Canterbury drivers streeties ahead
Story by: PETE McNAE - Photo by: Barry Whitnell
There was C as far as the eye could see.
A quick shufti down the list of placegetters in Saturday's South Island streetstock championship meeting confirmed what had already been evident on the track at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway – Canterbury is the home, and the final resting place, for streeties in the south.
The top 10 cars, and 15 of the top 16, carried the C denoting they are raced out of Woodford Glen Speedway near Kaiapoi. The lone interloper was Nelson's Gordon Ingham in 11th but he was only allowed one lap in the final heat before having his hopes terminated.
Instead, it was left to the Canterbury cars to sort out the podium between them as Nelson, Greymouth and Blenheim cars were left to scrap for places 17-26.
The title went to Ford runner Keith Anderson, who listed "being kicked out of the 2010-11 NZ title meeting" as a memorable moment in his driver profile. Saturday's hard-won victory must have come as some consolation.
However, Anderson needed all of the five-point buffer he held going into the third heat. Colin Robinson was close behind in second while the Falcons of Kieran Skurr and David McSherry controlled the last race to push up into the top four overall.
Nelson streetstock supporters should probably look away now.
There were slim pickings for the locals with a number not making it out of the qualifying heats to reach the 26-car finals.
Ryan Bowater showed aggression straight off the start in heat one in Blue group but didn't finish and couldn't return for heat two while Dylan Shadbolt's badly buckled Holden was another to make an early exit.
Club champ Shannon Marr suffered a diff failure and couldn't qualify, while Jon Jimmink did, but was unable to front for the finals. Paul Leslie should have romped through but his Commodore's engine puffed death smoke 50m short of the flag in heat two.
Best placed of the Nelson contingent after two heats were Ingham and Ryan Musgrove, each with 27 points after identical third and fourth finishes in their respective groups, while Cody McCarrison was also comfortably in the finals field.
Only 24 cars were mobile for the first heat, leaving two gaps on the grid, Nelson's Bradley Evans and Hayden Hodson from Blenheim missing the call after trying to repair bent bits.
Team-mates Ingham and McCarrison were both caught in a turn three tangle with Cantab Sam Gowans, the visiting driver needing medical attention and pulling out of the championship. Musgrove then duelled with David Williams in the 65C Falcon, getting spun back to 19th place as the Kiwi Auto Parts Ford of former national champion Blair Leigh took the win.
His hopes went no further than heat two, a slap to the wall wrecking the front left corner of the car. Leigh limped to 19th but that left him well off the pace being set by Anderson (50 points), Robinson (45) and Nelson's Ingham who drove a mighty race to edge Anderson for the win and 43 points overall.
He might as well have painted a bulls-eye on his Ford's bum between heats though. The Canterbury cars made sure Ingham was not going to feature in the finals, Mark Reeves doing the dirty work on lap one.
Musgrove hadn't made it out for heat three nor had fellow Nelsonians Steve Thomas and Daniel Kitto leaving McCarrison, Evans and Hamish Tomlinson to take a battering on behalf of the home track.
Skurr took the final flag but Anderson's seventh place finish was enough to secure the title.
The production saloons raced their club championship across three meetings with three heats in each but the overall victory was decided on the penultimate lap of the ninth race when Mike Arnold dived past David Leitch for the flag.
That win, with earlier second and fourth placings, gave Arnold 163 points overall, enough to fend off Jared Blanchet (161) and Patrick Ward (160) in a very tight title race. Paint-swapping (black doesn't show the bruises) and panel-pushing was rife, Blanchet appearing to cop the worst of it after winning heat one.
Super saloons, youth ministocks and TQ midgets were on hand to give the streetstock crews time to sledgehammer their race cars back into running order with Ian Burson's pace in the super saloon field the feature.
Burson won all four races for the class by yawning margins, his best laps of 14.09sec just a half a blink away from his own lap record of 14.03sec. While the orange and black rocketship was already dominant, Burson might regret not finding that tiny margin that would have made the 21N Corvette the first super saloon to crack into the 13s in Nelson.
Youth ministock racing continues to bring big fields and plenty of pace, although club officials are starting to crack down harder on boisterous behaviour. Morgan Frost grabbed race one and Ryan McKenzie claimed the third but Dylan Clark led the way in the remaining two races, his tussle with Roydon Winstanley in race 20 seeing Clarke get home by less than half-a-second. Luke Ewing, Brittz Carpenter and Joel Keelan forced their way among the usual frontrunners.
With streetstocks topping the bill, patrons probably expected some upside-down action but the night's only partial roll came in the TQ class when Simon Crawford's car hit the turn one wall and flopped on its side. It was an unrepresentative end for Crawford, who finally had reliability issues sorted and showed what he could do with a car that finishes races. Wins went to Canterbury's Rachel Melrose (two) and West Coaster Steve Thompson.
The Nelson club is now trying to drum up entries for the Stanaway Roading Stock Shock, scheduled for two nights on March 9-10. The meeting will be pruned to one night unless numbers improve soon.