Donny Schatz regained his Performance Wholesale Australian Sprintcar Open crown last night, after taking the lead from Kerry Madsen in the first few laps of the race, and settling into a comfortable lead, making it look easy as he opened a sizable margin over his rivals and weaved his way through the back markers. The 50-lap affair had one caution ten laps in, but ran the remaining forty-laps without incident, with Schatz lapping up to and including ninth place, and, incredibly, all twenty starters, made it to the chequered flag. The event, held over two nights, doubled as Round Seven of World Series Sprintcars, and attracted a massive crowd to Ausdeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway, plus an even bigger audience via pay per view live streaming. While Schatz dominated to get the win, the battle over second, and post-race decision by the chief steward, became the talking point of the night. Reigning Australian Champion Kerry Madsen led the opening few laps before surrendering the lead to Schatz, before spending the rest of the race trying to defend his position from a hard-charging and determined Lucas Wolfe. The margin between Madsen and Wolfe fluctuated as the race wore on, with Wolfe repeatedly closing in on Madsen, and, at one stage, briefly getting the 5W racer in front when Madsen got caught behind a lapped car. Madsen immediately fought back on the inside to regain his position and ultimately crossed the line in second, only for officials to issue a penalty after the race concluded, for an infield pass, that saw Lucas Wolfe elevated to second and left the defending Australian Open Champion in third. Jamie Veal crossed the line in fourth ahead of Carson Macedo. Lachlan McHugh and James McFadden had an epic battle for the minor places, the pair changing positions several times in the closing laps of the race, and while Lachlan McHugh crossed the line in sixth, a post-race penalty for an infield pass saw him relegated to seventh, elevating James McFadden to sixth. McHugh was the best placed Queenslander, with Luke Oldfield the next best local in tenth.
The first heat of the night, heat nine for the weekend, saw locals Karl Hoffmans and Jayden Peacock share the front row for the start with Peacock getting a brilliant start in the Q77 racer and quickly securing the race lead. Hoffmans settled into second with Jye O'Keefe and Kevin Titman on his tail. Titman had a massive look on the inside of O'Keefe but could not quite get the job done, and opened the door on the bottom for both Dominic Scelzi and Darren Mollenoyux. Mollenoyux had a brilliant run on the bottom, quickly making his way past both Scelzi and O'Keefe, before setting his sights on Hoffmans. Hoffmans was having a brilliant run and successfully held off O’Keefe and Scelzi, but Mollenoyux spent just half a lap trying to find a way past the Queensland teenager before racing underneath the Q3 of Hoffmans in turn two and setting out after the race leader. Hoffmans continued to defend his position while Scelzi got the better of O'Keefe before running around the outside of Hoffmans. O'Keefe was quick to follow Scelzi on the top side, while Kerry Madsen made his way through on the bottom and at the back of the field, David Murcott tried to make his way past Kaiden Manders. Mitchell Gee, who, along with team, did a phenomenal job to get the Q36 racer back trackside after his qualifying mishap on Friday night saw him enter last nights proceedings with zero points, searched for a way past both Murcott and Manders but to no avail. Kevin Titman endured even more bad luck when mechanical issues forced him to pull onto the inner bike track and circulate slowly for the remainder of the race. Jayden Peacock got the win ahead of Darren Mollenoyux and Dominic Scelzi, with Jye O'Keefe home in fourth and leading Kerry Madsen, Lucas Wolfe, Karl Hoffmans, Kaiden Manders, David Murcott, Mitchell Gee and Kevin Titman across the line.
