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South Island Modified Sprints A Hit At Riverside

Riverside Speedway

STORY BY

DARYL SHUTTLEWORTH
Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

Images supplied by: Debra Race

(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.) 

Aotea Electric Riverside Speedway was once known as the home of Modified Sprints with about twenty cars registered to the club at the peak of its popularity just a few short years ago.

This season just one Modified Sprint is registered to the Southern club, so the return of Modified Sprints for the first time this season saw a good sized crowd roll up to take in these pint sizes rockets in action, with round three of the Avon Insurance Brokers South Island Modified Sprint Series.

The meeting at Riverside would also triple as the Southland Championship would go the way of the winner of the feature race, and the Brett Cooper Memorial would go the way of the driver with the most points after three races, not including the feature.

Local driver Jayden Fraser was looking to retain both titles but would have his work cut out for him, he would also come into round three in third place, just behind Courtney Jones and Harry McIntyre of Christchurch.

Heat one and how we never saw an early roll over still amazes me, as the drivers did well to contend with a very rough track, but full credit to the drivers they did not bring out one caution, good clean driving, producing some great battles throughout the pack.

Christchurch driver Liam Astle would prove to be just too quick in heat one, banking a solid win over Jones in second and Hayden Kedzlie of Ruapuna in third place.

Race two saw the local driver Fraser start from the front of the pack, Fraser needed a good bag full of points after only managing a sixth place finish in race one.

Fraser never looked like being pressured on a track that had just been graded to give the cars a decent running surface, a track suited to Modified Sprints.

Fraser would win this heat by almost three seconds with McIntyre second ahead of Astle in third.

Race three, this would decide the Brett Cooper Memorial, top points scorer from the three heats wins, and this time around McIntyre was the driver who got off to a flying start, pulling away from the challenging cars behind him. Nelson’s Gus Dawson found some great speed late in this race and would pressure McIntyre but would run out of laps, McIntyre securing the heat three win, Dawson second with Fraser third.

These results would see McIntyre claim the Brett Cooper Memorial, Astle second with Fraser third.

Next up was the eighteen lap feature final and McIntyre once again drove off from the pack. At this point you would have almost banked on McIntyre driving off into the sunset to claim the round win, and Southland Champs but he could not shake off neither Astle who sat in second for the majority of the race and Fraser in third. As the race progressed both Jones and Dawson joined the party, really throwing some excitement into the mix with five cars all in with a shot, one mistake up front would see you fall from first to fifth in a heartbeat.

As laps counted down Fraser would make a move on Astle putting him up to second place, Fraser then applied pressure on McIntyre, teasing him in each corner, trying to coax McIntyre wide but the Cantabrian held his ground, right up until the third last lap where Fraser found the slightest of gaps in turn two, and shot up the inside of McIntyre who had nothing to fight with.

Fraser would break away and come home to claim the round win, and retain the Southland Modified Sprint Championship, McIntyre would hold second with Astle third.

Streetstocks were running the Best Pairs Championship and this would be the first time Riverside would get to welcome the new New Zealand Champion Allan Finch of Dunedin to the track.

Heat one saw just the one restart after Riverside’s Steve Dryden dispatched Dunedin’s Jacob Glossop, bringing the race to a standstill while Glossop was towed infield.

Finch would show his class in heat one taking home the race win ahead of Dryden, with Shya McHardy in third.

Heat two and a change of direction for the Streetstock boys, and an incident that could have affected Finch’s chances of a Best Pairs win when his partner, Phil Johnston of Riverside would clip Jayden Cron of Beachlands in turn three. This contact led to both cars not finishing and really opened up the points overall.

Finch would ensure he and Johnston were still in with the best shot possible by taking his second win ahead of the day, Cody Finch of Dunedin placed second with Dryden third.

A couple of restarts in the deciding race were called, the first for Riverside’s Dom Curtis who needed to be moved from the track, the second for his clubmate AJ Lapsley who was teamed with Dryden, Lapsley had a flat tyre and was instructed infield, once again dropping one of the top combinations out of top spot.

Dryden, like Finch in race two did all he could by winning the race, Finch would claim second with McHardy third.

This result gave the overall title to the Finch / Johnston combination, a dominant performance for the pairing, but a run off between Dryden / Lapsley and McHardy who was partnered with Chris Illingworth of Riverside was called, both combinations agreed just to send two cars out for the four lap run off, this would be Dryden and McHardy.

The runoff was a classic, McHardy got off to a brilliant start only for Dryden to sneak past and start to drive away with the lead. McHardy would not give up the fight and drove well to reel Dryden back in, he took a swipe at Dryden in turn three but fell short, but he certainly didn’t miss his second chance in turn two, measuring Dryden and delivering a blow that got the crowd on their feet, as Dryden’s car leapt skyward and McHardy powered off to claim the run off earning himself and Illingworth second place, a great thirtieth birthday present for McHardy. 

Youth Saloons were split into two groups, the first was the more experienced drivers who were running round two of The Pits Media Challenge. Heat one saw some great driving by these young peddlers, no stoppages or dramas, but some great battles. Out front taking the win was Riverside’s Cayden Race who would with this race by half a lap over Dunedin driver Max Kemp and Lachie Robertson of Riverside third.

