine and, with the field scattering as they untangled themselves, Smith was pitched into a spin in turn one to bring about another restart. Once the race settled into a rhythm, Vine found himself unable to keep Farmer at bay and soon found himself under pressure from Walker, who was running high on the track to great effect and on a mission to chase down the lead. As the laps progressed, Vine found himself under further attack from Whittaker and Dean, who was also finding plenty of pace up high on the track. Despite a final stoppage three laps from home following a spin by Clauss, Walker was unable to usurp Farmer from the top spot but announced himself as a significant threat for the rest of the season. Vine clung to third ahead of Dean and Whittaker, with Rooke, Brad Dawson, Whatmore, Jack Bell and Paulger rounding out the top ten.
AMCA National heat wins were shared between Russ Hardy, Thomas Vickery, Tony Blanch and Lee McKinnell and it was the latter who established a big lead in the early laps of the Shock Absorber Therapy Track Championship round six feature race. McKinnell was able to skip clear as the field found themselves snookered behind the two-wide running Matt and Russ Hardy. Lap nine saw Durston advance to second as the likes of Blanch, Vickery, Tim Gamble and Steve Potts remained hamstrung behind the two Hardy cars. Durston would reel in McKinnell to finish less than a second in arrears, leaving Russ Hardy to annex third ahead of Matt. The fire-breathing Blanch was fourth home ahead of Gamble, Vickery, Jim Knight, Lewis Gamble and Darren Miller, with Potts ultimately becoming the only retiree from the 17-car field.
Liam Williams, Nathan Pronger and Tristan Johnson shared the spoils in the Formula 500 heats but, with Kristin Brown a non-starter and both Johnson and Skennar taking themselves out in separate incidents on the opening lap of the feature race, Williams enjoyed an unchallenged run to victory. Pronger placed second ahead of Ethan Eyears, Jarrod Bampfield, Brady Argles and Brock Thornton, with Ron Barber recovering from a spin to salvage seventh. Adrian Farrell, Tarhlea Apelt and Cameron Bertuch completed the top ten.
Compact Speedcar heat winners were Nick Hodges and Nick Gannon, who would hold off a fast-finishing Tim Farrell to also take the feature race. Trent Usher, Dave Collins and Rob Stewart were the best of the rest from the small field.
Wayne Kirkman won the Open Sedan A feature ahead of Glenn Willmott and Robin Bains, while Greg Town prevailed in the B ranks, outpacing Ricky Price and Steven Love.
The combined RSA feature race resulted in Colin Kane taking out the Outlaw Sedan category as Matthew Hannigan finished a lap clear of Ben Taylor and Aaron Buchanan to take the honours in Limited Sedans.
The next meeting at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway is Saturday, March 23 featuring round 13 of the East Coast Logsitics Sprintcar Track Championship plus Dirt Modifieds, Compact Speedcars, Modlites, Formula 500 Juniors and Ford vs Holden vs Sigma sedans.