Waikaraka Park, Auckland
Whatever the script was for this night, it certainly didn't follow any usual expectations! From a slow start, a tame Superstock teams race and a weak field of Saloons, who would have guessed how good the meeting would turn out. The Superstock consolation races almost eclipsed the main feature, the Auckland Stockcar title, but fortunately for us the Stockies pulled out a blinder in the final heats and gave the crowd what they wanted. Just to cap off a strange night, I left the park not knowing who had won the title but still buzzing with the great action, bizarre! With a decent field of 43 cars split into two groups the Auckland cars were actually outnumbered by visiting cars coming from Huntly, Kihikihi, Rotorua and Bay Park. Two elimination races with the top 10 qualifying from each and then a repercharge to find the final 10 for a 30 car field increased to 32 when the finals field actually took to the track. Wins to 8r Scott Fredrickson and 29a Scott Tennant in the two elimination races and not too many surprises although 27h Brett Aikin was unlucky with a tyre popping on the last lap of his heat dropping him outside the top 10. Chanelle Gordon took out the repercharge that featured a number of decent hits, 7k Dave Moore usually involved as he eliminated 9a Kenworthy, 74a Neill and then on the receiving end of 61a Leroy Neill. 98k Rhys Beaumont also deciding to have a go at a few cars, 49h Tony Van Lieshout and 42a Jamie Stanaway the targets.
741a Craig Chatfield and 69h Callum Whiter were off early while 99a Brian Campbell had damage to his steering in a very messy first lap. Biggest casualty was 10a Gordon who went into the wall backwards on turn 4 requiring the red lights. 98k Beaumont and 14k both retired infield on the red. 218h Aaron Alderton had the lead from 242a Fox and 37a Ash Wearing. 35m Eben Young and 22r Logan Craw were up the wall on turn 1 while 51h Van Amsterdam was spun. 37a began dropping off the pace as Fox took over the lead at the half way stage. 8r Fredrickson spun clubmate 55r Les Holland and 91a Paul Chatfield had a flat right rear tyre. Late in the race 13h Jamie Symons spun Fox who collected Alderton leaving 86r Richard Keijzer clear for the win before Fox could scramble back for second place.
Result: 86r, 2nz, 168h, 88h, 8r, 29a, 95a, 218h, 81h
There were a number of lead changes in this heat and the intensity really lifted from heat 1. Title holder Tennant was spun early by 22r Craw, while 741a, 7a and local hope 95a Gary Lonergan were all spun. Lonergan though was spun into the path of 2nz Orr who put a massive hit into the Aucklander dropping him to the rof. 86r Keijzer had lead early but 35m Young took over and a huge battle between the Baypark driver and 8r Fredrickson ensued. 8r would lead briefly before dropping back, finally 2nz Orr made it to the front of the pack and took a great win. A big pile up in turn 4 late in the race would cost several cars points. A late spin by 981r Steve Gray on 218h Alderton finished his hopes of a title win. The black tank of Gray was really flying tonight in a rare display of speed rather than stirring.
Result: 2nz, 35m, 18r, 86r, 881h, 414h, 168h, 242a, 981r, 37a
Going in to heat three we basically had little idea of points, but checking them in the pits after the meeting 2nz Orr lead with 63pts from 86r Keijzer on 61. 8r Fredrickson 58, 168h Neill 56, 81h Smythe on 52pts, 29a Tennant on 49pts and then 37a Wearing and 441h Weir both on 46pts, 218h Alderton rounded out the leaders on 45 points. A big dust up in turn 1 made it hard for drivers to navigate their way through and 242a Fox had the misfortune of hitting a spun 33a Hayden Cossey, while 8r Fredrickson's hopes were dealt a quick blow at the other end of the track spun and involved in a second big pile up - great start for the crowd at least!55r Les Holland was going to do his best to get a Rotorua car home and Fox became his first target before then focussing on 95a Lonergan. The flying 981r tank was leading at this stage. With Lonergan out of the running he put in a huge hit on 86r Keijzer in turn 4, Keijzer able to restart but the 95a sat for a spell before reds came on to remove him despite not wanting to be removed, one of Auckland best weapons gone. 35m Young was next to go with a munted front wheel he ploughed into the wall in turn 3, race over. I completely lost track of who was winning at this point as hits were going in left, right and centre. 5h Andre Stenson almost had 10a rolled, 242a Fox tried to slow Orr car but was pushed aside and then the biggest hit of the night as 22r Craw sent 88h Hutchby up the wall and almost over it into the pits in turn 4. 81h Rinso Smythe was hampered with a flat tyre and then the flag fell for 441h Andy Weir who I thought must have taken the title. A great race indeed.
A number of protests stopped anyone from knowing who had won the title and I believe 2nz Damian Orr was involved in one of the protests so most of us left the track none the wiser. The following day a message posted on Macgor's informed us that 168h Billy Neill and 86r Richard Keijzer had tied for first with 29a Scott Tennant finishing 3rd unable to defend the title he won last year. It was a pity that such a good title ended like this and obviously no runoff being staged. If the stories are right, Billy Neill has never won the Auckland stockcar title in 32 years of competing so it was a pretty special win. Also, Richard Keijzer did exceptionally well to continue after the Lonergan hit and tie for the title. Plenty of positives to take from the meeting though, how good was it to see 169h Robbie Neill turn up with the old 64a Carlos Chestnutt C-Cab, he'll be one to watch. Also the Superstocks... what can you say? 18 of them turned up and once the teams race (won by the GB Lions) was run, you normally were in for three standard support class races, not so! I have no idea what fired them up but 115a Darren Short became the 'target du jour' for the night as the Brit drivers decided he was going to be punished. Punished is not the word, perhaps 'owned' is more appropriate as he was attacked all night and eventually rolled spectacularly in heat three, unfortunately getting hurt in the process. I hope he is okay and gets a chance to square the ledger. Kerry Remnant also rolled the 33r car of Robbie Mabey but I believe 1gb Lee Fairhurst may have been driving. We'll never know because the commentary team were really not giving much detail out (including title points once again - why is it so hard?) one of the only low points of a great night at WP.
Update from the SNZ website:
The second appeal saw Rotorua competitor Damian Orr querying the result of the third heat of the Auckland Stockcar Champs. Damian crossed the finish line in the race, but was disqualified for retiring to the infield “as agreed at drivers briefing as a local rule”. It was established that the Steward of the meeting was not present at the Drivers briefing, which meant that the local rule wasn’t valid (as they must give their assent along with the Clerk of the Course and the Drivers Rep). Hence Damian has been reinstated as a finisher in the race, which impacts on the final result of the Auckland Stockcar Champs.