Monday, April 09, 2012
The end is nigh
You get that horrible sinking feeling when you hear commentator Paul Hickey say "it's our final meeting for the season..." Rotorua's Easter Extravaganza weekend was their last hit out and the first of the big clubs to 'shut up shop' for winter after a season dogged by appalling weather and in the case of the Paradise Valley club, a tragic loss of well loved competitor. Despite that, this is one club who can hold their heads high, if you make the effort to travel there, you will almost always witness a great meeting at one of the best clubs in New Zealand. I had decided early on that Easter equals rain, so was intent on staying in Auckland, but when the sun made an appearance and decided to stay, my bag was packed and I headed down for the final night on Sunday.
I'm glad I did too, as the sight of two of my favourite drivers, Wayne Hemi and Kelvin Gray going toe to toe in both heat one and three of the Superstock racing, made it all worth while. In heat one, these two giants of the sport battled for about three or four laps until 52p Scott Joblin joined in and sent Hemi into the wall on turn 3, spoiling my utter joy at watching Superstock racing at its best. The funny thing was that it wasn't even a fight for the lead. I was standing down by the fence on turn one, where the action is always more intense, specially when you witness 31p Andy McCabe rolling spectacularly head on in front of you, and just focussed on these two cars. Standing by the fence you do get to see things probably missed by most spectators, I watched a moment of brilliance as Hemi avoided a spinning 28h Glen Drabble in turn 1, with a move that was instinctual, without a moment of hesitation the 591p flicked to the right, corrected and kept up with the 3nz car of Gray, something that happened in a split second, gave me the chills, just perfection behind the wheel. As for Gray, even though his appearances are sporadic these days, his skills are still evidently razor sharp. It's almost a criminal waste of talent, how I'd love to see him racing week in, week out.
Anyway, that Hemi move summed up the night for me, there weren't many massive hits or dramatic races, even in the Stockcar class when you would normally expect some season long paybacks to get dished out, the racing was more muted or as one person mentioned, a bit lacklustre for a finale. Nevertheless there was plenty of good racing and 58p Peter Bengston once again proved his class by taking the Easter Champs title for the Superstocks. During a season that has focussed much attention on the exciting new cars of Wayne Hemi and Craig Boote, its been the largely unheralded Bengston who has done the business. A very popular winner, 97r Pat Westbury coming home in second place, never quite managing to catch or despatch Bengston in that last heat. It was also my first opportunity to view the new 23h of Lance Ashton in action, definitely one to watch next season.
The Stockcar class had been slimmed down to 26 finalists for Sunday night which unfortunately meant most of the stirrers ended up in the consolation races, and it was those races that provided the biggest hits of the night. 981r Steve Gray and 14r Matt Nilsson putting in huge hits on 94p William Humphries and 51h Alistair Van Amsterdam respectively. I think its time these two guys got a chance at racing for the Rascals, what an exciting prospect that would be. 48r Ivan King won the Easter Champs title for this class ahead of 29m Ryan Hunt and 72r Michael Rumney after a runoff.
Well done to the Rotorua Club on another great season, can it really be over already?
Meeting rating : 7/10
Programme : $3.00, A5 some content in colour
Driver of the night : 58p Peter Bengston
Parking : Free
Best Moment : 591p Hemi v 3nz Gray