Sunday, January 29, 2012
NZ Superstock Title, Night 1
Part of being innovative these days means you have to have a hide like a rhino, there are always going to be masses of critics ready to kick you when you are down and that I'm sure is the feeling in the Red Waka camp today following a qualifying night that can best be described as 'below expectation...' Rumours that the Waka was leaking more oil than the Rena, that the engine was blown, the steering wiped out, it was made of pastry and that Elvis was actually driving summed up the fervour for Waka news during the night. Hemi wasn't the only one of course to miss the cut, a number of pre-meeting favourites will now be in a star-studded repercharge that almost resembles a finals night field. There was plenty more action than your usual qualifying night, delayed 24 hours because of rain, 82 cars split into four groups battled it out on a surface that rutted up early on and brought out the best in some drivers whilst others will be rueing missed opportunities.
99r Mark Decke was officially the first DNF with a heat 1, lap 1 incident ending his night. DNFs for 31p Andy McCabe, 46w Alan Levien and a puncture for the reigning champ 1nz Dale Ewers. The win went to 72p Simon Joblin ahead of 16r, 19c, 73h and Joe Faram in 4b. Heat 2 had early punctures for 19c Ngatai and 48n Nicholls which would ultimately cost them both there chances of qualifying, 72p Simon Joblin taking another win from Faram, Ewers and McCabe in a fast close race. 7p Shane Penn had recorded a 6th in heat one but a broken driveshaft gave him a DNF for heat 2. It was about 10.10pm by the time heat three for this group emerged from the pits with quite a few gaps in the grid. Points leaders were Joblin 42pts, Faram 37pts, 16r 35pts, 73h 34pts, 5v on 30pts and 1nz hanging in there on 27pts. The top six would qualify. An early shunt to the wall and a spin later in the race would eliminate 73h Ross from the qualifiers while 55h Allen Van Den Ven was happy to stir up trouble almost getting Joblin on lap 2. Penn recorded the win but not enough points to get through.
Top 6 : 4b Faram, 72p Joblin, 16r Osborne, 5v Taylor, 1nz Ewers, 54p Humphrey
Notable omissions: 31p, 48n, 7p, 19c
Heat 1 would claim 10b Sam Bartholomew, a wild ride over 5n Nick Fowler was followed a lap later by rolling over 118r Bryce Steiner in turn 4. 18n Shane Harwood was next to go involved in a pile up with 73a, 712p and the stationary 33h. All three removed on a red light. The big story from this heat though was after a race long battle with 282s Phil Ogle, 591p Wayne Hemi lost steering hit the wall and then retired to the infield on about lap 9. 41b Jason Long lead from start to finish ahead of 282s Ogle, 23h Ashton, 71p Mellsop and 2nz Scott Joblin. Heat 2 had a big pile up on the back straight sending race one winner Long spinning on to the infield and then rear of field, but once again that man Hemi in the wrong place with a collapsed front end, wheels akimbo bringing on the reds. 118r Bryce Steiner would lead early but Joblin would chase him down for the win. 79p Kerry Humphrey home 3rd. 5n Nick Fowler was up to 2nd place mid race from grid 20 until a spin left him 10th and struggling for points. Going into the final heat the leading group were 2nz and 282s tied on 38pts, 41b Long on 37, 79p Humphrey and 71p Mellsop tied on 35, 118r Steiny on 33pts and local hope 8h Dave Roigard had quietly amassed 30pts. Heat 3 had Scott Joblin on pole but a bad start dropped him down to about 12th place, 6k Graeme Ward put a huge hit on 71p Shane Mellsop all but rolling him and bring on the red lights. 79p Kerry Humphrey had the lead and would hold it to the finish. Hemis night ended with a spin and stall on turn 2, 3 heats, 0 points unbelievable. Ward wasnt finished stirring and an expensive spin on 38r Redfern ended his hopes along with 23h Ashton who ended up stranded in the turn 4 wall.
