Thursday, January 01, 2015

North Island Stockcar Title, Finals Night

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North Island Stockcar Title
Dec 28-29, Paradise Valley Raceway, Rotorua

Night two started with a repecharge, and I do like me a repecharge! I think its the desperation to qualify, last chance aspect and usually all caution is abandoned and this one didn't disappoint. 99p Ron Tye and 651a Troy Power grabbed the early lead while 464r Mark Willis became our first rollover of the weekend put up the wall by the pit gate. On the red light you could see 47m Keegan Orr had moved up to 6th place in just over a lap and was looking good for one of the two precious qualifying places. 82r Darcy Meurant took over the lead and as the tank of Tye seemed to be losing positions he decided to take Power out in a dive at the wall ending both their chances. 79s Shane Hurliman now had the lead ahead of 32p George Frear and Meurant but the Rotorua driver was able to make the pass on Frear to secure the last qualifying spot.

Heat 1
Only seconds into the race and one of the big chances had retired, 81r Damian Orr slowly drifting to the infield. One of the other outstanding drivers of night one, 218h Aaron Alderton was spun in the big turn 1 push but he could count himself lucky not to be caught up in the pile up in turn 3 and 4 that would ultimately end Scott Fredrickson's night with the roll cage sustaining damage from the 52r of Mike Herbert. 93r Brent Stewart was able to avoid all the carnage and maximise his grid 3 start taking the lead from 513r Callum Flavell and 74r Mike Hohneck. 422r Blair Ashton retired with damage to the front end from the earlier pile up while Fredrikson was still racing albeit with panels on the car flapping. 52r Herbert had a flat right front tyre while Alderton was once again spun on the start finish line. 92g Brett Lloyd was left in the wall on turn 2 before retiring with overheating problems and 32s Mark Duthie also had tyre problems crashing into the wall in turn 4. 53p Todd O'Donnell and 67w Kane Hargreaves  were having a good battle before Hargreaves spun in turn two, the car stationery on the last lap losing points. Ryan Hunt moved up to second ahead of Flavell while 13r Beazley up from grid 21 to 4th and 15p Miers rounded out the top five in a great first race with plenty of niggle. Apart from Baypark's Hunt, a complete Rotorua and Palmy top 10 finishers...
Top 10: 93r, 29m, 513r, 13r, 15p, 17p, 74r, 34p, 53p, 8r

Heat 2
92g Brett Lloyd and 8r Scott Fredrickson were both out for the rest of the night. Alderton's bad night continued blowing the clutch at the start and retiring early. 517s Mark Woods car was steaming before the green flag and he retired by about lap 4. 79s Hurliman took the early lead from Orr, Hunt, Beazley and 34p Rob Mason. Defending champ Miers pulled to the infield early while Hunt had a moment going over the front of Hurliman's car. The Stratford driver then tangled with 53p O'Donnell before taking 82r Meurant up the wall and over by the pit gate bringing on the reds. At the same time 55r Les Holland rolled over in turn 2. A wheel off the 79s bounced across the track causing mayhem for the following drivers. Orr lead Beazley and Mason on the red light but it was all about to change as Beazley punctured, and Ryan Hunt passed Orr, Orr decided to slow and cause some damage. Flavell and Hollyman both had spins in turn 2 and another red light to remove the Ashton car. Orr then focussed on 357p Aaron Iremonger putting in a great hit in turn 4 before 29m Hunt who had lost a tyre was bouncing off the walls to finish the race Orr getting a solid shot before the finish line meaning a lot of work to fix the car for heat 3. Hunt had dropped down to 7th place after leading the race. 34p Rob Mason taking a great win ahead of 17p Shane Simpson who now lead on overall points and 72s Bevan Phillips who had quietly managed to rack up 43 points in in top 5 contention.

Heat 3
After two heats we had a top six of 17p Shane Simpson (50 points), 34p Rob Mason and 29m Ryan Hunt (49), 513r Callum Flavell (47), Bevan Phillips (43) and 93r Brent Stewart (40). Without the usual majority of Palmy cars it was going to be interesting to see if Simpson and Mason had much support, the crew of Ryan Hunt did an amazing job to get the car out for heat 3 and a couple of Rotorua cars, Meurant and Hohneck appeared without wings on the car signalling their intentions. From the get go this was a great final, Orr sat on the brakes, holding up Simpson and Hargreaves while Iremonger took the lead ahead of 14b Palmer, 13r Beazley and 29m Hunt. Hargreaves landed the first big blow and it was a surprise taking on 17p Simpson and putting him up the wall, 68r Spanheke also involved bringing on reds. Hargreaves then attacked 53p O'Donnell before Orr spun the Palmy driver and then blocked 34p Mason. Meurant took on Miers while Hohneck put a huge hit on 53p. Hohneck then attacked Mason in turns 1 & 2. 72s Phillips was having a dream run by this stage until a flat right front ended his hopes. Orr had began chasing Iremonger and Hunt closing with each lap. Red lights for 14b Palmer and a recap of standings had Hunt 5 points ahead of Flavell with Spanheke and Beazley tied on points also. Another red for a stalled Phillips with 5 laps to go and both Iremonger and Hunt tangled and speared off on to the infield losing plenty of placings. Beazley's luck ran out with a flat tyre and 68r Keith Spanheke took the win ahead of Flavell, Iremonger and Mike Herbert. 513r Flavell had taken the title ahead of 29m Hunt and Spanheke getting the last podium spot in 3rd.

A great race and a real step up in action from the night before. A special mention to the commentary team of Paul Hickey and Mintie Mead who kept the points and info coming - specially Mintie with the pit walks and updates on damage which really helps set a great atmosphere and anticipation for the final. No Palmy cars on the podium, its been a while and what an effort by Ryan Hunt repping for Baypark - an incredible achievement with little support on track but obviously a great crew backing up. Another great event by the team at Paradise Valley, one of the few tracks that you can honestly say deliver the goods every time I go there.

Top 10: 513r, 29m, 68r, 93r, 357p, 32r, 13r, 32w, 53p, 17p

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