Oldfield Thrills but Schatz Too Good
World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz kicked off his 2015/2016 Australian campaign with a not altogether unexpected win in round six of the Supercheap Auto Sprintcar Track Championship at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (December 26). It certainly wasn’t the stroll that some may have expected though as Schatz had to work very hard to see off dogged Luke Oldfield, whose efforts in taking on the world champion secured the support of the crowd even if it ultimately failed to produce a result that reflected the quality of his performance. In the end, it was the ever-reliable Andrew Scheuerle who, perhaps not surprisingly given his form thus far this season, emerged as the best of the local contingent in second spot. Kevin Titman advanced from position seven to finish a fine third, pushing Oldfield, who led the first 10 laps, back to fourth ahead of Bryan Mann, Mitchell Gee, Brent Kratzmann, Scott Doyle and Lachlan McHugh, with Brad Ayers securing his best result of the season in rounding out the top ten.
A strong 31-car field hit the track and it was Callum Walker who set the early pace in Time Trials when he stopped the clock at 12.121. However, it only proved good enough for sixth overall as Schatz, Scheuerle, Mann, Oldfield and Peter Lack all went below 12 seconds. With a best lap of 11.665, it was Schatz who launched his Aussie campaign in the best possible fashion with maximum points.
The heat race inversion proved no barrier for Schatz in the opening heat, advancing from the fourth row to win ahead of Mark Pholi and rookie Dylan Menz.
Heat two saw veteran Clem Hoffman defeat the Toowomba-based duo of David Whell and Wayne Iacono before Oldfield put in a sterling surge to take out heat three in advance of Jason Bottin and young Gee.
Titman triumphed in heat four by a mere 0.029 seconds over Brandon Rawlings and Schatz.
A couple of restarts courtesy of Iacono enabled Oldfield to repeat his earlier heroics and again advance to the front to clinch a second win, downing Whell again with Gee third on this occasion.
The final heat had significant repercussions on the chances of several contenders with no less than five cars eliminated in one moment of madness on the opening lap. Paul Morris was launched into a series of chassis-destroying somersaults through turn three and the ensuing melee also resulted in Walker, Lack, Pholi, and Kristy Bonsey unable to face the green for the restart.
As top qualifier, Schatz duly selected a six inversion for the Lucas Oils Dash, taking Scheuerle to the back row with him. Gee inherited pole position and took full advantage to secure the same starting position for the feature, leading home Oldfield, Scheuerle, Schatz, McHugh and Mann.
As always, the East Coast Logistics B Main was an action packed affair that ultimately fell in favour of Mark Pholi over Scott Doyle, Steve Johnson and the final transferee in Brandon Rawlings.
When the green flag flew to start the 35-lap feature, it was Oldfield who launched from the outside front row to emerge with the lead ahead of Gee. After five laps, Schatz had disposed of Scheuerle and Gee to be running second. Lap 10 saw the lead change when Schatz deposed Oldfield, who refused to surrender without a fight. On lap 18, the roar of the crowd could be heard above the cars when Oldfield surged under Schatz through turn three to re-take the lead, only for the American to regain the ascendancy before they reached turn one. Seemingly stung into action by Oldfield’s audacity, Schatz started to expand his advantage, leaving Oldfield with what seemed like a certain second. However, a restart on lap 26 changed the complexion of the race as Scheurele – having finally seen off Titman’s challenge and climbed his way back to third – pounced immediately to demote Oldfield, who dropped another spot to Titman soon after and ultimately missed a spot on the podium. Mann finished strongly to edge out Gee, with Kratzmann next best. Doyle impressed in advancing from 16th to eighth, while McHugh again struggled to match his heat qualifying form in slickening conditions. Ayers, Pholi, Rawlings, Anthony Lambert, Brad Hilder and Whell completed the finishers.
Charlie Brown was untroubled in winning round six of the KRE Race Engines Formula 500 Series, finishing more than five seconds clear of Ryan Skennar. Scott Farmer annexed third place, with James Kennedy besting Kristin Brown for fourth. Queensland champ Kaydon Iverson was languishing in sixth by races end, with Tristan Johnson, Phil Roberts and Bryn Upshall the other others to complete the 15 laps.
Round five of the Race Basics AMCA Nationals Track Championship saw Matt Hardy take full advantage of Steve Potts’ early demise, surviving a late-race challenge from Stuart Hall to win the 20-lap feature event. Some late race hustle from Thomas Vickery propelled him into third in the shadow of the chequer, pushing Michael Mason back to fourth ahead of Matt Enders and Lee Harrison.
Australian champ Terry Leerentveld again proved unstoppable in the Modilte events, winning two heats and the feature with a nary a hint of any real challenge. Aaron Seton and William Butler were the best of the rest, followed by Jac Carnall, Dallas Sharp and Chris Ruane.
The action continues tonight (December 27) at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway with Schatz again headlining the Sprintcar action. Midgets are also on the program, along with Lightning Sprints, Junior Sedans, Stockcars, Open Sedans and another huge Fireworks show.