Top 6 : 282s Ogle, 79p Humphrey, 2nz Joblin, 41b Long, 118r Steiner, 8h Roigard
Notable omissions: 5n, 591p, 18n
Scott Hewson took the lead early and impressed with a start to finish win. 32p Graeme Barr had a early spin but would manage to recover to 7th with the fastest lap of the night, a 16.95 second flyer. Costly spins for 11r, 10p, 52w Paul Fairbrother dropped them all well down the pack. Kyle Fraser came home second from Canterbury's 55c Matt Ngatai. 7n Craig Boote seemed cautious in this heat with 4p Chad Ace biting at his heels for the duration pipping him on the line for 4th. Heat 2 had a nasty prang into the wall for 5k Brad Ridland leaving him knocked out for a moment and bringing the race to a halt. 37b Gary Foley and 55c Ngatai had managed to get caught up in the same incident. Upon the green it settle into a big flag race with everyone playing safe, I did notice the 7n taking very wide lines into the turns leaving himself exposed to a tap and spin but nothing eventuated. Barr wins race with , Boote, Hewson, Ace and Wade the top 5. Points going into heat 3 had 135r Hewson on 40, 7n Boote on 37, 4p Chad Ace and Graeme Barr both on 36, followed by Fraser, Wade and Ngatai. 16h Headington was on pole for heat 3 and first casualty was 859p Wade tangling with 10p Asher Rees and retiring. 4p Ace had a spin and when 32p Barr attempted to spin leader Headington they both dropped a number of places. 115h Darren Short spun and brought on the red lights just as he refired. 87r Elsworth took the win from Barr and out of nowhere 8p Scott Miers had done enough to tie for 6th spot overall with 55c Ngatai requiring a runoff that Miers would win.
Top 6 : 32p Barr, 135r Hewson, 7n Boote, 92r Fraser, 4p Ace, 8p Miers
Notable omissions : 859p, 87r, 62h
The track surface started cutting up in the corners for Orange groups first heat and it would catch out 87n Thomas Stanaway spinning, digging in and ending up on his side. A big pile up in turns 3 + 4 with Kerry Remnant going over the bonnet of 66b Meechy causing the Bay driver to retire infield. 58p Bengsten was spun early from a front grid start and spent the race gaining back places eventually up to about 12th. 89w Dale Robertson taking the win but the fastest lap to 2nd placed 88p Jack Miers, Rees home 3rd ahead of 37r Hunter. Heat 2 for this group I noted as being 'very tame' spins were about it for 71h Wootton, 27p Gargan and 10r McRobbie. The win went to 37r Ken Hunter from yet another Joblin, this time 62p Adam, 3nz Rees, 58p Bengsten and 89w Robertson. Heat three for orange group finally rolled out of the gate at 10.55pm! 27p Phillip Gargan took a wild ride down the length of the back straight dragged along by the pack, 10r McRobbie spun almost taking out 89w Robertson. Mid way through and 16b Steve Jude was leading and in with a good qualifying chance only to be spun by Gargan and then after refiring and trying to gain race speed the frontrunners caught him on turn 3 with Miers sending him heavily into the wall bringing on the reds. Unfortunately a long delay before the red lights came on with Jude's thumbs down, he was hit by 66b. Two laps away from qualifying, Jude was the hard luck story from this group. 88p Miers took the win.
Top 6 : 62p Joblin, 88p Miers, 37r Hunter, 3nz Rees, 89w Robertson, 58p Bengsten
Notable omissions: 16b, 10r, 6h, 87n
So there you have it, a great night of qualifying with a few surprises getting through, the repercharge first up tonight should be a ripper, 28 cars vying for the last two spots in the finals. Hopefully the meeting wont drag as much as it did last night, not getting home until 1.15am, the support programme was too much. Also my pet peeves, the cars parked on the infield before the meeting so you cant have a look at them or photograph them. The pits were empty and void of any atmosphere unless as Smeats pointed out to me, head down to "Ngatai Fun Park" at the end of the pits, at least there was something to do there! Also reading out results while the race is still going - WE CANT HEAR YOU! Wait until the cars are leaving the track and then give us the race result. We were awash with points last night, some right some wrong it was very hard to keep track. Apart from those minor points, a bloody good meeting and well above what I expected for night 1, roll on the finals...