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Who Was Naughty, Who Was Nice At Beachlands Christmas Champs?

Beachlands 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.) 

So Santa has come and gone, and while for a number of people its a chance to head away with family and enjoy a much needed holiday, but if you are a part of a speedway family Christmas time is all about getting your hands dirty and being trackside to either compete at, or just support your local track.

Custom Signs Beachlands Speedway had their annual Christmas meeting, part of a string of great meetings around the southern South Island over continuous days, with Riverside and Central Motor Speedway both running events to link into this one.

It was unfortunate for Beachlands that Woodford Glen in Christchurch would suffer a rainout on Boxing Day meaning a number of drivers scheduled to travel south stayed on and raced at the rescheduled meeting which now clashed with this event.

The feature of the meeting was the Saloon Car Forty Lapper, the drivers would run two heat races, a pole shuffle and then a forty lap race, a big ask, but also a very entertaining event.

Heat one for Saloons saw local driver Aaron Andrews get to the front early and remain unchallenged in what was a dominant performance first up, Peter “Dutchy” Schouten of Christchurch who managed to get release from his club to race here claimed second and looked very quick, while Blayr Findlay of Central Motor Speedway would claim third spot.

Heat two was an epic battle which looked as if Findlay would win with ease. Findlay built up a handy advantage only to have it taken away on the very last lap of the race when Dunedin’s Calvin Todd spun up in turn one leaving clubmate Andrew Hutton with nowhere to go, the pair making contact and bringing out the yellow flag.

At the restart Findlay led from the front but Andrews was hungry in second and all over him, measuring him in every corner in the two lap dash, but it was the final corner that Andrews backed himself and made a big move on Findlay to snatch the lead and ultimately the race win, Findlay would cross the line in second with Travis Smith of Dunedin third.

Findlay would however be disqualified from this race for a move deemed reckless as Andrews passed him, this elevated Smith to second with Stu Millar of Dunedin third.

Three groups of four would contest the pole shuffle, Findlay found himself in the bottom group due to his disqualification, he made easy work of winning that battle which moved him through to the second group which he also won, landing him in the final group against Andrews, Smith and Schouten.

Andrews again drove hard but this time had to really work for the win as Smith was showing great car speed threatening Andrews the entire race. Andrews would secure pole with Smith second, Findlay third and Schouten forth.

This would now set up the forty lap feature, could Andrews have the perfect night out?, winning both heats, the pole shuffle and maybe the feature, Smith would beg to differ as he got off to a flying start pulling well away from his opposition on a track that was starting to prove very hard to make a pass on. 

Smith would unfortunately fall victim to this as he got caught behind lapped traffic and every time he went wide to make a pass he lost ground so he had to sit and watch his lead disappear as Andrews would slowly reel him in.

Andrews eventually got to Smith and found a gap which he took to see Smith slip back to second before the first yellow flag would come out after Millar spun in turn two, this was just what the drivers would have wanted, a chance to reset, have a breather and get set to charge to the flag.

Smith got a great restart and challenged Andrews while behind him Schouten, Findlay, Millar and Dunedin’s Mark Newall battled hard for third spot. As we all know motorsport can be a cruel sport and just as Smith looked to be lodging a challenge he started to slip back in the pack, eventually going infield after spitting a belt leaving him a spectator for the last few laps, but certainly putting on a performance that turned heads, showing great signs of things to come.

From here Andrews would stretch his legs and race home to claim the Forty Lap Saloon feature with Findlay claiming second ahead of a fast finishing Newall in third place. 

Findlay again found himself in trouble being relegated two spots in the feature, elevating Newall to second and Schouten third. 

Youth Ministocks were a welcome addition to the program with a number of cars doing all three southern tracks as part of a Tri Series with the Stockcars. They were also running for the Otago Youth Ministock Championship.

Heat one started with an early stoppage as Cromwell driver Patience Cooper rolled in turn two bringing the race to an early halt, as the race restarted it was Christchurch duo Kelan Keith and Jaxyn Houtos who battled it out, the pair swapping the lead lap after lap until coming out of turn two the pair made side by side contact which would ultimately put Keith into the wall and out of the race, the field again having to reset themselves.

As the race started to wind down Houtos was in full control but was being pressured by clubmates Oliver McCartney and Jaxon Dacombe, with just one lap to run Central Motor Speedway driver Paige McNally was spun up in turn two which could have bought out a caution but she remained parked up and the race finished with Houtos taking the win ahead of McCartney and Dacombe.

Heat two and Keith was keen to make amends for the race one incident and having a front row start would make life a lot easier you would think, but his clubmate Marcel Vlaanderen would keep him honest leading for a fair bit of the race. Braedyn Williamson of Christchurch would be the cause of the first caution parking up in turn four while again McNally got spun up in turn two for the second race in a row.

Keith would eventually grab the lead and the race win after the cautions, with Vlananderen second and Houtos third.

