Sunday, March 08, 2015
NZ Stockcar Teams Finals Night
Paradise Valley Raceway, Rotorua
February 28, 2015
What a difference a day makes, brilliant sunshine as Rotorua turned on a scorcher, and little did we know the night ahead would be one of the best nights of racing this season. High drama, controversy and a first time winner of the event were several of the highlights that would keep the crowd buzzing and the referees busy all night. Six teams had been eliminated from the competition and we now had to sort out our quarter and semi finalists. The much anticipated showdown between Gisborne and Palmerston North would be our opening race.
Gisborne Gladiators v Palmerston North Pumas
Dare I say it, last season this would most like have been 4 Pumas cars trying to avoid a lone Bruce Harding with 3 wrecked Gladiator cars spread around the track. Going on last nights performance the Pumas were now the underdogs! 1nz Asher Rees took the lead immediately from 35p Jayden Ward but as they completed the first lap Ward's car began a series of backfires and pulled to the infield. 11p Peter Rees was spun early by William Humphries before Ron Tye gave the tank a hard hit on the main straight. Harding held up 36p Darrell Wallace - the Puma runner, while Rees Snr did the blocking for Asher. 127p Ethan Rees joined Asher in the running and with the Pumas down to 3 cars the writing was already on the wall. Ron Tye attempted to restart Wards car from the infield to no avail. Humphries was ploughed into the wall in turn 2 while Ethan and Harding finished off Ron Tye.
Rotorua Rascals v Stratford Stormers
The Rascals were down one car with Brent Stewart not able to front, Steve Gray sat out the race as the sub. Both Damian Orr and Kylee Symes appeared to have problems during the warm up laps but both made the start. Shannon Orr was first to taste the concrete put into the wall between turn 1 and 2, 402s Andrew Dodunski taking the lead. Three Rascals cars were chasing and when Dodunski was caught Damian Orr and Nick Johnson took the lead. Johnson then removed 406s Kylee Symes. Hayden Barker took Dale Stewart to the wall before we had our first 'grass cut' on turn one of the night according to the commentators. I missed it and it was pinged by the refs so lets move on shall we as there were plenty more to talk about later in the meeting! 404s Todd Duthie had the last opportunity to get Damian Orr and managed to hold him enough for the locals to worry as Dodunski almost caught the leader but Orr able to get to the line for the win. Rascals into the semis.
Wellington Young Guns v Wanganui Vulcans
This was the race Dale Robertson showed he is the master of stockcar teams racing and worth his weight in gold. He grabbed the lead from the get-go chased by 96v Francis Potaka and 88v Blair Lockett. 55w Paul Gaskin rode up over the front wheel of Lockett while Dion Mooney blocked 54w Hilton Parker. Robertson had a big lead by this stage but just managed to sneak past an awaiting Mooney. Mooney was then dealt to in turn 2 and Robertson put in the killer shot but at a cost spinning and puncturing the right front tyre. Red lights for debris with Robertson a lap up on the field. 55w and 52w catch Potaka and send him into the wall while Robertson was attacked by Barron. Potaka's bumper is completely wrecked in turn 3 and at this stage only 69v Ian Barron is running for the Vulcans. Hilton Parker provided the blocking for Dale who cruised to the win but compared with the two other quarter finals so far, the Young Guns had sustained a bit of damage.
Waikato Raiders v Canterbury Crushers
Almost the whole Canterbury team were at the gate for the 3 min bell. 92h Dave Moore put 5c Michael Arras into the wall in turn 1 as Tyson Wootton took the lead ahead of Josh Prentice and Kyle Lane. Hutchby stops Prentice as 7c lane passes Wootton for the lead. Lane then spun Moore and unfortunately for the Raiders Wootton hits the tanker also. Hutchby again doing awesome blocking manages to stop Arras but Lane slipped through but his charmed run ends when he attempts to hit Moore and spins himself. 97h Wootton again regains the lead. Hutch spins Prentice and 3 H cars are running together as Hutchby slows to block Lane. Things were looking great for the Raiders at this point with 94h and 97h running together in the lead but with Lane and Arras chasing and gaining ground the H cars seem to be taking it too casually. Ricco Gray takes both Moore and Hutchby to the wall, Wootton is spun and a final dash to the line for the win between Lane and 94c Mark Caldwell, the Raider is spun and goes over the line backwards with Lane credited the win on the ELS by 0.23 seconds. Raiders pull up to the start line for the chequered flag but are waved away in a crushing blow. Kyle Lane had a superb race and get the Crushers through to the semis.
