Top qualifier, Pole Shuffle winner and the leader of every one of the 40 laps of the final was how Rico Abreu won his first Australian Speedcar Championship at the Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday February 4.
As the 22 cars formed up for the 40 lap main event Grand Marshall Ron Wanless, who won this event in 1978 and 1979, directed them to line up in rows of four to salute the crowd. Once back in line the race was sent on its way with Abreu (Keith Kunz Motorsport Bullet/Toyota) immediately going to the front from Hayden Williams, Michael Pickens, Adam Clarke and Nathan Smee. Both Alex Bright (USA – Graham Jones Racing Spike/Esslinger) and Matt Smith (NSW – GO Racing Spike/Hawk) dropped back from their third row starting positions as Zach Daum moved forward from row 4 and Brady Bacon (USA) from the row behind. The track was slick on the bottom with a cushion near the top where most of the fast cars were running.
The cars behind the lead group were embroiled in their own battles as they endeavoured to get to the front. The only stoppage of the race occurred on lap 12 when Darren Vine clashed with another car and stopped broadside in the back straight but restarted at the back of the line. When the green lights were turned on again Pickens made his move and advanced to second with Williams unable to counter the move. Brad Mosen (NZ) was out on lap 15 and then, to everyone’s surprise, Pickens pulled to the infield a couple of laps later with a sick motor.
With Pickens out of the picture Bacon (GO Racing Bullet/Toyota) was now third after a sensational drive through traffic and he soon accounted for Williams to be second just before the half way point while Smee (TFH/Illuminated Industries Spike/Eagle Chev) was third ahead of Clarke (Jack Berry Racing Spike/Esslinger) and Bright. With the leaders now amongst lapped cars it presented Bacon with an opportunity as they threaded their way past cars. At times Bacon would get close only for Abreu to pull away when he cleared traffic.
Williams was out on lap 28 and during the remaining laps there was no change at the front with Rico Abreu crowned the 2017 Australian Speedcar Champion from Brady Bacon and Nathan Smee. Alex Bright maintained his long list of consistent Australian Championship performances with fourth placing while Michael Stewart (NSW) advanced from the seventh row to be fifth in an impressive drive from the youngster. Abreu received loud applause form the healthy crowd as he circled the track after the race and again during the presentations.
Twelve 10 lap heats were run on Friday night February 3 with wins to Nathan Smee (2), Anthony Chaffey, Zach Daum, Hayden Williams (2), Matt Smith, Rico Abreu (2), Adam Clarke, Brady Bacon and Michael Pickens. In Daum’s win he lowered the 10 lap record from 2:16.720 to 2:15.201. The previous holder Michael Pickens was second and Michael Stewart (NSW) third with all three under the old time.
Abreu finished top of the points with 70 and suffered his only defeat for the whole week-end when he finished second to Anthony Chaffey in his first outing. Next in points at the end of the first night were defending champion Michal Pickens 65, Hayden Williams 63, Nathan Smee 61 and Zach Daum 58.
Kaidon Brown (NSW), Abreu, Bright and Andrew Felker (USA) were the winners in the last round of heats on night two with the four races going non-stop. With forty cars, still mobile a C Main was run with Michael Harders and Darren Dillon transferring to the back of the B Main. The track was then prepared for the Pole Shuffle, B Main and the big race.
The Shuffle was dominated by drivers starting on the inside with Smee defeating Daum only to lose to Matt Smith. Smith was beaten by Clarke who was the only repeat winner when he accounted for Bright. When Clarke and Pickens faced off their first start was aborted and Clarke was controversially sent to the infield. Pickens was beaten by Williams who then faced Abreu in a best of three contest for the final. However, Abreu was too good and won two in a row to claim pole position.
