Night one of the 2018 Australian Sprintcar Open, held at Ausdeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway last night, perfectly set the stage for what is set to be a thrilling climax tonight. Kerry Madsen, who has won the Australian Open for the past two years, was in unbeatable form, dominating proceedings all night and after quick timing in his qualifying flight (second quickest overall), securing two top three finishes in his heats, entered the preliminary A-Main as highest points scorer. Madsen started the preliminary main from pole position and while there was an initial struggle for control of the race as Donny Schatz tried to re-establish his dominance of the event, Madsen quickly secured the lead. The margin fluctuated in lapped traffic, with Schatz always staying within striking distance, challenging for the lead on several occasions, but Madsen was too good on the topside and went on the take the win, perfectly positioning himself for tonight as he attempts to make it three Australian Sprintcar Opens in a row. Donny Schatz crossed the line in second ahead Carson Macedo, with James McFadden and Logan Schuchart rounding out the top five. Lachlan McHugh was the best-placed Queensland local, crossing the line in sixth.
With 45 cars nominated for the event, qualifying was again split into two flights in an effort to make qualifying a little fairer for those late in the qualifying order. Carson Macedo topped the qualifying order in flight one, stopping the clock at a quick 11.854 seconds with James McFadden the only other driver in flight one to break into the 11-second bracket, stopping the clock at 11.948 seconds. Jamie Veal, Logan Schuchart and Sam Walsh rounded out the fastest five in flight one qualifying. Kerry Madsen topped the leader board in flight two, stopping the clock at 11.891 seconds, becoming the third, and last car in the 11-second bracket, and locking in the second fastest time over all. Donny Schatz was second quickest in flight two qualifying, with Lachlan McHugh, Lucas Wolfe and Brad Keller completing the top five. Overall it was Carson Macedo who turned the quickest lap, while the top 39 cars were separated by less than one second. Karl Hoffmans had drive-line problems in the Q3 racer and did not complete qualifying, while Mitchell Gee had problems in the Q36 racer and slammed the turn three wall hard on his opening qualifying lap. Gee walked away from the broken Q36 racer but, unfortunately, his night was done.
Heat one started with Adam Butler and Dylan Menz from the front row, with Brent Kratzmann and Andrew Scheuerle right behind. Butler got the jump on the start and quickly secured the race lead, while Kratzmann raced boldly up the inside of Menz as he tried to earn second. Menz however was brilliant on the top side and immediately fought back, the pair racing two abreast for a couple of laps before Menz managed to get ahead. Menz had incredible momentum on the high side and less than half a lap after securing second he used the momentum he had on the high side to race around Butler and into the race lead. Menz briefly led the race only for Butler to fire back immediately, racing through on the bottom of Menz as they rounded turn four to regain the lead, while Scheuerle and Michael Saller quickly closed in on the back of Kratzmann. Scheuerle put all kinds of pressure on Kratzmann as they fought over the minor places, while at the front of the field Menz held nothing back as he and Butler continued to negotiate over the lead. Unfortunately for the leaders slight contact between them left Butler turned around and brought the race under caution. Menz was relegated to the rear of the field as primary cause, gifting control of the race to Kratzmann for the restart. With Scheuerle all over his tail Kratzmann led the field to the green, and while the leading duo opened a small margin, Carson Macedo and Jamie Veal quickly made their way past Saller before setting their sights on Kratzmann and Scheuerle. Scheuerle was phenomenal as he searched high and low for a way past Kratzmann, but Kratzmann ran such a strong race that there was little Scheuerle could do. Brent Kratzmann got the win ahead of Andrew Scheuerle, while Jamie Veal got the better of Carson Macedo on the final corner to steal third. Macedo crossed the line in fourth, leading Michael Saller, Steven Lines, Sam Walsh, Tim Van Ginneken, Mitch Gowland and Dylan Menz home. Adam Butler did not finish the event.
