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  • RACE REPORTS

Racing Ray Delivers On Home Track

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.) 

Super Saloon veteran Ray Stewart of Cromwell has had a pretty testing season to date, some big changes to his suspension set up last off season saw his Hypermac undergo the torsion to four bar conversion to remain competitive with his fellow competitors, but the change has taken some getting use to, and to be fair Stewart hasn’t banked the consistent results he would have hoped for.

Stewart would come into the final round of the Debbie The Webster Super Cup in third place behind Nelson’s Ian Burson and leader Trevor Elliott of Christchurch, and while the points were very close between those drivers, the nature of the series meant the drivers don’t know the points tally, just the positions they currently hold.

Central Motor Speedway in Cromwell set the scene on Good Friday to host the event, The Debbie The Webster Super Cup would headline the meeting, with Production Saloons contesting the final round of the Shuttleworth Motorsport Media Production Tri Series between Beachlands, Riverside and Central Motor Speedway Teams, while Sprintcars and Stockcars would compete for their Easter Champs.

Six Shooters, Youth Mini Stocks and Saloons also raced but would carry their points over to the Easter Sunday meeting to complete their Easter Champs.

Heat one of the Super Saloons saw an early incident in turn one which left Christchurch driver Josh Boulton and Stewart parked up, both cars would restart but Elliot would be deemed the cause of the incident and put to the back of the grid for the restart.

At the restart Burson would power off to a strong lead, gapping the field before disaster would strike, Burson would be out with a flat rear tyre, handing the lead to Christchurch driver Kane Lawson.

Lawson looked fast with clear air in front of him and would control the lead of the race, behind him rookie driver Findlay Dixon of Cromwell was fighting off some serious contenders to be holding second. 

Behind the leaders an incident involving local driver Greig Johnson and Dunedin’s Alister Lister bought out a caution, Johnson would be deemed the cause and start from the rear of the pack, while Lister would slot back up to third behind Dixon.

Lawson would hold his nerve at the restart and go on to win the opening heat, Dixon second and Lister third.

Heat two saw Stewart start from the front of the pack and sprint off to a handy advantage before a caution was bought out after Lawson spun up in turn four while holding third place. At the restart it was Dixon who would spin in turn one bringing the field back under yellow, but when the green flag dropped Stewart got off to a flying start once more, Ritchie Taylor of Christchurch would apply the pressure but couldn’t make inroads into Stewarts lead, Stewart would take the win in this race by just under a second, Taylor would place second but this would be the last we would see of Taylor with a stone puncturing his radiator putting him out of the event, Boulton would claim a well driven third place.

This would now lead to the pole shuffle and a chance for those who may have had a tough night at the office, one of those being Elliott who would line up against Nelson’s Paul Power for the battle of the back of the grid.

Elliott would bank the win and go on to face Dunedin’s Matt Greene, who Elliott also eliminated, next up Elliott would strike some stiffer competition in the form of Burson, Burson would prove to be just too fast, but Elliott had done a solid job of moving himself up the grid a couple of spots.

Bursons win would see him then face Johnson who he would fight off, then he would take care of Lister before being eliminated himself by Dixon in what would have given Dixon a fair bit of confidence, eliminating a driver who Dixon would have idolised as a kid, watching his Father Kerry, and Grandfather Owen battle against for a number of years.

Dixon would face Lawson next, Lawson proving to be too fast, Lawson would then disperse of Boulton to book a spot on the front row of the grid, but when he lined up to face Ray Stewart for pole position he pulled to the infield with some sort of mechanical drama that would put him out of the shuffle before the battle with Stewart would even begin.

Stewart would complete the two laps as a formality and earn pole position, it looked like he would line up side by side with Boulton with Lawson’s night looking as if it was over, but Lawson’s team got to work fixing the issue just as the gate was about to close on the feature race.

The twenty five lap feature final would round up the night, and it was Lawson who got off to a solid start, racing away from the pack with ease, Lawson would in fact race out to a lead of almost a straight length, but at around the halfway mark, Stewart along with Lister, Boulton, Dixon and Johnson would start to reel him in.

Within a couple of laps Stewart was all over Lawson, and Lawson had nothing to fight with, Stewart slipping past and racing off to a commanding lead. Lawson would then face pressure from Boulton, again Lawson couldn’t hold Boulton back with his clubmate slipping past putting Lawson down to third.

