Story by Darren O’Dea
The 25th running of the Krikke Boys Shootout at Bunbury Speedway on Saturday night was full of emotion, drama and intensity and the result was now known until the last second of the 30-lap feature race.
In a gruelling race that saw some drivers crash and many others blow their tyres off the rims on a track that took rubber and was brutal on the Hoosiers, Kris Coyle stole the lead in the last second as Harding blew a tyre.
Coyle pounced to claim the biggest moment of his career.
For Harding it was a bitter blow after being the pace setter for the entire feature race but he managed to keep the 41 going and cross the line second, with Taylor Milling crossing in third and Andrew Priolo in fourth.
However, as if the drama of a lot of different drivers blowing their tyres was not enough, there was another twist.
Coyle’s car made weight but Harding’s did not, seeing him disqualified and Milling promoted to second, while Andrew Priolo was now on the podium after initially finishing fourth.
It was a hard finish for Harding who set the Victory 1 Performances Quick Time at the start of the night, took a second in his heat and won the A Dash to start from pole
The race started after a big build up that saw Ron and John Krikke take a step back in time – Ron parading the 95 sprintcar and John driving Shane Krikke’s W2 – much to the delight of the big crowd.
When the race got underway it was Harding and David Priolo at the front, courtesy of their wins in the respective A and B Dashes.
With five laps done Harding was into lapped traffic and moments later Callum Williamson brought out the cautions after he spun in pits bend.
On the restart it was Harding from David Priolo, James Inglis, Taylor Milling and AJ Nash to round out the top five.
The red lights were on shortly afterwards when Todd Davis and Ryan Lancaster were involved in an incident, also in pits bend.
With eight laps in the books Inglis was gaining momentum and after a duel with David Priolo that lasted a couple of laps, he managed to get into second and set sail for the leader Harding.
Again the field compressed with 19 to go after Jack Williamson pulled up on the main straight.
As the field regrouped officials relegated both Inglis and Brad Maiolo (who was further down the order) two spots each for infield passes, so this meant that Harding now led away from David Priolo, Milling, Inglis and Nash.
Dayne Kingshott, the local favourite in the Krikke Motorsport entry who started from p7, got by Jason Kendrick on the back straight for sixth and shortly afterwards Inglis was back up to third.
Nash and Milling were locked in a great battle for fourth with 15 laps remaining.
It was about now that Andrew Priolo was noticeable in his move forward after he started from P14.
With the unlucky 13 laps remaining David Priolo hit the fence and was out of the contest, so the next time around it was Harding who led away Inglis, Nash, Kingshott and Milling,
With 10 laps left Milling had dropped back to seventh, behind Kendrick who started eighth and was unable to move forward.
A lot of attention was now on Callum Williamson who had also moved through the pack from the rear and was up to eighth.
With five laps remaining Nash slowed on the back straight and at about the same time Kendrick spun around and was collected by Jason Pryde, with the night over for both of them.
Nash rolled the W9 around to the work area that was now closed for the final 10 laps.
The order board at this moment showed Harding was leading from Inglis, Kingshott, Manders, Williamson, Coyle and Milling, but much more was to unfold.
Manders and Trevor Jolly, who started p12, both rolled to the infield and when the lights went green Callum Williamson hustled hard and raced up to third, clearly signalling his intentions.
Kingshott then popped his right rear tyre and this started off a chain reaction that saw tyres blow for Callum Williamson, Maiolo, then Inglis (who was second at this point) and Cameron McKenzie, who started p16.
With two laps remaining the order was now Harding, Coyle, Milling, Mitchell Wormall, Darren Mewett, Andrew Priolo, Matthew Cross and Jack Williamson.
By now it was a game of strategy – push as hard as you could, but try and be as gentle as possible on the tyres which were clearly struggling on a now shiny black surface that had taken a lot of rubber.
Harding looked like he had done enough to claim his second victory of the season until it was his turn to experience a tyre failure and Coyle took the opportunity to write his name into the record books.
Cross finished fourth after starting from the back of the pack (moving up 18 spots to win the Kincrome Hard Charger award), while Jack Williamson, who originally started p9 took fifth and Mewett, in one of his last appearances at Bunbury before he retires from racing at the end of the season, spun around to cross the line sixth after contact with Wormall on the main straight, with the latter failing to finish.