After what has seemed like an extended winter, thunder returned once again to Palmerston North on Saturday night but this time accompanied by sunshine, a dying breeze and created by the roar of Superstock and Stockcar teams racing instead of the skies above.
Superstock teams from Gisborne, Wanganui and Palmerston North competed in a tri-series that provided plenty of suspense and exhilarating action. Each team fronted up with 8, or in Palmerston North's case 7, drivers and various combinations were implemented on the night.
4p Chad Ace scored the opening win for the PN Select team against the Wanganui team with 23p Sheridan O'Hara and 571p Jayme Hemi doing great blocking in their Tanks. 23v Scott Duncan and 38v Zane Dykstra performed well for Wanganui.
The next two races were smaller Sidecar fields which from then on became one big field of 7 starters. Palmerston North hosts some of the best Sidecar racing anywhere in New Zealand and Saturday night was no exception. 17p Tony Hislop and 8p Rob Miller were racing in an incredible animated style, hanging right off their machines, by contrast but by no means slower was 19v John Hannan on the BMW S 100 RR. Overall it was the combination of the very experienced 5p Kieran Payne and Mikey O'Neill who won the feature. These dust devils accelerate at a phenomenal pace and provided a great sight, wheel to wheel, handlebar to handlebar.
A full field of Superstocks lined up for the next all-in Superstock race which included competitors from Rotorua, Auckland, Kihikihi, Wanganui and the whole Gisborne team took the opportunity to get some laps under their belt and started near the back. The current trend seems to have less and less bodywork on the cars and the radical Gisborne cars provided spectators a close look at the drivers in action with their no-frills appearance. The Joblin brothers 3NZ Scott and 2NZ Adam were right on the pace from the outset with Adam securing the win. Spectators witnessed a sensational drive by 10g Peter Rees who started from the back of the large field to finish in the top six.
The first Stockcar teams race was between the Steelers and the Pumas 2 team with rising star 43p Quentin Hammond and 177p Jamie Tinetti coming to the fore with 177p taking the win. James Hickford got a late call up and made his teams racing debut for Pumas 2 after he replaced Stu Rackham.
The Wanganui Vulcans v Pumas 1 race was again a great contest with 15p Luke Miers holding off several attacks to secure the win.
Another large field of immaculately presented Youth Ministocks followed with 55p Max Lowe showing his potential which later on in the evening resulted in a win and then again winning the Feature. 77p Kurtis Tinetti and Wellington visitor Levi Pou also gained places.
Things heated up a notch with the PN Select Superstock teams race against Gisborne, 24p Stu Sowry was in the thick of it and 4p Chad Ace again looked likely until he was put up the wall by 5g Josh Prentice who went on to win with a damaged left-front wheel.
The Meeanee v Steelers Stockcar race followed suit with 43p Quentin Hammond really turning it on and taking out 41b Cameron Swift in spectacular style in turn 3, this collision was one of many on the night which bent many fence posts and kept the repair crew and tow trucks busy. In a thrilling finish 45p Aaron Watson came out victorious for the Steelers.
The Wanganui v Gisborne Superstock teams race was yet another thriller with 31g Gary Davis running in front until Wanganui came back beginning with a great roll of 127g Ethan Rees with 38v Zane Dykstra and 53v Shaun Smith working in tandem. An "alley oop" is what the move is called in basketball. 53v went on to win the race but was later relegated 2 positions for a pole line infringement and 87v Shane Kells who had done some great blocking was excluded for not re-entered the track at the right point after coming off.
26v Kaelin Mooney drove superbly to win for the Vulcans against Meeanee, a prelude to a fantastic civil war Final between the Pumas 1 and the Steelers with another rising star 79p Kyle Rowe taking the title for the Pumas 1.
A great night with something for everyone. I like the forecast for the rest of the season, lots of thunder and plenty of sunshine.
PN Select (135) v Wanganui (60): 4p Chad Ace, 57v Dylan Marshall, 69p Todd O'Donnell, 81v Max Holloway, 23p Sheridan O'Hara
Gisborne (140) v PN Select (45): 5g Josh Prentice, 127g Ethan Rees, 24p Stu Sowry, 581p Jordan Dare
Wanganui (125) v Gisborne (70): 38v Zane Dykstra, 432g Brayden Robinson, 53v Shaun Smith, 31g Gary Davis, 5g Josh Prentice
Race One: 3nzp Scott Joblin, 22w Richard Gaskin, 10g Peter Rees, 72p Simon Joblin, 58p Peter Bengston, 94r Dale Stewart – Fastest Lap: 10g – 17.9854
Race Two: 58p, 126k Asher Rees, 591p Wayne Hemi, 581p Jordan Dare, 3nzp – Fastest Lap: 58p – 18.2968
Feature: 581p, 10g, 591p, 2nzp Adam Joblin, 38v Zane Dykstra, 5g Josh Prentice – Fastest Lap: 581p – 18.4214
Steelers (135) v Pumas 2 (60): 177p Jamie Tinetti, 722p David Lowe, 34p Rob Mason, 76p Cameron Renwick, 72p Tony Norman
Pumas 1 (150) v Wanganui (45): 15p Luke Miers, 79p Kyle Rowe, 78v Mark Johnston, 82v Dennis Black, 667p Hamish McLeod
Steelers (125) v Meeanee (40): 45p Aaron Watson, 96b Brandon Symes, 43p Quentin Hammond
Pumas 1 (175) v Pumas 2 (20): 669p Brendon Tye, 79p Kyle Rowe, 15p Luke Miers, 772p Kyle Lampp, 175p Sam Prescott
Wanganui (110) v Meeanee (85): 26v Kaelin Mooney, 96b Brandon Symes, 65b Royden Hynd, 24b Daniel Melling, 82v Dennis Black
Final - Pumas 1 (175) v Steelers (20): 79p Kyle Rowe, 175p Sam Prescott, 667p Hamish McLeod, 45p Aaron Watson, 669p Brendon Tye
Group One - Race One: 19v John Hannan & Nigel Sturgeon, 7p Matt Stewart & Dean Harding, 11p David Miller & Jade Winter
Group Two - Race One: 8p Rob Miller & James Gerrard, 17p Tony Hislop & Aidan Foothead, 84p Jimmy Hotton & Nick Dunne
Race Two: 5p Kieran Payne & Mikey O'Neill, 19v, 7p, 17p, 84p, 11p
Feature: 5p, 19v, 17p, 8p, 7p, 11p
Race One: 47w Harrison Hocking, 98b Deegan Butcher, 7w Thomas Davis, 56v Trent James, 94w Ethan Donohue, 5b Kara Flynn – Fastest Lap: 56v – 20.8700
Race Two: 55p Max Lowe, 16w Levi Pou, 94w, 27p Conor Linklater, 48p Josh Mulcahy, 99b Jacob Buckrell – Fastest Lap: 55p – 20.9947
Feature: 55p, 11b Liam Danielson, 5b, 64w Samuel Hargreaves, 48p, 65w Dylan Madgwick – Fastest Lap: 55p – 21.9477