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Brutal Teams Racing at Speedway
29th January 2018

The Michielsens Transport West Coast Stockcar Teams Challenge

Brutal Racing at West Coast Teams

Jarrod MacBeth

The Michielsens Transport West Coast Stockcar Teams Challenge that was held at Stratford Speedway on Saturday night produced some very brutal racing.  Competitors from the four teams had a busy night with each team racing three times.  The short turnaround between the races didn’t detract from the spectacle and it would be fair to say that every driver gave 100% each time they were on the track.  Teams in attendance were the Stratford Stormers (current holders of the New Zealand Teams Championship Trophy), a second Stormers team, dubbed Stratford Stormers Yellow, Former New Zealand Champions the Auckland Alleycats and from Kihikihi the Kihikihi Crusaders.

All of the six races provided plenty of on track action to entertain the large crowd that was in attendance.  Auckland driver Gary Lonergan led for almost the entire duration of the first race to beat home the Stratford Stormers Yellow team.  Kihikihi driver Clinton Cheetham led for the first three laps of race two which saw the Kihikihi Crusaders take on the Stratford Stormers.  Some good blocking by the Stormers allowed team member Tyler Walker into the lead and he won the race ahead of team mate Haydin Barker.  Race three had the Stratford Stormers Yellow up against the Crusaders with Josh Walsh winning for the Stormers Yellow team.  Race four saw the Stratford Stormers take on the Auckland Alleycats with the win this time going to the Alleycats after some brilliant team work from the Auckland team.  Gary Lonergan led from start to finish, helped immensely by his team mates who were blocking the Stormers drivers to give him a clear path.  Lonergan was nailed to the turn two wall on the last lap by Tyler Walker but he simply re-fired his car, drove over Walker’s chassis and went on his way to cross the finish line first.  Points were tallied from these four races to determine which teams would race for third and fourth and which teams would race for first and second.  Stratford Stormers Yellow took on the Kihikihi Crusaders in the race for third place and after tough battle, Stormers Yellow driver Shane Denham found a way past initial race leader Ben Ellis (Kihikihi) to snatch the lead and the win with just two laps to go.

The final, between the Auckland Alleycats and Stratford Stormers was one of the hardest hitting teams races witnessed on the Stratford track in a number of years.  The action started from the drop of the green flag with Haydin Barker rolling Auckland driver Corey Baker before the teams even got through the first turn.  Even though the Alleycats were down to three cars, they led the race for almost all of the first ten laps.  Bevan Phillips (Stormers) momentarily slipped into the lead on lap nine before fully settling into position at the front of the field for the last two laps of the twelve lap race, taking the win and the overall victory for the Stratford Stormers.

Also raced for on the night was the Uhlenberg Haulage Taranaki Sprintcar champs.  A field of nine competitors fronted to compete in the event including USA racer Jonathan Allard.  Competitors raced two heats to determine their grid position for the one race final.  Alllard, who broke the lap record in race one started on pole for the final and led from start to finish to win the Taranaki Champs.  Wellington competitor Stephen Taylor made a late race pass on Kendall Savage to come home in second place with Savage third.  Allard broke the earlier lap record that he had set in the first race, this time recording a lap of 12.9629 seconds which is incredibly quick.  The class raced a final Ultimate Glory race which was reverse grid of the finishing order of the Taranaki champs.  Taylor quickly made his way to the front of the field to win the race followed home by Allard and Stuart Rose.

Two competitors normally accustomed to heavier and slower cars, Scott and Simon Joblin, were racing in the Sprintcar class.  Both drivers seemed to adapt relatively easy to the class and were producing good lap times by the end of the night.

The Adult Ministock class also raced for their Taranaki Champs.  Twenty four competitors were on hand to contest the event and the class produced close racing all night.  Craig Mason won the first race, Bradley Korff the second and Kyle Wilson the third but it was Korff who was the most consistent throughout the night who came out on top.  Along with his win he recorded a ninth place in race one and survived an early race spin in race three to finish second.  He won the Taranaki champs by two pints from Zane Riddick who was second and Ella Sharpe who drove consistently well all night to finish third.

Superstocks rounded out the race program.  Blair Uhlenberg was in good form and picked up two wins and a second place while Paul Johnson won the other race.

During the meeting, track announcer Roger Tonkin was kidnapped from his announcer’s box and taken on a lap of honour around the track.  Roger has been announcing at the track for forty years and deserved the round of applause he was given during the lap.  After the meeting in the clubrooms, a more formal presentation was made to celebrate and thank him for his years of service.  

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