Dixon would be the next to attack Lawson, he had one big chance but couldn’t make the move stick, Lawson holding on to third, while Dixon would then be vulnerable to Lister who would eventually make a pass for fourth place.

Up front though it was all about the local hero Stewart, taking a very popular race win and the final round by almost four seconds over Boulton who was solid all meeting in second and Lawson who drove a hard race in third place.

Overall results were unavailable at the time this article was published as points were very tight at the top of the table and a full recount was taking place.

The Shuttleworth Motorsport Media Production Tri Series was also contesting its final round, The Beachlands Young Guns carried an eighteen point buffer over the defending champions the Central Chargers with the Riverside Rats a distant third, this round was going to be a real dog fight between the Young Guns and Chargers.

Heat one saw Blake Hamilton of the Rats take a decent lead over Beachland’s Tyler Kelk. Kelk looked comfortable in second before making contact with Liam Ballantyne of the Chargers while putting him a lap down. Kelk would park up but be made to start from the rear of the pack at the restart, robbing Beachlands of some solid points.

At the restart Hamilton again raced off to a margin, while Beachland’s Ricki Pilley was finding good pace in second, Pilley wouldn’t have enough to chase down Hamilton, who would take the race win, his third of the series, Pilley placed second with Chargers Sam McKenzie banking third, the remain results would see the Beachlands Young Guns take a bigger lead in the series, stretching it out to thirty two points with two races remaining.

Heat two saw the Riverside Rats campaign go from bad to worse, race one winner Hamilton again got off to a flying start, leading into turn one before his team mate Kahu Moxham drove up the inside of him, unable to slow his car he went into the side of Hamilton hard, putting the Rats strike weapon out of the race.

Moxham would manage to continue on but would soon fall down the race order. The next drama unfolded on the main straight in lap three when Beachland’s Cam Bower and Chargers Gavin Hurring made contact, both cars would restart but both teams needed to be careful they didn’t give valuable points away by not finishing a race.

Riverside Rats team Captain Brad Fitzgerald put on a brilliant drive to come from mid pack and take the race win, the second by a Rat in as many races, showing a glimpse of what could have been for the Southern team. Second would go the way of Chargers Steven Nicholas with McKenzie third.

While these results were what happened on track, official results would see both Fitzgerald and Nicholas relegated two spots, the placing now with McKenzie first, Chargers Aven Erskine second and Fitzgerald third, more importantly the Chargers had closed the gap to twenty points with one race to go.

The final race of the series didn’t start well for the Chargers, Nicholas made contact with what looked to be a team mate, putting him out of the race and handing the Beachlands team a massive advantage.

There would be two more cautions, one for debris the second for Aaron Reed of The Rats, but the fight for the title was still on between the Chargers and the Young Guns.

Pilley was the strike man for Beachlands and got to the front and ensured he wasn’t going to be pressured by McKenzie who was challenging for the race lead, behind the leaders the Rats were putting in another strong performance with the only three cars they had left, Hamilton, Fitzgerald and Moxham all in the top five and racing for pride.

Battles throughout the pack were fierce with every point available crucial to both teams, Pilley would do all he could taking the race win from McKenzie with Hamilton third, the results from the rest of the third heat would see the Beachlands Young Guns take the series by twenty nine points, the team made up of Pilley, Kelk, Bower, Aaron Brookland, Alena Johnston and Madi Stewart getting the job done over their southern counterparts.

Easter Champs was on the line over three heats for Stockcars and a decent field of cars from Beachlands, Riverside and Woodford Glen were on track and keen to upset the locals and steal some silverware.

Heat one saw just the one stoppage in lap four for debris on the track. This race was dominated by Dunedin driver Steven Thompson who would grab a solid race win of almost three seconds over Cromwell driver Brodie MacDonald in second and clubmate Dylan Robb in third.

Race two saw Riverside’s Zac Newsham spin up in turn two late in the race bringing out the red light, a couple more laps in it was another Riverside car, this time Alisha Race stopping in turn three just as MacDonald had collected the white flag with one lap remaining.

With the race being taken back a lap MacDonald would now have a two lap battle and Thompson and Robb were the two cars within striking distance but MacDonald would drive well to claim the win, Thompson second to tie the two cars equal with one race to go, Robb would once more place third.