The B Main was, as expected, a helter-skelter affair as the 18 cars vied for the four transfer spots. Scott Farmer (TFH Spike/Esslinger) took advantage of some jostling in the opening lap to get to the front from the third row. He led for five rotations before Travis Mills (Vic) took over and looked to have the race in his keeping until his car faltered in lap 12 and he dejectedly pulled infield. This left Scott Doyle at the point from Farmer, Darren Vine and a host of others. Vine grabbed second in the last couple of laps with Farmer and Troy Jenkins (BOC Stealth/Toyota) making up the four to transfer. However, Doyle’s engine broke a timing belt as he headed back to the pits and was unable to take his place in the A Main. This gave Rusty Whittaker (Ti Bolts & Race Partz King/Esslinger) a start with Aidan Corish (NSW) and Neville Lance the two emergencies.
The Kratzmann Caravans sponsored event originally started with 41 contestants but Lee Redmond (WA) suffered a terminal engine problem in his opening heat and was out of the championship. An amazing statistic about the heats was that every car, apart from Redmond, fronted for all their heats and ten of the sixteen heats were run without a stoppage. There was only one roll-over with no serious damage suffered. The American Kunz brothers, Keith and Rusty, showed how experienced they are with their cars finishing first and second respectively.
Special thanks to
John & Kathy Kelly and the staff of the Archerfield Speedway
Angela Harders and her Angels
Queensland Speedcar Racing Assn
All the drivers, owners and crews
The officials that kept things moving smoothly
1 Nathan Smee (NSW) 2 Alex Bright (USA) 3 Brady Bacon (USA)
1 Anthony Chaffey (Qld) 2 Rico Abreu (USA) 3 Brad Mosen (NZ)
1 Zach Daum (USA) 2 Michael Pickens (NZ) 3 Michael Stewart (NSW)
1 Hayden Williams (NZ) 2 Troy Ware (Qld) 3 Andrew Felker (USA)
1 Matt Smith (NSW) 2 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 3 Anthony Chaffey (Qld)
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Brad Mosen (NZ) 3 Dayne Kingshott (WA)
1 Hayden Williams (NZ) 2 Michael Pickens (NZ) 3 Andrew Felker (USA)
1 Adam Clarke (NSW) 2 Scott Farmer 3 Rusty Whittaker
1 Nathan Smee (NSW) 2 Michael Stewart (NSW) 3 Matt Smith (NSW)
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Dayne Kingshott (WA) 3 Michael Harders (Qld)
1 Brady Bacon (USA) 2 Brock Dean 3 Troy Jenkins (NSW)
1 Michael Pickens (NZ) 2 Zach Daum (USA) 3 Alex Bright (USA)
1 Kaidon Brown (NSW) 2 Matt Smith (NSW) 3 Matt Jackson (NSW)
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Hayden Williams (NZ) 3 Scott Doyle (Qld)
1 Alex Bright (USA) 2 Adam Clarke (NSW) 3 Brendan Palmer (Qld)
1 Andrew Felker (USA) 2 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 3 Travis Mills (Vic)
1 Michael Harders (Qld) 2 Darren Dillon (Qld) 3 Dallas Sharp (Qld)
Nathan Smee def Zach Daum
Matt Smith def Nathan Smee
Adam Clarke def Matt Smith
Adam Clarke def Alex Bright
Michael Pickens def Adam Clarke
Hayden Williams def Michael Pickens
Rico Abreu def Hayden Williams 2 – 0
1 Scott Doyle (Qld) 2 Darren Vine (Qld) 3 Scott Farmer (Qld)
4 Troy Jenkins (NSW) 5 Rusty Whittaker (Qld) 6 Aidan Corish (NSW)
7 Neville Lance (WA) 8 Cal Whatmore (Qld) 9 Mark George (Qld)
10 Darren Dillon (Qld) 11 Dan Biner (NSW)
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Brady Bacon (USA) 3 Nathan Smee (NSW)
4 Alex Bright (USA) 5 Michael Stewart (NSW) 6 Adam Clarke (NSW)
7 Dayne Kingshott (WA) 8 Zach Daum (USA) 9 Andrew Felker (USA)
10 Matt Smith (NSW) 11 Brendan Palmer (Qld) 12 Kaidon Brown (NSW)
13 Anthony Chaffey (Qld) 14 Brock Dean 15 Troy Jenkins (NSW)
16 Rusty Whittaker (Qld) 17 Chris Gwilliam (NZ)