Friday, January 16, 2015

NZ Stockcar Title Finals Night

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NZ Stockcar Title
Top of the South Speedway, Nelson
January 9 + 10, 2015

Rep 1
If you are a "Smash the P" fan or perhaps not a Rees fanatic, I recommend you stop reading now! I think we can all agree the smash the p campaign has been less than successful to say the least. Night two began with two incredible last chance races to get the final 6 competitors. On a slightly slippery surface that evened things up, 8n Paynter was spun from his front row start by 22p Zac Hoult, 89v Blair Lockett and and 661p Bryn Liddell were also spun out of contention while grid two starter 26s Mitch Vickery took the lead from Hoult, 84p Matt Webb, 81r Damian Orr and 14p Ikey Hautapu. 229s Kylee Symes was pushed up the wall in turn 2 but managed to continue. By mid way Orr was up to 2nd and Hautapu was clinging to the last qualifying spot before Hoult hit him and then spun. Symes had worked his way up to 4th passing Webb then made the pass that mattered most on Hautapu. Orr caught and spun leader Vickery on the last lap, Vickery just able to restart and cross the line in second ahead of Symes.  81r Orr, 26s Vickery, 229s Symes

Rep 2
This group was about as star studded as you can get in a repechage. 29m Ryan Hunt and 72s Bevan Phillips had the front row, both a whisker away from making it the night before. 191c Robb put 85s Michelson up the wall while 126p Asher Rees almost tipped over on the pit wall side before the reds came on, not before 1nz Ward and 124s Andrew Dodunski ran into the hapless 85s due to the sun strike and dust. Ward had incredibly made his way up to 3rd from grid 13 behind Phillips by lap two. The running order was 29m-72s-1nz-99p-127p. 4y Matt Inwood then tried to block Ward while Asher Rees despatched 45c Lloyd Jennings on his rampaging way to the front. 14n Justin Hearne then attacked Ethan Rees almost putting him up the wall and ending his hopes in turn 3. On the next red light stoppage Hunt still lead Phillips, Tye, Ward and Rees, Ward pushed Tye out of the running as Ethan Rees paid Hearne back with interest with a massive hit. Ward and Asher Rees then battled for the last place behind our two leaders before events conspired against Phillips. With two laps to go the Palmy boys caught the Stratford driver and Rees nailed him into and then up the wall without losing a beat, two more Palmy cars into the final behind Baypark's Ryan Hunt.  29m Hunt, 1nz Ward, 126p Asher Rees

Finals Heat 1
That left us with 10 Palmy cars in the final. Nobody else had more than four so the deck was stacked already and anyone who could outclass this bunch was going to have to do something special to get it. The first 30 car heat of the finals rolled out on track at 8.15pm after a track watering and 581p Dare called for the 3 min bell. 722p David Lowe would be spun first causing mayhem resulting in the pack crushing into turn 2, 10p Prentice was spun, 98w Blake Ellett pushed up the wall with 94p William Humphries stuck underneath. Three of the best performers on night one dnf'd before a lap was completed. 98n Dylan Hall and Lowe were both on the infield but able to continue. 9n Levi Collier was leading from Asher Rees, Mark Johnson and Mitch Vickery, but on the green light Vickery stalled and 29m Hunt hit the back of him bringing the reds back on. Hunt and Vickery both off. 15v Kyle Heibner was now up to third before 81r Orr passed him and then the race settled a bit before a few big retirements occurred. 11p Peter Rees appeared to be dropping well back in the field while Heibner retired about lap 10, 99c Hamish Cross also joining him on the infield. 9n Collier was caught by the Palmy pack and drifted back in the field, Asher Rees leading comfortably from Taniwha, Ward, Wallace, Rotorua's 8r Scott Fredrickson, 217n Keightley Teece (who recorded the fastest lap) and Dare. 11p Rees finishing last in 22nd with 8 cars not lasting the distance.
Top 10: 126p, 2nzp, 1nzp, 557p, 8r, 217n, 581p, 9n, 15p, 81r