Andrew Corbet started heat ten from pole position with Daniel Harding, back after a massive wreck on Friday night, from position two. Harding got the better start when the green flag flew and quickly secured the lead, with Allan Woods racing around Corbet and into second, while Jason Pryde, from position three, switched to the high side to get around Corbet and challenged Woods for second. Unfortunately the race was almost immediately brought under caution when Luke Oldfield, James McFadden and Shaun Dobson came together in turn one, leaving Dobson stranded on the track and unable to restart the event. A full restart followed with Corbet getting the better start this time around and quickly securing the race lead. Harding settled into second with Jason Pryde in third, while Luke Oldfield had a brilliant run on the bottom and raced underneath Brent Kratzmann and Bryan Mann as they entered turn one. The trio went three-wide through the corner but it was Oldfield who came out in front and immediately began challenging Woods and Pryde for position. McFadden started on the topside before switching to the bottom and making his way past Mann and Kratzmann, with Lachlan McHugh trying to follow on the high line. Kratzmann managed to keep McHugh at bay while Oldfield and McFadden made their way past Woods, but just two laps in the race was brought under caution when Woods ran too high coming out of turn four and got a little sideways, leaving Kratzmann nowhere to go. Kratzmann did what he could to avoid Woods but clipped the front end of the Q28 racer, cutting down his own right rear tyre. Both Woods and Kratzmann tried to restart the race despite the damage to their cars, and both were given the mechanical defect flag, allowing them to pull out of the event without loosing finishing points. Harding led the restart from Corbet, Pryde, Oldfield and McFadden, with Oldfield looking to run around the top of Pryde through turn two, just as McFadden charged through on the bottom. The trio went three wide in the turn when Oldfield made contact with the wall and brought the race back under caution. Oldfield restarted at the rear of the field, while Harding, Corbet and Pryde again led the restart. McFadden raced around Pryde before looking underneath Corbet, while McHugh tried to make his way underneath Pryde as Oldfield, more determined than ever, began making his way forward. Daniel Harding took the win in heat ten, leading James McFadden, Lachlan McHugh, Luke Oldfield, Andrew Corbet, Jason Pryde and Bryan Mann across the line. Allan Woods, Brent Kratzmann and Shaun Dobson failed to finish the event.
Heat eleven started with Bryan Zelinski and Mitch Gowland from the front row, with Darren Jensen and Callum Walker from the second row. Jensen got a brilliant start from position three, quickly racing past Zelinski and Gowland to earn control of the race before they entered turn one. Gowland settled into second while Zelinski, who got a reasonably average start, faded as Michael Saller and Brad Keller made their way forward. Zelinski and Jack Lee came together as they completed the first lap, and while Callum Walker and Logan Schuchart were able to avoid contact, Andrew Scheuerle had nowhere to go. Scheuerle got into the back of Lee and inverted the Q25 as they approached turn one. Scheuerle was unscathed in the incident, and while he was unable to restart the race and was skeptical about being able to return trackside at all for the rest of the night, he did make it back out for his next heat. Jensen led the restart from Gowland and Saller, and while Jensen was untroubled out in front Saller, Keller and Schuchart each made their way past Gowland, while Callum Walker kept Donny Schatz at bay for a couple of laps before the mechanical problems that have plagued Walker all weekend saw him withdraw from the heat. Darren Jensen easily took the win, a little more than three and half seconds ahead of Brad Keller in second. Michal Saller finished third and led Donny Schatz, Logan Schuchart, Jack Lee and Mitch Gowland across the line. Callum Walker, Bryan Zelinski and Andrew Scheuerle all failed to finish the heat.
Dave Whell and Adam Butler shared the front row for the start of heat twelve, with Whell getting a great start to secure the advantage while both Mitchell Wormall and Glen Sutherland raced underneath Butler to steal second and third by the first corner. Sutherland had incredible speed on the topside and while both he and Wormall challenged Whell for control of the race Sutherland managed to get his nose in front. Sutherland led the field out of turn four to compete the first lap but Whell fought back valiantly on the bottom to regain the lead for half a lap before Wormall raced through on the bottom, as Sutherland again tried the top. Wormall led for a corner and a half before Sutherland raced around the top and secured the lead. Tim Van Ginneken started closing in on Whell, while Carson Macedo and Jamie Veal tried to find a way past Butler, all with Peter Lack on their tail. Macedo and Veal eventually got the better of Butler, setting out after Van Ginneken, while Lack, now under immense pressure from Sam Walsh, finally found his way past Butler as the race drew to a close. Glen Sutherland was first to greet the chequered flag ahead of Mitchell Wormall while Jamie Veal and Tim Van Ginneken raced side-by-side across the line. Van Ginneken held on to third by just seven thousandths of a second with Carson Macedo home in fifth and Dave Whell officially sixth. Peter Lack crossed the line in seventh, but suffered a post race penalty of two positions for an infield pass, elevating Sam Walsh to seventh ahead of Adam Butler and leaving Lack in ninth. Steven Lines rounded out the finishers.
