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  • RACE REPORTS

Cromwell Delivers The Gifts This Christmas

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.) 

There is always something about Cromwell this time of year, everyone is relaxed and in great spirits, it’s the festive season and time to unwind and relax, and what better way to do that than to be taking in some Speedway action at Central Motor Speedway, with the Ron Spriggs Christmas Showdown, day one of three mammoth days of racing at the Central Otago track.

Tonight would give Sprintcars some track time ahead of a round of the War Of The Wings followed by a round of the Southern Sprintcar Series, it would also give the punters a chance to see the return of Joel Myers Jnr and his American counterpart Brenham Crouch.

Heat one saw Crouch take the lead early and looked to be comfortable on a track he had never raced on, Jamie Duff of Christchurch however was making ground behind Crouch and with three laps to run would make a big move in lapped traffic and sail off to claim the heat win, Crouch settled for second with Riversides Jacob McIntyre also showing pace in third.

Heat two saw an awesome exchange mid pack between Cromwell clubmates Shanarrah Stronach and Adam Evans, the pair went wheel to wheel for a number of laps before having to contemplate a move on a lapped car, being Dean Miller of Cromwell, unfortunately Stronach would come off second best in the move resulting in a vicious roll over in turn two, but walking away unscathed but out for the event.

Myers Jnr would show his class in this heat taking the win ahead of Steve Duff Jnr of Christchurch and his clubmate Dyllan Forsey who set the fastest lap time in this race, certainly a driver to keep an eye on.

The final heat to decide starting positions for the feature came next, and local driver Jason Scott had to battle at the front to hold off clubmate Josh Buchanan who was threatening all race, right up until a late spin which also caused Cromwell’s Whetu Taewa to come to a stop in turn two.

McIntyre would take full advantage of this slipping up to second place and in pursuit of Scott.

Scott however would have the pace to get home for the race win, McIntyre second with Oscar Harcourt of Christchurch third, this would see Scott and McIntyre on the front row of the grid for the twenty lap feature, McIntyre the top points scorer would adopt the outside line.

The feature would get off to a messy start, lasting just one corner before Taewa was forced around between turns one and two, a full restart was called. From here it was all go, McIntyre, Scott and Jamie Duff all battled hard with the American duo of Crouch and Myers all over the Kiwis, right up until the eleventh lap when Steve Duff would come to a stand still on the outside of turn four, he would get restarted and join the grid.

It was only one lap later that Duff would spin in turn one, Allan Chapman going with him bringing out another caution, Chapman would race on but Duffs race was done.

By this stage it was the second Duff car, Jamie Duff who had snatched the lead, McIntyre was all over him looking for a way past but Duff was just too good, showing his experience in and around lapped traffic to claim a popular race win, Myers made a late move on McIntyre to claim second with McIntyre settling for third.

A big field of Saloons were on hand to compete for the showdown and the first race only lasted a short time before Christchurch driver Riley Letton spun up on the entry to turn one, from there it was the concertina effect, Beachlands drivers Travis Smith and Mark Newell left with nowhere to go, Smiths car suffering major damage and out for the night, also Cromwell’s Jason Gold and Pierre Leyser involved as well, both cars damaged but repaired for race two, in fact the car that suffered the least damage was the car that spun, Letton.

Graham Williamson of Riverside got off to a flyer at the restart and set sail away from the pack, Beachland’s Aaron Andrews however would real him in along with George Phillips of Cromwell, these three cars putting on an epic display at the front of the field.

The killer blow came when Phillips darted down the inside of Williamson into turn one to snatch the lead and run away from the pack to claim the win, Andrews would also make a move on Williamson to steal second, Williamson third.

Phillips was from the front row of the grid in heat two, and that was pretty much all she wrote, Phillips powered away from the field to claim race win number two with ease, an impressive display of punching out super fast laps, lap after lap. Second went the way of Barry Taylor of Cromwell who looked very quick and Andrews third.

Race three and Phillips would have some work to do to make it three from three starting well down the pack, Gold was up front and got off to a flying start, lucky for him that he had clear air and managed to pull a gap as Phillips was wasting no time at all coming through the field at pace. 

Gold would hold onto the lead to claim the win in just his second meeting back, Phillips second with Williamson third.

