Rico Abreu of Rutherford California blitzed a star-studded field to win the opening round of the 2007 World Midget Championship at the Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday January 21. The meeting was nearly washed out with a heavy shower hitting the complex at 4:30 but once the track was graded it was fast and racy all night.
Abreu, driving the Keith Kunz Motorsport Buller/Toyota, started from pole position and out-paced Zach Daum (Graham Racing Developments Eagle/Toyota) at the start of the 40 lap but the Illinois driver didn’t give up the chase. With Abreu using the bottom and Daum the top of the track it appeared that Daum was faster. When Nathan Smee (TFH/ Illuminated Industries Spike/Eagle) joined the fray and poked his nose in front of Daum the American picked up the pace and briefly forged ahead of Abreu. Abreu responded quickly to regain the lead and moved to the top of the track and began to pull away.
The first stoppage had occurred earlier, second lap, when Scott Doyle and Brad Young came together with both retiring to the infield where they were joined by Brendan Palmer with a fuel pump issue. When racing resumed, the order was Abreu, Daum, Smee and Troy Jenkins (BOC Stealth/Toyota) with American Brady Bacon (GO Racing Spike/Toyota) swiftly moving through the field from the fifth row. Matt Smith (GO Racing Spike/Hawk) soon departed the race with a fuel issue as Bacon advanced to third.
Even though the Americans were leading the race the racing behind was tight with plenty of two-line racing. Kaidon Brown (TFH Aggressor/Hawk) was left parked sideways during lap 15 and went to the end of the line for the next restart. Young Scott Farmer (Spike/Esslinger) was another driver who was moving forward and became one of the top ten from the seventh row with plenty of laps left.
Bacon shot past Daum during the third quarter of the race and when Daum rolled to a stop with an engine miss a couple of laps later the field reformed for a nose to tail restart with Jenkins now third. In the last 10 laps of the race Bacon kept close to Abreu but not close enough to challenge. Jenkins’ good run came to an end with 5 laps to go when a bolt broke on the front panhard bar with Smee now behind the Americans. Chris Gwilliam (Boss Chassis Australia Boss/Esslinger) and Brock Dean (ACERS Engine Reconditioners Breka/Hawk) had been running together behind Smee for most of the race not realising that Scott Farmer was gaining at a fast rate of knots.
Abreu ran out a very popular winner with the speedway fans of Brisbane showing their appreciation for the efforts of this talented driver. Bacon was second and Smee third with Farmer rounding both Gwilliam and Dean late in the race to be fourth. A good result for the speedcar rookie. The other rookie Kaidon Brown also moved forward after his spin to end up 9th.. It had been a night of first class midget action.
Friday night didn’t progress so well with several drivers suffering problems. Australian Champion Michael Pickens (NZ) was quickest in Time Trials with a 13.311 lap just ahead of Americans Zach Daum (USA) and Brady Bacon with Scott Doyle fourth. Abreu spun during his first lap so was only given one lap instead of two but was good enough to finish 7th. Rusty Whittaker struck engine problems and would miss both nights while Jason Bell (CJR Motorsport Breka/Toyota) blew an oil line and didn’t get in a lap but did make it back for the qualifiers.
The first round of heats went to Pickens, Smee and Brad Young who did well to hold out Gwilliam and Matt Smith. Abreu came together with another car in the hectic opening laps of the first heat and finished wheels up. No serious damage but out of the race. Smee had a good dice with Daum before finishing in front and then Bacon hit some water and skated across the track and took a slow roll during heat 3.
Daum won heat 4 from Smee and Kaidon Brown after Scott Farmer fell over onto his side after clipping a spun car. Abreu came back to win heat 5 from Michael Pickens and Andrew Felker (WLS Landscape Supplies Boss/Stanton SR 11). Brady Bacon led home his team mate Matt Smith in heat 6 with Brendan Palmer third. Troy Jenkins (NSW) finished ahead of Dallas Sharp and Scott Doyle in heat 7 but it was the end of Michael Pickens when his engine tightened up. He stopped suddenly with Felker and Farmer unable to avoid him with all three out of the restart. Abreu won again in heat 8 and Chris Gwilliam claimed the last heat of the night. Only two cars transferred from the B Main to the back of the 25 lap Preliminary Feature with Scott Farmer leading home Chris Singleton (Rod Singleton Racing Spike/Esslinger) and Cal Whatmore after Lee Redmond rolled when he couldn’t avoid a spun car. It was Farmer’s first speedcar win.
Smee and Daum sat on the front row of the feature with Bacon and Abreu back in the fifth row. Smee led from the get go but proceedings were halted in the third lap when a spun car caused a multi car pileup. Seven cars were involved including Abreu and all were out of the race. Anthony Chaffey, in Lindsay Brown’s Aggressor/Mopar, had pulled in before the race started and Bacon withdrew not long after the restart with an electrical problem that was a result of his earlier roll. Felker withdrew during the race with a broken oil line and the consequence of this would become a major issue the following night.
