Monday, March 29, 2010
World of Stocks, Rotorua
I went to this meeting last year and was underwhelmed by the qualifying on the Friday, but the finals night was fantastic. This year I couldn't afford to take Friday off work so it kind of worked out okay in the end I guess. Not too sure how qualifying went but the first race of the night for me was the repercharge which ended in a very close and as it turns out controversial finish between 218h Aaron Alderton and 14b Gemma Palmer. Palmer was awarded the win and a place in the finals and the wildcard I thought would be a no brainer going to 84b Mike McLachlan but not so, 48r Ivan King got it. I'm guessing his performance on the Friday must have been impressive and behind the decision.
Anyway, as we have seen in so many championships recently the main event threatened to be upstaged by the non-qualifiers. 'Stockcars in Paradise' offered the winner an automatic entry into the finals for 10/11 and after the first heat you wondered if any cars would front for the next two heats! Heat 1 of the World of Stocks seemed a little bit tame in comparison but by nights end we were well and truly entertained with some brutal racing and a third heat that had so many changes in points leader, it was as if it had been scripted and rehearsed. Up until about 3 laps from the finish it was looking good for a Palmerston North win; both 15p Rob Miers and 1p Peter Rees were in the box seat but a concerted effort by the locals (not reknowned in recent years as great at backing their clubmates in similar situations) managed to despatch any non R car and local boy 94r Shaun Stewart took the title. 46v Alan Levien got home for a very hard earned second place and joining him on the podium was Baypark racer 82m Brent Haynes in the borrowed 48h Gallop car. Special mention to 88h Justin Hutchby who dared to not only take on the Rees tank, but put it up the wall and end his title hopes. Good luck and God bless! 74r Mike Hohneck picked up the automatic qualification from the non-qualifiers winning the Stockcars in Paradise title from 86r Richard Keijzer and 36h Mark Caldwell in third.
This meeting is into its forth year now and I was a little bit surprised at the crowd size. It was a fairly good crowd but not what you would expect for a meeting of this calibre. Add into it the fact the the support programme included the BOP Superstock title (won by 135r Scott Hewson) and it is a bit of a mystery. You should definitely pencil this one into your calendar for next season, the Stockcar class really know how to turn up the action and they deserve a massive crowd and the atmosphere that comes with it. One of my only criticisms though would be the amount of time it takes to get the field ready for the "Start your engines" routine before the first heat, instead of building the atmosphere it ironically does quite the opposite and for the first time in a long time, the normally great track surface was not the best with holes developing in the corners that did cause problems.
As I mentioned earlier, there is one driver I haven't seen much of the past few seasons because I hardly ever make it to Meeanee and that is 84b Mike McLachlan. He has quite a reputation and after watching this guy on Saturday night I can confirm it is well earned. How that car keeps going is beyond me but he alone is worth the price of admission. Perhaps not a driver you would pick at the TAB for a podium but I bet you more eyes were on him than who ever was leading any of the three heats he took part in. Huge respect.
Meeting rating : (Saturday night only) 8/10