Review

BAYPARK OPENING NIGHT



The traditional start to the upper North Island season is Baypark on Labour weekend. A beautiful day led into a pleasant evening so it was disappointing to see a small crowd in attendance in what is a holiday hot spot. Track conditions were very good for the Sprintcar feature. Earlier in the evening the inner half of the track suffered from excessive moisture and there was some very good driving in the early races across multiple classes. Through the night the problem rectified, resulting in a great track where drivers could run pretty much anywhere they wanted.

We typically see 16-18 cars for this meeting but with Palmerston North running Sprintcars on their opening night, the field was reduced to 13 entries. Following two qualifying heats the grid for the feature saw 71a Jamie McDonald and 2nz Michael Pickens on the front row. 51m Rodney Wood and 3nz James Dahm occupied the second row. 88m Keaton Dahm and 12a Dean Shadbolt were the third row. Cars out of order included 78c Matthew Leversedge who couldn't get started for the opening heat and 1nz Kerry Brocas who was involved in an opening heat incident.



Race start saw Pickens clamp down on McDonald entering turn one, powering away on the exit of turn two to take the lead. However the start proved short lived as 35a Rob Vazey spun entering turn one. At the second time of asking we were racing. Once again Pickens got the initial jump but was powerless to stop McDonald hooking up on the bottom and powering up the inside through turns 1&2. J Dahm got the better of Wood for third, powering around the outside through the same turn. I guess that proves how good the track was. You could pass both up the inside and around the outside on the very same turn.

A little further down the order 4m Colin Entwistle made early gains to battle with K Dahm, Leversedge and Shadbolt for the 5th position. It took only 4 or 5 laps for the lead duo to enter lapped traffic and when they did disaster struck. Vazey suffered a slow spin when high on the track exiting turn 4 and the rapidly approaching Pickens had nowhere to go. The two collided, sending Pickens into a rapid spin which ultimately saw him tip over. Not the start to the season the Century Batteries 2nz team were looking for.



From the restart racing would continue for the duration of the 20 lap distance. McDonald led away and it quickly became clear he was in a league of his own. Whilst he streaked away Wood made a beautiful pass around the outside of J Dahm to take the second place. Behind them Leversedge got the better of K Dahm with K Dahm surviving a big moment through turns 3&4. However it wasn't to be for Keaton who retired infield a few laps later. Also retiring was 51k Brad Curtin who drove tidily all night. Curtin suffering from a left front pointing in the wrong direction.

The battle on the track for the second half of the race saw Wood, J Dahm and Leversedge competing for the second spot. J Dahm was struggling with the bumps entering turn three and took an exciting alternative line, entering high into the corner and coming back down the track. It appeared to work and he was able to keep with Wood. The charge of Leversedge faltered through 3&4, coming home in fourth. Try as he did, J Dahm couldn't quite fashion a move. McDonald taking the win from Wood, J Dahm, Leversedge and Entwistle.