Thursday, May 02, 2013

Auckland Superstock Title

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Auckland Superstock Title, Rees Shield, Streetstock 290's
April 13, Waikaraka Park

A quality field of 25 Superstocks fronted for the 51st running of the Auckland Superstock title. Unofficially it was held by Malcolm Ngatai who was leading on points when the meeting was abandoned last season, so I guess he was the holder and luckily for us he made the huge haul up from Christchurch to attend - no mean feat. Three heats for overall points and Kelvin Gray driving Shane Penn's 1nz returned to WP in style with a heat one victory, spinning early leader 16b Steve Jude who remained stalled for a couple of laps in turn 2 costing him many points. 118r Bryce Steiner managed to punt 58p Peter Bengston out of his way in the final laps to claim second ahead of the popular Palmerston North driver and 87r David Elsworth made huge moves up from grid 21 to 4th place. 19c Ngatai drove infield mid race in a shower of sparks and clutch parts! Top 10: 1nz, 118r, 58p, 87r, 115a, 74r, 5a, 38r, 73a, 99r

Heat 2 and only one car failed to make the starting grid. Malcolm Ngatai would have pole and lead from start to finish in impressive style making up for the heat one dnf, but 1nz Gray would have a much harder race getting caught up with 16a Aaron Headington after a payback shunt from Jude leaving the cars locked together on the grass for a spell. The big incident though was 115a Darren Short rolling in the apex of turns 3 and 4 as the pack forced four cars wide including 36a Ricky Mitchell, sending huge chunks of concrete flying from the wall. Both 36a and 115a retired on the red light continuing a dreadful run for Short at WP in recent meetings but 49r Chris Brown and 17h Neville Hazelton were able to continue. Another red light late in the race for a stalled 11a Gary Ellis, spun by a rampaging Gray trying to make up places lost earlier in the race. Kerry Remnant driving the 99r Decke car getting a great 2nd place finish to add to his top 10 placing in heat 1. Top 10: 19c, 99r, 23k, 58p, 87r, 5a, 118r, 16b, 1nz, 74r.

Going into heat three, the points had the conspiracy theorists rubbing their hands in glee with a potential 118r vs Busters match-up in the makings. Peter Bengston was sitting pretty on 45pts but with a rear grid start while Bryce Steiner and David Elsworth were both two points back on 43, one ahead of Kelvin Gray on 42. Kerry Remnant on 40pts and local hope Brad Ridland on 39pts rounded out the top 6. With only 19 cars fronting Steiner had only one car ahead of him on the start grid (three of the front six were missing) and made short work of getting to the front. Gary managed to get to second by lap 2 and then things settled into a great flag race with Bengston and Gray swapping 2nd place a number of times. 74r Michael Aulding who had been having an awesome night up to this point got tangled up with 49r Brown and his faint hopes of a podium disappeared. A few laps from the end the flag racing ceased and 99r Remnant had a good swat at Gray just missing the target before 87r Elsworth had one last lap lunge at Bengston also failing to connect. 118r Steiner taking the win and then his title hopes dependent on who followed him home; Gray, Bengston, Elsworth, Remnant and Ngatai filled those positions meaning a runoff was required for first place. A superbly calculated drive by Bengston in the runoff gave him the jump on Steiner when he went wide on turn two and with no mistakes from the 58p, the Rotorua driver couldn't close the gap, another title heading to Palmerston North. A well written article in the programme picking Bengston as the driver to beat and he proved his favouritism.
Overall Top 10: 58p, 118r, 1nz, 87r, 99r, 5a, 74r, 23k, 16b, 19c

Rees Shield
Auckland Alleycats v Meeanee Maulers
Also on a massive programme, the Alleycats had a defence of the Rees Shield against the Meeanee Maulers team from Hawkes Bay. It was 5 v 5 although 84b Randall Tarrant had a few pre-race problems to sort. Scott Tennant took the early lead but the Maulers made their intentions clear with a massive hit by 81b Regan O'Brien on 333a Hayden Cossey in turn 4 and 83b Brett Loveridge holding up the usual Alleycat runner 383a Gary Lonergan. 838a Shannon Savage squared things up a bit with a stonking hit on 82b Beatle Tarrant while Tony Palmer in the 85b sustained damage to the rear left wheel ending his running duties. At this point it looked like the Rees shield might be moving south when Cossey mis-timied a hit, went up over the front of 82b and rolled. Red lights were activated and 83b Brett Loveridge had taken the lead from Tennant and Lonergan who had made up early lost ground. Savage managed to block the HB car and the Alleycats runners resumed the lead before O'Brien slowed both cars. Lonergan escaped, took over the lead and faced the white flag chased by O'Brien. Unable to haul him in, Lonergan crossed the line for a very close win for the Alleycats, locking up the shield for another season. 383a, 83b, 84b, 388a

The final event on an ambitious programme was the Streetstock 290's with a field of around 19 cars featuring a big contingent from Gisborne. This is a class that constantly lacks numbers in Auckland but when they get them they are great to watch and when there are as many class drivers as they had in this field we were treated to three action packed heats. 61k took an easy first heat win ahead of 7g Travis Gooch, heat two it was 51a Craig Anderson who headed home Travis Gooch, 9g Sean Gooch and 58r Mike King. Our heat one winner was well down in about 9th. Going into heat 3 Travis Gooch was the man to beat and only 14 cars managed to front. This was a great race with hits everywhere. 7g was damaged early and pretty much circulated without too much more damage but with the amount of carnage the field size dropped after a number of red light incidents leaving Gooch to drag the 7g home last in 9th place, scoring enough points for a well deserved victory and finishing of a great night at Waikaraka Park.

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