Riverside Hosts Saloon Decider

Riverside Speedway


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.) 

The final round of the Brian FM South Island Saloon series was hosted at Aotea Electric Riverside Speedway with a fine but cool day greeting drivers and fans alike.

Peter “Dutchy” Schouten who is the brains trust behind the series, kept the results of the points table well under wraps heading out of the Cromwell round, just to keep the anticipation alive and well. Talking to the drivers they were loving the series, the North Island teams enjoying being in the South and Schouten must take full credit for turning out such a great series.

Heat one of the Brian FM South Island Saloon Series saw Cromwell’s George Phillips get off to a flying start, Phillips was just off the pace one night earlier in Cromwell but certainly turned the tide here at Riverside bolting away from Christchurch driver Ashton Osborne, the pair going hard for a number of laps before Phillips broke away from Osborne to take the win, Osborne would claim second with David Speirs of Wellington having one of his best drives of the series in third place.

Heat two and the track was starting to cut up slightly, you could say this was the race of the underdogs with none of the drivers who have been at the top of the points table featuring at the front of the field, instead Riverside’s Graham Williamson was using his local track knowledge to mount a charge on Dunedin duo Stu Millar and Ryan Bennett.

Millar has been sublime in this series and worked his way to the front to hold Bennett off for the win, Williamson would bag third spot to score some valuable points from the race.

The third and final heat of the series saw Bay Park’s Trent Amrein the series leader and Billie Woodhouse of Christchurch make contact on a track that was offering no real grip anywhere, with a lot of dust and poor visibility, this incident would lead to a caution and also send Amrein to the rear of the field.

As the green flag dropped there was more drama at the back of the pack featuring Amrein, Millar, Rodney McIndoe of Gisborne and Barry Taylor of Cromwell, this incident put both Amrein and Millar out of the race.

You could sense the frustration amongst the field but as the race restarted it would then go the distance with Daniel Cook of Gisborne backing up his feature win the night prior taking this win, Aaron Andrews a wild card in the field from Dunedin second and Ivan Murdoch of Cromwell third.

From the heats the series rolled into “The Dash”, pretty much your chance to move yourself up the grid to a better starting spot in the feature, a bit like a pole shuffle except four cars over four laps.

Dash one saw Amrein take the win, he was eager to move up as far as he could after his earlier incident in race three. Amrein then repeated the dose in Dash two, and then sent the crowd into a frenzy with a win in Dash three, this now giving him a respectable spot to start the final.

Amrein however couldn’t win Dash four, that race going the way of Andrews, Phillips would take the next Dash race to secure him a spot on at least the front two rows of the grid, the final dash would see Cook just too fast, taking pole position for the feature ahead of Phillips, Williamson and Bennett.

The talk for the feature was the track, it had burnt off, it was dusty and rough and the drivers thought that the first car to lead into turn one and two would lead the procession through to the finish of the twenty laps. As the green flag dropped it was Phillips and Cook side by side with Phillips gaining the advantage by sticking down the inside while behind them Williamson and Osborne made solid contact, Osborne losing his front guard but managing to race on. Phillips and Cook battled for the lead for a number of laps, Phillips started to pull away but behind Phillips it was Williamson who became the pioneer stepping outside the race line and passing Miller on the outside, then behind them down in eighth place Amrein went wide as well and started passing cars ahead like they were standing still.

The crowd were getting pretty fizzed seeing Amrein attack on a track that we all though had nothing, Amrein would eventually get past Williamson, then Cook, he would then have the leader Phillips in his crosshairs and the pair put on a great fight, the current 2NZ and 3NZ going for it like a couple of heavyweight boxers fighting to the death.

As the laps wound down Amrein made his move again backing himself on the outside and getting the job done on Phillips who could now only sit and watch, he had the best seat in the house to see Amrein cruise away to claim the round win, Phillips second with Cook home in third.

This also gave the overall Brian FM South Island Saloon Series to Amrein with Osborne second, Cook third, McIndoe fourth and Willie Woodhouse fifth.

