TWS Stockcar Teams Invitation
Eight fairly evenly matched teams arrived at Huntly PlaceMakers Speedway for night one of this increasingly popular early season meeting. The Auckland Alleycats were the defending champions but along with a few other teams had a number of pre-meeting dramas including one car not even making it off the trailer leaving them with a bare bones team of four cars. The sight of the weighing scales in the scrutineering area was a major too, some cars well over weight and needing some urgent Jenny Craig treatment. I believe there were also some cars rechecked after the parade laps were completed.
Meeanee Maulers 80 v Wanganui Vulcans 115
It was noted on the dummy grid that Francis Potaka was waving at Regan O'Brien as he drove past him towards the track and Wanganui would also get the last laugh too with a narrow win, despite 98v Dion Mooney hitting the wall during the hot laps and the rear end collapsed putting him out. 82b Jeff Hart took an early lead before 69v Justin Cunningham spun him handing the lead to 85b Tony Palmer. 96v Potaka did the running for the Vulcans along with 99v Wayne Wright. O'Brien and Cunningham both took over the rolls of blocking and did an outstanding job, O'Brien holding up three Vulcans cars at one stage. Palmer lost a wheel and with it the Maulers chances disappeared. 83b Brett Loveridge landed a huge hit on the 69v tank but it was too late as Potaka headed home Jeff Hart and surprisingly O'Brien managing to come home third despite mainly blocking, such was the carnage in the race.
96v, 82b, 81b, 69v, 89v, 83b, 85b
Waikato Raiders 180 v Gisborne Gladiators 10
Gisborne are always crowd favourites and so often its only bad luck or car reliability that rob them of a good win. The Raiders on paper looked one of the strongest teams and they proved it with a massive win. 96h Neville Hazelton and 65g Dave Kingsbeer sat the race out as reserves. 98h Justin Hutchby was the kingmaker in this race with a huge hit on the race leading 63g tank of Sam Hughes, that left the steering wheel in Sam's hands but not attached to the car anymore, not surprisingly the tank was out but Hutchby was able to continue and would eventually finish in 3rd. This left 64g Ian Barron leading but some brutal racing including some great blocking by 66g Bruce Harding taking the bonnet of 97h Scott Gallop's car brought on the reds for a second time. Upon the green light both Barron and 68g Keaton Batt failed to restart leaving Harding as the sole Gladiator and a 1-2-3 finish for the Raiders earned them great points, 92h Andre Stenson driving a great race for the win. Harding was impressive but 3 v 1 was an un-winable position and he followed the Raiders cars round for the remaining laps and the Gladiators 10 point haul.
92h, 94h, 98h, 66g
Auckland Alleycats 35 v Rotorua Rascals 160
The Alleycats had no sub and there were a few problems during the hotlaps but when Malcolm Sines was interviewing Gary Lonergan at the pit gate the crowd got a great laugh, after being asked what was wrong with the car Gary replied "the cars good as gold, no problems here!" Murray Kitt sat the race out for the rascals. 388a Scott Tennant in his debut teams appearance took the early lead with Lonergan and things were looking good for the champs, 833a Bernie Fox taking out two Rascals cars in succession and the 385r tank of Matt Nilsson having a puncture. But how quickly things change, 333a Hayden Cossey stopped in turn 1 and remained there for the race and with a 1 man advantage the Rascals took control, Fox was spun in turn 4 and Nillson made a massive blow front on to the Fox car leaving both of them stranded for a few crucial laps. Lonergan attacked the 538r car of Shannon Orr and rode up the side leaving both cars stuck together. 353r Dale Stewart sent Tennant into the wall in turn four just as Fox was able to restart but by this stage the Alleycats had lost momentum and Rotorua picked up a hard earned and well run race. The Nillson hit on Fox was deemed legal and so the Rascals grabbed a great haul of points. The only annoying part of this race was trying to work out who was who with two of the hardest numbering combinations in teams racing in a single race!
353r, 835r, 383a
Kihikihi Crusaders 10 v Manawatu Steelers 180
Like Auckland in the race before, Kihikihi only fronted with four cars and 16p sat out for the Steelers. This race started out in great fashion with some of THE biggest hits of the night but big hits sometimes backfire and the Crusaders cars were decimated after only a few laps. 747k Ivan Lammas put in a huge shot on early leader 510p Jay Knight in turn two while 7k Dave Moore did the same to 9p Stuart Rackham. Red lights were activated for Lammas and Moore failed to restart but was still on the track. Knight was able to continue with 98k Rhys Beaumont running for the Crusaders. 357p Aaron Iremonger was next to be removed after hitting the 7k and breaking the front bumper. 98k Beaumont retired leaving 17k Ben Patrick solo and with no chance against the remaining 3 Steelers. An impressive win.
