Sunday, April 22, 2012
April 19, 2012
On paper they had the perfect mix, two contact classes, Superstocks and Stockcars, two open wheel classes represented by Midgets and Sprintcars, and then the Supersaloons and Saloons to round out a very strong programme. Four of the classes had excellent fields with only the Sprintcars and Midgets missing a few of the top flight drivers that make this meeting live up to the "best of the best" tag. I missed this meeting last season and by all accounts it was one of the best Speedfests ever, so its not surprising there have been a few comments about this one being a bit flat, lacking a bit of action and not quite living up to expectation. Don't get me wrong, it was still a great watch and there were no hotdog classes at all, which is how speedway should be every week in the perfect world. It was bitterly cold though, another gentle reminder that winter is nearly upon us, more reason for a few drivers to let loose perhaps in the Stockcar classes with the season winding up and a few scores to settle one would have thought?
Apart from heat three when the leading point scorers after the first two heats, 17b Aaron Iremonger and 95a Gary Lonergan, were set upon by 34h Anton Leek and 81r Damian Orr with help from 88h Justin Hutchby, there seemed to be more incidents caused by the sheer number of cars rather than any real intention to stir it up. Lonergan's run ended rather acrimoniously, tipped over by the combined efforts of Orr and Hutchby in turn four, but as Lonergan indicated as he walked back to the infield, Orr's previous attempts to get him in turn two a lap or so earlier were a bit dubious and crippled the car making him an easy target. Ironmonger was well and truly taken to but the Ironforce just kept on going, despite being out of the hunt for the title fairly early in the race. Winner 48h Scott Gallop taking the Speedfest Stockcar title for the second time. A special mention for the 211g of Joel Gardner from Gisborne who was a highlights reel of his own, every time I seemed to see the car it was hitting or being hit, good stuff.
Standout class for the night were the Supersaloons. What an impressive display from the cars that physically seem to be getting bigger and bigger every season. Shane McIntyres Hypermac chassis almost makes the 8h Geoff Fletcher car look like a Bambina, they must be a nightmare to pass, not that many of the Hypermacs were being passed during the course of the night. The flying Flynns and Ben Harding really were stunning to watch. 24a Harding taking the title overall and well deserved. 1nzb Joe Faram must have a soft spot for the Huntly track because he seems to achieve his best results here. After two heats he was tied on points with 282s Phil Ogle going into the third and final heat and drove a cool, calm and collected race to win. Ogle was spun early in the race but still managed a podium finish in 3rd behind 87n Thomas Stanaway. 71h Tony Wootton and 38r Scott Redfern rounded out the top five on points.
It will be interesting to see what direction this meeting takes next season with the last Hamilton 400 in its death throws right now, obviously the night will change from a Thursday unless there is some big announcement about a replacement V8 event. The obvious problem I see, is this meeting is basically an exact replica of the John Webster Memorial in Auckland, what will be the point of difference between the two meetings and obviously they both can't run on the same night next season. If you are going to charge top dollar for an event like this, you have to have the right classes on show which Huntly did, BUT the on track action has to be exciting and the competitor mix can be the making or breaking of an event, particularly with classes like the Midgets, Sprintcars and Stockcars. Thats a big ask for any club to have to 'encourage' the drivers to perform.
Speedfest Champions 2012
Saloons 124m Dan Corrin
Super Saloons 24a Ben Harding
Stockcars 48h Scott Gallop
Superstocks 1nzb Joe Faram
Midgets 73k Brian Edwards
Sprintcars 29m Colin Entwisle
Meeting rating : 7/10
Programme : $5.00 A4 full colour
Driver of the night : Sprintcar 55h Daniel Thomas
Parking : $2.00 with security
Best Moment : Supersaloons, spectacular racing