Bryan Zelinski and Cody Maroske led the field to the green for the start of heat two. Kevin Titman, from position three, got a brilliant start and tried to run up the inside of Zelinski and Maroske when the lights went green, the trio three-wide through turn one, it was Maroske who secured the lead in advance of Titman and Zelinski. Unfortunately the race came to a sudden stop when Daniel Harding rode the right rear of Zelinski in turn three, launching the W12 into the air and making very-hard contact with the wall. Harding walked away from the crash unscathed, though the same cannot unfortunately be said for his car. A full restart followed, minus both Harding and Zelinski, with Titman now from pole position on the inside of Maroske. Titman quickly secured the lead when the lights went green, while Peter Lack immediately followed on the bottom to secure second before even half a lap was completed. Jack Lee had a look around the outside of Darren Mollenoyux before switching to the bottom to get the job done, before making his way underneath Maroske on the following lap. Mollenoyux was looking up the inside of Maroske, while McFadden looked underneath Mollenoyux, the trio three-wide coming out of turn two. Contact between Mollenoyux and Maroske as they headed down the back straight took the front end out the Q22 racer of Maroske and ended his race. Titman and Lack led the restart from Lee, Mollenoyux and McFadden, with McFadden wasting no time at all when the lights went green, quickly advancing two positions as he raced around both Mollenoyux and Lee, and setting his sights on Lack. While Logan Schuchart and David Murcott battled deeper in the field, McFadden worked the high side get past Lack and started chasing down Titman. Titman withstood enormous pressure from McFadden for a few laps, but ultimately could not stop the W17 racer taking control of the race. Slight contact between the pair as they exchanged the lead coming down the back straight was enough to see Titman now within striking distance of Lack. Lack raced beautifully underneath Titman as they rounded turn four with just a few laps left to run, but there was no stopping James McFadden as he took the win after initially starting back in tenth. Peter Lack finished second and led Kevin Titman, Jack Lee, Darren Mollenoyux, Logan Schuchart, David Murcott and Andrew Corbet home. Cody Maroske, Bryan Zelinski and Daniel Harding all failed to finish the ten-lap journey.
Heat three started with Dominic Scelzi and Allan Woods from the front row, with their respective team cars, Mitchell Wormall and Lynton Jeffrey, right behind them on the second row. Scelzi and Wormall both got brilliant starts and quickly locked into first and second, their lead proving unassailable as the race wore on. Glen Sutherland raced up the inside of Allan Woods in the opening corner, only for Woods to immediately return the favour, while deeper in the field Luke Oldfield ran the high line as both Brad Keller and Jye O'Keefe made their through on the bottom. Keller and O'Keefe made their way past Jeffrey, while Kerry Madsen and Lachlan McHugh began searching for a way underneath Oldfield. Madsen made his way under Oldfield before going around O’Keefe, then underneath Keller and, a few laps later, around Sutherland. Meanwhile Oldfield and Jeffrey were embroiled in their own battle mid-field, the pair racing either side of Jye O'Keefe as the trio came out turn four, with McHugh close behind. McHugh soon got around Jeffrey, and, together with Oldfield, began looking for a way past Keller. Oldfield found his way underneath Keller, but contact between Keller and McHugh as the latter tried to make his way through, left Keller limping the S19 around the circuit for the final few laps of the race. Dominic Scelzi went on to take the win ahead of Mitchell Wormall and Kerry Madsen. Allan Woods was fourth across the line and led Luke Oldfield, Glen Sutherland, Lachlan McHugh, Jye O'Keefe, Lynton Jeffrey and Brad Keller home.
Jayden Peacock led the field to the green for the start of heat four, with Jason Pryde sharing the front row for the start. Pryde secured the lead ahead of Peacock, while Kaiden Manders settled into third but instantly came under immense pressure from a very hard-charging Bryan Mann, who had a phenomenal drive on the top side to make his way around Steve Rowell and Darren Jensen before challenging Manders for third. Shaun Dobson tried to follow Mann on the top side while Callum Walker had a brilliant charge on the bottom, making his way in front of Donny Schatz and Steve Rowell before starting to chase down Jensen. Walker soon found both Schatz and Lucas Wolfe all over his tail, while closer to the front of the field Manders was under ever-increasing pressure from both Mann and Peacock. Withstanding the pressure with relative ease Manders soon opened a small margin on Mann and Peacock, setting his sights on Pryde and the race lead, leading Mann and Peacock to fight over the minor places as Dobson and Schatz closed in. Manders stole the lead from Pryde, with Dobson quickly powering around the highline and into second, while Schatz made his way past on the high side of Pryde on the final lap. Kaiden Manders was first past the chequered flag with Shaun Dobson home in second and Donny Schatz third. Jason Pryde hung on to finish fourth ahead of Bryan Mann, Jayden Peacock, Darren Jensen, Lucas Wolfe, Callum Walker and Steve Rowell.
