TWS New Zealand Superstock Title
Huntly Speedway, January 28 + 29
At last years NZ title held at Rotorua, Joe Faram was possibly the first man eliminated, sent skyward on the infamous turn 1 push, failing to complete a single lap. Fast forward a year and Faram is the last man standing after a run-off for first place at the hugely successful 2011-12 version of the New Zealand title, completed last night at Huntly Speedway. A fairytale comeback for one of the most popular competitors in the class. Also a fairly amazing feat considering he was the only non-Palmerston North car with a realistic shot at the title heading into heat three. Two of those P cars did manage to fill out the rest of the podium, 79p Kerry Humphrey in second and 7p Shane Penn rising from the ashes of the repercharge to claim third spot.
A big crowd was in fairly early for the finals night's first act of attrition, to reduce 28 last chance hopefuls in the repercharge down to two, to complete the line up of finalists in the three heat championship. A few cars failed to front for various reasons and were replaced including 31p McCabe, 16b Jude and 10r McRobbie. This meant 115h, 87n, 5r, 24h and 591p Wayne Hemi would get one more go, albeit from the rear of the field. 87n Stanaway required a 3 minute bell but was unable to fix a brake line and pulled to the infield. Green lights and with only 2 chaotic laps completed, most of the front runners had been eliminated including both Ngatai brothers, Karl Ross and Kerry Remnant. 7p Shane Penn escaped the carnage to lead from 33r Robbie Mabey but of more interest was 591p Wayne Hemi having powered his way up to 8th place already. The race restarted and then it was a full on drag race for those prized first two places. Penn cleared out to consolidate his place but 5n Nick Fowler and 23h Lance Ashton battled for second with Fowler's last corner lunge at Ashton not enough to qualify. Hemi's progress was halted somewhat with a ride over the wheel of 16h Headington a few laps previous but at least we saw a glimpse of what the new Red Waka can really do.
Championship Heat 1
41b Jason Long required the 3 minute bell but had he known what was coming he might have just quietly headed for the infield! Turns 1 and 2 the pack managed to negotiate okay but like a steam train the pack barrelled in to turn 3, 1nz Dale Ewers was spun and dragged causing a pile up which 7n Craig Boote narrowly managed to avoid, unfortunately for 41b Long he rode up over the front of 62p Joblin and was rolled. Also involved was 5v Taylor who received damage to his roll cage ending his night, 118r Bryce Steiner DNF, and the very unlucky 8h Dave Roigard who was sent infield for moving on the red light. 8p Miers and 1nz Ewers were left on the track but were firmly last. 92r Kyle Fraser lead 23h, 4b, 7p, 2nz, 79p and 4p Chad Ace. The next drama to play out took two real prospects from the competition, what started as a simple spin of 58p Peter Bengsten by 135r Scott Hewson ended up with the 58p rolled and the 135r perched on top. Hewson was given the chance to drive the car off the 58p but failed with DNFs recorded for both of them. Between red lights 23h Lance Ashton had been spun out of the leading pack and Craig Boote had moved up to 8th with Fraser still leading. The next stanza of racing claimed both 54p Bevan Humphrey and 8p Miers both with terminal issues ending their nights. 92r Fraser went wide on turn three letting both 2nz Scott Joblin and 4b Faram through the gap with 2 laps to go the 2nz was putting distance between himself and the whole field. A big lunge by 79p Kerry Humphrey in turn 3 gained him 2 vital spots at the expense of Shane Penn and Kyle Fraser. Palmy cars would finish 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7th but a post race relegation for 2nz Joblin would drop him two places. 88p Jack Miers recorded the fastest lap, 16.99 seconds while 282s Phil Ogle moved from grid 23 up to 9th.
