Monday, December 21, 2009

North Island Modified Championship


Twenty Modifieds turned up for the 09/10 North Island Modified title hosted by Waikaraka Park on Saturday night and when the dust finally settled it was 3nz Richard 'Bunter' Pierce who came up trumps ahead of local hopes 6a Brian Jesen and Garry Parker in the immaculate 21a. The one name missing from that sentence that you automatically expect to see is 11a Jamie Fox.

A first heat, first lap incident involving 64a Grant Harris spinning in front of Wellington's 5w Brian McPhee would have major repercussions on the nights result. Three other mods sustained damage including Fox who had a flat left front tyre but was still able to continue and lined up for the restart. Then indecision as drivers parked up at the pit gate for repairs only to be waved away. Then the decision was reversed and repairs made and the night continued (well at least it did for the crowd who were in ignorant bliss). A drivers meeting apparently resulted in drivers being excluded from the race and from there on controversy was going to dog this title.

Because I'm only in the crowd, I won't comment on what went on because to be honest I have no clue - and I really mean I have no clue. When the 25 lap final lined up I heard that 11a Fox was starting off grid 16! No info, no detail, nothing! Obviously there had been 'trouble in pit' but nothing had been relayed to the crowd which was pretty disappointing. Stratford's 1nz John Jackson and 3nz Pierce started on the front row and Pierce was able to hold that position for the entire race. I'm sure more will come out about what went down and the Foxy team website will be the place to read it! It's just a pity that an opportunity to really get the crowd in on something so important was completely missed. Something I did notice in the programme was a list of previous North Island title winners and 10s Willie Noonan placed third in 1989, 1990, 2nd in 1991 and a 1st in Auckland in 1993. Great longevity and a not too shabby 4th place at this meeting, long may he continue. Garry Parker previously had a 2nd at Huntly in 2000.

Anyway the supporting programme included some messy saloon racing with quite a few incidents and yellow lights but some great driving from 27a Stephen Corry although it was a night to forget for 61a Roy Walker. There was some excellent Stockcar racing with a 24 car field taking to each other in the first two heats but relatively tame in the "bash for cash" feature. A good night for 15a Carl Campbell. A fairly decent sized crowd had turned up and the meeting finished in good time. This was the last WP meet for the year with the 16th January 'Night of Stars' the next outing for the locals.

Meeting rating : 6.5/10

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dress Rehearsal


Not many regional titles can attract around 50 Superstocks but that was the prospect leading up to Sunday's King Country title at Kihikihi. Although the final number was somewhere around 32, the last chance (and for some the first time) to race on the new track surface before the NZ title is held there in late January was reason enough to be there. Drivers were split into two groups for qualifying heats with a one race final. 31p Andy McCabe took both wins for Blue group and 515r Stan Hickey matched him in the red group giving them the front row for the final.

After a first lap crush into turns 1 & 2, Stan Hickey took off from the pack until spinning a few laps later and eventually pulling to the infield. This left Saturday night's hero 85h Jared Wade with the lead followed closely by local 6k Kerry Remnant and 75a Dave Tennant. I was watching the leading cars for most of the race as you could see Wade's lead slowly disappearing and after a hesitant move around a slowly circulating 5k Brad Ridland, Remnant seized the opportunity and took the lead and the rest was history. 31p Andy McCabe managed to pass Tennant for the 3rd place podium position. There is an excellent review of the meeting on the Kihikihi website worth checking out here.

One of the really positive aspects of the meeting was a few drivers who's fortunes have been 'mixed' recently showing some good pace or flashes of brilliance in a couple of heats. 42p Robin Davenport, 39s Michael Willemson and 75a Dave Tennant who finished 4th overall. As with Saturday night, 62h Dayne Conder will be one to watch and the speed of both tanks 85h and 38r will no doubt be a prospect to relish for the NZ title. Kihikihi turned on a absolute scorcher of a day and dust was always going to be a problem later on but with the NZ's being run later into the evening hopefully this won't be a major. The track wasn't the only surface getting burned, I managed to get pretty rosey red myself so might I add an essential for January at this track will be SUNBLOCK!

