NEW ZEALAND STOCKCAR TITLE
I don't want to use the word boring to describe 30 of the countries top stockcars contesting heat one of the NZ title so lets
say that heat 1 won't live too long in the memory bank. All 30 cars made it through the first corner in a race void of action
aside from the occasional spin. 1nz Jason Penn was one of those to spin (or be spun as the case may be) on the exit of turn
two. Later in the race 735a Keegan Orr was spun exiting turn four having made up a decent number of positions. Those who
did make up ground did so in the early stages. The difference in speed between the front and the back of the field was
minimal. To illustrate this a group of cars that had been spun in the early stages formed around 50 meters ahead of the
leaders. That was in the opening 5 laps and at the end of the race that group was still 50 meters in front of the leaders!
33s Tyler Walker and 91w Kyle Lane contested the race lead for much of the race. However Lane seemed to lose pace in the closing
stages which allowed 217n Keightley Teece through to second place with Lane finishing third. From the middle grids 5w Josh Prentice
came 5th from grid 11 and 84s Haydin Barker 7th from grid 14. The movers from the rear grids were 2nz Dion Mooney, 6th from
grid 21, 7a Josh Simpson 11th from grid 22 and 35s Joshua Walsh 12th from way back on grid 29.
The action picked up considerably as 28 cars fronted for the second heat. Missing were 261b Ethan Anderson and I believe 99w
Tony McLachlan. Once again the field negotiated the first corner but the back straight claimed a victim. In heavy traffic
735a Keegan Orr was slotted up the wall and over! Orr started on grid 4 so it was almost inevitable the he was going to be
hit by someone as the field filtered by. 33s Tyler Walker was the unlucky party to hit Orr just at the moment his roll
finished. Ouch. A few laps later we had an almost identical incident as 72s Bevan Phillips got slotted up the wall and over.
With the field more spread out nobody hit him. The title was starting to heat up! 16b Brett Loveridge looked to have cut a tyre
but I believe he was the black car who took 48m Lee Porter to the turn 1 wall. Both were able to continue and Porter made it
count, spinning and rolling 66a Hayden Hart down the back straight. Hart was also off the pace with issues.
There was also a race going on! 217n Keightley Teece was having another good run. Being the lone South Island car it was a
matter of when rather than if he was going to come under attack. Sure enough 513r Callum Flavell executed the spin. Teece
would again be spun near the conclusion of the race to drop him down the order. 7a Josh Simpson cemented himself as the
surprise package of the championship with a race win ahead of 74r Mike Hohneck. Movers from the middle grids were 91w Kyle
Lane 6th from grid 19 and 35s Joshua Walsh 7th from grid 14. From the rear grids 5w Josh Prentice was an outstanding 3rd from
grid 26. 72r Michael Rumney 4th from grid 30
After two heats were normally look to the top six but this title was so close we needed a top ten!
5w Josh Prentice, 54 points, grid 10
91w Kyle Lane, 53 points, grid 24
72r Michael Rumney, 50 points, grid 2
7a Josh Simpson, 50 points, grid 17
33s Tyler Walker, 49 points, grid 22
93r Brent Stewart, 49 points, grid 26
2nz Dion Mooney, 48 points, grid 19
74r Mike Hohneck, 47 points, grid 13
217n Keightley Teece, 45 points, grid 30
25 cars fronted for the final heat. Those missing appeared to be 261b Ethan Anderson, 98h Rhys Beaumont, 735a Keegan Orr,
513r Callum Flavell and 72s Bevan Phillips. It was all on from the drop of the green. 186r Richard Keijzer immediately
turned right on 91w Kyle Lane to delay him half a lap. 84s Haydin Barker took a big shot at 72r Michael Rumney on the opening
corner. Both were able to continue. 7a Josh Simpson was the first big casualty. It appeared to be a mechanical issue though
there more than one car had chosen to block his progress. An early red light halted the race, 53p Todd O'Donnell removed
to the safety of the infield. Former national champion 91w Kyle Lane was proving to be a popular target as 1nz Jason Penn
landed a shot in turn 1. Lane was somehow able to continue, albeit his left rear putting on a fireworks show for the fans. Penn
would later explain he was helping 72r Michael Rumney. Fans may cast their minds back 12 months when Rumney blocked Jayden Ward
to help Penn win the title.
Back to this year and Rumney was in the center of the action again. However this time on the receiving end. 84s Haydin
Barker got his man exiting turn two. With assistance from 66a Hayden Hart, Rumney was put up the wall by Barker requiring a
red light for extraction purposes. Of the contenders 5w Josh Prentice, 2nz Dion Mooney, 74r Mike Hohneck and 93r Brent
Stewart were running high in the order untouched. That was to change. 48m Lee Porter blocked 5w Josh Prentice down the front
straight to the vocal appreciation of the crowd. However once in turn one Prentice turned under Porter and ran him wide exiting
the corner to extinguish the danger. Prentice did lose some spots to sit just in front of 2nz Dion Mooney in the running order. I
didn't seen what happened to 93r Brent Stewart but he disappered. 46w Keegan Orr got a hold of 74r Mike Hohneck, holding
him up to the extent that Hohneck fell well down the order.
91w Kyle Lane was the victim of yet more attention in turn one. Evidently several drivers deciding that being a one time
New Zealand champion is enough! As the laps wound down 48m Lee Porter once again tried to block Prentice but Prentice simply
punted him wide in 3&4. 35s Joshua Walsh would avoid all the action to win the race from 94m Caitlin Hayward. With a fourth
place finish 5w Josh Prentice would take the New Zealand title to the capital with a massive 81 point haul. 3rd was good
for 2nz Dion Mooney to not require a number change whilst 35s Joshua Walsh did enough for third overall, two points
ahead of clubmate 33s Tyler Walker for whom 9th wasn't quite good enough.
As dreary as heat one was this title produced one of the great third heats. The demise of Palmerston North as the dominant
force in the class has left a landscape where no one track dominates the class. No more than 5 drivers qualified from any
track resulting in a complex strategic plan for the final heat. At no stage did I see drivers attempting to shepherd their
contenders through the traffic. The favoured strategy was to utilise the henchmen to take out the opposition contenders. The
result was a spectacle that will live long in this fans memory.