Thursday, May 02, 2013
Auckland Superstock Title, Rees Shield, Streetstock 290's
April 13, Waikaraka Park
A quality field of 25 Superstocks fronted for the 51st running of the Auckland Superstock title. Unofficially it was held by Malcolm Ngatai who was leading on points when the meeting was abandoned last season, so I guess he was the holder and luckily for us he made the huge haul up from Christchurch to attend - no mean feat. Three heats for overall points and Kelvin Gray driving Shane Penn's 1nz returned to WP in style with a heat one victory, spinning early leader 16b Steve Jude who remained stalled for a couple of laps in turn 2 costing him many points. 118r Bryce Steiner managed to punt 58p Peter Bengston out of his way in the final laps to claim second ahead of the popular Palmerston North driver and 87r David Elsworth made huge moves up from grid 21 to 4th place. 19c Ngatai drove infield mid race in a shower of sparks and clutch parts! Top 10: 1nz, 118r, 58p, 87r, 115a, 74r, 5a, 38r, 73a, 99r
Heat 2 and only one car failed to make the starting grid. Malcolm Ngatai would have pole and lead from start to finish in impressive style making up for the heat one dnf, but 1nz Gray would have a much harder race getting caught up with 16a Aaron Headington after a payback shunt from Jude leaving the cars locked together on the grass for a spell. The big incident though was 115a Darren Short rolling in the apex of turns 3 and 4 as the pack forced four cars wide including 36a Ricky Mitchell, sending huge chunks of concrete flying from the wall. Both 36a and 115a retired on the red light continuing a dreadful run for Short at WP in recent meetings but 49r Chris Brown and 17h Neville Hazelton were able to continue. Another red light late in the race for a stalled 11a Gary Ellis, spun by a rampaging Gray trying to make up places lost earlier in the race. Kerry Remnant driving the 99r Decke car getting a great 2nd place finish to add to his top 10 placing in heat 1. Top 10: 19c, 99r, 23k, 58p, 87r, 5a, 118r, 16b, 1nz, 74r.
Going into heat three, the points had the conspiracy theorists rubbing their hands in glee with a potential 118r vs Busters match-up in the makings. Peter Bengston was sitting pretty on 45pts but with a rear grid start while Bryce Steiner and David Elsworth were both two points back on 43, one ahead of Kelvin Gray on 42. Kerry Remnant on 40pts and local hope Brad Ridland on 39pts rounded out the top 6. With only 19 cars fronting Steiner had only one car ahead of him on the start grid (three of the front six were missing) and made short work of getting to the front. Gary managed to get to second by lap 2 and then things settled into a great flag race with Bengston and Gray swapping 2nd place a number of times. 74r Michael Aulding who had been having an awesome night up to this point got tangled up with 49r Brown and his faint hopes of a podium disappeared. A few laps from the end the flag racing ceased and 99r Remnant had a good swat at Gray just missing the target before 87r Elsworth had one last lap lunge at Bengston also failing to connect. 118r Steiner taking the win and then his title hopes dependent on who followed him home; Gray, Bengston, Elsworth, Remnant and Ngatai filled those positions meaning a runoff was required for first place. A superbly calculated drive by Bengston in the runoff gave him the jump on Steiner when he went wide on turn two and with no mistakes from the 58p, the Rotorua driver couldn't close the gap, another title heading to Palmerston North. A well written article in the programme picking Bengston as the driver to beat and he proved his favouritism.
Overall Top 10: 58p, 118r, 1nz, 87r, 99r, 5a, 74r, 23k, 16b, 19c
Auckland Alleycats v Meeanee Maulers
Also on a massive programme, the Alleycats had a defence of the Rees Shield against the Meeanee Maulers team from Hawkes Bay. It was 5 v 5 although 84b Randall Tarrant had a few pre-race problems to sort. Scott Tennant took the early lead but the Maulers made their intentions clear with a massive hit by 81b Regan O'Brien on 333a Hayden Cossey in turn 4 and 83b Brett Loveridge holding up the usual Alleycat runner 383a Gary Lonergan. 838a Shannon Savage squared things up a bit with a stonking hit on 82b Beatle Tarrant while Tony Palmer in the 85b sustained damage to the rear left wheel ending his running duties. At this point it looked like the Rees shield might be moving south when Cossey mis-timied a hit, went up over the front of 82b and rolled. Red lights were activated and 83b Brett Loveridge had taken the lead from Tennant and Lonergan who had made up early lost ground. Savage managed to block the HB car and the Alleycats runners resumed the lead before O'Brien slowed both cars. Lonergan escaped, took over the lead and faced the white flag chased by O'Brien. Unable to haul him in, Lonergan crossed the line for a very close win for the Alleycats, locking up the shield for another season. 383a, 83b, 84b, 388a
The final event on an ambitious programme was the Streetstock 290's with a field of around 19 cars featuring a big contingent from Gisborne. This is a class that constantly lacks numbers in Auckland but when they get them they are great to watch and when there are as many class drivers as they had in this field we were treated to three action packed heats. 61k took an easy first heat win ahead of 7g Travis Gooch, heat two it was 51a Craig Anderson who headed home Travis Gooch, 9g Sean Gooch and 58r Mike King. Our heat one winner was well down in about 9th. Going into heat 3 Travis Gooch was the man to beat and only 14 cars managed to front. This was a great race with hits everywhere. 7g was damaged early and pretty much circulated without too much more damage but with the amount of carnage the field size dropped after a number of red light incidents leaving Gooch to drag the 7g home last in 9th place, scoring enough points for a well deserved victory and finishing of a great night at Waikaraka Park.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Into it's sixth year and still pulling the big names and classes that make it live up to its 'best of the best' billing, last nights Speedfest at Huntly PlaceMakers Speedway provided enough thrills and tight racing to ensure it's still on everyones' must do list for next season. A few names that will be associated with this years meeting will be Daniel Thomas in the 55h Sprintcar and 71h Tony Wootton in the Superstocks for very different reasons. The Saloons were first to hit the track and gave no indication of how good the rest of the nights racing would be as they drew the short straw and circled in slow motion on a pretty slushy track, the rest of the nights racing was edge of your seat stuff. 3nz Brent McClymont becoming the very first three time Speedfest champion after claiming the overall points from three heats.