On resumption Smee continued to hold point until Daum led for a couple of laps in the middle of the race before Smee recaptured the front running. Troy Jenkins closed on the lead duo as the race progressed and when Daum ran wide in the closing stages Jenkins grabbed second. Smee was the winner from Jenkins and Daum with Kaidon Brown next then Farmer, Young and Sharp with only seven cars finishing.
On night 2 there was one more round of heats but they would be run without Michael Pickens and Anthony Chaffey. Daum won the opening heat while both Felker and Bacon failed to finish. Bacon with a continuing electrical issue while Felker’s problem was more serious with a hole in the side of the Stanton engine. The lack of oil pressure the previous night had caused more damage then was discovered. Rodney Harders led home Brad Young and Brock Dean in heat 11 in a time of 2:20.711 which was the quickest 10 lap time of the week-end. Rico Abreu was too good for the rest in the last heat with victory over Reid Mackay and Chris Gwilliam.
The top 8 now progressed to the three stage Shoot Out to determine the line-up for the A Main. In the first stanza Abreu faced Matt Smith, Brad Young and Scott Doyle with Abreu and Doyle advancing to the next round against Chris Gwilliam and Troy Jenkins. Again, Abreu set the mark and was joined by Jenkins in the last round along with Nathan Smee and Zach Daum. In a brilliant display of high speed driving the fastest time fluctuated from one driver to another before Abreu finished the quickest with a 13.469. Keith Kunz had master minded Abreu’s recovery from his earlier incidents and Abreu had performed his tasks to perfection. Due to the loss of four cars a B Main wasn’t required on night 2.
Talented West Australian Lee Redmond had a wretched week-end. Initially his engine wouldn’t run on four cylinders but it was fixed for the B Main on night 1 only to clip a spun car and roll a couple of times. He fronted for night two but his engine gremlins had returned and despite numerous attempts to overcome them it all turned to zero. The last twelve months have been a nightmare for Redmond’s speedcar endeavours and it is only hoped that things turn around for this popular driver.
Another to strike trouble on Friday night was Matt Jackson (NSW). He managed to obtain a time in Time Trials but it was obvious that his engine wasn’t right. He missed his first heat while his crew searched for the problem and when a broken valve spring was discovered his night was over. He hoped to fix the engine and be back for the next night but didn’t make it so perhaps the problem was more serious.
The World Midget Championship culminates next week at the Castrol Edge Lismore Speedway with night 1 on Australia Day night January 26 and the final on Saturday night January 28. See Americans Abreu, Bacon and Felker in action along with many of the stars from Brisbane and Sydney.
The following week-end, Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th February, is the Kratzmann Caravans Australian Speedcar Championship at the Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway. Michael Pickens (NZ) will be defending the title he won in Sydney last year against the cast of the fast. Americans Rico Abreu, Brady Bacon, Andrew Felker and Alex Bright will take on Australia’s best and additional Kiwis Hayden Williams, Leon Burgess and Chris Gwilliam. Don’t miss it.
World Midget Championship Round 1 – Archerfield Speedway
Michael Pickens (NZ) 13.311
Zach Daum (USA) 13.384
Brady Bacon (USA) 13.425
Scott Doyle 13.685
1 Michael Pickens (NZ) 2 Brock Dean 3 Troy Jenkins (NSW)
1 Nathan Smee (NSW) 2 Zach Daum (USA) 3 Brendan Palmer
1 Brad Young 2 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 3 Matt Smith (NSW)
1 Zach Daum (USA) 2 Nathan Smee (NSW) 3 Kaidon Brown (NSW)
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Michael Pickens (NZ) 3 Andrew Felker (USA)
1 Brady Bacon (USA) 2 Matt Smith (NSW) 3 Brendan Palmer
1 Troy Jenkins (NSW) 2 Dallas Sharp 3 Scott Doyle
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Zach Daum (USA) 3 Matt Smith (NSW)
1 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 2 Brendan Palmer 3 Nathan Smee
1 Scott Farmer 2 Chris Singleton 3 Cal Whatmore
1 Nathan Smee (NSW) 2 Troy Jenkins (NSW) 3 Zach Daum (USA) 4 Kaidon Brown (NSW) 5 Scott Farmer 6 Brad Young 7 Dallas Sharp
1 Zach Daum (USA) 2 Chris Singleton 3 Dallas Sharp
1 Rodney Harders 2 Brad Young 3 Brock Dean
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Reid Mackay 3 Kaidon Brown (NSW)
Bronze Rico Abreu & Scott Doyle
Silver Rico Abreu & Troy Jenkins
Gold Rico Abreu
1 Rico Abreu (USA) 2 Brady Bacon (USA) 3 Nathan Smee (NSW) 4 Scott Farmer 5 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 6 Brock Dean 7 Reid Mackay 8 Jason Bell 9 Kaidon Brown (NSW) 10 Rodney Harders
11 Cal Whatmore 12 Dallas Sharp 13 Darren Dillion