Heat two saw an early coming together of Stellar Hamilton of Riverside and Jasmine Todd of Beachlands, the pair managing to rejoin the pack and continue on from a restart.

Riverside’s Joshua Richardson drive off to a massive lead in this race but with one lap to go his car went into limp mode, leaving him a sitting duck for Kemp who would race past to grab the race win, Richardson just held onto second with Race third.

Race three would also see Race show his class, driving away from the field after an early battle with Kemp. Race just had too much pace to claim his second race of the event, Kemp second with Kaian Greene of Beachlands having a standout race, getting up to third.

This result for Race would see him have to return to the track for a four lap run off for the win with Kemp who both ended up tied on points. Race ensured a fast start and would not be challenged, overall results Race first, Kemp second with Richardson third.

Six Shooters were running in support and again proved to be one of the most competitive grades on display. Heat one saw drama when two of the more favored drivers Harrison Brown and Jake Shearing both of Riverside had a massive coming together in turn one. It looked like Brown simply drilled him from well back, but Browns torsion rod actually broke heading into the corner so he had nowhere to go, putting both cars out of the race.

Riverside’s Danny Livingstone would then control the race out front and battled away to claim a well deserved race win ahead of his son Josh Livingstone in second with Duane Cracknell of Riverside third.

Race two and the only caution came about midrace when Hayden Graves of Riverside came unstuck in turn two, from the restart a three car battle developed up front and it was Brown and Shearing going toe to toe, with Mason Whelan ready to pounce from third if the chance arose.

Shearing would do enough to grab the win on his return to the sport, Brown second with Whelan third.

The final race for Six Shooters was action packed, Shearing and Josh Livingstone made contact in turn one of lap one, breaking the sidebar off Livingstone’s car but both cars continued on.

Lap two and Shearing spins causing a second restart, then Riverside’s Samantha Cunningham would also come to a stop in turn three, needing assistance to be taken infield. Livingstone would then be the next car to spin while placed in third place, Danny Livingstone just managing to avoid him, while Graves wasn’t so lucky, spinning up but being allowed to restart from his original position.

Once all the action unfolded it was Brown who would take the win, Cracknell second with Graves third.

Peter Knight of Riverside was the standout in Stockcars, winning all three heats with ease, showing great form heading into the Southland Champs in early March.

Riverside’s Jeff Richardson was sent infield with a flat tyre, while clubmate Quinten McLeod couldn’t get going from Richardson’s restart so he too would need extracted from the track.

Knight took the win from clubmates Riley Henderson in second and Adam Naber in third.

Heat two and Naber put a great shot on Knight into turn one but would find himself having to retire from the meeting with damage, from this hit and restart Knight again was untouchable racing off to bank his second win of the event, Alicia Race of Riverside claimed second with Dwayne Te Maro third.

Te Maro would bring the crowd to life in race three when he put a big hit on Ryan Ridder who was on debut at Riverside, the big hit putting both cars upside down in what was an entertaining start to the race.

Knight made it three from three with a solid drive, only one other car left on track which was Richardson, even he was lucky to remain going after Knight dispatched of him late in the race.

Another driver who was unbeaten on the day was Riverside’s Joshua McIntyre who was entered in the Youth B Grade, in race one McIntyre would eventually take the race win, a race that was called short by officials after a number of mishaps on track involving multiple cars, on multiple occasions. Track conditions certainly didn’t do these young drivers any favors but  it prompted the track to be worked on also. McIntyre claimed race one ahead of Dunedin’s Blake Fox Millar and Zoe Menpes of Riverside.

The second race was a far tidier affair with some great racing in a large field. No cautions at all which was far cry from race one, McIntyre again got the job done, this time leading home Ryan Bennett of Dunedin in second and Riversides Meah Sommerville in third.

Race three was also a credit to these young drivers with another straight forward race going the distance, McIntyre again took the race win, capping off the perfect day out, Sommerville claimed second ahead of Bennett in third place.

The final grade in support was Production Saloons and a crazy turn of events at the end of race one saw Riverside’s Blake Hamilton give away the race win.

Hamilton was fast throughout the race, fending off challenges early after clubmate Blake Murdoch suffered issues coming out of turn two, stopping on the back straight causing a number of cars to bounce off each other, Aaron Brookland of Dunedin even hitting the wall putting his car out of the event.

Hamilton thought he had seen the checkered flag drop but he was a lap early and while pulling infield to claim the flag for his victory lap, clubmate Kahu Moxham would race past to steal the win. Moxham must have faced relegation at the conclusion of the race with the win being awarded to Dave McKenzie of Riverside, second was Central Motor Speedway driver Aven Erskine, with Moxham third.

Race two saw Dunedin’s Hayden Skilling show great car control at the front of the pack, the big rear wheel drive machine holding off the more nimble front wheel drive cars home to win race two, second went the way of Murdoch with Erskine third.

The final race was also a good clean fast race and this time around Erskine was the man under attack, Brookland had jumped into the driver’s seat of his father Nyall Brookland’s car and he was attacking Erskine for the race win, one more lap and he would have most likely made the move to win the race, but not on this occasion, Erskine sneaking home just ahead of Brookland with Hamilton third.

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