Sunday, March 13, 2011
Make or break
Superstock Teams Nationals
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
Last season this meeting got the chop leaving Palmerston North with the only viable Superstock teams meeting, a sad indictment on the class. This year, the new promotion team at Auckland's Waikaraka Park decided to give the Teams Nats a lease of life, and over the last few weeks it has been a massive effort by those involved, to not only stage the meeting but getting enough teams to front and make some money. Then came news of the price increase and all sorts of negative feedback about unrealistic charges and threats of no shows from spectators. The good news is the meeting did in fact proceed with six decent teams and most importantly the reigning champs fielding a full strength Panthers team giving the meeting some credibility.
So how was it? Personally I thought it was as good as any recent teams meeting at WP, had some great action, a very strong support programme and although Friday nights crowd was light, the Saturday crowd was large and the atmosphere pretty good. The big question will be whether costs were covered, if the price increase was a good move and more importantly, if it is possible to get at least 8 teams back for next season, if WP do in fact run the meeting again. I hope they do, it has a great history and who in their right mind would turn up the opportunity to see Superstock teams racing in Auckland for $15 more than a club night? How much would you spend in gas to travel to some other track to see a similar meeting - quite absurd the fuss that was generated over the increase in entry.
Palmerston North Panthers v Hawkes Bay Hawkeyes
When your team can leave someone like Peter Bengsten on the infield as reserve it really does make the opposition wonder what they have to do to beat this squad! 6p Wayne Hemi took 31p Murray Long straight into the wall from the green flag, Shane Penn and Peter Rees did the running for Palmy and 33b Foley for HB. Apart from a big shot by 32b Palamountain on 8p Scott Joblin, it was a fairly easy win for the Panthers. Panthers 165 v Hawkeyes 30
Rotorua Rebels v Waikato Wanderers
Rotorua won the toss and after a false start 95r Scott Hewson took up the running duties for the Rebels. This race would be noted for the incident involving Ross Ashby and Tony Wootten resulting in Wootten rolling over on the infield. 97h was out and on the red light Rotorua were holding positions 1, 2 and 3 with the tank still able to continue in the blocking role. As many cars would over the weekend, 95h Ansty went over the bonnet of the tank and rolled to a halt on the infield. By the end of the race only 96h Headington was still mobile for the Wanderers and Rotorua took a convincing win. Rebels 185 v Wanderers 10
Auckland Allstars v Hawkes Bay Hawkeyes
The long awaited return for Allstars fans took a bit hit with 9a Daryl Hammond being tipped over just feet from the start line by Murray Long and Mike MacLaughlin. 8a Bryce Marx took the lead early on, great blocking from 7a Ricky Mitchell kept the Allstars in with a show until 34b spun Marx and 35b Steve Jude took over the lead and held it. A good even race but a vital win for HB.
Kihikihi Kings v Waikato Wanderers
Wootten sat this one out along with 29k. 93h Karl Ross took the lead early, Ansty held 25k in the wall. 94h Remnant took 27k Ridland up the wall leaving him perched there but damaged his own front end. On the restart after the red, 95h Ansty dealt a massive hit to Ian Barron. This left 3 Waikato cars against 2 Kings. Ansty and Remnant finished off 25k Guilford and only 28k Mytton was left running. Win to 93h Ross.
Auckland Allstars v Palmerston North Panthers
Talk about daunting! 5a Vasey was out with damage from their first race and Joblin sat out for the Panthers. Penn immediately tried to take 4a Phil Marx up the wall but he was able to ride it out. Hemi and Bryce Marx both ground to a halt early. Rees put a big hit in on 7a Mitchell but the veteran withstood it and at one point had 3 Panther cars attempting to take him out. It was an awesome sight to see Mitchell's blocking skills back on show. A couple of red light incidents saw the removal of both 8a and 7a for infringements and ended any hopes the Aucks had although a great drive from Phil Marx got him home in second behind Penn and ahead of the only two other finishers, Bengston and Rees.
Rotorua Rebels v Kihikihi Kings
This would turn out to be the race of the night with the biggest crash too. From my scribbled notes I had 27k puts 98r up wall, Decke leading but has problem and slows, 29k goes up and over the bonnet of Ashby's tank and 95h Ansty puts him up the wall. Decke retires and 28k Mytton is leading but makes the fatal mistake of running around the tank on the front straight. The tank clips him and Steiny finishes him off send him flying into the wall and up into the fencing in a spectacular crash. On the red light, there was still 7 laps to go and with 25k Guilford still leading it was looking like an upset was on the cards. 97r Ashby managed to spin Guilford and 95r Hewson took over the lead and held out for the win. Guilford coming home in second from 27k. A great race to end the night and a taste of things to come on finals night.
Support racing for Friday night included the Stocky boys who really turned on some great action. Race one and the sight of 65a Adam Mills sitting on top of the wall between turns 3 & 4 was the standout moment. I missed the incident but I believe Grant Littlewood was the culprit. I spent most of the race watching 137a Jamie Fergusson making life difficult for visitor 162p Adam Joblin and anyone else he felt like attacking, great skills. 22 starters and only 10 finishing summed this race up, a great start to the night. 95a, 741a, 21a, 168a
Heat two featured a great duel between 95a Gary Lonergan and 59a Grant Littlewood that had quite a few lead changes and also 162p Joblin got a fairly clear run in this race managing to pip Lonergan for second place once Grunter had cleared out for the win. Again a lot of action featured in this heat setting up a good third heat. With 59a winning, the points after two heats were: 95a Lonergan on 48pts and starting on grid 16, 741a Craig Chatfield on 46pts but way back on grid 21, 162p Adam Joblin, 29a Scott Tennant, 91a Paul Chatfield and 57a Ryan Eustace all on 39pts off grids 9, 19, 1 and 17.
Heat 3 suffered a few casualties with most of the front few rows empty. Visitor Joblins run ended early with tyre problems and 95a Lonergan was able to take advantage and win the race and title. Craig Chatfield took second and second overall and 29a Tennant continued his great debut season with a third in heat three managing third overall. 95a, 741a, 29a, 9a, 45a, 13a, 168a, 77a. Overall points 95a 73pts, 741a 70pts and 29a 62pts.
A great first night, the two obvious contenders being Rotorua and Palmerston North. The four teams that got through to the semis on points being Hawkes Bay, Rotorua, Palmerston North and Waikato. Auckland and Kihikihi would fight it out for 5th and 6th.
Night two review coming...