Darren Vine started the 2017-18 season the way he began last season with a decisive victory in the opening round of the Polar Ice Midget Series at the Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday September 16.
Mark George (Flashlube Breka/Porsche) finished the qualifying heats at the top of the points table and was determined to make it difficult for Vine who started the 20-lap main beside him. Due to a blustery wind, the track had been dry and slick most of the night. However, when John Kelly reworked the top of the track at interval it allowed for two lane racing. George won the run into the first corner with Vine (Spike/Esslinger) running high on the track. Vine’s car was obviously set up to run with his right rear on the edge of the cushion and he surged into the lead during the third rotation.
George was soon under siege from Michael Harders (Auto Upgrade Spike/KRE Deppe) on the low side while Adam Wallis (Boss Chassis Aust Boss/Esslinger) also used the high line and quickly advanced from the third row and soon jumped ahead of Harders. Scott Farmer (Spike/Esslinger) had started in the second row but lost three positions in the opening lap which meant he had to pass cars before he could threaten the leaders.
The yellow lights appeared during lap 11 when Rob Stewart (Jester Race Engines Spike/Brayton Ford) spun into the fence at the end of the back straight and was out with a damaged Jacob’s-Ladder and broken torsion bar stop. The restart order had Adam Wallis still on a blinder of a charge now right on Vine’s rear push bar while Farmer had fought his way back to fourth behind Harders with George fifth. Wallis tried to challenge for the lead but Vine had speed to burn and maintained command. Farmer rounded up Harders during lap 15 only to spin a lap later and be tagged by Brad Young (Federal Tyres Spike/Gaerte). Both could go again but from the rear with only a handful of laps left.
Darren Vine, the reigning QSRA Club Champion, was the deserving winner of the opening PIMS round with Adam Wallis putting in a super impressive drive in his first night in the seat of the Neilson Motorsport Boss finishing as runner up with Michael Harders beginning his campaign with a good performance. During the off season, the Vine team procured the Esslinger engine used by Adam Clarke last season and it was obviously to Darren’s liking. Scott Farmer was disappointed after the race but would learn from a mistake that is made even by more experienced drivers.
With a lower than expected car count for the opening night three qualifying heats were run with each driver having two outings. Vine led the way from the front row in the opening heat with Scott Wilson (WLS Landscape Supplies Boss/Stanton SR 11) and Scott Farmer slicing and dicing through from the back of the field. There was a minor interruption when young Compact convert Mitchell Rooke (Rod Singleton Racing Spike/Esslinger) had a spin but it made no difference to Vine who won from Mark George and Wilson.
Heat 2 was run after the first round of sprintcar heats and the track was now very slick. It caught out Brad Young in the first lap when he spun and was collected by Robbie Stewart and Wilson who fell on to his side. With all three cars out, it left just four to contest the event. Farmer started up front and stayed there ahead of George and Harders. Kristy Bonsey (BC Motorsport Breka/Gaerte) was behind these three but it was clearly visible that her left rear tyre was deflating. Bonsey battled on but with just one lap remaining the tyre blew and she rolled to a stop which brought on the yellow lights and consequently the race was declared.
The last heat also wasn’t without incident. Adam Wallis used the open space he enjoyed starting from pole position to hit the front from the outset. Brad Young was in trouble when he half spun entering turn 3 and then went the other way causing the car to roll over onto the top of the cage. There was no serious damage and after being put back onto his wheels was ready to go again. Adam Wallis secured his first win for his new team while Michael Harders kept ahead of Reid Mackay (Direct Plasterboard Outlet CP3/Hawk) to end up in second.
The season didn’t begin well for defending Polar Ice Champion Rusty Whittaker who suffered an oil pressure problem during Hot Laps and decided to park the car to not cause any further damage. Adam Wallis didn’t make it past engine starts before he was in trouble. A vehicle pushing another car cut across his bow and damaged the front end of the Boss chassis breaking a shock tower off the front left of the car. It was fortunate that Brad Hilder (BHR Fabrications) was on hand to weld on a replacement piece and the car was soon repaired. Young Mitchell Rooke enjoyed his first race meeting in a midget and will improve with each outing.
The next show for the QSRA speedcars is Round 2 of the Polar Ice Series at Archerfield on Saturday October 7. It will be a big week-end of racing with the Bathurst 1000 the following day. More drivers have already indicated their intention to be at the next show. One driver could be the recipient of $ 500 in Bob Baker’s random draw which should be a major incentive for all teams.
1 Darren Vine 2 Mark George 3 Scott Wilson
1 Scott Farmer 2 Mark George 3 Michael Harders
1 Adam Wallis 2 Michael Harders 3 Reid Mackay
1 Darren Vine 2 Adam Wallis 3 Michael Harders
4 Mark George 5 Scott Wilson 6 Reid Mackay
7 Brad Young 8 Mitchell Rooke 9 Scott Farmer