Heat three was the decider and was an epic race, the two cars tied on points, MacDonald and Thompson would put on a great show, Thompson getting an advantage and looking likely to take the champs. MacDonald tried to close the gap and pile on some pressure, but a mistake on the last lap saw Thompson spin up in turn two, handing the race to MacDonald, Thompson would give chase but MacDonald was four seconds up the road claiming the win and the Easter Champs, Thompson came home second with Carl Gable of Cromwell securing his best ever result, with a respectable third.

With MacDonald taking the overall win and Thompson second it would be tight on points for third, this would go the way of Bailey Mitchell of Beachlands who was consistent over the entire event.

Sprintcars were also racing for the Easter Champs over three heats, and the crowd would get their first look at Joel Myers Jnr from America, since winning his maiden New Zealand Sprintcar title. Max Guilford of Auckland was also a surprise addition to the entry list, running Daniel Anderson’s second car.

Heat one set the scene for the night, a messy start and carnage on the main straight, Cromwell’s Whetu Taewa, Josh Buchanan and Christchurch’s Matt Honeywell all out within metres of the start line after big contact, Cromwell’s Adam Evans and Jamie Duff of Christchurch also showing signs of damage on the fronts of their cars, both very lucky not to have been a bigger part of the incident.

From the restart it was Cromwell driver Mathew Anderson who broke away from the pack, Anderson dominated up front, but would have been thankful he had built a buffer as Riverside’s Jacob McIntyre reeled him in but run shy on laps to challenge for the lead.

Anderson would take the win, McIntyre second with Myers Jnr third.

Another untidy start in heat two with two Cromwell cars suffering issues within half a lap of the start, the first Jason Scott who started on pole stopping in turn two, while Dean Millar would stop on the back straight.

The next caution was in lap six when Cromwell’s John Sievwright would spin in turn two, Taewa and Ricky Boulton of Dunedin very lucky to miss the stationary car, both having to spin up to avoid contact. Evans would then spin in turn two at the restart, putting him to the infield.

Up front it was Guilford who was in control, Duff was challenging in second but with the pair matching lap times the race would go the way of Guilford, Duff would have to settle for second with Myers Jnr third, Myers Jnr was relegated to fifth at the conclusion of the race, handing third to Honeywell.

Heat three, the final race of the Easter Champs for Sprintcars and just like heat one and two, the first lap ended up in a caution, this time big contact down the back straight between Sievwright, Scott and Miller resulting in all three cars out of the race early.

Duff drove this race like he had a point to prove, The Duffman having a tough run in recent months was back to his usual competitive self. Duff made it look easy up front, smashing his rivals by almost nine second in heat three, Myers Jnr would settle for second with Guilford third, but Guilford would get slapped with a four spot relegation post race, handing third to Honeywell, his second elevation into the top three in as many races.

This result for Duff saw him win the Easter Champs despite being tied on points with Myers Jnr, but he banked a win. Myers Jnr placed second with Duffs brother Steve Duff Jnr claiming third overall.

There was a small grade of Production Saloons that raced in support, these cars were cars not involved in the Tri Series, James Westerman of Christchurch took first place overall, Brad McTaggart of Cromwell second with clubmate Daniel Rolton working his way onto the podium in third place.

Results from the other grades across their first three races of the Easter Champs were as follows.

Six Shooters 

Race 1 – 1st Daniel Livingstone (Riverside), 2nd George Hedley (Cromwell) 3rd Daniel McIntosh (Riverside)

Race 2 – 1st Blair Smith (Cromwell) 2nd Jason Jenner (Riverside), 3rd McIntosh

Race 3 – 1st Harrison Brown (Riverside) 2nd Tony Creighton (Cromwell) 3rd Duane Cracknell (Riverside)

Youth Ministocks

Race 1 – 1st Joshua McIntyre (Cromwell) 2nd Cooper Arkell (Cromwell) 3rd Jack Anderton (Christchurch)

Race 2 – 1st McIntyre, 2nd Jaxon Dacombe (Christchurch) 3rd Leilah Jeffcoate (Nelson)

Race 3 – 1st Anderton, 2nd Hunter Elliott Cross (Cromwell) 3rd McIntyre

Saloons

Race 1 – 1st George Phillips (Cromwell) 2nd Stu Millar (Dunedin) 3rd Jason Gold (Cromwell)

Race 2 – 1st Phillips 2nd Ivan Murdoch (Cromwell) 3rd Graham Williamson (Riverside)

Race 3 – 1st Phillips 2nd Williamson 3rd Phil Burgess (Cromwell)

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