By Rob Arnold.
The Huntly International Speedway’s final meeting for 2019 on Dec 21 promised much on paper with a leg of the DVS Super Saloon Series, the George Hazleton and Alex Gillon stockcar memorials a Rotorua vs Huntly stockcar teams race and the Waikato Superstock Championship all on the agenda, yet action wise fell a little bit short of expectations.
Huntly like many other venues usually shy away from running a feature race meeting this close to Xmas. However with the NZ Superstock GP at PN and the North Island Stockcars at Kihikihi the proceeding two weeks making a potential fixture unviable, it left them no choice lest there be too greater gap to the International midget series leg on New Year’s Day. This was Huntly’s next scheduled fixture following the cancellation of the Dec 28 fireworks meeting the following week due to the many other things taking place at that time of year impacting on the availability of both cars and track personnel.
The flat action seen by both contact classes, and the middling to fair sized crowd shows exactly why the final week of the pre Xmas period is a no go zone for many tracks, what with Xmas functions and the proximity of major titles over the New Year period seeing many racers and fans alike either sit out nights like this or race conservatively, and hopefully Huntly takes stock of this when next season’s calendar is drafted.
For many the Hamilton Collision Repairs Waikato Superstock Championship was the main attraction and with a big field of 24 assembled the stage was set for a strong night of action. But save for 19R Jason Brown, points leader after two heats being targeted several times in the third heat it was a rather ho-hum night in terms of aggression, many simply reluctant to wreck their cars with the NZ Champs fast looming and engineering workshops shut over the Xmas/New Year break.
Still this takes nothing away from 81R Damian Orr’s fine effort to take his second Waikato title to add to his 2016 crown by one point ahead of 57H Dylan Marshall, his best result in the class to date, Brown still having enough points to take to the bank to complete the trifecta, albeit sharing the spot with 73A Bryce Marx, fifth place seeing another tie as 6H Shay Hambling and 95A Gary Lonergan shared the spot.
It was a similar story for the George Hazelton and Alex Gillon stockcar memorials, usually a rough and tumble affair. Indeed a huge field was expected enough for the field to be split in half for the heat races but with many still licking their wounds following the North Island Champs at Kihikihi the previous weeks the muster of 30, still very respectable in the circumstances was not enough to justify splitting in half for the heats. Why this format was persisted with is a mystery and saw the night drag out longer than it should. It meant the heat races were rather tame but the winner take all final was much better with some good hits yet wasn’t quite enough to make up for the lack lustre action earlier. 8A Logan Peat took the George Hazleton out of town but as he resides in the Waikato, as least it remained in the region with 735R Keegan Orr and 51A Alistair Van Amsterdam completing the podium, with 88H Justin Hutchby claiming the Alex Gillon Memorial for the night’s best stirrer.
The night began with the Ross Orr Memorial between the Waikato Raiders and the Rotorua Rascals, which saw the Rascals win rather easily, 19R Sam Pearson leading from flag to flag.
The DVS Super Saloon Series has seen the class, once seen only 2 or three nights max outside of seasons with allocated titles almost become a regular sight at Huntly. Again save for an incident in the feature the racing was close and fast but the track lacked the grip for much passing to occur which meant the overall spectacle fell short of expectations’. 96A Lance Jennings was the night’s class act with a heat win, victory in the Rural Direct Dash for Cash in a spirited battle with 35R Marcus Bullen, the one race when the track did offer some grip for them, then won the feature unopposed from 58A Max Anderson and 21H Steve Williams, who also won a heat race as did 48A Wade Jennings. Bullen deserves a brief mention for a series of passes in the feature on a track not conducive for passing.
Rounding up the programme were youth ministocks and a guest visit by the TQ midgets. Wins in the former saw two go to 12H Harry Hodgson and one to 27H Jess Bird while the pack of 10 TQ’s saw 2NZ [at the time of the meeting] Jeremy Webb in class of his own with a clean sweep of wins.