The final heat to decide the Otago Youth Ministock Champs was the cleanest of the night with no cautions at all, a credit to these young drivers with so many cars on track. Houtos again would sneak his way to the front and manage the lead but would have to work to get it with Leaha Rowlands of Christchurch snatching the early advantage and certainly making Houtos have to work for position.

Houtos however would remain patient and snatch victory late in the race, Rowlands got a well driven second with Dacombe home in third place.

The Otago Championship going the way of Houtos in first with McCartney second and Dacombe third overall.

Production Saloons were also running their Otago Championship and a big field of cars were entered and put on some fantastic racing over all three heats, amazingly all three heats would run without caution, a rare thing when it comes to a big field of Production Saloons.

Heat one saw Riverside’s Kahu Moxham work his way to the lead of the race sneaking past Beachlands Madi Stewart who was the run away leader early. Moxham would eventually grab the lead and the race win, while the big talking point was Dunedin’s Tyler Kelk who came from the rear of the pack to claim second place with Stewart third.

Heat two and again some great battles right throughout the pack, but it was Aaron Brookland of Dunedin who started up front that managed this race, a handy bag full of points in the championship coming his way with a solid race win. Behind Brookland was a great battle for the minor placings, Cromwell’s Gavin Hurring, along with Beachlands clubmates Ricki Pilley and Max Fleet all battled hard for position but it would be Hurring that would claim second with Pilley third.

Heat three saw Brooklands hopes disappear as the race two winner would retire to the infield early, up front Kelk battled with Daniel Thom of Dunedin, lap upon lap until Kelk broke the shackles and pulled away from the pack. Moxham was working his way through the field and started to challenge Kody Denniston who was in third place but a broken CV would see that challenge fade and the Otago Champs as he fell two spots at the flag.

Kelk would claim the race win from Thom in second and Denniston third. 

This would give Kelk the Otago Production Saloon Championship with Moxham second overall, but a run off between Pilley and Hurring for third would need to take place, Pilley the victor after Hurring had a massive head on smash into the wall coming out of turn two.

Stockcars were running for The Shear Madness Racing Best Pairs as well as the first round of their Tri Series, and in heat one local driver Steven Thompson showed a clean pair of heels out of the blocks and remained unchallenged to claim victory, Paul Simon of Beachlands was second with Brian Taniwha of Cromwell third.

Race two saw an early stoppage as Dunedin driver Bailey Mitchell had a spectacular roll over coming out of turn two, his wheel coming off and catapulting him skywards, hitting Cromwell’s Casey McEwan in the process and leaving Taniwha stranded on the wheel that went rouge.

At the restart Simon chased down early leader Nico Tuhura of Dunedin to claim the race win, Tuhura was second with Billy Greer of Beachlands third.

Race three was certainly entertaining with plenty of biff and barge, pairs combinations going after each other to try and upset the apple cart in the overall points. Thompson again was very quick but came under fire from Taniwha, but it was Taniwha who would come out second best when he attacked Thompson he went airborne and spun around giving away ground to the then race leader, however it did allow Simon to sneak through and secure the race lead. Simon just happened to be partnered with Taniwha.

Taniwha limped around for the remainder of the race with damage but his partner Simon would win the heat with Thompson second and Shinnae McNally of Cromwell placing third.

Overall results in the best pairs saw Taniwha and Simon first, McNally and Thompson second and Tuhara and Shannon Simon third.

Streetstocks always provide plenty of entertainment at Beachlands with big fields, and this event was no exception. Race one saw some very fast racing across the field with a handful of cars battling hard up front, but it was Cody Finch of Dunedin who would take the win leading home clubmates Ben Jenkins in second and Matt Stewart in third place.

Race two and again a fast race with plenty of thrills and spills but no major damage or cautions to be had, Beachlands Braden Adams was showing solid form straight off winning the Otago Streetstock Champs just a few weeks earlier, Adams would win heat two with ease ahead of Jareb Verdoner of Dunedin and clubmate Shya McHardy in third place.

Just the one stoppage in race three with Jacob Glossop stopping on the inside of turn four, Adams was parked alongside Glossop after being the early race leader, both cars would retire to the infield. Jenkins would work his way to the front to claim victory ahead of Verdoner and Finch.

The final grade to run was Youth Saloons and credit to these young drivers they put on some of the cleanest driving of the night with some great battles right across the grade in all three races.

Riverside driver Cayden Race started mid pack and managed to chase down early pace setter Lachie Robertson also of Riverside to snatch the lead and ultimately the race win, Dunedin’s Max Kemp would also get past Robertson late in the race to grab second and Robertson third.

Race two and a carbon copy in results from race one, except this time around life was easier for Race with a front row start.

Having a front row start meant race would start from well down in race three, Kemp however was towards the front end of the grid and would go after the early race leader which was Dunedin’s Ashley Bennett who got off to a flying start. Kemp would eventually chase Bennett down but took a couple of laps to get the pass done, but when he did he would cruise home to claim the race win, Race managed to sneak past Bennett for second with Bennett claiming third place. 

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