Auckland Stockcar Title, January 21
Waikaraka Park, Auckland
Stone the flamin' crows as Alf would say, not only did the Auckland Stockcar drivers work together to get one of their own home for the local stockcar title, they annihilated all the visitors and made it a 1-2-3 Auckland podium! Im lovin' it. It could have something to do with the fierce warning I saw Marissa Gough shouting out in the pits before the meeting "if any Auckland car takes out another Auckland car they are gonna get the bash from me!" A field of 37 cars turned up to contest the Auckland Stockcar title, including a decent amount of Huntly cars and four Rotorua drivers. Split into two groups, the top 10 from each group would go through and then a repercharge for the remaining cars to get the final 10 for a 30 car field, then 3 x heats to find the champion.
Group 1, heat 1
91a Paul Chatfield was spun in front of the whole field and had a massive effort to claw his way back to 5th place to qualify. Biggest disappointment was 14r Matt Nilsson who was actually leading for a couple of laps (flag racer) being spun late in the race and slipping to 11th place. 2nz Bernie Fox managed to finish 4th even with a puncture. Biggest casualties, 15a Carl Campbell and 81r Damian Orr dnf. 69h Callum Whiter took an impressive win from grid 15.
Top 10 qualifiers : 69h, 12a, 57a, 2nz, 91a, 7a, 34h, 8a, 85a, 137a
Group 2, heat 1
Defending champ 88h Justin Hutchby was in this group but a race long battle with 51a Mark McNabb meant neither would get through. Hutch almost had McNabb over on his side on lap 1 and a flat right front tyre ended his chances. 8r Scott Fredrickson took the lead early and was a convincing winner. 55h Neville Hazeltons hit on the 981r tank of Steve Gray cost him his place finishing 11th. 61a Leroy Neill took two huge hits, one from Hazelton and one from 59a Mason who was letting nothing get in his way.
Top 10 qualifiers : 8r, 95a, 59a, 29a, 5h, 981r, 78h, 67a, 10a, 22a
Last chance to dance and there were a few cars you wouldn't expect in this race. From the green flag 42h Lance Gribble was on the brakes holding up the inside row and when both 51a McNabb and 88h Hutchby were leading with neither wanting to go ahead of the other, the race turned into slow motion! 13h Jamie Symon was spun in front of the pack and then it was a mad scramble for those remaining spots to qualify. Both Hutchby and 81r Orr made slow progress but did enough to get through, 15a Campbell and 51a McNabb both dnf. 14r Matt Nilssons night ended here in a huge cloud of smoke. Eleven cars qualified from the repercharge for a 31 car field.
Top 11 qualifiers : 55h, 69a, 11h, 65a, 88h, 81r, 77a, 38a, 51h, 28a, 13h
Finals Heat 1
It only took until turn 3 of lap 1 before the first pile up and rollover. 10a Chanelle Gordon spun in front of a group of cars including 28a, 11h, 5h and 13h with 38a Ryan Smith left with nowhere to go except over onto his side. 95a Gary Lonergan was just able to sneak round the outside. Both 38a Ryan and 5h Stenson removed to the infield. On the red light 59a Trevor Mason had taken the lead and would eventually take the chequered flag. 88h Hutchby would retire soon after spinning 95a Lonergan who was able to hook reverse and take Hutch to the wall, they had been running in 2nd and 3rd place. 8r Scott Fredrickson was taken to the infield losing valuable places, while 69h Callum White would smash into a spinning 28h. 67a Krizo was slowed by a puncture but biggest stirrer of this heat was 85a Shannon Savage, spinning 34h Anton Leek and landing a huge hit on 51h Alistair Van Amsterdam. Biggest movers were 81r Damian Orr from grid 24 and 12a Mike Stanaway from grid 30 up to 4th.
Top 10 : 59a, 81r, 29a, 12a, 77a, 95a, 137a, 55h, 2nz, 8a
Finals Heat 2
This heat had plenty of action with Anton Leek and 22a Leigh Cossey having a great race long battle. 29a Scott Tennant had the early lead until 8r Fredrikson took over but a spinning 67a couldnt be avoided, then a massive hit from 85a Savage sent Fredrikson into the wall taking a while to refire the car. 69a Dave Seymore's promising start ended in turn 2, stuck in the wall for a number of laps before rejoining the race. 88h Hutchy served 137a Jamie Fergusson into the wall in turn 1 almost tipping him over before once again retiring. Tennant held on for the win from 81r Orr, Lonergan, Mason and Fox.
Top 10 : 29a, 81r, 59a, 95a, 2nz, 57a, 65a, 91a, 12a, 69h
Finals Heat 3
Going into the final heat there was a three way tie for first between 81r Orr, 29a Tennant and 59a Mason with 95a Lonergan 6pts adrift in 4th. There were about 5 empty spaces on the starting grid. 12a Mike Stanaway sitting 6th on points was on pole postion with Lonergan handily placed on grid 4 while Tennant was starting well back on grid 26, Orr (13) Fox (18) and Mason on grid 24. On the green 85a Shannon Savage, easily the best stirrer of the night put 34h Leek up the wall, 95a Lonergan had smoke emitting from the engine bay and when 8a Laurie Maber went hard backwards into turn 4 bringing on the red lights, the 95a was also pushed from the track, not sure what the story was but a certain podium positon was gone, one contender down. On the restart 81r and 8r lead 12a Stanaway and 65a Adam Mills. Next it was Scott Tennants turn to be attacked and first it was 69h Whiter taking him to the grass, only for 8r Fredrikson then to have a go. It was good to see Tennant one of the few drivers who would turn back on to the grass and re-enter back where he was taken off unlike many others who took the fastest way back to the track. 81r Orr had driven a blinder up to this stage and pushed both 137a Fergusson and then 85a Savage out of the way but next lap (or should I say Nek Minnit) Fergusson got him good and while Orr reversed to get out of the way 12a Stanaway ploughed into him. 59a Mason had a flat right front wheel but was still able to circulate gaining points. 2nz Bernie Fox took over the lead and held it to the finish. Time though for one more big hit and Mason managed to roll 34h Leek on the back straight just for good measure. The Auckland stockies had managed to eliminate every visiting car except Scott Fredrickson, awesome stuff.
Top 10 : 2nz, 65a, 12a, 77a, 29a, 59a, 85a, 8r, 137a, no other finishers.
On paper this meeting looked okay, the quality of the show was definitely going to be how good the Stockcars performed and boy did they perform. Scott Tennant had an outstanding night and proved he's not only fast around the WP track in the Marx chassis but also he can now take the hits and work his way out of trouble. If he's anything like his Dad we are in for a long and successful career and its great to see it really blooming in this, his second season of racing. The new Auckland champion and finalist at the NZ Stockcar title, a pretty good month for Team Tennant! Trevor Mason taking second in the very fast 59a and Bernie Fox rounding out the top three, another driver having a golden run at the moment.
Meeting rating : 7/10
Programme : $2, good quality
Driver of the night : 29a Scott Tennant
Parking : Free
Meetings Best Moment : 85a Shannon Savage, the terminator absolutely took to the visiting cars helping give the locals their best result in ages.