Heat five saw local Dylan Menz and Bryan Zelinski share the front row, with heavy-hitters Andrew Scheuerle and Kevin Titman from the second row. Menz and Scheuerle both got brilliant starts, quickly securing the first two positions when the lights went green, while Steven Lines, from position five, slipped into third. Titman, swallowed on the start after being caught behind Zelinski, took to the high line to try and make his way forward, while Peter Lack made his way under Zelinski and began challenging Lines. Carson Macedo was advancing quickly, making his way past Darren Mollenoyux, Titman and Zelinski just moments before Zelinski looped the NQ71 racer in turn two and brought the race under caution. Scheuerle, who had already stolen the lead from Menz in turn four on the previous lap, led Menz and Lines to the restart. Lines searched the high side for a way past Menz before switching to the bottom to get the job done through turn three, only to drift a little high coming out of turn four, inviting Menz to have a look on the inside while leaving the very bottom open for Peter Lack. Lack didn’t hesitate and raced straight underneath both Menz and Lines, but Lines came back hard on the topside half a lap later and regained his position. Logan Schuchart made his way under both Menz and Lack in less than half lap, leaving Lack to defend his position from Menz before Carson Macedo joined the battle for the minor places. Out in front Scheuerle opened a massive lead that proved, even in lapped traffic, completely unassailable. Andrew Scheuerle took the win, with a margin of almost four seconds on second placed Steven Lines. Logan Schuchart crossed the line in third ahead of Carson Macedo, Peter Lack, Darren Mollenoyux, Sam Walsh, Dylan Menz, Kevin Titman, Andrew Corbet, Bryan Zelinski and Karl Hoffmans.
Heat six started with Jack Lee inheriting pole position in the absence of Cody Maroske, with Adam Butler sharing the front row. Lee easily secured the lead, with David Murcott and James McFadden, all from the inside row, getting brilliant starts and settling into second and third respectively before the end of the first lap. Brent Kratzmann raced up the inside of Butler to move into fourth, leaving Butler with Tim Van Ginneken and Michael Saller on his tail. Saller and Van Ginneken soon raced either side of the Q10 racer of Butler, with Van Ginneken soon having a brief brush with the turn four wall that saw Saller move ahead. Jamie Veal relegated Butler one position further back and chased Van Ginneken for the rest of the race, while Butler and Mitch Gowland battled valiantly at the rear of the field. Jack Lee was untroubled in the race lead and got the win ahead of Dave Murcott, James McFadden, Brent Kratzmann, Mick Saller, Jamie Veal, Tim Van Ginneken, Adam Butler and Mitch Gowland. Cody Maroske pulled out of the event after only two laps.
Allan Woods started from pole position in heat seven and, after getting the jump on the start, led Jayden Peacock to the first corner. Woods secured the lead while Darren Jensen relieved Lynton Jeffrey of third before turning his attention to Peacock. With just one lap completed Jensen made his way underneath Peacock to secure second and set out after Woods, while Luke Oldfield tried to go around Jeffrey only to loose a position to Brad Keller on the bottom. Keller made his way underneath Jeffrey and began looking for a way past Peacock, while Oldfield had a magnificent run on the bottom and within a lap had made his way under Jeffrey, Keller and Peacock. Steve Rowell, Callum Walker and Lucas Wolfe battled at the rear of the field, while Jensen challenged Woods for the lead. Callum Walker brought the race under caution when he became stranded in turn two, with seven laps left to run. Woods led the restart from Jensen and Oldfield, while Peacock, Keller and Kerry Madsen were close behind. Oldfield challenged Jensen for second, while Peacock took to the high line and moved ahead of Oldfield, with Oldfield quickly returning serve. The battle between the pair as they exchanged positions back and forth behind Jensen, only intensified when Madsen started looking for a way through. Madsen eventually found his way through, getting past both Peacock and Oldfield before chasing down Jensen. Allan Woods got the win while Kerry Madsen and Darren Jensen raced side-by-side across the line, with Madsen snaring second and leaving Jensen in third. Luke Oldfield crossed the line in fourth and led Lucas Wolfe, Jayden Peacock, Brad Keller, Lynton Jeffrey and Callum Walker past the chequered flag. Steve Rowell did not finish the race.
The final heat of the night started with Jason Pryde and Dominic Scelzi from the front row with Pryde getting the initial jump and leading the field into turn one, only for Scelzi to switch to the bottom and race into the lead coming out of turn two. Bryan Mann took to the high side to try and get around Glen Sutherland, while deeper in the field Lachlan McHugh ran the top to try and find a way around Jye O'Keefe, only to loose a position to Shaun Dobson. McHugh fought back on the high line to regain his position from Dobson, before looking boldly underneath Sutherland, while Mann made his way past Mitchell Wormall and left Wormall with Sutherland, McHugh and Dobson on his tail. Dominic Scelzi was first to greet the chequered flag in heat eight, with Kaiden Manders home in second and Donny Schatz third. Bryan Mann got the better of Jason Pryde on the final lap to secure fourth, with Pryde home in fifth and leading Lachlan McHugh, Mitchell Wormall, Shaun Dobson, Glen Sutherland, Jye O'Keefe and Dave Whell across the line.