Heat thirteen started with Jayden Peacock from the pole position with Andrew Corbet alongside. Peacock again got a brilliant start and made it look easy as he secured the race lead and started opening a margin on his rivals, while Jye O'Keefe and Jason Pryde searched for a way past Corbet. Lucas Wolfe had a brief look underneath Kaiden Manders while Brent Kratzmann had a big look on the outside of Manders. Wolfe was spectacular on the bottom though and, remaining committed to the bottom, raced under both Kratzmann and Manders in turn four, before getting under Pryde in turn one. Kratzmann raced underneath both Manders and Pryde, only for Pryde to come back on the bottom half a lap later and regain his position. Not content to give up without a fight Kratzmann immediately returned serve, racing straight back underneath as they exited turn four, and while Manders had another look underneath Kratzmann in turn two Kratzmann maintained the advantage. Manders surrendered a position to Lachlan McHugh and while McHugh put all kinds of pressure on Kratzmann, Manders tried to defend his position from Kerry Madsen and Luke Oldfield. McHugh was all over the back of Kratzmann but was soon forced on the defensive as the reigning Australian Champion tried to make his way forward. Madsen quickly found his way underneath McHugh and set about searching for a way past Kratzmann, and while Kratzmann fiercely defended his position for several laps, Madsen eventually made his way past. McHugh, with Oldfield on his tail, resumed his battle with Kratzmann, as Madsen continued his climb towards the front. Jayden Peacock easily took the win, an impressive 3.131 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, with Jye O'Keefe home in second ahead of Lucas Wolfe and Andrew Corbet. Kerry Madsen crossed the line in fifth and led Brent Kratzmann, Lachlan McHugh, Luke Oldfield, Kaiden Manders and Jason Pryde home.
Heat fourteen started with Daniel Harding and Karl Hoffmans from the front row, with Harding securing the lead in advance of Hoffmans while behind them Dominic Scelzi stole third from Allan Woods and left Woods to try and defend his position from both Bryan Mann and Kevin Titman. Mann made his way around Woods with Titman following a lap later, while Darren Mollenoyux slipped through on the inside of Woods. Mitchell Gee hugged the low line and, from the back of the field, made his way past David Murcott, Allan Woods and James McFadden, only for Murcott and McFadden to almost instantly race either side of the Q36 racer as they headed down the main straight. Scelzi made a last lap charge on the outside of Harding in an effort to earn the win for himself, but it was Daniel Harding who was first to the chequered flag. Dominic Scelzi was forced to settle for second and led Bryan Mann, James McFadden, Kevin Titman, Darren Mollenoyux, David Murcott, Allan Woods, Mitchell Gee and Karl Hoffmans across the line. Unfortunately for a luckless Shaun Dobson, he spun the VA21 racer in turn four on the final lap and did not finish the event.