Finals Heat 2
Three Cars failed to front for heat two, and any non Palmy cars were about to 'feel the pain' as both Prentice, and Humphries in particular, picked them off. 33s Tyler Walker was spun on lap 1 holding up both Wanganui cars 15v and 78v while local hope 217n Keightley Teece lead from Kylee Symes and 59c Brad Rosewarne. Humphries first attack was on 9n Collier ending up on the bonnet of the tank in the first of two attempts to stop the Nelsonian. 81r Damian Orr moved up to 2nd before the reds came on for debris from 9n after another huge attack from 94p. 6w Paul Gaskin was next to spin in turn 2 before Humphries then held up the leader Teece, before putting him in the wall in turn 4. In the action 1nz was now in second behind Orr, red lights for Teece to be removed and 18n Harwood was also towed from the track. Nelson's hopes pretty much gone with those three cars. 8r Scott Fredrickson was well back in the field and would need to pick up more points for any chance of a podium. Orr was spun in turn 2 dropping well back in the field although he would make a pass on Dale Robertson late in the race. 98n Hall spun 6v Dion Mooney and Humphries last victim of the race would be Tyler Walker. 1nz Ward picks up the win and who would believe that after being down and out yesterday he was tied for first after two heats. 98w Blake Ellett picked up a 5th place, with once again the top four places going to Palmy cars.
Top 10: 1nz, 581p, 126p, 2nz, 98w, 557p, 11p, 22w, 81r, 3nz

Finals Heat 3
Points after two heats had Ward and Asher Rees tied with a first and third placing on 58 points, Chev Taniwha was next on 56p ahead of Dare (53), Wallace (52) and then Nelson's long shot Dylan Hall  (47). Fredrickson (45), Richard Gaskin (43) and Damian Orr (43) were the only other realistic hopes of a podium finish. Heat 3 rolled out on track at 10.45pm and 5 cars were missing. Darrel Wallace had the best grid position (2) while the other main contenders were mid pack and Hall off the back of the grid. Humphries went straight to work spinning 8r Fredrickson on lap while 10 Prentice put 98n Hall up the wall on turn 2. 84e Mark Taylor lead from his grid 1 start while 81r Orr made a huge move forward from grid 15 to 2nd, but by the time the reds came on for Hall, Orr was leading 1nz, 2nz and 557p. By lap 5 Orr had been passed by the Palmy brigade and Asher Rees was up to 4th. 59c Rosewarne spins as Dare moves up to first place, 9n Collier puts 98w Ellett up the wall on the back straight but is hit by 10p Prentice ripping the back wheel off the tank and bringing on the reds. With 5 laps to go the running order was 581p-1nz-126p-2nz-557p and 81r. 94p stops Orr in turn 1 putting him up the wall and then it was a game of who was going to make the first move and be the bad guy as Palmerston North cars filled all the leading positions. Ward was in the box seat leading Asher Rees and looking set to defend his title but it appeared to me that Peter Rees then stepped in and made the moves that counted. With a lap to go he appeared to shunt Asher into the side of Ward as if to say make your move now! Asher was now side by side with Ward, meanwhile Rees Snr then made some very effective blocking moves holding back both Taniwha and Wallace. Dare crossed the line for the heat win, but it was neck and neck between 126p and 1nz, Rees making the move ahead of Ward just metres from the line and taking the overall title.
Top 10: 581p, 126p, 1nz, 2nz, 557p, 15p, 22w, 8r, 78v, 18n

Final points had Asher Rees (87) taking the title by a solitary point from Jayden Ward (86), Chevron Taniwha and Jordan Dare (83) tied for 3rd, Darrel Wallace (78) and then a massive 10 point drop back to the first non-Palmy car, 8r Scott Fredrickson (68). A complete shut out and almost totally due to Josh Prentice and William Humphries picking opposition cars off at will in heats 2 and 3. It was then just a case of who got what podium, Taniwha winning the runoff over Dare for 3rd place sealed the deal. The highlight for me was watching Peter Rees manipulate that last couple of laps, incredible to watch. So still we have had no South Island drivers make the podium, but don't despair, every other club in the North Island (other than Palmy) are in the same boat at the moment! Despite the stranglehold the P cars had, it was an awesome meeting and a stunning final heat even if there weren't as many rollovers and monster hits, the drama that played out as the five leading club mates had to abandon club loyalty for a moment to see who would get the spoils!

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