Sunday, December 08, 2013

Calm before the storm...

Paradise Valley Speedway
Rotorua, Dec 7, 2013

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Because there was no meeting at Auckland or Huntly I took a quick trip down to Rotorua to see the Auckland Allstars make a very rare appearance at Paradise Valley against the Rotorua Rebels. Both teams are in a rebuilding phase and when I spoke to a few people the last time we could remember any sort of Superstock Teams racing at Rotorua was around 2001, a decade at least! Funnily enough in the pits helping with the Allstars were Frank Irvine, Dave Tennant and Neil McCoard who were probably part of the last recognised team that raced there! Great to see Auckland legends like these helping the new boys. The Rotorua Rebels unveiled their new look and impressive it is too, specially as the entire team comprised of Top Gear chassis which are a sight to behold.

Long time campaigner for the Allstars Bryce Marx was joined by experienced teams racer Brad Ridland, and new to Superstock teams racing Scott Tennant, Jamie Fergusson and Carl Hodge. The Rebels included Scott Hewson, Lance Ashton, Bryce Steiner and newby Richard Mahy in their team. A brand spanking new Top Gear was in the pits for Tony Fabish but didn't run, although later in the night Fabish took the Hewson car for a spin in the Superstock feature. Needless to say, for me, the teams race was the highlight of the night. Auckland won pole and although 5a Ridland took off as the Allstars runner it barely lasted a lap as the engine expired leaving the Allstars a man short. 95r Hewson was running for the Rebels while both Tennant and Marx managed to take Steiner and Mahy to the wall respectively. 9a Fergusson managed to get one of the few hits landed on Hewson during the race but was immediately belted out of the way by a rampant Bryce Steiner who was easily the best performer of the race. Fast AND lethal he made the difference once 96r Lance Ashton retired from the race and we reverted to a 3 on 3 race. At this point Scott Tennant had managed to get within reach of Hewson for the lead but that man Steiner stopped him and that was the last time the Allstars challenged for the win. A clever piece of blocking by Mahy allowed his runner through and a final rolling block by Jamie Fergusson and Bryce Marx failed to stop Hewson who threaded the needle and crossed the line for a great win. Fergusson's car had a lot of damage but his blocking skills had translated well from the Stockcar class and Richard Mahy's first teams race was incredible I thought. A great warm up for both teams who wont head into the big Palmy teams meeting cold like most years. Result: 95r, 97r, 7a, 8a.

The balance of the programme was a little 'thin' shall we say, 14 production saloons, 6 Streetstocks and the BOP Minisprint title which was a cakewalk for 2nz Jade Barnett. Only 19 Stockcars appeared although a few were down at Wanganui for the GP. Of note was the 19r Stockcar of Sam Pearson who I've seen race once before and man this fulla can fly! He took out the first heat and despite being a target in the other two heats, was never far from the lead, one to watch I'm guessing. 13r Grendon Beazley was all class picking up the other two wins. So that was my flying visit to Rotorua, it feels a bit like the calm before the storm as we head into the exciting Christmas period with a whole host of titles up for grabs, lets just hope the weather comes to the party and we have another epic summer like last season.

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