Special awards handed out were Williamson for best presented, Thomas Korff of Stratford the Hard Charger while Daryl Martin of Blenheim got the Hard Luck Trophy.

Speaking to Amrein after the final he stated “I felt there was something on offer on the outside during the dash and was hoping it was still there in the final which it was, but it was going away fast so I had to get George”. No doubt about it Amrein was a deserving winner, but so was the Saloon grade with what it gave the fans with this series.

Riverside Speedway also hosted its second Southland Championship of the season for Six Shooters this time around running two heats and a winner takes all final.

Heat one saw Riverside’s Mason Whelan get to the front of the pack late in the piece after having to battle hard with Cromwell’s Samantha Sandford who looked odds on like she was going to claim her first ever win, Sandford drove exceptionally well but Whelan’s perseverance paid off when he managed to sneak past and grab the race win, Sandford grabbed second with Jason Jenner of Riverside third.

The second heat saw the cars who started at the rear of the field start up front, Riverside’s Harrison Brown would get to the front in this one here and remain unchallenged to take the win, while Duane Cracknell also of Riverside banked solid points in second, again Whelan drove well to get up to third and secure pole for the fifteen lap feature final.

Unfortunately the track conditions made it a tough final, possibly not worthy of this championship, but in saying that it was the same track over the three races for all drivers. Whelan got off to a flying start when the green flag dropped, Cracknell went with him and multiple times looked as if he would make a move to snatch the lead but Whelan had just enough of a buffer. Cracknell put his car slightly too wide coming out of turn four which allowed Brown to sneak through to second but Brown wouldn’t have the pace to get to the front Whelan grabbing his maiden Southland Championship after an impressive season so far, Brown second with Cracknell in third place.

Production Saloons were running their Best Pairs Championship, it was a blind pairs format so drivers had no idea who they were paired with until the points were added at the end of the event.

Heat one saw Riverside’s Alister Green bag his first ever race win, it should have come earlier but this bloke has had the worst run of luck in his short speedway career so it was great to see him bag his first, second was Blake Murdoch and third Kahu Moxham, both of Riverside.

Heat two and Green didn’t even make it out after his win, a battery terminal drama on the dummy grid cost him any chance of getting out on track. This race was dominated by Moxham who was starting to really make a name for himself in the grade, Moxham led home Dunedin’s Aaron Brookland with Cromwell’s Steven Nicholas home in third place.

The final race of the Best Pairs was a good clean race as well, not many meetings go by that we don’t have some kind of caution for Production Saloons but today was the day, Brookland drove well in this race after coming under attack multiple times by  Nicholas and Riverside’s Blake Hamilton, Brookland would go one better than he did in race two, claiming the win, Hamilton got himself up to second with Nicholas third.

Overall results saw the Best Pairs go the way of Riverside’s Dave McKenzie paired with Moxham, second was Murdoch and Stephen Clements of Riverside, while Green not going out in race two possibly cost him the overall win, as both he and Brookland secured third place.

Youth Saloons backed up from racing in Cromwell on Saturday night, heat one was a brilliant race with no dramas at all in a field of twenty cars, Josh McIntyre of Riverside took the win in this race from Tyson Thomas and Josh Richardson, both also of Riverside.

The second race for Youth was also a clean tidy affair with Richardson getting to the front in this race and holding on to claim a well driven race, Cayden Race of Riverside was second after making a late pass through lapped traffic to beat Meah Sommerville of Riverside who was impressive in just her fourth Youth Saloon meeting.

The third race was one to forget with multiple restarts, crashes, hold ups so it was called early with Race leading at the time, McIntyre second and Sommerville third.

Stockcars and Streetstocks were running demonstration races due to low numbers, Christchurch driver Luke Molloy secured two wins in Stockcars with Peter Knight of Riverside taking the third, while in Streetstocks Riverside’s Steve Dryden, clubmate Brent Bradley race two while Dunedin’s Deikin Borthwick took his first ever senior race win with a win in race three.

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