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Stunning Run from McHugh Secures ECL Feature Win
Author : Archerfield Speedway

On a wickedly fast but challenging track, Lachlan McHugh delivered a dazzling display to win round 14 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (April 6). Following the spectacular demise of race leader Luke Oldfield, it was Australian champ Andrew Scheuerle who took over the front running before McHugh chased him down and then survived a few near misses through lapped traffic before clinching his fourth ECL round win for the season. Scheuerle remained second at the chequer to consolidate his series lead, with Kevin Titman securing third ahead of Michael Saller and previous round winner Bryan Mann.

In round nine of the Polar Ice Midget track Championship, Brock Dean prevailed over a depleted field, leading home Chris Singleton, Rusty Whittaker, Mitchell Rooke and Brad Dawson.

In other events, Liam Williams won the Formula 500 feature race with ridiculous ease, Dylan Hunter won the Modlite feature race, Steve Price prevailed in AMCA National action and David Van Vegchel took out the Lightning Sprint feature race.

A few late withdrawals left a 25-car field to hit the track in Sprintcar qualifying and it was McHugh who set the scene for what was to follow later in the night, stopping the clock at 11.330 to snare KRE Fast Time. Luke Oldfield (11.422) was next best ahead of Scheuerle (11.572), Ben Hilder (11.597) and Mann (11.696), with Peter Lack, Brent Kratzmann, Saller, Titman and Allan Woods rounding out the top ten.

The opening heat of the night saw Kevin Britten pounce from the outside front row to lead home Lack and Kratzmann, while McHugh suffered a setback when he headed infield on lap five.

Heat two went to Anthony Lambert over Oldfield and Saller, with Kristy Bonsey downing Titman and Adam Butler to win heat three as Ben Hilder somehow found himself upside down in turn two before soldiering on with a damaged wing.

Oldfield was at his barnstorming best in heat four, surging from sixth to second on the opening lap and then pouncing at a late race re-start to snatch the lead and the race from Andrew Corbet, with Hilder bouncing back to grab third. After another strong qualifying effort, Aaron Kelly saw his second ever Sprintcar meeting grind to a halt when he whacked the wall in the back straight.

Despite a late surge from Saller that saw him edge ahead for the merest of moments, Bonsey saw off the challenge to win again in heat five, much to the delight of the sizeable crowd in attendance.

Ryan McNamara led the early laps of the final heat until McHugh surged to the front and cleared away, leaving McNamara to settle for second ahead of Woods.

The hopes of several drivers seeking to secure a feature race berth via the B Main were dashed before the race even began when initial contact between the front row starting pair of Adam Butler and Lambert left both cars mangled and out of action before they had even reached the green flag, with Paul Rooks also swept up in the chaos and crashing out. Originally slated to start from eighth, Peter Campbell now found himself on the outside front row for the restart and he took full advantage of his good fortune to take the race, leading home Geoff Davey, Brett Minett and Brad Ayers.

Having emerged from the heats as the top qualifier, Oldfield selected wisely in the pre-race grid draw to secure pole position for the Spanloc Dash, only to find himself shuffled back to third in the 6-lap sprint as Lack and McHugh took the top two spots. Scheuerle was fourth at the flag, followed by Mann, Kratzmann, Hilder and Saller.

The first attempt to get the feature race underway was halted with McHugh deemed to have jumped the start from the outside front row, an infraction for which he was penalised one row, elevating Scheuerle to start alongside Lack, whose race ended before a lap was completed. Heading into turn three, Lack found himself facing the wrong way before coming to a rest against one of the infield markers. Oldfield now found himself in the pole slot for the restart and he scorched clear of the field. Despite having expanded his lead to a considerable margin in only a few laps, Oldfield refused to curb his hard charging tendencies and, on this occasion, it proved his undoing when he rode out a massive rollover through turn three, handing the lead to Scheuerle. However, McHugh was on the move and looming large in Scheuerles periphery, with the lead change coming on lap 14. With bumps aplenty to negotiate on a track that remained super juicy all night as a result of rain throughout the week, McHugh showed considerable contempt for the conditions and it was the lack of courtesy from lapped traffic that proved his biggest obstacle. Scheuerle remained second at the chequer, with Kevin Titman advancing from ninth to finish third ahead of Saller and Mann. Next came Woods and Kratzmann, who persevered after clobbering the wall in turn one with eight laps remaining, with Bonsey, Britten and McNamara completing the first ten finishers.

