Teenage Sensation Takes Saloon Series Round At Riverside

Riverside Speedway


Shuttleworth Motorsport Media

Images supplied by: Christopher Scrimgour

While most teenagers are busy playing PlayStation or glued to their devices Christchurch youngster Ashton Osborne is tearing up the clay at warp speed up against some of New Zealand’s best drivers.
Osborne was entered in the Aotea Electric Riverside Speedway’s round three of the Brian FM South Island Saloon Series held on Sunday in Invercargill. Unfortunately for home fans two of their local drivers Scott Williamson and Mark Dobson both suffered major damage to their cars in Dunedin the night prior, leaving Dan Black the only local entry, even he had a different car than he had campaigned on nights one and two due to mechanical dramas.
The event at Riverside would start with time trials and Osborne smacked out a time that would see him claim top spot in the time trials. Osborne had his brand new Stealth on rails, a car he only rolled out of the workshop late last week and drove for the first time on Friday.
Second in the time trials was series leader Ryan Marsden of Christchurch and Blair Leigh also of Christchurch third.
Heat one of the event went the way of Osborne also, he fought hard with Ethan Cook who had made the journey south all the way from Gisborne, Cook threw everything he had at Osborne but the former New Zealand Champion simply had no answer, Osborne taking the win, Cook second ahead of Leigh in third place.
With Osborne booking a front row spot in the A Main race heat two would decide who would take the spot alongside him, this race would be the race of the day as Marsden and George Phillips of Cromwell were like magnets out front, the pair going side by side, lap after lap thrilling the big crowd in attendance.
Phillips would eventually break the shackles and get a car length away from Marsden late in the race and take the win, Marsden second with Trent Amrein from Bay Park Speedway in Tauranga fast in his Pro X in third place.
With a number of cars damaged from the first two nights of racing it was decided there would be no C Main, but a B Main would determine grid positions for the last six spots available.
One shock entry in the B Main was current 3NZ Willie Woodhouse from Christchurch who struggled through time trials and his heat race, finding himself having to race for survival in this round. Woodhouse however rose to the occasion putting on a good display up front to claim the B Main race win with Tom Roberts of Auckland second and Dunedin’s Aaron Andrews impressive in third.
The twenty lap feature final would be run on a slick bumpy track surface, but still a surface that offered passing if you were brave enough to hang the car a little high. The green flag would drop and Osborne would beat Phillips to turn one and race off rapidly down the back straight. Osborne started to build a decent lead lap after lap but the question being asked was if he had gone too early and would he slow off somewhat in the dying laps.
Mid race it did look as if Phillips who had pulled away from the pack slightly was going to reel Osborne in but Phillips had his own battles to deal with as Cook and Marsden started to attack from behind.
Usually a twenty lap feature would have some form of spin or stoppage but credit to all the drivers in this series the race would go the full distance without a stoppage at all, just good hard fast racing. Osborne would totally outclass the competition and take his first round of the South Island Saloon Series for this year, Phillips was half a straight length back in second with Cook on his tail in third place.
Creativity Plus Production Saloons were contesting the Southland Production Saloon Championship and a decent field of cars were entered from the likes of Central Motor Speedway, Beachlands Speedway, Greenstone Park in Greymouth and a number of local Riverside drivers.

Heat one saw Dunedin driver Clay Marshall get off to a flying start, he was chased hard by Cromwell’s Gavin Hurring with the pair swapping the lead on multiple occasions before Hurring went into the back of Riverside’s Clair MacGregor allowing Marshall to clear off and take the race win, Hurring came home in second but was later relegated bringing Riverside’s Blake Hamilton up to second with Dunedin driver Nyall Brookland third.

Race two and it was Marshall again who was out front doing the business, behind him Riverside driver Tony Jones and Dunedin’s Aaron Brookland fought hard for second and third, Brookland a number of times flaunting with the wall looking for some type of advantage to challenge Jones. The battle was great but it also allowed Marshall to bank his second race win and go into the final heat on maximum points. Jones managed to hold off Brookland for second, Brookland third.

The final was a great battle with all the top points scorers starting towards the rear of the field, the race was just taking shape when Riverside driver Alistair Green stopped against the wall on the entry to turn three, this bought out the caution with Jones leading.  Marshall’s twin brother Kaleb caught Jones and unfortunately the two made contact when Jones looked to slow slightly while going through turn four, as Jones powered off Marshall was underneath causing Jones to spin and park up. More contact was to unfold when Lucy Greer of Dunedin hit Aaron Brookland with Aaron Reed of Riverside an innocent party making contact, this put Greer to the infield.