This gave Phillips the Christmas Showdown silverware ahead of Williamson with Andrews third. 

Youth Ministocks were running round three of their Tri Series which saw them travel around the southern tracks starting at Beachlands, off to Riverside and now finishing here in Cromwell.

Heat one all started a bit messy with Nelson driver Leilah Jeffcoate slowing on the back straight after a slow exit out of turn two, Christchurch driver Jaxyn Houtos made accidental contact with Jeffcoat down the back straight on lap one resulting in a restart.

Central Motor Speedway driver Joshua McIntyre upstaged the more favored opposition, driving the wheels off his car to win heat one by a comfortable margin, second went the way of Jack Anderton of Christchurch with Houtos third.

Heat two was all a bit untidy with multiple incidents and caution periods throughout the race, Jeffcoat tangled early with Jess Evans of Cromwell leading to multiple cars colliding in turn three including Christchurch drivers Jaxon Dacombe, Nelson’s Locky Martin and Cromwell’s Hunter Elliott. At the restart it was Christchurch driver Connor Turner who would lead the way, gapping a hard charging pack behind him before another caution this time when Elsie Vlaanderen of Christchurch and Elliott would tangle with two laps to run.

Turner would manage to hold onto the lead and take the race win ahead of Leaha Rowlands of Christchurch in second and Houtos again consistent in third place. 

Looking at the Speedway New Zealand Officials they were pulling their hair out at the end of this race with a number of incidents to deal with, Marcel Vlaanderen being disqualified from the race for contact must have sent the message as race three was a far cleaner affair.

Race three and no cautions whatsoever, a massive turn around after the race two mayhem. Houtos would show his class in this heat, managing the race from the front and claiming the race win from Dacombe in second and Oliver McCartney of Christchurch third.

This win would give Houtos the Christmas Showdown Trophy with McIntyre second and McCartney third, it would also see Houtos claim the Tri Series from McCartney with Rowlands third overall.

Six Shooters opened the nights meetings and an ugly incident occurred early with Cromwell’s Daryl Reid hitting the wall hard in turn one, unfortunately making contact with Christchurch driver Sam Johnson in the process, both cars parked up and out of the race.

The man that has shown great form this season Cromwells Blair Smith led from the front and remained unchallenged taking a straight forward race win, clubmate George Hedley was second ahead of Riverside’s Harrison Brown in third place.

Heat two saw just the one caution with Kirk Hawkins of Ruapuna stopping in turn one, once the crash crew cleared him it was a great battle right across the pack, Baylee Clive of Ruapuna would hold off multiple challenges to drive a faultless race and take the win, behind Clive was Smith, again fast and consistent, and Brown in third spot, ensuring he too was banking good points.

Clive would unfortunately bail out of heat three with mechanical dramas early, but starting from the front was Hedley, who had also set the fastest lap times in the two previous heats, Hedley gapped the pack and bought home an easy race win, Brown got up to second with Riverside’s Hayden Graves having his best result of the day in third place.

Ron Spriggs Christmas Showdown went the way of Hedley, Brown second and Smith in third place.

Production Saloons were the final grade on the program and some good tight racing saw the grade produce some fantastic racing.

Christchurch driver Vaughan Fairbairn was all class in race one, not only does his car look amazing, but it goes pretty damn good too, Fairbairn would take the heat one win ahead of Aaron Brookland of Beachlands and James Woods of Central Motor Speedway.

Heat two saw an early caution with Woods stopping down the back straight, it also led to a three way battle between some very fast Hondas, Cromwell’s Aven Erskine leading the majority of the race before clubmate Sam McKenzie and Fairbairn would join the party, the three cars swapping places lap upon lap before Fairbairn would grab the lead late and ultimately the race win, McKenzie settled for second with Erskine third.

Race three and Fairbairn looked to be sailing off to yet another win but McKenzie became the pioneer parking his car up high against the wall and making plenty of ground on the leader.

McKenzie would power off around Fairbairn to snatch the lead with Brookland going high and following. Fairbairn just needed to bank points to take the overall win for the night so he managed his race nicely, McKenzie took a well driven win showing risk can result in reward, Brookland claimed second with Fairbairn third.

Overall this gave Fairbairn the Christmas Showdown win ahead of McKenzie in second and Brookland third.

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