By Lance Moore (Team Manager)
The Central Metal Waikato Raiders got off to a solid start to their team racing season when they competed at the West Coast Teams at Stratford on the 16th of November.
The team for the event was Larry Henderson 8H, Hadley Dixon 15H, Brad Philpott 24H, Justin Hutchby 88H, and Clinton Cheetham 361H. There were five other teams, 2 from Stratford, Auckland, Kihikihi and Wellington. All teams had good cars and drivers with no weak teams on show. The format, with two races for points then top four racing of for the top four places, ensured racing would be hard with no team being able to afford a bad performance.
The Raiders had neighbours Kihikihi first up, a team that had beaten the Raiders at the Peter Barrys’ last year. With Clinton 361H off the front but getting plenty of attention from his old club mates, Hutch in the 88H managed to thread his way through the cars and jump out to a good break on the field and Clinton also managed to be the next car away with a little help from Larry 8H. Three Kihikihi cars got away not far behind chasing hard and their block car 28k proved to be a real nuisance. Hutch managed to slip past and left Clinton to battle with 28k, and Hutch’s experience show through as he was able hold the lead and take the flag for a first up win. Right through the race Brad 24H in his newly acquired space frame car showed his skills blocking and holding up the chasing Kihikihi cars, at one time holding up all three of their run cars at once. Larry 8h also did his bit until an a big shot at the annoying 28K saw his car damaged and out of the race. A good effort by all in our first race for the season.
Lead by James, of J Engineering, the pit crew worked hard on the cars and got all race ready for our second race against Wellington. We had five cars out for the Wellington race, a very strong team with the likes of Dale Robertson, Josh Prentice and the Levine Brothers who had just completed a solid win against national champs Stratford.
As the flag dropped Wellington obviously had a plan to keep the Old Hand Hutch 88H in check, but all this attention did allow Clinton 361H and Hadley 15H to get away hard following the very fast 9W who shot to the lead. With Brad 24H and Hutch 88H now in a blocking rolled and Clinton 361H and Hadley 15H running, things were going ok until Hadley with nowhere to go got wide and got drilled by 89W Dale Robertson. This resulted in a roll over and Hadley out of the race but unhurt. Now with Raiders down to three cars, they continued to race well with Clinton in second place and Brad and Hutch blocking and looking for that lead car 9W . With about three laps to go the 9w tried to shoot pass Brad and his own block car 46W , but Brad new found horsepower was too much and Brad was able to nail him, bring him to holt. Meanwhile the fast following Clinton was able to get to the lead and drove very well having to contend a number of efforts from the Wellington cars to stop him. With only one hundred metres to go to the flag Josh Prentice 5W managed to clip Clinton slowing him up and allowing 89W to put in a hit, this was followed by a hit by 46W trying to trap Clinton against the other cars. Clinton managed free himself and looked certain to take the flag for the win, but unfortunately he had steering damaged end he ended running off the track twenty metres short of the line unable to keep the car in a straight line. Wellington had 89W still a lap to go running second and were able get around the track and take first place in some confusion as the chequer flag had been dropped when Clinton headed to the line and then withdrawn. This was a great teams race with many considering it to be the race of the night an awesome effort from the Raiders. Close but not close enough. The loss put the Raiders in sixth place for the night, where as a win would have seen them racing off for first and second more than likely. Wellington went on to beat Auckland in the final.
One win and a loss to start the season, against strong teams, a good solid start for the Central Metal Waikato Raiders to their race season. The team had plenty of support in the pits and the whole team from drivers, pit crew, family and supporters showed a great spirit through the whole weekend. A big thanks to Central Metals our main sponsors, along with other sponsors J Engineering, The Meat Warehouse, Number One Stockcar Bodies, Xsight, Customized Earthworks, North Waikato Bins without their help we would not be able to get on the track.
We are all looking forward to our next outing and can be happy with a promising start to the season.