By Rob Arnold.
For the second year running the Huntly PlaceMakers Speedway’s opening night was delayed a week due to the weather but the action witnessed on and off the track more than made up for the wait for the full house that packed all the parking spaces and made for bumper to bumper traffic leading to the venue.
The 19 strong field of superstocks was the night’s highlight with more action than most had bargained for, 66R Dylan Hampton having the honour of the season’s first rollover when he rolled in a cut and thrust second heat, which was quickly followed by race winner 97H Aidan Eustace rolling 64R Jeremy Sinclair on the rundown lap!
Eustace made it two on the trot when he passed 119M Kerry Remnant in the closing stages but the Tauranga hitman was able to claim his revenge to win the finale. 87M Dave Elsworth, 37R Ken Hunter 336R Barry Hunter Jnr, 10M Gavin McClinchie and impressive rookie 49H Tony Van Lieshout also featured in the top five.
The large field of 31 Stockcars, bolstered by several Kihikihi and Rotorua visitors had the action we expect from this entertaining class, with 7H David Moore in excellent form to take a hatrick of wins with Kihikihi visitors 36K Clinton Cheetham and 49K Aydan McPherson and 186R Tony Gallaher from Rotorua featuring prominently at the sharp end of the field along with locals 56H Cameron Taylor, 922H Hayden Hepworth and impressive ministock graduate Zac Hickford in the 49H.
Ten Saloons along with two Super Saloons that came in for the ride combined for a fast and largely clean night’s racing. 75M Michelle Wymer showed her class to win comfortably after a short challenge from 8M Jared Fletcher when she was baulked by back markers came unstuck ahead of 88K Chris Johnson and son Ryan in the 95K. 18K Chris Taylor came under a lot of pressure from the younger Johnson in heat two, but found his feet to pull away to win heat two by a handy margin with Fletcher in third. 146A Paul Wright showed the potential of the ex Bodie Abrahamson Corvette to win the finale from a charging Wymer who would have been right up with Wright if the race lasted a few laps longer with 96A Lance Jennings making up a ton of ground in his Super Saloon to be a fighting third.
The six modified were tightly bunched and fairly even showing that small fields can be entertaining, with 78H Mike Harrison scoring two wins but 119H Brad Lane’s pace to win the opening heat suggests he remains the one to beat this season. 18R Paul Ferguson, 193R Syd Ferguson and 53H Barry Hunter featured in the minor money.
Seven production saloons were a far cry from the days when fields in the high teens were a regular occurrence but close battles for the lead kept things interesting. 6H Vaughan Glidden was the one to beat with two wins in his Honda, 14H Wayne Warrnder starting his season with a win with veterans 63H Peter Craddock and 48H Dave Pilkington also up at the sharp end of the field.
The fast and largely clean racing from the 22 youth Ministocks showed that the sport’s future is well and truly in safe hands. 15H Ryan Marshall was the one to beat with two wins, with 95H Kyle Whittaker having the honour of winning the first race of the season with 33H Lukas Martin, 22H Xavier Martin and 97H Jayden Dreadon also at the pointy end of the field.
The fireworks as always didn’t disappoint and such well run was the meeting it was over in just over in three hours, including the fireworks which were lit with five races remaining to help stagger the mass stampede out of the carpark, and with the action seen it certainly wets the appetite for the Stockcar and Superstock teams racing on this weekend not to mention the rest of what looks to be a another busy season at Huntly PlaceMakers Speedway.