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Beachlands Kick Season Off In Style

Beachlands Speedway

STORY BY

DARYL SHUTTLEWORTH
Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

Images supplied by: Robin Simpson

(Disclaimer – results as seen by myself while commentating, results may have changed slightly due to relegations etc. – This article or extracts from it are not to be used by any other form of media without prior permission.) 

The team at Custom Signs Beachlands Speedway would have breathed a sigh of relief after what was a faultless first meeting, as they hosted the Opening Meeting Trophy night.

With about half an hour before the meeting was due to start the rain that had been forecast all day suddenly hit, but the strong wind that was also coming through the coastal Green Island town meant it wasn’t going to hang around long. Despite the wind chill factor being enough for the fans in attendance to rug up with blankets and beanies the track was pristine, holding up well to the constant skiffs of rain that kept coming through.

First grade to hit the track was Saloons, Travis Smith of Dunedin was quick out of the blocks and got off to a flying start, behind him it was clubmate Mark Newell who was making inroads through the pack, looking very fast and eventually taking the lead of the race away from Smith at about the midway point.

Newell would race out to a massive lead, almost half a track as the race wound down. Behind Newell Smith had to contend with Dunedin’s Aaron Andrews who had found his rhythm, working his way up to Smith making a pass for second.

Newell was on the very last lap of the race when something in the rear of his car looked to give way, the back end slopped low but Newell had the momentum and advantage on track to take the race win. Second went the way of Andrews with Smith home third.

Race two saw Andrews race off to an early advantage that he would hold for the entirety of the race, the real battle was going on behind him with Newell, Smith and Central Motor Speedway driver Blayr Findlay in a great battle for the minors. The trio of drivers raced clean and gave each other plenty of racing room but it was Findlay who would finish the race in second just ahead of Newell with Andrews well up the track taking the win.

Andrews would repeat the dose in race three, getting off to a flying start before the red flag came out for Dunedin’s Brodie Findlay who’s car caught fire underneath early in the race.

At the restart Andrews would again make a gap on the field while Smith and Newell battled it out behind the runaway leader. Andrews would take his second win of the night with ease, Newell capped off a solid night out with second and Smith was again constant running home in third place.

Overall points went the way of Andrews, Newell second and Smith third.

A good field of Production Saloons would produce some of the best racing of the night, with clean wheel to wheel action across the field over the three races.

Race one saw Beachlands Tyler Kelk work his way through to claim his first race win of the new season, Kelk was confident and calm in his passing options, not taking risks but reaping the rewards. Second behind Kelk was Aaron Brookland of Dunedin, while clubmate Ricki Pilley banked third place.

Brookland would go one better in the second race, getting away from the cars chasing to build up a bit of a comfort buffer on the field. brookland was one of the standouts in the grade last season and a full off season rebuild was paying early dividends claiming the race two win over Pilley in second while third place was too tight to call from the commentary box with both Kelk and Dunedin’s Cam Bower crossing the line side by side for third place.

The final race of the Production Saloons to me was the race of the night with Dunedin driver Olivia Glover getting off to a big lead, driving away from a massive battle which was unfolding behind her. Unfortunately for Glover the yellow flag would come out when Bower parked up in turn four, evaporating the big lead she had worked so hard to build up.

Glover now had Brookland, Kelk, Pilley all tucked in behind her and looking for a way past, but to her credit she drove well making her car the widest car on track. Multiple times Brookland tried to make a move, one lap on the inside, the next on the outside but Glover was resilient, she would not budge and she bought the crowd to their feet with an amazing, well deserved race win, Brookland threw everything he had at her but would have to settle for second while the best Kelk could do was bank third place on what was a steady night out for him.

The Opening Night Trophy would go the way of Brookland, with Kelk second and Greer third.

Youth Saloons were split into two classes, the first the more experienced drivers who had raced last season, while the new drivers to the grade run in the Youth Development grade.

Heat one for Youth Saloons saw Dunedin driver Max Kemp start where he finished off last season, right at the front of the field and looking to be the man to beat. Kemp drove to an easy race one win with clubmates Ashley Bennett second and Noah Kitto third.

Heat two saw mechanical dramas hinder Bennett, pulling to the infield early in the race, Kitto held an early race lead but was being pressured by Kemp lap after lap.

Kittos car looked to lose power a couple of times in the race, almost like a gear selection issue or jumping out of gear perhaps, both times this happened Kemp was within striking distance and possibly could have made the pass but chose to sit in behind Kitto until he got up to speed. Kitto did well to hold his nerve through this and grabbed a race win, Kemp settled for second with Caitlyn Bennett grabbing third after a heated battle with Dresden Constable who was a big improver in the field.

Race three and Kitto was out early, stopping in turn three having to sit out the entire race. Kemp was again solid and dominated this heat from start to finish, grabbing his second win of the evening. Lycan Cuff of Dunedin was also a standout in this race, finishing a very credible second with Caitlyn Bennett racing home for third.

Overall Kemp took out the event with Caitlyn Bennett second and Kitto third.