Heat 1 Top 10: 4b Faram, 79p Humphrey, 2nz Joblin, 7p Penn, 92r Fraser, 72p Joblin, 14p Ace, 7n Boote, 282s Ogle, 89w Robertson
Championship Heat 2
In contrast to the full on action of heat 1, heat two was a straight out drag race and points grab. Early spins for 92r Fraser and 282s Phil Ogle were costly as was 32p Graeme Barr's wall ride courtesy of 118r Steiner but unluckiest of all was 7n Craig Boote puncturing the right rear early in the race and relying on other cars retiring to gain any sort of decent points. 41b Long retired early while 72p Simon Joblin lead for most of the race until held up by Fraser, 88p Jack Miers inheriting the lead, recording the fastest lap again for heat two but unable to hold off Joblin who recaptured the lead late in the race. 8h Dave Roigard impressed with a solid third place. 14p Ace spun dropping a few spots while 32p Barr also dropped 5 spots from his starting grid. The result left 5 of the 6 top cars from Palmy with only 4b Joe Faram sitting in third on points the odd one out. Heat 2 Top 10 : 72p Joblin, 88p Miers, 8h Roigard, 16r Osborne, 79p Humphrey, 37r Hunter, 4b Faram, 135r Hewson, 7p Penn, 62p A Joblin. Points after two heats 79p 47pts, 72p 47pts, 4b 46pts, 7p 41pts, 88p 40pts, 2nz 38pts
Championship Heat 3
Any person in their right mind looking at the points after two heats knew we were going to have a new champion and he was most likely registered to Palmerston North, also that Joe Faram was going to have a very short and spectacular third heat. Anyone with a video camera was focusing it on the bright orange tri-rail. Perhaps the only upset would be some of the Rotorua cars might get up for a podium spot if they worked together. Faram and Osborne both appeared out of the pits with new colour schemes on the front and rear of the cars in the faint hope of avoiding detection. Faram had a grid 18 start, Osborne 25 but the obvious favourites for the title Humphrey and Joblin were on 12 + 13. 23h Ashton was slow off the start and 7n Boote was sent into the wall, 135r Hewson was first to be spun and Faram quickly moved up to 6th place. The major action erupted as Boote had a shot at 62p, 118r Steiner took 4b Faram to the wall in a shot that could so easily have ended his run, luckily able to refire and continue. 1nz Ewers took 72p Joblin into the wall between turns 3 + 4 and 88p Miers smashed into the pair, facing backwards into the wall where his race, and title hopes would end. Red lights to remove 72p Simon Joblin. At this stage Faram was still running, Simon Joblin was out, Scott Joblin was tangled up with Boote on the infield and Shane Penn had moved his way up to 5th spot. 58p Bengsten held up 16r Osborne and both 135r and 118r starting put in some big shots and most of the damage to the Palmy cars, Steiner making a telling blow by spinning 79p. Red lights for Rees and Miers who were stalled at either ends of the track, Miers not having moved since the first red. 32p Barr was leading but points-wise it was 79p Humphrey on 67, Penn on 65 and Faram on 64 having lasted longer than most people expected. The final couple of laps involved a big group of the leading cars all coming together on turn 3 including Osborne, Humphrey, Steiner and Joblin, Faram seized the opportunity and ultimately made the move that would win him the title, passing the entire group with a daring outside manoeuvre. Despite some blocking from Bengsten on the final lap, Faram would end up tied for 1st with Humphrey on 68pts requiring the runoff that he would deservedly win. Rotorua cars did manage to get up behind 2nz Scott Joblin for 5th and 6th, Ken Hunter and Mark Osborne respectively.
Heat 3 Top 10 : 32p Barr, 282s Ogle, 7p Penn, 37r Hunter, 4b Faram, 79p Humphrey, 135r Hewson, 16r Osborne, 92r Fraser, 2nz Joblin
An incredibly popular win going by the reception the Hawkes Bay driver received on his flag lap after outpacing Kerry Humphrey in the runoff. It did make me wonder how many more accolades this talented driver may have collected over the years had he not been out in the wilderness as the lone Gisborne representative at so many meetings. It's unimportant now, having finally captured the big one. Well done also to the Huntly club for putting on a great finals night, plenty of atmosphere, strong programme, a fantastic heat three finale requiring a runoff for the title with excellent commentary, buildup and updates throughout the night - a vital part of any championship.
Meeting rating : 8.5/10
Programme : $5, good quality, collectable
Driver of the night : 4b Joe Faram, quite an achievement
Parking : $2, with security
Best Moment : The first two laps of that repercharge, carnage!