• Australian champ Mark Robinson prevailed in the PB44 Dirt Modified Memorial at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (January 28), denying Kevin Britten a fairytale last-to-first win in the race created to commemorate his father. Having opted to start 20th in the 44-lap feature race, Britten was breathtaking in his charge through the field on a track that drew universal praise from competitors. Using the high side to round up the rest of the field with ease, Britten faltered only at the final hurdle when he found himself unable to dislodge Robinson from the lead. Having led the race in the early going, Mitchell Randall would wind up third after a late scrap with David Clark, who also advanced from the back of the pack, while pole starter Scott Cannon would salvage fifth in the final PB44 feature race to be staged at Archerfield. Brayd Stephenson finished in sixth spot ahead of the final runner on the lead lap in Seiton Young, with Zac Blanch, Luke Dunn and Andrew Firth rounding out the top ten.

    There must have been a rumour circulating within the Dirt Modified ranks that there was big money on offer for whoever could get to turn one first because the opening three heats all featured wild starts that ultimately had a significant influence on the feature race narrative.

    The first heat saw Randall, who started from the outside of row two, try to pinball his way to the front, an aggressive move that may have elevated him one spot to third behind Andrew Firth and Chris Corbet, but when he was unable to fend off Britten through turn two on lap seven, he would find himself back where he started at the fall of the flag.

    The opening moments of heat two were similarly chaotic with Phil Roberts paying a significant price, whacking the wall in turn two. From the restart, Zac Blanch took control of a race that featured no positional changes at all, leading Brock Gardiner and Adam Thomsen to the flag.

    Heat three only made it as far as turn one before a whack from Stephenson would render Robinson a spectator, a misfortune that would ultimately keep him from securing a spot in the Dash and any chance of having to start at the back of the pack. Stephenson would hold on to take the race over Clark, who advanced from row five, with Luke Dunn snaring third.

    Clark outpaced Cannon and Dunn to win in heat four, while category stalwart Ray Klarich found himself out of luck when he became entangled with Dale Corbet, both cars coming to rest against the turn three wall.

    Heat five saw Britten pounce on lap five to wrest the lead from Young, who remained second until the end. Randall was able to hold third despite a left front wheel that was of little use, the damage incurred when he again squeezed through a gap that wasn’t quite as big as his ambitions.

    The final heat of the night saw Jay Davey defiantly deny the advances of Stephenson, only to spin himself out of the lead on lap five, gifting Stephenson a second win, this time in advance of Terry Leerentveld and Blanch.

    Leading the B Main, Kyle Armstrong had a feature race start in his sights, only for a spin to kybosh his chances. Klarich assumed control from the restart and led the remaining laps to finish head of Roberts and Scott Quirk, with Taylah Firth securing the final transfer into the main event.

    The 6-lap Dash went the way of Clark over Stephenson, Britten, Blanch, Andrew Firth and Dunn. Much to the delight of the crowd, all six accepted the invitation to start at the rear of the feature race field, with Britten taking it upon himself to assume the backmarker role in position 20 for a race that would see a former Australian champ on pole position and the current national titleholder launching from position 10.

    Starting from the outside front row, it was Gardiner who would lead the opening lap as Cannon found himself shuffled back to third behind Randall. Lap five saw Randall assume the lead, by which time Robinson had advanced five spots and Britten had zoomed into the top ten with a barnstorming outside charge. The field bunched for a restart on lap 10 following a spin from Young, with Robinson pouncing immediately upon resumption to move ahead of Cannon and Gardiner on consecutive laps and slot into second spot. Another restart ensued on 17, at which point both Leerentveld and Trevor Wiley exited the contest. In the three lap period that followed before the race was halted again, Robinson moved ahead of Randall to assume the lead, with Britten now occupying third spot and being shadowed by Clark. On lap 25, Britten surged into second and set about reeling in Robinson. Despite his heroics over the remaining laps, Britten was unable to wrest the lead from Robinson, who utilised lapped traffic very effectively in the final laps to keep Britten at bay and secure the win. Although Clark had advanced to third at one stage, Randall was able to regain the position late in proceedings, with Cannon fifth ahead of Stephenson, Young, Blanch, Dunn, Firth and the only other finishers in Brenton Bennie and Thomson.