Mitch Gowland, who started from pole position in heat fifteen, got a magnificent start when the green flag flew, quickly getting the better of fellow front row starter Dave Whell and settling into a comfortable lead. Brad Keller made short work of relegating Whell to third, leaving Whell with Jack Lee and Mitchell Wormall on his tail. As Lee made his way underneath Whell, Donny Schatz raced underneath Wormall, before switching to the top side and having a look on the outside of Whell. Within half a lap Schatz decided the top was not going to work this time, quickly switching to the bottom and racing underneath Whell as they rounded turn four. Whell fought back and stayed side-by-side with Schatz until turn one when Schatz emerged in front. Tim Van Ginneken discovered, not for the last time, just how narrow the Archerfield Speedway circuit can be and slammed the wall coming out of turn two before limping from the race track, while Schatz systematically made his way past both Keller and Lee and set out after Gowland with only a couple of laps left to run. Gowland, who has improved ten-fold this season and over the past fortnight in particular, had a solid lead but Schatz was closing in remarkably fast. With just half a lap left to run Schatz took to the high side of Gowland, stealing the lead, and the win, with only one corner to go. Mitch Gowland crossed the line in second and led Jack Lee, Brad Keller, Jamie Veal, Steven Lines, Mitchell Wormall, Dave Whell and Tim Van Ginneken to the finish.
The last heat event of the weekend started with Adam Butler and Bryan Zelinski sharing the front row. Butler settled into the race lead when the lights went green, while Glen Sutherland secured second as Peter Lack and Darren Jensen raced either side of Zelinski. Lack soon made his way underneath Sutherland, and while Sutherland tried to fight back half a lap later Lack was too quick and held on to second. Carson Macedo made his way underneath Sam Walsh, while Lack had a beautiful run on the top side, making it all look so easy as he raced around Butler and into the race lead just moments before the race was brought under caution for the spun car of Michael Saller in turn two. Butler led the field back to the green but Lack quickly raced back around the top to once again take control of the race. Sutherland came under increasing pressure form Jensen and Macedo while Andrew Scheuerle and Sam Walsh battled mid-field. Jensen made his way under Sutherland, with Macedo looking to follow him through, but Sutherland dove back under Jensen as they rounded turn three. Contact between the right rear of the S20 car of Sutherland and the left front of Jensen, saw Jensen spin the Q75 racer in turn three. Macedo, who had been left nowhere to go, collected Jensen, the contact straightening Jensen and giving him just enough momentum to keep the car moving. Macedo fought to regain the position he lost to Logan Schuchart while at the front of the field Butler was doing his best to keep Sutherland behind him. Peter Lack took the win, 3.885 seconds ahead of second placed Adam Butler, with Glen Sutherland rounding out the top three. Carson Macedo salvaged a fourth place finish ahead of Logan Schuchart, Darren Jensen, Andrew Scheuerle, Sam Walsh, Michael Saller and Bryan Zelinski.
Ten cars lined up for the start of the ten-lap C-Main event with Allan Woods and Jason Pryde to lead them to the green. The first start was aborted, officials warning Pryde for jumping a little too early, with Woods securing the advantage second time around. Kevin Titman settled into third, chasing after Pryde and the last transfer to the B-Main, while from the very back of the field Mitchell Gee made his way past Karl Hoffmans and Bryan Zelinski before setting his sights on Andrew Corbet and Dave Whell. Whilst Gee searched for a way past Corbet, Whell started challenging Butler for position, but the race was brought under caution when Kevin Titman, who seems to have an endless supply of bad luck, spun the Q59 racer in turn four. Woods led the restart from Pryde and Gowland, with Gee up to sixth and six laps left to run. Whell and Gee quickly raced underneath Butler, with Gee getting past on the inside of Whell half a lap later. Gee turned his attention to Gowland, patiently closing the gap before spending a couple of laps searching for a way past. Gee eventually made his way through on the bottom as the pair navigated turns two and three and while he was rapidly closing in on Pryde he simply ran out of laps. Allan Woods won the C-Main event, and, along with second place finisher Jason Pryde, would transfer to the back of the B-Main event. Mitchell Gee advanced as high as third, only missing the transfer by one spot, with Mitch Gowland coming home in fourth. Dave Whell finished fifth and led Adam Butler, Andrew Corbet, Kevin Titman, Karl Hoffmans and Bryan Zelinski across the line.
