An excellent crowd filed in to Huntly Speedway on a pleasant night for racing. Teams Stockcar and Superstock
racing was the highlight of a stacked card which also included the DVS Super Saloons and Stockcars. We'll
follow the Stockcar teams racing with a format that saw all 6 teams contest a qualifier. The winners went
through to the semi-finals to be joined by the highest point scoring loser. It must be said a number of
the teams needed the hit-out as teamwork wasn't at the level we'll see later in the season.
Qualifier 1 - Meeanee Maulers vs Stratford Scrappers
517s Mark Woods and 85b Regan Penn sat this one out. Both teams appeared to opt for a 2-2 approach with
32s Mark Duthie and 3nz Haydin Barker running for the Stormers whilst 81b Brandon Symes and the aptly
named 84b Cameron Swift on the gas for the Maulers. It was a matchup the national champion Stormers looked
to run away with but for the efforts of 83b Andre Stenson. The menacing tank was in outstanding form. The
Maulers were able to deal with Barker but Duthie escaped their clutches to take the win. The Maulers did
manage to score some good points, setting a high bar for the fastest loser.
Qualifier 2 - Rotorua Rascals vs Wellington Young Guns
535r Robbie Morris and 56w (unlisted on the Huntly website) sat this one out. Again both teams appeared to opt
for a 2-2 approach with 353r Steve Gray and 583r Sheldon Arapere taking up the running with 51w Bryce
Jensen and 54w Brendon Tye joining them. This was not one of the finer performances in Young Guns history.
They quickly unravelled and as early as lap 4 it was hard to see who was trying to do what. The result was
never in doubt. In the end I believe Rotorua occupied the top three positions with hardly a Wellington
car mobile. The Young Guns could have done with another hitout but no 5th & 6th race was scheduled.
Qualifier 3 - Auckland Alleycats vs Waikato Raiders
32a Brad Wearing and 46h Barry Rhodes occupied the infield. 95a Gary Lonergan and 66a Hayden Hart took
the early lead for the Alleycats. 735a Keegan Orr launched a big first corner lunge on 8h Larry Henderson
only to be on the end of an equally strong shot from 7h Dave Moore. Moore took up the running for the
Raiders. The battle between Orr and Moore was a feature of the race. Waikato simply lacked the overall
quality to deal with the Alleycats who took a win that was rarely in doubt.
Semi Final 1 - Rotorua Rascals vs Stratford Stormers
535r Robbie Morris and 32s Mark Duthie sat this one out. Perhaps the most competitive race of the night,
Rotorua took the early lead via 385r Callum Flavell until is car mysteriously lost power. That saw
Stratford take the lead and indeed command of the race. The Stormers were in control whilst the Rascals
were struggling to keep all 3 cars going and were seemingly constantly held up with frequency. Whilst
33s Tyler Walker wasn't pushing the pace he appeared to be in complete control until it was announced
583r Sheldon Arapere had taken the lead when passing him late in the piece. Have to say I was surprised
but it's hard to keep track of those stupid numbers! Rotorua with the late steal.
Semi Final 2 - Auckland Alleycats vs Meeanee Maulers
45a Corey Baker and 83b Andre Stenson were the reserves. The Alleycats lost 66a Hayden Hart early and the race
was contested 3 against 4 for the duration. When 95a Gary Lonergan was hit and had to change to a blocking role
it left 32a Brad Wearing as the only Auckland hope. What followed was a masterclass of teams racing on the
defensive. Lonergan and 735a Keegan Orr were outstanding in blocking and providing clear passage for Wearing
in spite of the numerical disadvantage. Wearing also played his part, assured when faced with challenging
situations. Had Stenson been available it may have been a different story. I believe Wearing won by a couple
Final - Auckland Alleycats vs Rotorua Rascals
Both teams fielded a full compliment for the final. 66a Hayden Hart was missing for Auckland and a Rascals
car didn't appear either. Commentator said it was Steve Gray. The final quickly took on the same feel
as the Alleycats semi-final as they lost 32a Brad Wearing in the early stages. 735a Keegan Orr was the runner
with 45a Corey Baker and 95a Gary Lonergan providing the blocking. Baker put a Rascal up the back straight
wall to try and even the odds but the Rascal got down to terra firma. Baker and Lonergan were simply brilliant
while Orr dealt with whatever was thrown his way. Lonergan succumbed late in the piece tipping the odds even
more in favour of the Rascals. They had one more chance to stop Orr but he expertly used the wall exiting turn
two to power past the final blocker and book the title for the Alleycats.