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  • RACE REPORTS

Cook Hits His Straps At Cromwell

Central Motor Speedway

STORY BY

DARYL SHUTTLEWORTH
Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

(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.) 

Gisborne Saloon driver Daniel Cook is on a bit of a fact finding mission, he has entered his brand new Vulcan Saloon in the Brian FM South Island Saloon Series with no expectations what so ever, except ironing out a few creases and getting the hang of his car prior to hitting the championship season hard.

The first few outings in the new car have given Cook nothing to go by as he has had mechanical dramas to deal with, while the first three rounds of The South Island Series has been about slowly dialing in the car, picking up a result here and there, Cook was hoping Central Motor Speedway in Cromwell may just be where he unlocks the potential of his new car.

Just one night prior at Beachlands Speedway in Dunedin there was carnage in the feature, Riverside’s Graham Williamson, Cromwell’s Ivan Murdoch and Christchurch’s Billie Woodhouse all suffered major damage in a pile up, and it looked serious enough that these three cars would not return to the series. Testament to all three teams they worked through the night to get these machines on the grid for round five of the South Island Saloon Series.

Heat one of the penultimate round saw Bay Parks Trent Amrein continue on where he left off the night before with a commanding win. Amrein went into this round with a healthy buffer of thirty four points over Christchurch driver Ashton Osborne, so leaving Cromwell with that buffer in tact was key.

Amrein would win heat one with ease from Willie Woodhouse of Christchurch second and Rodney McIndoe of Gisborne third.

Heat two saw a great battle unfold with two Stealth drivers putting on a show at the front of the grid, Osborne and Cromwell’s George Phillips battled it out lap upon lap but it was Osborne that was simply too good taking the win, Phillips would settle for second while in third was Cook.

The final heat race of the night saw Williamson pay back his team who had worked hard to get his car back on track overnight. Williamson put on a fantastic drive in his Hypermac Mustang with some pretty serious competition chasing him down.

McIndoe threw everything he had at Williamson with the pair even making contact down the back straight on the last lap, this contact would fire McIndoe down low and allow Cook to pounce into second and Williamson to gain a buffer to take the race win ahead of Cook in second and a frustrated McIndoe in third place.

With plenty of cars entered there would need to be a B Main run to work out who would take their spots in the feature final.

Unfortunately there was a sizable delay in the start of this race due to sunstrike, an issue that has become a common occurrence at Central Motor Speedway regardless of what time they start an event.

Once the B Main got underway it was Riverside’s Mark Dobson, a wildcard in the field that would take an early lead, however Stu Millar of Beachlands was like a pesky fly on a dinner plate, he just would not leave Dobson alone to win the race, Millar was constantly hounding the Southland driver eventually getting the result he wanted, and deserved to slip past Dobson and win the B Main, Dobson settled for second ahead of Craig Korff of Stratford.

All roads now led to the Dash, this would give drivers a group of four cars, racing over four laps all based on points throughout the day a chance to set their grid position, a bit like a pole shuffle just a whole lot more entertaining.

Dash one would go the way of Thomas Korff of Stratford, Williamson would win Dash two, McIndoe Dash three and ultimately Cook would take dash four to capture pole position for the feature race.

As the cars grided up under lights I’m sure the drivers mid pack were just hoping that turn one would be a clean run, unlike the carnage the night prior and sure enough it was, the cars looked a picture, clean, fast and all getting around the first lap without any dramas at all.

Lap four however would see the race bought to a caution for local driver Phil Burgess who was parked up in turn four, Burgess had earlier been beaten from pillar to post in a heat race, and this stoppage may have been related to that earlier hammering.

As the race restarted the battle up front was immense, Cook led, Amrein, Osborne and McIndoe were all charging hard while the next car back was Phillips who much to many peoples surprise was well back from the leaders on his home track.

As the race progressed and lapped traffic would become a factor Amrein would spin coming out of turn two, now if the track wasn’t producing enough dust in the final Amrein had produced a dust cloud that just would not disappear, a number of drivers having to slow to walking pace to get through it, not knowing what was on the other side.

I was actually amazed a caution wasn’t called as visibility was non existent. This freed Cook up who was really starting to dominate this feature, he had pulled away from Osborne while Amrein was stranded back in seventh place with a handful of laps to run. Amrein would then put together one of the best drives I have witnessed at Central Motor Speedway, the current 3NZ backed his car and his talent to sit it right on the wall and make ground, I looked down at one stage from my commentary box and there was a whisker between Amrein’s rear spoiler and the unforgiving concrete wall, this kid was racing on a knife edge.

Cook would keep extending his lead and ultimately go on to win with Osborne home in second, but the remarkable result was Amrein who raced up to third place when all looked lost mid race. This result would see Amrein remain series leader heading off to the final round at Riverside.