The Bronze Shootout saw Jamie Veal and Lucas Wolfe get the better of Logan Schuchart and Lachlan McHugh, with Veal stopping the clock at 13.010 seconds. Schuchart and McHugh would start the main race from positions seven and eight respectively, while Veal and Wolfe transferred to the Silver Shootout.
Kerry Madsen and Carson Macedo joined Jamie Veal and Lucas Wolfe on track for the Silver Shootout. This time it was Kerry Madsen who topped the leader board, stopping the clock at 13.034 seconds and earning his transfer to the Gold Shootout. Joining Madsen in the transfer was Lucas Wolfe, while Jamie Veal and Carson Macedo were eliminated from the Shootout events.
For the Gold Shootout Kerry Madsen and Lucas Wolfe were pitted against the two highest points scorers for the weekend, James McFadden and Donny Schatz. Kerry Madsen clocked the quickest time, stopping the clock at 12.903 seconds, an impressive 0.272 seconds ahead of Donny Schatz. Madsen and Schatz would share the front row for the start of the 50-lap A-Main race, and with Madsen having won the last two Australian Sprintcar Opens and Schatz the two before that, the scene was perfectly set for a thrilling finale.
A star-studded B-Main field rolled onto the track, with Sam Walsh, Jye O'Keefe, Bryan Mann and Peter Lack to lead them to the green. Walsh quickly secured the lead ahead of O'Keefe and Lack, while deep in the field Andrew Scheuerle tried to make progress on the inside as Shaun Dobson stuck to the high line. The race was however quickly brought to a stop with just two laps completed when chaos unfolded deep in the field. Mitchell Wormall inverted the W97 racer in turn three, leaving Allan Woods nowhere to go, while Jason Pryde tangled with Brent Kratzmann before ending up in the turn three wall. Kratzmann and Woods were able to drive way from the chaos, Woods with a badly damaged main wing, and while both Pryde and Wormall were unscathed in the crash, they were unable to restart the race. Walsh led the restart from Lack, who had taken second from O'Keefe, and while Kratzmann and Woods battled at the rear of the field, Jayden Peacock was boldly trying to make the high line work mid-field. Peacock made his way past Michael Saller and set out after Shaun Dobson, Steven Lines and Kaiden Manders, while Andrew Scheuerle tried to find his way in front of Saller. Peacock got past Dobson, with Saller following a lap later, while at the front of the field Lack was all over the back of Walsh, until Walsh unexpectedly pulled to the infield six laps from the chequered flag. Peter Lack remained unchallenged for the lead, weaving his way almost effortlessly through lapped traffic before taking the win, with Jye O'Keefe home in second ahead of Bryan Mann, Glen Sutherland and Kaiden Manders, while Tim Van Ginneken crossed the line in sixth to earn the final spot in the main race. Steven Lines finished seventh and led Jayden Peacock, Michael Saller, Andrew Scheuerle, Darren Jensen, Shaun Dobson, Daniel Harding, Brent Kratzmann and Allan Woods across the line. Sam Walsh, Mitchell Wormall and Jason Pryde all failed to finish the event.
With all of the preliminaries out of the way the 50-lap A-Main hit the track, with the top twenty drivers taking to the track in a display of athleticism and passion that is hard to explain. The time, effort, heart and soul that has gone into getting this far is such a extraordinary achievement that does not belong to the driver alone. There are the crews who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, the families, sponsors and volunteers that make it all possible, and the fans on the hill that make it all worthwhile. Without all of these people we could not have witnessed what we were privileged to witness last night. Twenty starters, twenty finishers, 50 laps, one stoppage, two leaders, one winner and two post-race penalties made this a race to remember. Kerry Madsen and Donny Schatz led the field to the green, with Madsen easily securing the lead as the lights turned green and the field raced towards the first corner. Schatz immediately challenged on the top but Madsen held onto the lead while Lucas Wolfe and James McFadden negotiated over third and fourth. With barely a lap completed Schatz took control of the race, racing underneath Madsen when the defending champion ran a fraction too high in turn two, while behind them Wolfe managed to get the better of McFadden and settled into third. Deep in the field Luke Oldfield ran the top, while most of the field stuck to the gutter, and Bryan Mann and Peter Lack exchanged positions several times whilst trying to keep Kaiden Manders behind them. Lachlan McHugh and Logan Schuchart started a thrilling battle that would last most of the race, while Schatz began approaching lapped traffic after just seven laps. Peter Lack and Jack Lee raced side-by-side for a number of laps, with Lack winning out and turning his focus to Dominic Scelzi but the race was brought under caution after just ten laps when Bryan Mann spun the Q16 racer in turn two.
