Story and photos by Ken Keating. (Illusion Photography)
Forty-two cars qualified to run in the Steve Copp Construction sponsored Enduro opener of the winter schedule held at Western Speedway Sunday afternoon.
The race took place even though sunny weather gave way to the rain just as the event was to start and scheduled to run two hours or two-hundred laps with most of the drivers in favor of the wet conditions. Steve Copp and Cam Stanfield, the Expert Champion for 2011, shared the front row for the start of this event with Copp getting to the front first and it only took three laps for the leader to catch the back markers. On lap seven, the first of several yellow flags came out for stalled cars on the backstretch and by this time Matt Schultz was running second with Alex Atkinson in third followed by Stanfiled and Garrett Smith.
On lap ten, Atkinson had moved into the second spot with Schultz, Blair Davis, and Stanfield in the mix still following Copp. On lap seventeen, the yellow came out again for a spinning Brad Aumen in the chicane along the frontstretch. Copp got into the lead on the restart followed by Atkinson, Stephen Crowe, Darren Yates, and Schultz. By lap twenty-three Yates had the lead with Copp running second with Atkinson, Howie Mace, and Schultz running in the top five places. The positions changed quite rapidly over the next several laps as cars bunched up in a few spots around the track with some drivers getting pinched out for a bit. On lap forty-one the yellow came out again with Yates leading and Atkinson, Mace, Copp, and Phil Lagan running the top five positions. By lap forty-seven, the leader board changed again with Lagan in the lead followed by Copp, Rory Smith, Schultz, and Mace and two laps later Copp took over the lead again in close racing. On lap seventy-three, the red flag came out as Geoff Morris nailed one of the big tires and went up slightly on two wheels and coming to a stop along the frontstretch. He had some difficulty walking off a knock to his knees when the car came back down.
By lap seventy-nine Copp was still leading followed by Mace, Yates, Lagan, and Rory Smith running one through five. By the time the next caution came out, on lap eighty-one, Mace had the lead but Yates got by for the lead by lap ninety-three followed by Mace, Lagan, Copp, and Smith. On lap one hundred and eight, the caution again came out for a stalled car and Smith entered the pits after running close to the front. By lap one hundred and twelve, Mace was still leading followed by Yates. Copp, Schultz, and Mike Halls. These five drivers ran in that order through to the end with one hundred and forty-four laps completed in the two hour time limit. It was close at the end as Darren Yates put a charge on Mace but was just a foot shy of taking the win when the chequered flag dropped. Mace and Yates were the only drivers on the same lap with Copp one lap down and everyone else further back. Rockell Kroppmans was on hand to present the trophies to the top three drivers at Victory Sqaure on its conclusion.
The top fifteen positions were held by: #28 Howie Mace, #90 Darren Yates, #15 Steve Copp, #78 Mike Halls, #44 Matt Schultz, #04 Cody Aumen, #82 Danny Madden, #48 Garrett Smith, #11 Alex Atkinson, #83 Shawn Hitchings, # 8 Blair Davis, #33 Tristan Gait, #91 Brenda Leslie, #74 Cam Stanfield, and #66 Ian Walker. BJ. Veld done a lot of work to organize this event and had lots of support from the many drivers that took part to make this event a success. The next event is scheduled for November 27th when Steve Copp Construction again sponsors another Enduro race in the winter Series.