TWS Stockcar Teams Invitation Finals
Sunday November 18
Rain put paid to Saturday nights running of the finals, so 1pm Sunday saw a fairly mediocre sized crowd roll in for some of the best stockcar teams racing I've seen in years. Most readers of this website will be well aware of the titanic battle between Auckland and Waikato in the semi finals, it really was something a bit special. Huntly Speedway should have been a sellout and I seem to remember saying this last season, this meeting is a right little gem that truly gets better and better with each running and the reason is the continuing improvement in the quality of the teams attending. There is no dead cert winner and certainly no weak teams which makes every race a thriller. Finals day was first across the line instead of points.
Rotorua Rascals def Gisborne Gladiators
The Rascals could feel well peeved having missed the top four finals, and if the way they were hitting the wall and each other before their hot laps was any indication, there was obviously a bit of pent up anger about to be unleashed. The Gladiators unfortunately were about to feel that wrath. Both teams only managed to field four cars and things looked good for the Gladiators as they took an early lead with 65g and 63g. An early red light for Murray Kitt, who was one of a number of drivers to be burned by errant hot fluid over the weekend seemed like a gift for Gisborne but with the 68g failing to last more than a few laps (in most races) the Rascals took the upper hand and ultimately came home with a solid win, 538r Shannon Orr taking the flag.
Meeanee Maulers def Kihikihi Crusaders
7k Dave Moore lead out early but being spun first by 82b and then 81b left 83b Brett Loveridge in the lead and although there were plenty of hits going in, nobody touched the 83b who clicked off lap after lap for an easier win than expected. 747k Ivan Lammas showed great speed in this race but the Crusaders nailed every car except the one that mattered most, the runner.
Major Semi Final 1
Manawatu Steelers def Wanganui Vulcans
12 laps of full on action for the first of the semis where clinical driving by the Steelers got them home over a spirited Vulcans side. Aaron Iremonger lead early but it was the blocking of 96v Francis Potaka that caused the Steelers most grief. 510p Jay Knight and 557p Darryl Wallace provided most of the cover but it was 9p Stu Rackham who managed to drive over the wheel of Potaka in turn four ending his attacks. 99v Wayne Wright had a few more goes at the lead car, Knight finished off 98v and a cunning blocking move stopping the 69v tank from reversing into Iremonger on the back straight got the Steelers home with minimal damage and a place in the final.
Major Semi Final 2
Auckland Alleycats def Waikato Raiders
What can you say about this race, instant classic! During the hot laps Raiders stand out driver of the weekend Justin Hutchby broke the rear axle eliminating him from the team. A huge loss before the flag even fell. But this was just the beginning. 333a Hayden Cossey would sit out for the Alleycats and 838a Shannon Savage would get his first run. From pole the Alleycats lead with 388a Scott Tennant, 97h Scott Gallop and 383a Gary Lonergan running. Gallop took over the lead after Tennant was blocked by 92h, but Savage managed a hit that punctured Gallops right front tyre. Lonergan took over the lead but a perfectly timed shot from 92h Andre Stenson rolled the Alleycats speedster and swung the advantage to the Raiders in a big way with 9 laps to go. Scott Tennant and Bernie Fox still held the top two places but were a car down although lady luck was on their side as Stenson was removed on the red light for a broken wheel guard, back to 3 v 3. Tennant now took on a blocking role along with Savage, while the Raiders didn't have an obvious runner, both 94h Mark Caldwell and 96h Neville Hazelton went on the attack stopping Fox and damaging Savage despite Caldwell being in second place.
Despite the puncture, Gallop managed to pin Fox in the turn 3 + 4 wall until Scott Tennant made one of two moves that no doubt sealed the Alleycat victory. Savage smacked into Gallop's car realeasing Fox and unlike many many races you see where a car sits waiting to be push started, Tennant got in behind Fox and restarted him. Meanwhile Hazelton tore the wheel off Savages car bringing on the reds and reducing the Alleycats to 2 cars. Then came the huge moment when Caldwell and Gallop almost rolled Fox spectacularly sending him flying up on to the wall and back down on his wheels. 96h Hazelton was left as the only fast circulating car but was down a number of laps and when Fox was able to refire the car and crawled around the track it was down to who would get to the flag first. Up stepped that man Tennant who lined up Fox and pushed him the remaining 3/4 of a lap to a sensational victory. It was worthy of a final in front of a packed house but it will be something special to those that were there, specially if you were an Alleycats supporter.
Manawatu Steelers def Auckland Alleycats
The damage sustained from the semi left the Auckland cars as underdogs and so it would prove in a final overshadowed by that race against the Raiders. 357p Aaron Iremonger and 510p Jay Knight would lead out early and despite a few shots from the Alleycats, were never in any danger of losing the lead. 383a Lonergan would block and stop 557p, and both 16p Justin Kinane and 388a Savage would both retire. Lonergan stopped Iremonger late in the race but one final opportunity to take out Knight on the final lap was missed and the 510p crossed the line for an emphatic victory. Although it was a tame final, it capped off a great weekend and deserving winners the Steelers dominated the opposition in every race. The depth of talent at Palmerston North is quite incredible.
In the other teams races, Gisborne beat Kihikihi for 7th + 8th place, Meeanee beat Rotorua for 5th + 6th and Wanganui beat Waikato for 3 + 4th place.
2012 Manawatu Steelers
2011 Auckland Alleycats
2010 Manawatu Steelers
2009 Auckland Alleycats
2008 Manawatu Steelers
2007 Meeanee Maulers
2006 Baypark Bulldogs
2005 Rotorua Rascals