In the Stockcar teams race, the Rotorua Rascals managed to eliminate the Waikato Raiders runner Mark Caldwell, and remove a wheel in the process and then gang up on remaining Raiders laying in some big hits including a last lap of carnage that was a joy to watch. Justin Hutchby given a dealing to in turns 3 + 4. Shannon Orr taking the win for the Rascals and a 2-0 home and away victory over the locals. In the open Stockcar races a field of 23 cars mixed it up, wins going to 33s Tyler Walker and Peter Rees taking heats 2 and 3 and the overall points also.
In both the Sprintcars and Midgets one driver stood out in each class above the rest. Midget 27a Hayden Williams and 55h Daniel Thomas who blitzed the Sprintcar field. Williams had a mishap in heat 2 for a DNF but his performances in the other two heats were spectacular. In the SuperSaloons Grant Flynn continued where he left off on his last visit in the 24a Harding car and although major drawcard 1nz Mark Osborne had a wretched (and short) night, 3nz Ian Burson and 7m Brett Emerson kept things honest in one of the classes of the night.
The Superstocks provided plenty of interest because 71h Tony Wootton decided to have a bit of a stir and his main target was 10p Peter Rees. In heat one Rees had a flat right rear tyre making him vulnerable to attack and Wootten took advantage for a number of big shots. 1nz Shane Penn made light work of a decent field of 21 cars for the win. Heat 2 and 49r Chris Brown notched up his maiden win in the new Superstock but once again all eyes were on the Wootton/ Rees battle, this time the 71h with a flat tyre before retiring infield. After an early spin Penn managed to recover to 3rd behind 87r Elsworth. Penn was leading on points going into heat 3 ahead of Elsworth, Ashby and Harwood. Rees was one of a number that missed out on fronting the 15 car field and so Wootton needed a new target and took a well timed shot on Penn, eliminating both cars in dramatic style. Elsworth, Darren Short and Shane Harwood top three in heat three. Overall points had Elsworth on top, Ross Ashby in second and a run-off between Nelson clubmates Shane Harwood and Thomas Stanaway for third, Harwood winning a four lap run-off with a massive punt in turn 3 that left both cars stalled in the wall before the 18n refired and crossed for a great win.
Overall not too shabby, as I've said before, I would really love to know what a V8's fan or non regular visitor to the meeting (I believe this was the original intent of the Speedfest meeting, hence the Thursday night running) think of this representation of what Speedway is like? I think Huntly have the mix perfect at the moment - in as much as the classes that were on show. Whether the formats are the best Im not too sure but do you want to blind the visitors with complicated formulas and results? That is of course assuming we are attracting a new crowd. If it is just a show for the already converted, then I think a few little tweaks here and there really will make it a best of the best season finale.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I love heading up to Dargaville for a visit and usually you get to see a few cars you haven't caught racing down south, so on Sunday the Finlayson Park track was hosting the CTRA's version of the New Zealand Stockcar title. That's where any comparison with the traditional SNZ Stockcar title ends, this event is fairly lowkey, run in good humour and done and dusted in three heats. Nine cars made the pits, mostly from Auckland and included last years winner Leigh Cossey. His title defence was over during the first heat with a bent axle but he did provide the best burn-out I've seen in ages so he was a winner on the day!
57a Aidan Eustace and 11a Ken Tyson would be the front runners, Tyson winning two heats and the other going to Eustace tied on points after 3 heats requiring a four lap runoff for the title. Eustace had the pace and despite a blocking attempt from the 11a the title was his. 333a Hayden Cossey made the long trip up from Napier after the rainout of the Peter Barry Teams meeting and picked up third overall. Hard luck to local 38d Jeremy Hayes who never managed to get the car onto the track with brake issues. Despite a small field Aidan Eustace really surprised me with the pace of his car and looked faster than I've ever seen him run at WP. Events like this one are great showcasing a few drivers who might not feature in the big fields on major tracks and one of those was 17h Glen Paton who was in his second meeting in an ex-Baypark car that has been bought for a song and given a bit of a tidy up. He had fuel problems for the first two heats but had the car humming in heat three.
Stockcars: 57a Aidan Eustace, 11a Ken Tyson, 333a Hayden Cossey
Jalopies: 2nz Frank Millar, 348d Nigel Bree