Saturday, November 22, 2008
Huntly Teams - Night 1
I've been to this meeting every year for the last few seasons and never managed to make it to the second night, sometimes because the action didn't quite 'go off' or because night two was easier to go to my local track Waikaraka Park but this year WP is racing on Sunday for their club day AND more importantly the on track action in the teams races was so good you'd be mad not to go and see the finals!
The eight teams present were all pretty good on paper and the only disappointment for me being that Auckland had no team and that Palmerston North sent a Manawatu team that had to be bolstered by two Auckland and one Huntly car - but as we saw later this didn't exactly hamper their progress.
The draw for the two groups was done out in the crowd and so Group 1 consisted of Waikato Raiders, Baypark Bulldogs, Stratford Stormers and the Wanganui Vulcans. Group 2 had the Manawatu Steelers, Meeanee Maulers, Rotorua Rascals and the Gisborne Gladiators. All races were for points 1st 100pts, 2nd 50, 3rd 30, 4th 10 and 5pts for 5th.
Manawatu Steelers came up against the defending champ Meeanee Maulers in their first race and any thoughts that this team was making up numbers were quickly dispelled as they picked off every car bar the tank, standout performance from 64p Carlos Chestnutt as the car took a beating and just kept on going. 168p Billy Neill took the win. Their second group race was looking like it would be the race of the night but the Rotorua challenge ended very quickly for 202r McRobbie and ultimately there were no Rotorua finishers. Win for 64a and a team that has gelled immediately look the favourites for the finals tonight if they can repeat this display. Old dogs dont need new tricks when they're this good.
Baypark Bulldogs took a beating in their first race against home team Waikato Raiders although Scott Fredrickson managed to come home second securing a valuable 50pts but leaving them needing a big win over Wanganui to qualify. Unfortunately a second, third and fourth placing wasn't going to be enough. Did not qualify.
Gisborne Gladiators were the rank underdogs and in their first appearance here came up against Rotorua in an action packed heat involving the first rollover of the night, 62g Jason Jones. Never say die attitude and going into their final race, which was without a doubt saving the best until last, a huge amount of action, another massive hit on Jones by Ricky Kuru leaving him smeared against the wall looked as though they did enough to qualify at Rotorua's expense but a harsh penalty against standout driver 65g Simon Allen cost them points. 63g Bruce Harding also showed years of teams racing experience. My favourite team of the night but sadly not qualifying.
Waikato Raiders looked way more consistent then in recent years with a new look youthful team. Justin Hutchby read the first race against Baypark like an old pro almost eliminating Fredrikson on the last lap while nursing a team mates car round the track for valuable points, nearly a clean sweep. Huge hits in the race against Stratford and a standout performance from Tyson Wootton whose car refused to stop no matter what 72s Bevan Phillips threw at him. Finalists and looking strong contenders for tonight.
Rotorua Rascals qualified but did it the hard way and after the last race looked to have been pipped by the Gisborne team they beat earlier in the night. That win over Gisborne and a loss to Manawatu meant they just got through but will need a bit more cohesion and some luck to win. Rotorua will meet Waikato in the semis but have a pretty good track record of wins between these two old foes.
Wanganui Vulcans boosted by ex 46w Allan Levein and 4w Josh Kahui came up against neighbours Stratford in race 3 of the night. One of the more tame races which had almost everyone running came down to a flag race finish that 55v took over 510s I think. Second heat was against Baypark and 44v Dion Mooney securing the victory to get the team through for a massive challenge against Manawatu in the semis.
Stratford Stormers gave out some of the biggest hits but had reliability problems and their runner always seemed to get picked off during their two heats against Wanganui and Waikato. I think Chris Flett brought in to drive the 45s after Daniel Reade was injured in the first race against Wanganui and scored their only points in race 2. Entertaining but did not qualify.
Meeanee Maulers came in as defending champs but were bundled out pretty quickly. 81b O'Brien had problems with steering in first race and was fed into the backstraight wall in the second heat eliminating one of their best weapons in his new car (which looks awesome if it's any consolation). As always though their two heats provided the nights best action involving Kuru, Hingston and Cooke. Beatle Tarrant became the unlikely runner in the first heat after a disastrous first lap for HB and damage to the tank stopped him just short of the finish line. Did not qualify.
Overall a great night for me after a very low key start to the season. Can't complain about the racing, the support programme maybe was offering too much support as the night finished late and perhaps only needed two classes not three (TQ's, production saloons and Ministocks). Sound system was great where I was (backstraight leading into turn 3) and as always the comments team were excellent. I've said it before and it's worth noting that the Huntly club really does have a great vibe going and this meeting improves every season, this is a club that is on the way up, always a joy to visit. Last thing I'll mention is that I ran into Yaz in the pits who kindly offered to take some shots of the cars on the infield with my crappy little camera as the pits was nearly empty when I arrived with the teams being displayed infield (one of my personal hates - and as Wal86 from StockcarScene joked "send in a remit to SNZ and get it banned" might just have to do that!) so thanks again Yaz and Eddie.
Roll on the finals tonight...
Meeting rating : 7/10