Donny Schatz led the restart from Kerry Madsen, Lucas Wolfe, James McFadden and Carson Macedo with forty-laps still on the board. Schatz immediately started opening a comfortable margin, leaving his rivals to fight over the minor places while the mid-field battle between Jamie Veal, Lachlan McHugh, Logan Schuchart and David Murcott was just starting to heat up. Veal searched for a way past Macedo, Schuchart was all over the back of McHugh, while Luke Oldfield was having a certain amount of success on the top side as he made his way closer to the front. Oldfield, having made his way ahead of Dominic Scelzi and Peter Lack, started searching for a way in front of Darren Mollenoyux, while both Scelzi and Lack argued over who would try to get back past Oldfield first. Schatz began weaving his way through lapped traffic, while Wolfe closed in on Madsen when Madsen became boxed in behind some lapped cars involved in their own battle for track position. Wolfe managed to slide underneath Madsen entering turn four, with Madsen instantly returning the favour as they exited the corner, only for officials to later penalize him for an infield pass. Jamie Veal made his way past James McFadden and set his sights on Carson Macedo before racing spectacularly around the outside of the N99 racer in lapped traffic. Veal closed in on Wolfe as Wolfe again closed in on the tail of Madsen in lapped traffic, while McFadden searched for a way past Macedo and McHugh began closing in on McFadden. As the race drew to a close though, Veal searched everywhere for a way past Wolfe, while Lachlan McHugh made his way in front of James McFadden. Donny Schatz got the win, lapping up to and including ninth place, and crossed the line an impressive 11.277 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Kerry Madsen crossed the line in second, but was immediately relegated back to third for his infield pass on Wolfe, with Madsen admitting post-race that it was right call from officials. Lucas Wolfe was elevated to second with Madsen rounding out the podium. Jamie Veal crossed the line in fourth while Carson Macedo completed the top five. Lachlan McHugh crossed the line in sixth but was penalized for an infield pass and relegated back to seventh, promoting James McFadden to sixth. David Murcott was eighth across the line and led Logan Schuchart, Luke Oldfield, Darren Mollenoyux, Dominic Scelzi, Peter Lack, Jack Lee, Brad Keller, Kaiden Manders, Jye O'Keefe, Bryan Mann, Glen Sutherland and Tim Van Ginneken home.
It has been a massive twelve days of Speedway, with locals teams venturing to the track seven times in just twelve days, while the travelling teams have put in a truly phenomenal effort, contesting just as many, if not more, races and travelling halfway across the country as well. Sprintcars Queensland cannot thank everyone enough for the show they have helped put on over the past twelve days - from drivers, crews, families, volunteers and sponsors, to the team at Archerfield Speedway and the fans on the hill. It has been absolute blast, and while we will now take a couple of weeks off on the local scene, returning to Ausdeck Patios and Roofing Archerfield Speedway on Saturday 10 February 2018, many of our teams and fans alike will be kept busy over the next three weeks with some big races interstate. For anyone travelling down to the Scott Darley Sprintcar Challenge at Sydney Speedway next weekend, The President’s Cup at Avalon Raceway on Wednesday 17 January, The Kings Challenge at Borderline Speedway on Thursday 18 January, the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Premier Speedway on Friday 19, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 January and / or the Australian Sprintcar Title, to be held at Borderline Speedway Mt Gambier on January 25-27 we wish you all the very best for a safe trip. See you trackside!