The Youth Development grade could almost be mistaken for being seasoned professionals with some good clean racing across all three races. Race one saw Dunedin’s Cruz Soper who had competed in a couple of meetings last season show his class by winning but having to fight hard for it. He battled lap upon lap with Brodie Holley who pressured Soper the entire race showing promise for the season ahead.

Soper would bag the win, Holley second with Blake Fox Millar solid in third place.

Race two and Soper would start further down the grid which gave Fox Millar and Holley the chance to pull a decent advantage. Holley didn’t put a foot wrong in this race, showing good racecraft to shake off Fox Millar and maintain a decent gap back to Soper who was coming through the field. Soper would slip past Fox Millar for second but could make the move on Holley giving Holley the win over Soper with Fox Millar third.

Soper and Holley would go wheel to wheel in race three also, the young pair giving each other plenty of racing room and driving far beyond their years in an impressive performance. In third was Dunedin’s Hunter Glover who was the big improver from race one through to the final race, Glover would stay ahead of Fox Millar in this heat.

With the chequered flag set to fall it was Soper who would charge to the line to capture his second race win of the night, however something happened to Holley, Im not sure if it was mechanical or a lapped car blocking his course to the flag but Glover snuck through to second with Fox Millar and Holley crossing the line side by side, again too close to call that placing.

Rolling out next on track was Super Saloons and a strong field would produce some great racing. The talking point of heat one was Dunedin driver Terry Soper and how he held on to his Hypermac, every corner on every lap the car was well up on two wheels, at times only the right rear would be touching the ground, and looking back on some of the photos captured from this meeting its only a miracle that Soper didn’t end up being the first victim of a rollover for the season. 

Speedway New Zealand President Ricky Boulton started from the front in race one and would remain unchallenged, Christchurch driver Bodie Abrahamson in his brand new Stealth looked to be getting the hang of his new car early, making inroads on Boultons lead but not doing enough to snare the win, Boulton would take this race out over Abrahamson with Soper doing a remarkable job to hold onto a very tight car in third. As Soper quoted on Facebook “the car was tight, the driver was loose”, its fair to say it was entertaining.

Soper and his team worked wonders between races and in heat two Soper was far more comfortable and led at the front despite Abrahamson ducking and diving on multiple occasions to threaten Soper for the race lead. By this point the track was offering plenty of grip mid track and when Soper sat his car there it was near on impossible to make a move. Soper would take the win ahead of Abrahamson with Alister Lister of Dunedin securing a well driven third place.

The final race started a bit untidy, Boulton would take a late dive down the inside of Lister in turn three making contact and bringing out the caution, an optimistic move early in the race which would see Boulton put to the rear of the pack for the restart.

Lister didn’t suffer any major damage and would restart from the front once more, this time around he had to deal with Abrahamson who again found himself sitting in second and unable to find a way past the race leader.

Lister did exactly what Soper had done one lap earlier, sat mid track and made the opposition have to work to make a move which they couldn’t pull off. Lister would bank the race win with Abrahamson taking second ahead of Cromwell’s Ray Stewart in third place.

Soper would win the night overall with Lister second and Stewart third.

Streetstocks are always strong at Beachlands Speedway, and this season does not look to be any different. Now it’s at this point I must heap praise on the young Beachlands trio Jayden Cron, Maddie Stewart and Deikin Borthwick who were all on debut after a number of seasons running Youth Saloons, these three drivers were outstanding on the night and will take no time whatsoever to mold into the local Streetstock grade.

The usual suspects were of course at the pointy end of the field, heat one was clean and fast and a great battle up front between Ben Jenkins and Mitch Lavender both of Dunedin would result in Jenkins crossing the line first with Lavender not far behind, while in third was Clinton Finch of Beachlands looking fast in his brand new car.

Heat two saw another Finch up in the front pack, this time Allan Finch was the man setting the pace after being spun up in heat one Finch was ensuring he got to the front early where he would remain untouched to take the race win, second was Jenkins with Lavender third.

The final race for Streetstocks was more of the same with Allan Finch just too fast once he got out in front. Finch would gap the field, showing signs early that this season he would be the man to beat, second went the way of Jenkins with Clinton Finch third.

The Opening Night trophy would go the way of Jenkins with Clinton Finch second and Dunedin’s Shya McHardy third.

Stockcars would round up the night, always a crowd favorite and a quality field would be on track for the opening meeting. Central Motor Speedway driver Brodie McDonald was the man to watch in race one, McDonald made his debut last season for the Central Coyotes and has a big future in the grade, and in heat one he showed why, dominating heat one after an early battle with Beachlands young gun Shannon Simon. Simon would unfortunately spin allowing McDonald to race off to a comfortable win ahead of Dunedin duo Trazarn Ryland Annabell in second and Billy Greer third.

Race two and again McDonald was just too fast, but this time he would have to go the distance being challenged by Simon who looked to have a bit more pace this season, McDonald took the win, Simon a solid second with Greer again in third place.

McDonald struck issues in race three and would limp around the track out of harm’s way to bag some valuable points. Ryland Annabell was dominant out front holding on to take his first victory of the season with Beachland’s Zara Lee Tuhura on the pace in second and Simon third.

McDonald collected enough points in heat three to win the night ahead of Simon with Greer third overall.

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