December 15, Waikaraka Park
Thirteen Saloons and nine Streetstocks made up the fields of the two feature classes and really that's a pretty small pool of talent to draw on for entertainment and doesn't really give their respective titles much value as something to win, similar to last weeks Waikato Superstock title. Never mind, in my vow to be more positive and write nice things, both classes still managed to provide good racing and in the case of the Saloon's second heat, a bizarre final lap with two rollovers. The other classes of interest were the new Six Shooters and the Rees Shield up for grabs with the Stratford Stormers mounting a challenge in the Stockcar class.
Rees Shield Auckland Alleycats v Stratford Stormers
Auckland's third defence of the shield and Stratford had a fairly strong team on paper but after the warm up laps they had lost 409s Justin Robinson with a broken axle. 838a Steve Gavin sat out for the Alleycats. Lonergan and Fox got the jump on the field chased by 406s Hayden Barker. 408s Shane Kells and 333a Hayden Cossey assumed blocking roles and for a large percentage of the race the two Auckland flyers did enough to avoid the attempts by the Stormers block men to get them. Towards the end of the race though, things had tightened up and when Lonergan's power steering failed and he was struggling to come out of turn two, 407s Daniel Nagle managed to block and hold him up, fortunately for Auckland, Fox avoided the two Stormers cars now holding Lonergan up and despite a final attack by Kells, Fox came home for the win ahead of Lonergan who still managed to finish. Stratford filled the next three places 407s, 406s and 408s. Cossey the only other car to finish. It would appear the Meeanee Maulers are next to challenge for the shield.
In the other Stockcar heats standout driver had to be 23a Tony Baldwin, although he never made it out for heat two, he easily managed the biggests hits of the night. 11a Matthew Shutte feeling the force of a monster hit in heat one making a huge hole in the wall and in heat three he ended the race long battle between 95a Gary Lonergan and 2nz Bernie Fox by spinning Lonergan in turn 1 and then pile driving Fox into the turn 3 wall sending huge amounts of cement flying. Fox retaliated but got pinged for hitting a stationery car ending the carnage. 41a Carl Urlich took out the feature race. Other wins went to 168h Billy Neill and easily the fastest car on the night 34a Mark Wearing. After Baldwin's antics I think they will be calling the Kowhai Guys to repair the wall! Only two Stratford cars managed to make it out for the heats and a few Auckland cars were away at the U23's meeting but still a respectable field of about 17 stockcars.
Not much to report on the Streetstocks, the commentator said "Streetstocks are back in force" which would appear to be upsell in the extreme. Numbers started at 9 and dropped to about 7 by the final heat which became a Rotorua versus Auckland battle, 24a Jono Lauder took the spoils. Craig Anderson won heats 2 and 3 but a DNF in heat 1 cost him the title. Not many more Saloons were in attendance but 13 of them did have a good number of real contenders and heat one was a battle between 77g Dan Cook and 48a Phil Towgood. Towgood winning and I gotta say this guy must have a muscular right arm from constantly having to wave the chequered flag! His good luck was pretty much going to end there though after an incident filled second heat. 66a Peter Church and Towgood spent a number of laps dueling mid pack with a bit of rough stuff thrown in, 49h Bodie Abrahamson was well out ahead and took a great win but crossing the finish line Towgood piled into the wall and took a massive ride up the wall into turn one while at the same time heat two second place getter 97a Robin Thomas rolled about 5 feet short of the finish line. It was a spectacular finish and certainly woke the crowd up! 77g also had a dnf throwing the title wide open. Only 10 cars fronted for the third heat and 46a Nigel Ross saved his best drive of the night for this heat and took a fairly easy win ahead of 74a Scott Lansdowne the other main title hope, 49h Abrahamson, could only manage a 7th place but it was still enough to get him 3rd overall.
Superstocks and a new class called Six Shooters rounded out the racing. 10 Superstocks fronted all registered to Auckland which is a huge turnaround on previous seasons and the biggest surprise was 4a Neil McCoard in the ex-Headington car. They were giving it a shakedown in preparation for 97uk Murray Harrison who arrives next week and will campaign the car at a series of meetings. It had the original body from when Neil took 3rd place at the New Zealand title in Gisborne and I have to say he still has those silky skills and drove it like he hadn't been away at all. The plan was to race off the back but a 3rd and 2nd place in the two heats he raced, means his racing didn't quite go to plan! 115a Darren Short took two good wins and 5a Brad Ridland the feature. The Six Shooters (10 in attendance) weren't too shabby and definitely better than a number of classes running at WP. Given that the numbers will increase I think they will be a good addition to the ranks so long as they replace something else, not added to the already large number of classes racing.