By Allan Powell,
Last Saturday night at Huntly and Te Rapa PlaceMakers Speedway on a fine summers evening was two Speedway New Zealand titles. Those were the Cooke Roofing North Island TQ Midget title for the second year running and the Claymark New Zealand Minisprint Grand Prix title. Both open wheel classes and the opportunity to run both classes on the same night.
The TQ midget North Island title had a changed format instead of qualifying heats a race three 20 lap heats of accumulated points to get the top 3 placegetters. 21 cars lined up on the grid for heat one and right from the first corner all the cars were jostling for that important break causing the first caution with 3 cars tipped over. The cars rolled were 78A Mike Harrison, 64A Gina Harris and 76. 8A Lawrence spun to avoid the cars but had some steering damaged and went to the infield after 2 more laps. The race then settled down to the finish with a group of 5 cars chasing the top 3 positions. 5B Duane Todd took the win from in finishing order 16A Ryan Barry, 15 Ryan Baker, 2NZ Dean Cooper and 88A Scott Baker, but Ryan Barry was relegated 2 spots to finish fourth and the other drivers all moving up that one spot. Heat two had two small rollovers again and a couple of spinners, but 49A Kaleb Currie held off 2NZ Hayden Guptill for the win and then the next 3 cars were 71A Danny Keane, 7A Jayden Busch and 14A Benjamin Le Cren. Ryan Baker and Ryan Barry made up good positions from rear grids. Now after the 2 heats it was time for the 20 lap final and a chance at the top three. 2NZ Hayden Guptill had pole position only to his huge disappointment and not able to defend his North Island title won at Huntly last season with a fuel line coming loose and not able to start the final. Guptill had chance but it wasn’t to be this season and now to get the car ready for the New Zealand title in 2 weeks in Napier. Ryan Baker took full advantage of Guptill missing and went to the front on a now slick track. Chasing the leader were Danny Keane and 6A Shaun Cooke. Cooke spun on turn three allowing him to restart, but spun again 3 laps later and this time had to go infield as you can only have one restart in a feature. Lap 15 Scott Baker rolled on turn one. Ryan Baker held the lead to the finish and take out the Cooke Roofing North Island TQ Midget title from Danny Keane and 3rd Ryan Barry as these placing were confirmed by the referee`s after protests were heard from drivers.
The second main event on the night was the Clay mark New Zealand Minisprint Grand Prix. 16 cars made the first heat as some cars had pulled out on the day. The Minisprints also changed from a 4 race format to a 3 heat championship event. Cars had come from throughout the North Island with a strong group of cars from down the Palmerston North and Stratford club areas. Not taking it away from cars up in this end of the island is also top cars and has the advantage of a home track. Heat one and on lap 2 turn 3 had a five car pileup. 88S Conrad Hall, 2NZ Dean Cooper, 58S Bayley Betts, 28S Karl Uhlenberg and 77S Craig Mason all need to go to the infield with some damage. This heat was won by 48P Christian Hermansen then 37K Jade Barnett and 3rd 41P Paul Dewar. Heat two had 3 wide racing at the start with 82 Cameron Hurley and Cooper going for the lead with only Cooper to spin with 2 laps to go and Hurley slipping back 3rd. The win again went to Hermansen, Barnett then Hurley and 4th 57H Ben Vaughan. The 25 lap final was next up with Hermansen and Barnett on the front row with Hurley and Vaughan on row 2. Hermansen had a good lead up till the first caution on lap 15 when 4 cars tangled on turn one. Hermansen had a reduced lead, but was still able to race to the finish and take the win. So your new 2017 Claymark New Zealand Mini sprint winner is Christian Hermansen from Palmerston North from Jade Barnett 2nd, Ben Vaughan 3rd and 4th Cameron Hurley.
Support classes on the night were Stock cars, Saloons, Ministocks and Kiwi Kids.
Next meeting at Huntly will be the Waikato Stockcar Championship on 11th February and keep checking the Huntly PlaceMakers Speedway website for updated information.