Monday, March 21, 2011
Team Nats Night 2
Superstock Teams Nationals
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
With a fairly successful first night, not only were the weather Gods playing the game but also a much bigger crowd turned up for finals night and most would have left well pleased with the teams racing at least. The support programme included the Minisprint GP, 18 Modifieds for the Auckland title and 10 Supersaloons.
First Semi Final
Palmerston North Panthers v Waikato Wanderers
Waikato were going to have to really raise the bar if they were to beat the Panthers and just a lap in it was looking good when 96h Aaron Headington managed to roll 8p Scott Joblin in turn 4. At the same time 95h Ansty was being blocked by 7p Bengsten. The red lights came on for Joblin and there were good signs for the Wanderers but unfortunately 93h Karl Ross who had been put into the wall on turn 1 would remain stuck there for the rest of the race, so any advantage had just been lost. Upon the restart Palmy assumed its usual tactic of 2 runners with Bengsten left to do the blocking. 97h and 96h both ran for Waikato and only Ansty slowed to block. The hallmark of this Panthers team is that they never seem to panic and no matter what happens in the first few laps they seem to have a composure and sense of purpose that other teams lack. Shane Penn took the win with 97h, 96h and 5p Rees all on the same lap. Win to the Panthers and a place in the finals.
Second Semi Final
Rotorua Rebels v Hawkes Bay Hawkeyes
Personally I wanted Rotorua to win this because they looked the stronger of the two teams and it would make a better final in theory. HB's chances were looking shakey after the warm up laps with smoke coming from 31b Long's car resulting in a 3 minute bell before withdrawing from the team. This meant 34b Mike Mac would take his place and he had been a massive asset to the team so far with his blocking. From the green light 32b Palamountain stayed on the brakes blocking the entire row while the other row almost completed a lap (which would be a huge talking point later) 95r Hewson was leading but was taken out by 34b. This gave the lead to 35b Steve Jude and then a passage of the race where hits were going in everywhere. Easily the most action of any race from the whole weekend. It ended with a group of cars piling into each other by the start finish line resulting in Jude being spun and facing the wrong way where upon he was hit by two Rotorua cars. Now I'm just guessing, but one of the hits was by 95r Hewson and a red light was activated and he was removed to the infield. With 8 laps still to run there were plenty of damaged cars. It appeared at this point that 98r was leading from 33b and 97r Horse in third. 32b Palamountain spun 98r giving the lead to Foley which set up a nail biting finish where Foley was held up just metres from the line while the tank raced passed for a great win to Rotorua, or so it seemed. The flag was given to Foley and the win to HB with the news that 97r was a lap down.
5th and 6th Place
Auckland Allstars v Kihikihi Kings
Essentially the fight for the wooden spoon. Auckland only had four cars with 9a Hammond out. Paul Vasey took on the blocking role and 8a Bryce Marx did the running. 7a Mitchell was off early and although the Kings had many attempts, particularly Dion Mooney, Marx was able to continue on and take the flag for the Allstars first win of the weekend. No disgrace either for the Kings, as both teams had been worthy additions to the weekends racing.
3rd and 4th Place
Rotorua Rebels v Waikato Wanderers
With both Ansty and Hewson as reserves both teams had lost a potent team member. 97h lead early by was held up by the omnipresent tank of Ross Ashby, giving the lead to 98r. In fact the tank was really the difference between both teams, Ashby seemed to have a hand in everything. The lead changed a few times but Waikato seemed unable to capitalise and the structure of their race fell away. Rotorua's Bryce Steiner coming home for the win ahead of Karl Ross and Mark Decke.
Another strong result for Rotorua but as with the teams meeting in Palmy, they showed alot more cohesion than in recent years and this team really does look the goods for next season.
Palmerston North Panthers v Hawkes Bay Hawkeyes
The odds-on favourites up against fierce rivals Hawkes Bay who really had quite a challenge ahead of them. Perhaps wisely, maybe not with hindsight, the stockcar of 34b Mike Mac was reserve along with 6p Wayne Hemi. From the green flag 7p Peter Bengsten took the lead followed by 9p and 8p. HB's usual runner Steve Jude walled Peter Rees but then had problems and went to the infield. 31b Long blocked Bengsten until being put up the wall leaving 4 Palmy cars running against 3 as Jude had rejoined the race. Before the green light was activated 32b limped to the infield effectively ending HB's chances, 4 v 2. From there on Rees blocked Gary Foley and Bengsten blocked Jude leaving 9p Penn and 8p Joblin reeling off the laps towards an inevitable Panthers win. It almost felt as though the drivers orchestrated the finish with Penn winning the race in his last teams appearance for the Panthers, a fitting way to go out with the chequered flag for one of their strongest assets.
So that was it for another year, 5 wins in a row for the most successful race team in the sport for many years, possibly ever. Was the meeting a success? Well I guess the acid test will be whether it runs again next season, hopefully it will and the noises since the meeting seem to indicate it didnt make a loss, lets hope that is the case. Roll on next years Teams Nationals, hopefully with at least 8 teams and a full house!