TWS Stockcar Teams Night 1
The midweek withdrawal of the Wellington team took nothing away from a meeting that just keeps getting better every season. In fact, it seems to signal the start of the real speedway season for me, following what are usually a few lacklustre opening and fireworks meetings leading up to this event each year. Eight very strong teams had entered and included the Rotorua Rascals who only made one appearance last year against Gisborne at home, a welcome return indeed. The locals warned it was going to be a cold night and man it was! Even hardened veterans from Palmy were reaching for the travel rugs to keep warm. The calibre of teams meant there were no walkovers and picking a winner pre race was no easy task. Here's a quick rundown of the eight heats with unofficial points, check out the Huntly website for the full results.
Manawatu Steelers 130 v Meeanee Maulers 60
A repeat of last years first heat and the eventual final. 34p Rob Mason and 86b Marty Cooke were the reserves and 971p Jayden Ward had pole. Ward was spun early by 85b Iremonger who lead from 9p Gareth Edwards and 81b Regan O'Brien. I huge hit on lap 2 by 510p Jay Knight on 83b Andrew Powell would bring on the red lights and end Powell's night big time. This would have given the Steelers a 4 on 3 car advantage but 97p Graeme Ward's car was creating a big pool of oil on turn four during the red light and he too went to the infield. After a long delay the greens came on and it was 81b O'Brien leading with 84b Tarrant running as his cover. This is where 'Ward the Younger' really came into the spotlight by first taking out 81b and then putting in a huge shot on 84b Tarrant. 510p Knight took over the lead and won for the Steelers.
510p, 85b, 9p, 81b
Auckland Alleycats 160 v Stratford Stormers 35
Stratford had pole, 137a Jamie Fergusson stood on the brakes holding up the entire pit side row of cars letting 404s Shane Kells lead out on lap 1 but his lead ending on the next lap, that man Fergusson spinning him. 833a took over for the Aucks and 137a then took out the new Stratford runner 407s Andrew Dodunski who was in second place. Bernie Fox hit the stationery car of Carl Campbell in turn 3 opening the door for 405s Haydin Barker to take him out leaving the two cars locked together in turn 4. Gary Lonergan took over the lead from there. 408s Sandy Flett had a broken wheel guard bringing on the reds and leaving just 2 Stratford cars running against Auckland's 3, with one lap to go. 137a Fergusson finished an awesome individual display by pushing the stricken 838a Campbell car over the finish line to grab a few more points.
383a, 388a, 404s, 137a
Wanganui Vulcans 60 v Huntly Raiders 130
This was the best race of the night, two very even teams with Hilton Parker of Wanganui almost pulling off a great victory only to be pipped on the finish line by 98h Justin Hutchby, one of the other standout drivers of the night. There was plenty of action in this race with the 7v Justin Cunningham tank dishing out some great hits including the removal of a wheel from 97h Scott Gallop in turn 4. The final lap though was the teller with Parker leading but joining all four Vulcan cars in despatching 96h Neville Hazelton giving Hutch the opportunity to go round the outside of the melee around the Gallop car and pip 96v Parker by a bumper. Only stirring up trouble here but should there have been a red light for the Gallop wheel sitting on the track?
Rotorua Rascals 165 v Gisborne Gladiators 30
This race was a bit hard to follow with both teams in similar colours and the stupid use of team numbers making it extra difficult. I know a few of the Gisborne guys but with Rotorua who have been absent a while it was a bit harder to fathom who was who. Anyway a good race but a red light injury to 66g Nick Hutton mid race, and the 61g Giddon car stalling on the start finish line really left it up to 64g Ian Barron and 67g Dave Kingsbeer to match the flying Vegas boys, Stewart, Munro and 202r Damian Orr who sailed around in the 1, 2 + 3 positions. Kingsbeer did managed to get to third by race end.
202r, 206r, 67g
Wanganui Vulcans 110 v Meeanee Maulers 80
With Andrew Powell out for the night the remaining Maulers needed a big win to advance, likewise Wanganui had to win or it was over rover. Like their first race 81b O'Brien took a good lead with 99v Blair Lockett and 85b Aaron Iremonger chasing. 7v Cunningham took first blood with a decent walling of 86b Cook. 6v Mooney took care of the Maulers runner 81b. Iremonger spun Lockett to inherit the lead but Mooney took him out gifting the lead to Lockett who cruised almost untouched (with skillful driving) and some excellent blocking from his team mates to take the victory. A last gasp attempt from 86b Marty Cooke missed the 99v, win to the Vulcans.
99v, 85b, 81b, 7v
Auckland Alleycats 115 v Gisborne Gladiators 80
Auckland just needed a win with this race and they were through, not so for Gizzy who had to finish with big points. Fergusson took out a Gisborne car early in turn two and it was 4 on 3 for the rest of the race. Nice smart driving avoiding the big hits and lots of damage saw the Alleycats through to what seemed like a fairly simple victory, Bernie Fox picking up the win. Once again 137a Fergusson starred in this race with some great driving.
833a, 67g, 383a,
Manawatu Maulers 30 v Huntly Raiders 150
My guess was that the winner of this race would probably be the winner of the title. Aaron Alderton lead from the green but was put away in turn three in a big hit by 510p with 9p in third. Things were looking good for Manawatu. 98h Hutchby put in a great block holding up three Palmy cars and managing to take one of them to the wall. At this point two major things happened effectively ending Manawatus hopes, Knight punctured his right rear while leading and 9p Edwards rammed a Huntly blocker instead of flying round the outside causing him to spin and stall for 2 laps. Caldwell took over the lead for the Raiders ahead of 97p Ward. When Hutchby removed Ward and 34p Mason went to the infield it was over for the reigning champs. Fine win to the Raiders. I did wonder why 971p was the reserve after his stellar performance in the first race, but hindsight is a great thing.
95h, 94h, 9p
Rotorua Rascals 70 v Stratford Stormers 135
With Nick Vallance again the reserve the Rascals had pole. 404s sat it out for the Stormers. Munro had the early lead for the Rascals but was ploughed into the turn 3 wall by 405s Dodunski who lead from 202r, 206r. 205r Punctured and one Rotorua car pulled to the infield leaving 3 v 4 Stratty cars. 405s Dodunski took the win for the Stormers but the Rascals managed enough points to make the semis.
Qualifiers: Alleycats, Raiders, Vulcans and Rascals.
Remember these results are just what I tried to scribble down, and the points are all unofficial as the race finished, I'll see if I can get official results later. It was a great night of teams racing at Huntly and if you can make the finals tonight, do it, you won't be disappointed but bring your thermals! I'm hoping for a Raiders v Alleycats final, go the Alleycats!
Meeting rating : 7/10
Programme : $2 black and white
Driver of the night : 137a Jamie Fergusson
Parking : $2 with security guards