    The first of the AMCA Nationals heat races saw Bruce Marshall an easy winner over Nash Granger and Natasha Herne, with Steve Potts downing Lee McKinnell and Nathan Tomkins in heat two.

    McKinnell made easy work of heat three to finish more than four seconds clear of Michael Denning and Tomkins, while the final heat saw Graeme Holland survive persistent pressure from Steve Price to ultimately prevail by a mere 0.008 in a thrilling finish, with Lewis Gamble home third.

    McKinnell was unstoppable in the feature race, leading all 20 laps to clinch his second successive win in Shock Absorber Therapy Track Championship competition. Marshall and Price swapped second spot through the early going before Price secured the spot, leaving Marshall third ahead of Potts and Tomkins, who lost touch with the leaders in the early stages before mounting a late charge reminiscent of his efforts in the previous round. Next in line were Denning and Gamble, with Peter Greer, Mark Taylor and Robert Turner rounding out the top ten.

    Dual state champion Jacob Jolley downed Ian O’Toole and Jayden O’Toole in the first of the Wildink Wingless Sprint heats, with Jamie Usher outpacing James Grady and Liam Atkinson in heat two.

    The Thomson brothers shared the spoils in the remaining preliminaries, with Brody beating Atkinson and Usher in heat three before Scott bested Tim Harris and Jacob Waller in heat four, during which Jolley would find himself upside down in turn four and out of action for the night.

    Usher led the field away in the feature race as his front row partner Atkinson quickly succumbed to Jayden O’Toole and the Thomsen twosome. Entrenched on the highline where real racers reside, the Thomsens quickly disposed of O’Toole and set off in pursuit of Usher. Content to plod along on the bottom, Usher had no answer when Scott charged around the outside on lap 10, with Brody doing likewise on lap 12. From here the brothers were unchallenged as Steve led Brody to the line, while Usher would miss the podium altogether when a frantic finish saw Ian O’Toole come from the clouds to snatch third spot, leaving Usher fourth ahead of Atkinson and Waller. The remainder of the top ten comprised Andrew Robinson, Neil Howard, Harris and Brett Russo.

    After winning both of his heats with a minimum of fuss, Terry Leerentveld generously allowed Sean Rose, who had also scored a heat win to qualify on the outside front row, to lead the opening three laps of the feature, before the inevitable occurred and Leerentveld cleared away from the field to ultimately finish more than eight seconds ahead to secure yet another feature race win. Rose remained second at the chequer, with a new face on the podium in third-placed Jordan Ferguson, who was the only other heat winner on the night and had occupied third for 17 laps before he found himself shuffled back to fifth with two laps to run. However, in a frantic finish, Ferguson rounded up both Callum Beerling and Tyson Snow on the final lap to regain the position. Beerling wound up fourth ahead of Jake McRae, whose surge out of the final turn edged him ahead of Snow, who had done a superb job to climb as high as fourth after starting 16th. Chris Fing, Dan Lewis and Steve Collins were next best, leaving Luke Harrison to complete the top ten.

    A very small field of Compact Speedcars contested the President’s Cup and, following heat wins to Matt O’Neill and Mitchell Rooke, just eight starters would take the green in the feature race, only six of whom would go the distance. O’Neill made easy work of the 12-lapper, leading all the way to win ahead of Mitchell Rooke, Andrew Parkes, Dave Collins and Andrew Rooke.

    Wayne Kirkman won both heats in Open Sedans A before also taking the feature in advance of Colin Morris and Drew Craft, while Tim Swart continued his winning ways in the Open Sedans B feature race, leading home Ronnie Young, Shaun Donnelly, Jake Twin and Scott Aitkens. Heat wins were shared between Swart and Haiden Grantz, who made a spectacular exit from the feature with a wild roll through turn three.

    The next meeting at Archerfield Speedway is on February 18 featuring round six of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and the Petzyo Sprintcar Development Series, plus Midgets, Wingless Sprints and Open Sedans.

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