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Thrilling NZ Super Saloon GP Title Decided

With good weather, a good crowd and it being our first meeting of 2018 here at Max Motors Family Speedway on Saturday we had all the

components for a great event with both the features, the Wellington Saloon Champs and the NZ Supersaloon GP being sponsored by The Moving Company. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that the track was not up to its usual high standard, whether it was due to the previous week’s event or the climate most visiting drivers and spectators would have expected better.

The Moving Company Super saloon GP attracted a star-studded line-up with appearances from both the new 1nz Terry Corin and the outgoing one 11e Peter Dickson, both the new 3nz and 3 time winner of the GP Mark Osborne and the outgoing, 26e Shane McIntyre who is also a former GP winner. Also thrown into the mix was the current title holder 58c Ritchie Taylor, and past double GP winners 24w Martin Halcrow and 21n Ian Burson. The format was originally 2 heats and a one race final but after drivers briefing it was changed to 3 twenty lap heats for points, which for those of us spectators with a mathematical bent was great.

The first heat saw 21w Donald Gregory on the front grid alongside 5t Darryl Ainsley who got the jump on the field and streaked off to a good lead. 26e Shane McIntyre had made a good start and was running in 3rd place when he ran too wide on a corner, lost places and not long after became our first high-profile DNF. He was soon to be followed by 1nz Terry Corin, 23p Mick Quin and 11e Peter Dickson with 62w Dave Spiers, and 72b Darren Melling making up the rest of the DNF’s. By the half-way point in the race 21w Donald Gregory had taken the lead which he retained till the chequered flag but only just as the hard-charging 21n Ian Burson had made his way up the field to take a very close 2nd place ahead of 5t Darryl Ainsley. 9w Mark Pitcher had made his way up from the rear grid to 7th place only for a spin in the tenth lap to drop him back to 12th. 3nz Mark Osborne, who also started from the rear grid was the big mover of the race finishing 7th.

In the next heat 26e Shane McIntyre’s night came to an end before the race was one lap old when he and 12a Kristin Vermeulen, who was also having a bad night, had a coming together. 21w Donald Gregory had his good work in the previous heat undone when he pulled infield before the restart. 3nz Mark Osborne, 11e Peter Dickson and 124m Dan Corrin had a battle royale at the front of the field and although 3nz was given the flag he was later relegated a spot giving the win to the 11e. 21n Ian Burson drove extremely well from his rear grid to finish 6th

Going into the third heat 21n Ian Burson was in the box seat with 31 points, he was closely followed by 124m Dan Corrin and 3nz Mark Osborne both on 29 points and 5t Darryl Ainsley on 28 points. Others still with an outside chance were 58c Ritchie Taylor on 26 and 11e Peter Dickson with 24. In the third heat 3nz Mark Osborne’s challenge for the title ended with a DNF, 9w Mark Pitcher showed what could have been but for one spin when he won the race in convincing style, leading from start to finish. 24w Martin Halcrow had been running well all evening and was in 2nd place until a meeting with the wall caused him to drop back and eventually succumb to a DNF. 11e Peter Dickson finally had some good fortune and inherited a couple of spots, finishing 2nd in the race; but it was the 3rd place getter 21n Ian Burson who had done the best on the night, ending up 6 points ahead of the rest of the field and the 2018 GP winner. To decide the rest of the podium a 3-way run-off was required between 5t Darryl Ainsley, 124m Dan Corrin and 11e Peter Dickson. After a good battle 124m Dan Corrin claimed the 2nd podium spot with 11e Peter Dickson taking the 3rd.

The other feature on the programme was The Moving Company Wellington Saloon Champs where the Te Marua faithful got their first look at the new 3nz “V”-sponsored HRC of Matt Eckersley. The local field were joined by 4 Stratford drivers, 8s Craig Korff, 46s Daniel Hinton, 12s Blake Hooper, and 7s Richard Dreaver. Their first heat saw 67w Scott Jones take up the front running for most of the race but the 3nz Matt Eckersley had different ideas of how the race would finish. Making several good outside passes on a difficult track he finally got to the front and took the chequered flag with a couple of seconds to spare. 9w Craig Burton had been running well up there most of the race but in the final stages something appeared to go wrong and his car dropped back to 9th place. 12s Blake Hooper also found a way past 67w Scott Jones to finish in 2nd place.

The second heat again saw the 3nz Matt Eckersley finish in the top three this time having to settle for 3rd as 46s Daniel Hinton and 5w Jaden Munn drove strongly to finish 1st and 2nd respectively. 16w Taylor Mahey and 9w Craig Burton continued to have a bad night both DNFing.

Going into Heat three 3nz Matt Eckersley was on 28 points with 5w Jaden Munn and 46s Daniel Hinton both on 25 and 12s Blake Hooper on 24. The other two with an outside chance of a podium were 242w Ashleigh Halcrow and 67w Scott Jones on 21 points apiece. 8s Craig Korff made a pass on the first lap to take the lead which he never relinquished, behind him the hopes of 46s Daniel Hinton were dashed when he DNFed and the other front runner 5w Jaden Munn, despite a spectacular drive coming up from the back grid, was only able to make it as far as 6th place, not quite enough to make the podium missing by 1 point. 3nz Matt Eckersley came from grid 8 to finish in 2nd place ahead of 12s Blake Hooper, giving the title to 3nz Matt Eckersley by 5 points from 12s Blake Hooper and 8s Craig Korff.

Support classes on the night were the Capital Pools and Spas Stockcars, which saw a couple of interesting additions in the form of 7w Dimitrios Amos, who we haven’t seen for a few seasons but he obviously hasn’t lost his Stockcar attitude being in the wars from the first green flag. He is one the spectators will certainly be watching. The other interesting addition was the latest purchase by the Friday Homes director Mike Friday, the ex-23b Wayne Talbot Superstock rebadged as 24w and driven by Grant Littlewood. Winners on the night were 55w Todd McLachlan, 19w Noel Bewley and 247p Dave Marshall. 2nd places were taken by 2nz Dion Mooney, 53v Mason James and 55w Todd McLachlan with the 3rd placings going to 247p Dave Marshall, 55w Todd McLachlan and 2nz Dion Mooney.

The Kerry Lindsay Engine Re-conditioners Youth Ministocks had several visitors in their field, some of whom were driving at Max Motors Family Speedway for the first time. They included 34b harry Prince, 35v Flynn Wild, 99p Eli Gifkins, 9b Trent McCann, 26v Kaelin Mooney, 57p Jordan Adie, 53v Madison Caird, 55p Holly Lowe, 43P Kyle Rowe, 16R Ashton Osborne and 92v Gemma Barnes who we don’t really count as a visitor with her being the current Wellington Champion. Heat one winners were 81w Damon Smith, 47w Anthony Hocking and 9w Cyrus Crook. Heat two winners 81w Damon Smith 43p Kyle Rowe and 16r Ashton Osborne. Heat three winners were 24w Keegan Cotter, 43p Kyle Rowe and 9w Cyrus Crook. The final heat winners were 43p Kyle Rowe, 81w Damon Smith and 777w Shaun Hayman.

The final support class was the CDC Concrete Drilling and Cutting Streetstocks were a small field still continued to entertain the crowd. Winners were 8w Tristan O’Donnell, 74w Caleb Madgewick and 29w Robert Jackson.

Next week here at Max Motors Family Speedway sees the NZ Modified GP and long awaited Boxing Day Demolition Derby. This will be a popular meeting so get here early.

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