Australian Compact Champion Darren Vine started the 2016-17 season in the best possible way with victory in both the Compact and Midget feature races at the Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday September 17. There were many changes to cars and drivers during the winter but with twenty-one cars on hand for the first night it augurs well for the big season ahead.
The heats were drawn and then inverted for the second round but when the dust settled Troy Ware (44) was top qualifier ahead of Brock Dean (39) Brad Young (38) and Scott Doyle, Vine and Anthony Chaffey all tied on 37. When the green lights appeared for the opening round of the Polar Ice Midget Series Ware (Ware Constructions Spike/Mopar) charged to the front in the 25 lap main with Dean, Chaffey and Doyle slotted in behind. Unfortunately, Doyle’s race was short when he suffered a blown tyre during the second lap and was fortunate to be able to get off the track without any contact. Lance Towns (i Custom Colour Phone Repairs Breka/Gaerte) was spun around during lap 4 and was sent to the back for the second start. During the hectic opening laps Brad Young (Federal Tyres Spike/Gaerte) had a coming together with another car which pushed the left side crash bar onto the rear tyre. It didn’t cause a stoppage and he was able to continue on but finished the race with a big groove in the tyre that was almost right through the rubber at the end.
At the 10 lap mark Ware held a comfortable lead from Dean, Chaffey, Young, Lance Burgess (NZ), Vine, Chris Gwilliam (NZ) and Mark George. The following lap Chaffey (Terry Holland MAC/Eagle) moved to second and Burgess advanced to fourth as the field began to close in on the tail Enders. Ware’s good run came to a sudden stop at the end of lap 16 when he was hit by a lapped car and spun around. No damage was suffered but he was rear of field for the restart and his chance for a first up main event win was gone.
Chaffey led the away the field but within half a lap the running order quickly changed with Vine (Mike Vine Turbos Spike/Esslinger) going to second and Dean (ACERS Engine Reconditioners Breka/Gaerte) shuffled back to fifth. Chaffey maintained the point but Vine applied the pressure and with less than three laps remaining went to the front where he stayed to the end. Chaffey held second until the last lap when his engine faltered and he had to watch Gwilliam, Burgess and Dean go past while he struggled to the end in fifth. Darren Vine’s car is a Spike formerly owned by Jason Gray with a normally aspirated Esslinger engine. The car is owned by good friend and long-time pit crew member Paul McMannim and is a great back up to the Vine family XXX/Turbo Esslinger.
Kiwis Chris Gwilliam and Leon Burgess are familiar faces to Brisbane speedway followers but this season will see them as regular competitors in the River City. Gwilliam has slotted into the seat of the Dwayne Neilson Boss/Esslinger and Burgess and his team have purchased one of the former Brett Thomas/Illuminated Water cars and are focused on the Australian Speedcar Championship at Archerfield in February.
The first round of heats went through without interruption with Young and Towns claiming the wins. Standout F500 driver Charlie Brown made his maiden appearance in the Rod Singleton Spike/Esslinger in the first heat and was content to get the feel of the car. Brendan Palmer (EastLink Breka/Esslinger) led the way until half way in the second heat when the engine dropped a cylinder and he wisely pulled in. His team made many changes but the problem couldn’t be overcome at the track and he sat out the rest of the meeting. Heat 3 suffered with a couple of spins and minor incidents with Chis Gwilliam (Boss Chassis/Esslinger) the victor over Vine and Burgess. Ware claimed the win in the last heat over Scott Doyle and Mark George.
Corey Stothard had updated to a Mopar engine during the off-season but broke a fuel fitting when the car was pushed over the concrete lip on the track when he went out for engine starts. It was repaired only for the power steering pump to fail when he eventually got the car going. Michael Harders had a guest drive in the Foreman Brothers Stealth/Porsche and was grateful to be able to get in some laps. Rusty Whittaker had a quiet night by his standards but came forward late in the feature to finish seventh.
Next Saturday, September 24, the Brisbane Speedcars venture up the ‘Big Hill’ to Toowoomba for a meeting at the Hi-Tec Oils Toowoomba Speedway. Keep an eye on the QSRA website for the list of nominations which will include New Zealander Chris Gwilliam.
Heat 1 Brad Young 2 Anthony Chaffey 3 Troy Ware
1 Lance Towns 2 Brock Dean 3 Reid Mackay
1 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 2 Darren Vine 3 Lance Burgess (NZ)
1 Troy Ware 2 Scott Doyle 3 Mark George
1 Darren Vine 2 Chris Gwilliam (NZ) 3 Leon Burgess (NZ)
4 Brock Dean 5 Anthony Chaffey 6 Brad Young
7 Rusty Whittaker 8 Mark George 9 Charlie Brown
10 Robb Stewart 11 Lane towns 12 Dallas Sharp
13 Cal Whatmore 14 Michael Harders