557p, 510p, 9p, 17k
Waikato Raiders 150 v Meeanee Maulers 30
Caldwell and Hart sat this race out and the Maulers were going to need a big win for any chance of progressing to the finals. The Raiders had looked great in their first heat and backed it up with another strong performance here. 98h Hutchby lead out early from 85b Palmer and 92h Stenson. O'Brien and Loveridge set up a rolling block which resulted in cars going everywhere in turns 3 and 4 unfortunately for the Maulers O'Briens car was now dead and the 83b was left in the wall. 97h Gallop went of in a cloud of smoke leaving 2 v 2, Cook and Palmer for the Maulers and Hutchby and Stenson for the Raiders. Hutchby never relinquised the lead and 92h Stenson put in a big hit on 85b, Waikato getting home comfortably and the Maulers hopes ended. Hutchby undoubtably the driver of the night, brutal and fast with no quarter given.
98h, 92h, 86b
Gisborne Gladiators 30 v Wanganui Vulcans 165
From the green light only 3 cars took off leading most of the pack sitting on the start line, Wright, Barron and Cunningham doing the running. This race was most notable for two things, the 66g of Bruce Harding who seemed to hit every Vulcan car at same stage and just kept on going and going, he almost managed to roll the tank of Cunningham, blocked Wayne Wright giving the lead to Barron who looked like he was going to take an unlikely win until a cloud of smoke and some power steering fluid spraying over the driver brought on the red lights just one corner away from a win. It looked mighty uncomfortable and he was quick to exit the car. 69v Cunningham just had to cross the line for the win but the 65g of Keaton Batt stalled on the restart and dropped down a place to 3rd behind Potaka. Not the easy victory the Vulcans would have hoped for and so close to a Gladiator 1-2.
69v, 96v, 65g
Manawatu Steelers 160 v Rotorua Rascals 35
Whoever won this race was definitely going to the finals and if it was a close finish both could qualify. A big ask for the Rascals after defeating Auckland, the Rascals only had four mobile cars make it to the track. Jay Knight was on pole and if Im not mistaken lead for the whole race. 557p Darryl Wallace took most of the big hits and as was mentioned by the commentators the Palmy cars are built so tough they seem to keep on going being the difference as a couple of the Rascals cars were left stranded for long periods of the race. 835r Damian Orr did managed to wreck the steering on Wallace's car and the Nilsson tank slowed Knight but 9p Rackham did some incredible driving avoiding the Rascal's block cars ensuring the points went mostly to the Steelers. Rotorua were now vulnerable points-wise if Auckland or Kihikihi managed a demolition job on the opposition.
Auckland Alleycats 180 v Kihikihi Crusaders 15
Good sportsmanship by the Crusaders allowed this race to be delayed until after the previous Rascals/ Steelers race giving the Alleycats enough time to get a fourth car mobile. Ultimately it would cost Rotorua as the Alleycats pulled off a sensational win to grab the top 3 places. The effort to get the 333a Hayden Cossey car on the track was incredible. Early retirements from 98k and 747k meant the Alleycats had a chance to qualify and although the 333a expired before the end of the race, it did enough to help get Tennant, Fox and Lonergan home ahead of 17k Ben Patrick. An unlikely win but the Alleycats through to a finals matchup with bitter rivals the Waikato Raiders.
388a, 388a, 383a, 17k
Although there were exactly zero rollovers in the teams racing, it took nothing away from the spectacle. The match-ups were still really good and not a dud team out there. In fact I think this was the most evenly balanced Huntly Teams field I've ever seen. I was mightily impressed with Justin Hutchby for the Raiders and Bruce Harding for the Gladiators. Manawatu and Waikato would appear to be the form teams but anything can happen in teams racing. A special mention also for the commentary team that really excelled last night - 10/10 in my book, great interviews, points updates, race info during red light stoppages, updates from the pits and the sound system was perfect. Great job Mintie and Malcolm Sines, it was an excellent part of a great nights racing. One more shout out too for the Streetstocks, bloody awesome! Finally a decent field (I think 24 of them) with hard fast racing and even a visitor from Christchurch, 31c Simon Bland who was incredible to watch. The only rollover of the night was in this class and 9s Chris Singleton took the honour and was a great sport considering. Also Gooches everywhere! I think there were four of them on track, what a fantastic effort. Lets hope the rain stays away and finals night can get underway, otherwise I believe Sunday 1pm is the alternative.
Auckland Alleycats v Waikato Raiders
Wanganui Vulcans v Manawatu Steelers