Semi Final 1
Rotorua Rascals v Gisborne Gladiators
Almost the entire field ended up on the grass as the green flag fell leaving 583r Shannon Orr to take a healthy lead, 11g Peter Rees following as the Gladiators runner. 8g Harding stopped 358r Dale Stewart while 1nz Asher Rees began blocking allowing 11g into the lead ahead of 3 Rascals cars, 358r, 583r and 835r. The first pivotal moment happens as 11g Rees is put up the wall in turn 2 by 353r Steve Gray and Shannon Orr regains the lead but just as the Rascals look to have the upper hand a massive hit by Damian Orr on Harding backfires as something goes wrong with the car ending his race. Three Gladiators cars are now racing only two Rascals but the Rotorua boys are in the box seat with the lead. 127p Ethan Rees spins Dale Stewart while Harding slows Shannon Orr, Orr goes wide and hesitates it seems but appeared to have damage to the front right wheel and Harding smashes him into the wall in turn 2. Ethan Rees takes the lead and despite a desperate late lunge by Gray, 127g crosses the line for the win and a finals berth. Post race Bruce Harding's car is weighed and pronounced overweight and he is disqualified from the race and stood down for the meeting. The Gladiators keep the win but are down probably the best blocker in the business for the final.
Semi Final 2
Wellington Young Guns v Canterbury Crushers
This was the race that had all the controversy as the first real call for a pole line infringement was made and would delay the final as both teams argued the point. Matt Hand in the 8c tank made his debut at the meeting and couldn't have been given a harder race to join in the fun! 6c Jay Knight pushed 53w Blake Ellett up the wall then sped off for turn 1 only to be collected by 51w Dale Robertson. Richard Gaskin had the lead from 7c Kyle Lane and then the red lights came on and all hell breaks loose. Dale Robertson is sent infield for the pole line cut on Knight and is not happy to say the least. 54w Hilton Parker then puts 6c Jay Knight up the wall bringing on the red lights and bringing it back to 3 v 3 cars again. Ellett leads Lane and Prentice but Richard Gaskin has sustained a flat tyre. The next big controversial moment is when 9c Prentice repeats the exact move in turn 1 to remove Ellett and the red light is not thrown, Kyle Lane takes the lead. 8c Matt Hand puts in a huge hit on Parker in turn 1 as Kyle Lane takes the win for the Crushers. After a very long delay on results, the Crushers are excluded from the result and Wellington are awarded the win for the shot that removed Ellett with just a lap or two to go.
Gisborne Gladiators v Wellington Young Guns
Both teams appeared with only 5 cars and 92g Brett Lloyd and 55w Paul Gaskin sat out the final as subs. 31g James Kirk would make his debut teams race in the NZ Title final in an all tank Gisborne team along with the three Rees cars. Gisborne won pole and 1nz Asher Rees took the lead from 53w Blake Ellett. Then a hit by Peter Rees on 51w Dale Robertson in turn 1 brought on the red lights and everyone sat waiting to see if the dreaded pole line cutting would rear its ugly head again. Sure enough as the official ran over towards the 11g tank he was waved to the infield. Upon the restart two Young Guns cars took 127p Ethan Rees to the wall in turn 1 and 31g Kirk had sustained damage to the left rear wheel showering sparks from the wheel guard. 53w started the chase for Asher Rees and Robertson just missed him with a lunge pulling out in front of the 1nz tank. At this point 31g Kirk really impressed holding up two Welly cars before smashing 52w Richard Gaskin in turn 2. 31g kept clearing the way for Asher as he reeled off the laps, 127p Ethan was held up in turn 3 before he in turn got Ellett in turn 2 leaving 3 Gisborne cars against 2 Wellington. 52w had one last go on the final lap unable to stop the national champ as he crossed the line for an emphatic win for the Gladiators.
The only downer for me from this meeting was that the event will move from Paradise Valley for next years running, nothing against the Gisborne club but what we witnessed over the weekend was superb despite the weather and the logistical nightmare of getting 14 teams organised. Everything ran smoothly and it was a great championship. Well done everyone involved.