Youth Saloons were a visiting grade at Central Motor Speedway, running round one of the Pits Media Challenge, a three round series run at Cromwell, Dunedin and Invercargill.

A number of these drivers had never raced at Cromwell before so this was a great experience for these young drivers to take in.

Heat one saw early leader Kadin Cracknell of Riverside clip Dunedin’s Max Kemp on the exit of turn two, sending Cracknell nose first into the wall writing his car off.

At the restart Kemp would charge off and bank the race win in an entertaining race that saw Riverside drivers Josh Richardson in second and Josh McIntyre in third. Now this is where we must give credit to McIntyre as he was not only racing a Youth Saloon but also doing double duties in Cromwell racing his Youth Ministock, also part of the Pits Media Challenge.

Race two for Youth Saloons and this time around Cayden Race of Riverside had to battle hard with McIntyre, the pair went at it lap after lap but Race just had to much grunt taking his first ever win at Cromwell, McIntyre bagged good points in second while Kemp was consistent in third place.

The third race was the final race for points for the series, Race shot off to a handy lead and pulled a solid buffer, race one winner Kemp was down the field trying to work his way through but would run out of laps to catch Race who would win this heat, Kemp settles for second ahead of Dunedin’s Noah Kitto in third place.

The Youth Saloons would also run a fourth race for a trophy, up front it was the two form drivers of the event Race and Kemp who went at it both young drivers really putting on a great display of driving, however when the final flag dropped it was Race who would take the win, Kemp scored second while Tyson Thomas of Riverside would score his best ever result in third place.

As mentioned Youth Ministocks were also racing for the Pits Media Challenge, heat one saw McIntyre who was doing double duties work hard to get to the front of the pack and charge off for an early race win, second would be Cromwell driver Lachie Campbell Tate with Cooper Arkell in third place.

Arkell would put on a brilliant display in race two, showing McIntyre that he was prepared to put up a fight in the Pits Media Challenge. Arkell would make a move on McIntyre and lead the race, claiming a well driven win, McIntyre was patient, taking second place from Campbell Tate in third place.

The final race for series points had a surprising omission with race two winner Arkell not featuring at all, this would make life a little easier for McIntyre up front, but he was challenged this time around from two unlikely opponents, Cromwell drivers Brooke Marshall and Lucee Scott who both drove amazingly to place second and third behind McIntyre.

The trophy race for Youth Ministocks saw Arkell return but again after a hard fought battle it would be McIntyre lifting the winners trophy and the end of the night, Arkell claimed second with Scott in third.

Six Shooters produced some great racing over all three of their races, heat one saw Blair Smith continue on his great form this season, Smith has pretty much been the man to beat in the class and a win in heat one was really no surprise, but he did have to work for it with Cromwell clubmate Tony Symons second and Emma Gordon also of Cromwell third.

The second heat could have ended in disaster for Smith when Riversides Josh Livingstone stopped down the back straight leaving Smith with nowhere to go but over the top of him, thankfully no major damage and Smith would continue on. At the restart Cromwell’s George Hedley would break free from the pack to claim the win followed home by Symons with Daniel McIntosh of Riverside third.

The final Six Shooter race again saw another stoppage for Livingstone, this time in turn two, it also seen a repeat performance form Hedley who is showing good speed in the grade early this season, Hedley would take the win from Gordon in second and Smith third. 

Overall placing for the nights racing were Smith first, Hedley second and Symons third.

Sprintcars had their dramas over the three heats but as usual entertained the crowd. Heat one for Sprintcars saw Josh Buchanan of Cromwell take a commanding win over clubmates Jason Scott in second and Whetu Taewa in third.

Heat two and again it was Buchanan that was all class however this time around it was a bit of a changing of the guard with the young blokes dispatching the seasoned campaigners for the minor spots. Buchanan would take the win from Adam Evans of Cromwell second with Finn Cleveland also of Cromwell third.

Heat three saw Dean “The Thriller” Miller come unstuck racing into turn three, Miller rolling and spending the rest of the race as a spectator. Miller would soon have a friend join him in the form of John Sievwright who had a wild wall ride out of turn two, how he did roll is beyond me, but his car remained stranded infield for the remainder of the event.

Around all the madness and a couple of restarts due to Cromwell’s Shanarrah Stronach having a dose of the spins it was Evans who would secure the win, Scott in second ahead of Cleveland.

Overall results saw Buchanan first, Cleveland second with Scott third.

The final grade to race was Super Saloons and just a small number of cars were on track, joined by a couple of Saloons. Christchurch driver Richie Taylor would claim race one, Cromwell’s Euan Shearing would take a win in Heat two with Taylor again victorious in race three. Overall results went the way of Taylor, Shearing second with Dunedin’s Matt Greene third.

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