Eighteen cars lined up for the start of the 15-lap Preliminary B-Main event, though one could be forgiven for mistaking it for an A-Main. Luke Oldfield and Darren Mollenoyux led the field to the green, with Kaiden Manders, Bryan Mann, Brad Keller and Peter Lack all close behind. The first start was aborted when contact between Jye O'Keefe and Jason Pryde left Mitchell Wormall nowhere to go, the West Australian spinning the W97 racer in turn four as they took the green. Second time around it was Luke Oldfield who secured the lead in advance of Mollenoyux and Mann, while Keller and Manders fought over the minor places. With just two laps completed though the race was brought to a very sudden stop when Jye O'Keefe came together with a fellow competitor heading down the main straight, with O'Keefe making hard contact with wall as they approached the flag stand. O'Keefe slowed, while Glen Sutherland behind quickly darted down track to avoid contact, spinning the S20 racer in the process and leaving a completely luckless Kevin Titman with nowhere to go. The unavoidable full-speed impact as Titman slammed hard into the back of O'Keefe launched Titman into the air and sent him tumbling down the track. Titman, while understandable disappointed, was unscathed in the wreck. Mollenoyux, who had stolen the race lead from Oldfield, led the restart, with Oldfield second ahead of Manders and Mann, while Keller and Lack sat just outside of the transfer positions with thirteen laps to run. Mid-field Allan Woods dived underneath Brent Kratzmann, only for Kratzmann to quickly return serve before setting out after Tim Van Ginneken, who had just surrendered a position to Dominic Scelzi. Scelzi and Lack traded places several times as they negotiated over mid-field positions, with Scelzi winning out in the end and going on to challenge Keller for position. Back at the front of the field Oldfield remained committed to the high line, racing around Mollenoyux to secure the lead and leaving Mollenoyux to defend his position from Kaiden Manders, Dominic Scelzi and Bryan Mann. Mann and Scelzi had a thrilling battle as they fought over the final transfer position, until Scelzi secured the advantage and focussed on finding a way past Mollenoyux. Luke Oldfield easily won the B-Main ahead of Kaiden Manders and Dominic Scelzi, with Darren Mollenoyux holding on to secure the final transfer to the preliminary A-Main. Bryan Mann came home in sixth and led Brad Keller, Tim Van Ginneken, Peter Lack, Brent Kratzmann, Darren Jensen, Allan Woods, Mitchell Wormall, Jason Pryde, Glen Sutherland and Michael Saller across the line. Kevin Titman and Jye O'Keefe did not finish the event, while Callum Walker did not make the start after being unable to get the Q33 racer to fire as the event pushed off.
The Preliminary A-Main hit the track with eighteen starters, comprising some of the best in both Australia and the World, with Kerry Madsen from pole and James McFadden sharing the front row. The twenty-lap affair ran without a stop with Madsen quick to secure the lead when the green flag flew. McFadden briefly held second but Donny Schatz, from position three, was quick to make his way underneath McFadden and into second, chasing Madsen and using the low line to steal the lead before the end of the first lap. Carson Macedo challenged McFadden for third while Lachlan McHugh and Logan Schuchart battled over the minor places until McHugh pulled slightly ahead and joined the battle between McFadden and Macedo. At the front of the field Madsen stuck to the top, gaining ground on Schatz before powering around the outside of the best in the world, to once again regain the lead. Schatz gave chase, the pair captivating the crowd as the margin between them fluctuated, and while behind them McFadden had settled into third, Macedo and McHugh were having an intense battle over fourth and fifth. Macedo and McHugh traded places back and forth as Schuchart sat back and waited for the right opportunity to make his move. Lucas Wolfe had an intense battle with David Murcott mid-field, the pair racing side-by-side for several laps, with Lucas Wolfe, Shaun Dobson and Jamie Veal soon joining their battle to make things even more interesting. With just nine laps competed the leaders entered lapped traffic, and while Schatz managed to have a few big looks on the inside of Madsen, Madsen was too good on the top. Kerry Madsen went on to take the win ahead of Donny Schatz and Carson Macedo, who eventually got the better of James McFadden. McFadden crossed the line in fourth while Logan Schuchart managed to get by Lachlan McHugh to steal fifth. McHugh crossed the line in sixth, the best placed Queenslander, and led Lucas Wolfe, David Murcott, Jamie Veal, Shaun Dobson, Sam Walsh, Kaiden Manders, Luke Oldfield, Dominic Scelzi, Steven Lines, Jack Lee, Darren Mollenoyux and Andrew Scheuerle across the line. All eighteen starters made it through the 20-lap non-stop journey, setting the scene for a spectacular night of racing tonight.
We are back at Ausdeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway tonight, Saturday 06 January 2018, for the Australian Sprintcar Open finale, which will culminate in a 50-lap A-Main event. This is perhaps the biggest Sprintcar race in Queensland this year and you do not want to miss it! See you trackside!