The opening heat of Polar Ice Midget action went the way of Bodie Smith in advance of Tim Farrell and Dean, with Mitchell Rooke taking out heat two over Tom Clauss and Brad Dawson.

A wild start to heat three saw Clauss climb the concrete in the main straight and head skyward, landing atop Scott Farmer and putting both cars on the infield before they had even reached the green flag. Whittaker would go on to lead every lap in defeating Singleton and Brad Harrison.

Rooke doubled up to take the final heat of the night over Dean and Callum Walker, who had earlier set fast time in qualifying.

Starting from pole position, Dean’s experience proved invaluable in the conditions and he was able to see off any challenge that came his way. Brad Harrison possessed plenty of pace in the opening laps and, on more than one occasion, looked as though he might assume the lead until Smith rode out a heavy dump in turn one on lap six to trigger a restart. Only two more laps were completed before contact between Doyle and Farmer, who had been executing some banzai passes in his charge from the back, resulted in Doyle tipping over and Farmer being banished to the infield by race officials. Soon after the resumption, Whittaker moved ahead of Harrison, who subsequently exited on lap 12 to elevate the 10th-starting Singleton into third. Further back, Walker was on a rollercoaster ride that saw him drop back as far as ninth after starting fourth before climbing back to fifth and ultimately finishing seventh. Despite two more restarts that followed Tony Stephen and Riki Harrison tipping over at opposite ends of the track, Dean remained firm at the front to clinch his second feature win for the season. Singleton continued his surge to usurp Whittaker from the runner-up spot, with Rooke finishing fourth ahead of Dawson, Zac McDonald and Walker, with Cal Whatmore the only other finisher.

Liam Williams was utterly unstoppable in round ten of the NuPave Formula 500 Series, winning two heats before completely dominating the feature event, clocking a fastest lap more than half a second quicker than the next best and finishing more than five seconds clear of James Kennedy, who was the only other heat winner. Tristan Johnson snared third ahead of Nathan Pronger and perhaps category officials need to give serious consideration to an inversion format given that the best moments of the race came courtesy of Kristin Brown’s charge from 13th to finish fifth. Bryn Upshall continued his good form of late in securing sixth ahead of Jacob Gray and Tarhlea Apelt, leaving Mitchell Whittaker and Dekota Gay to round out the top ten.

Following heat wins to Lewis Gamble, Steve Price, Steve Potts and Tim Gamble, it was Potts who looked on track for victory in round seven of the Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship until both he and second-placed Tim Gamble found themselves caught up in the antics of some tailenders and were crashed out in a wild moment along the main straight. Having led the early laps before a mistake saw him slip to third, Price found himself back in front and survived the best efforts of Thomas Vickery and Nathan Durston to clinch the win. Declan Brownsey capped an impressive night with a fourth-place finish, edging out Lewis Gamble in a frantic finish, with Paul Reeves, Dan Evans, Damien Groer, Graeme Holland and Stuart Jefferies the best of the rest.

Modlite heat race wins were shared between Leroy Martin, Dan Lewis and Dylan Hunter and it was the latter who backed up to take out the feature race. Chris Were finished second best to Hunter, with Lewis third home ahead of Neil Gregson, Adam Walker, Jason Dreaver and Martin.

Scott Jukes and Keith Blatch were heat winners in Lightning Sprints, but neither could match the pace of David Van Vegchel in the feature race. Blatch and Tyler Stralow filled the minor placings ahead of Jukes, Andrew Sparks and Darren Baldwin.

The next event at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway is on Easter Saturday (April 20) featuring round two of the Sprintcar Triple Challenge, plus Midgets, Wingless Sprints and the Queensland Modlite Championship.

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