Monday, March 11, 2013
You'll never guess who won...
Teams Nationals, Waikaraka Park
Saturday night's meeting got the crowd it deserved and Waikaraka Park was packed to the rafters, probably one of the biggest crowds in a long time. The pits were buzzing and being in the grandstand as the meeting commenced was great. Always considered the poorer cousin of the Teams meeting in Palmerston North, I think this weekend showed that with a decent crowd and some top notch racing, the Teams Nats can get back to the meeting it was in it's heyday. A huge shout out to the promoters and workers behind the scenes, I thoroughly enjoyed this meeting.
On track it was deja vu for the semi finals, starting off with the Baypark Busters trying to repeat the effort of Friday night in defeating the Palmerston North Panthers for a place in the final. Many in the crowd predicted payback and a Panthers win, and so it would be. Shane Penn took an early lead while hits from 5p Rees on 12m Fraser puncturing the right front tyre of the Buster car and 6p Joblin rolling 11m Remnant at the end of the first lap as good as sealed the Busters fate. 6p Scott Joblin really stood out in this race, his next big hit was on Fraser who's car expired in clouds of smoke. 13m Elsworth was about to give Busters fans some hope when Penn drove wide in turn two, Elsworth smashing the tri-rail into the wall damaging the left front wheel, unfortunately coping some damage himself and 8p Miers smeared the Busters runner across the pit gate wall eliminating him from the race. This left Joblin and Rees running while Miers engaged 15m Ashby the sole Buster left running, Peter Rees taking a great win. Nelson took on the Manawatu Mustangs in the other semi and ran a text book race dispatching the Palmy team to the 3rd and 4th place runoff. Once again Jared Gray put in the hits that mattered and for the second time at the meeting rolled the luckless 62p Simon Joblin, this time in turn three. 83n finished off Asher Rees in the same corner and Blair Cunningham put Kerry Humphrey up the wall before the red lights were brought on to extinquish a fire beneath the Mustangs car. This left four Tigers against 66p Jack Miers and a predictable win. Watching the Tigers run a rolling block on Miers at one stage as their runner blasted passed was a joy to watch.
The battle for third place was really a race of two halves, the first half a flag race (one of the few of the weekend) that the Mustangs had control of, having put 13m Elsworth into the wall on turn 2 of lap 1. 66p and 64p running comfortably while the Busters lacked a bit of cohesion, Remnant and Ashby actually running into one another at one stage before the wheels fell off the Palmy boys. Ashby's blocking of Miers and a flat tyre for 64p Humphrey gave Elsworth the gaps he needed to catch and then pass on the last lap for a very close win and a great comeback. The grand final had the Nelson Tigers taking on the Palmerston North Panthers who were chasing their 6th win in 7 years. Joblin and Penn were running and 83n Brett Nicholls doing the same for the Tigers. Shane Harwood had a couple of goes at 8p Miers before Nicholls held the tank in the wall for a few laps. He then managed to stop Joblin before 86n Cunningham's tank came to a stop on the grass before turn 3 and that was pretty much curtains for the Tigers hopes. At one stage only 2 Tigers cars were moving against all four Panthers and Penn and Rees clocked up lap after lap untouched before Penn crossed the line for yet another impressive title win. The Tigers had produced their weakest performance in the most important race unfortunately. The Wellington Wildcats made short work of the Auckland Allstars for the 5th and 6th runoff and Shane Penn took out the all in final Superstock race completing their total dominance of the meeting.
There really aren't that many more superlatives you can say about this team of Panthers, they are simply the best. But for all those people kicking up a stink about the reformed Busters, they were the only team to beat the Panthers and provided some of the best racing of the weekend. David Elsworth was the sensation of the meeting and incredible to watch and had Elsworth or the Busters not been at this meeting it would have been the poorer for it. Great Britain don't have any registered superstocks and there doesn't seem to be a stink about Frankie and the boys taking part each year. Get a grip people and enjoy the spectacle.