As a dress rehearsal for the club, things seemed to run pretty smoothly. I spent a lot of time in the pits and on the pit side of the track which doesn't appear to have any speakers so missed much of what the commentary team said BUT I did manage to get a number of drivers to sign my speedway review book from last season and plenty of compliments on the book which I was really stoked about. Thanks to Kyle Fraser, Stan Hickey, Kevin Free, Paul and Jared Wade, Ross Ashby, Brad Ridland, Gary Ellis, Dave Tennant, Lance Ashton, Aaron King, Dale Robertson, Rick Taylor and a few others. I understand at the NZ title they will be having a signing session and a few other spectator friendly aspects to the meeting which is great, the public really do appreciate it. I dont tend to get involved much with driver/club side of things but I have to say without exception every driver was easily approachable and happy to sign the book or have a chat and in the case of Jared Wade who was already in the tank about to head to the track, it was not a problem.

Anyway, I'll be booking my seat for January 30/31, should be a fantastic meeting and could throw up an unexpected winner if this meeting was anything to go by. The track seems to be a leveller which makes it all the more exciting...

Meeting rating : (want to put 10/10 after meeting all those drivers but...) 7/10

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Waikato Superstocks


After a few weeks of rainouts for most of the North Island it was great to see a meeting go ahead as planned. This meant a bonus for the spectators with the Waikato Superstock title sharing the billing with the Midget 40 Lap Spectacular. 25 Superstocks made the grid for heat 1 of 3 in a night of slick racing, fast turnaround of programmed events and good fields in all classes on show.

Heat 1
Inside the first lap the beautifully presented 89r of Dale Robertson was sent into the wall in a tangle with 24h Warren Burkhart which would eventually bring on the red lights to remove the 24h. The infield was littered dnf's fairly early on: 5k Ridland, 9b Groome and 35h Fraser. 73h Karl Ross lead from 31p Andy McCabe for most of the race but it was a late charging 515r Stan Hickey who would take the lead and the points with a great three way battle for the heat 1 victory. Of note was the hard charging 62h Dayne Conder in the ex Redfern machine showing some good pace for a 6th place finish.

515r, 31p, 73h, 85h, 282s, 62h, 414a, 19r, 23h, 28h

Heat 2
A few cars were missing from the start for heat two. 15h Karl Pegg lead for the first few laps until 35h Dion Fraser took the lead which he would keep for the remainder for an impressive win. 15h Pegg lost a few places after a battle between 22r Steiner and 414h Ansty resulting in them spinning in front of the leading bunch. Heat 1 winner Hickey lost valuable places after being taken to the wall by 62h. Lance Ashton took second from the Wade tank who was looking very menacing for a podium finish.

35h, 23h, 85h, 15h, 91b, 19r, 62h, 282s, 31p, 515r

Heat 3
Going into heat three the points leader was Jared Wade on 45pts, 23h Lala Ashton on 41pts, 31p Andy McCabe and 515r Hickey on 41pts, and 62h Conder and the hardly seen at all 282s Ogle on 39pts. As expected the action really picked up for the final heat and the locals (particularly 414h) made sure Hickey would not be taking the title back to Rotorua. 91b SJ Cavell pulled off before the flag fell and it wasn't long before he was joined on the infield by a few local cars. 23h Lance Ashton lead from 282s Ogle meanwhile 515r survived attacks from 35h and 31p was hampered by 007h Wallbank who brought on the red lights. At this stage 85h was mid pack, 515r and 31p well down the field with Ashton leading Ogle, Remnant and Robertson. On the restart it didn't take long for 414h Ansty to remove 89r and then a final attack on Hickey before Ashton came home for the heat win. Overall points left 85h Jared Wade the victor from 23h Lance Ashton and 282s Phil Ogle taking 3rd place honours.

It was great to get some decent Superstock racing with a big field and a bit of biff and bash. Enough to make me decide to go to Kihikihi on Sunday for the BIG turnout for their King Country meeting.

Meeting rating : 7/10