As the race resumed Hurring took full control and remained under attack from Hamilton, Hurring would take the race win, Hamilton second and Reed after suffering damage third. A fifth placing gave Clay Marshall the Southland Production Saloon Championship while Nyall Brookland won an action packed run off for second with Hamilton. 

Stockcars were running for best pairs and the put on some great racing for the big Southern crowd with just Riverside drivers entered. Race one went the way of Luke Fallow who dominated up front and kept his nose well clean from anyone around him. Second went the way of Jesse Hamilton with Luke Molloy third.

Race two saw Luke Molloy well protected out front by his pairs partner Shanan Knight, Knight was happy to sit back in second and guard Molloy who would bank the race win with Knight second and Jenna Tree up to third place.

The final race to determine the best pairs in Stockcars for the season was again clean and fast, there was plenty going on but Knight would slip through to the lead of the race and pretty much went under the radar to bank the points needed for both himself and Molloy to take the championship. Second was Chris Kergozou and Kahu Moxham third. As mentioned overall points went to Knight / Molloy combination, second was Kergozou and Fallow with Gary Mowat and Tree doing enough for third.

The next class running was the Streetstocks who battled it out for the Steves Autos Top Gun, consisting of two heat races then a one on one, two lap battle for the overall Top Gun title. 

There was a surprise addition to the Streetstocks with Nick Kergozou a late entry. Kergozou had just come off winning the Sprint Ace title on Saturday in the Tour Of Southland had always wanted to give Speedway a go and the Olympian certainly didn’t look out of place claiming a sixth in heat one and seventh in heat three.

Heat one of Streetstocks went the way of Ben Jenkins of Dunedin who was too quick for the competition, Riverside’s Dillon MacHattie came home second ahead of Steve Dryden also of Riverside third.

Race two and Jenkins was at the pointy end once more, this time doing battle with his Dunedin clubmate Jareb Verdoner. Verdoner held a good lead as Jenkins chased him down but Verdoner had enough in the tank to keep Jenkins at bay claiming the race win, Jenkins second and MacHattie third.

This then all led to the Top Gun, last qualifier Jono Bower was a big mover, dispatching Scott Lyons of Riverside and Shya McHardy of Dunedin but Kergozou would put and end to his momentum. Kergozou then moved up another spot with a win over  Jacob Campbell of Dunedin setting up a battle with Dryden.

When the green flag dropped Kergozou didn’t move with an obvious mechanical drama, while Dryden didn’t move off the line either despite the flag being waved.

Speedway New Zealand officials then sent both Dryden and Kergozou to the infield, bringing out MacHattie to go head to head with Verdoner, a battle Verdoner happened to win. Last out would be Jenkins to go head to head for the Top Gun against Verdoner, Jenkins holding his clubmate off to take the overall Steves Autos top gun crown.

Youth Saloons were also running in support and were the final grade. Race one saw a great race between a couple of fast young drivers, Alex Crosbie and Joshua McIntyre both of Riverside. McIntyre led early but was eventually chased down by Crosbie after a spin in turn four would see Madi Stewart of Dunedin along with Riverside cars of Lachie Robertson, Holly Murdoch and Patience Cooper all stop, Cooper going out of the race.

With only a couple of laps remaining McIntyre was in full defence mode and he did well leading Crosbie home ahead of Stewart in third place.

Race two for Youth saw Crosbie show his class, the young driver got to the front and dominated the race, taking care of lapped traffic on numerous occasions taking an easy win from Joshua Richardson in second and McIntyre third. This was a great result for Richardson after having to fix a fair bit of damage from his nights racing at Beachlands the night prior.

The final race saw plenty of biff and barge and resulted in an ugly roll over on the main straight. Rose Stanton of Riverside came out of turn four at pace and while heading out past another car towards the wall she was clipped and rolled multiple times before the car landed on its side, Stanton’s thumb came out the window to indicate she was fine but the car was left in a state that will need a major rebuild.

Richardson pulled a buffer in this race but would have to fight off McIntyre, Crosbie and newcomer Kaden Cracknell who again was impressive straight off the mentor program.

Richardson thanked his hard working team with a race three win, Crosbie was second with McIntyre third.

Riverside Speedway will now get set to run a round of the Debbie The Webster Super Cup on November 26th.

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