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NZ MIDGET GRAND PRIX



A hot King Country afternoon saw fans seeking sanctuary from the shade for the postponed NZ Midget Grand Prix at McDonalds Kihikihi Speedway. I suggest many in attendance could have done with a McFlurry to ease comfort levels. Competitors were faced with a track that turned black before a racing lap was turned. The track staff did a great job during the show but it was a bit like Picasso painting on a tree trunk - they didn't have a great canvas to work with!

Grid for the 30-lap grand prix featured top qualifier 14a Brad Mosen on pole with 81s Michael Kendall on the outside. 27a Hayden Williams and 5a Brock Maskovich occupied row two. 91a Hayden Guptill and 24a Breyton Davison were the third row. Stratford qualified three in the top 10 with 95s Duane Hickman on grid 8 and the King of Levin 68s Chris Bagrie from grid 9. Those down the order included 11a Shayne Alach and 10usa Zach Daum who both failed to complete a heat. 3nz Michael Pickens was a scratching, succumbing to damage from a heat race incident.



Mosen got the jump at the drop of the green to lead away from Kendall, Williams and the rest of the field. Alach and Daum were quickly into their work from the back, utilising the pole to execute passes on those who drifted high. 33a James Cossey was another to move forward, into the 5th position and looking every bit like a contender. The race ran to about the 10-lap mark before the cautions were activated for the first time. From memory 37v Ben Huijs may have spun in turn 3&4. Unfortunately on the event entry from Kihikihi opted for double file restarts which had potential to go badly wrong on this track! The World of Outlaws run double file restarts but have flexibility to revert back to single file if track conditions are unsuitable. The best drivers in the world wouldn't have been subjected to double file restarts on such a surface but we were about to give it a crack.

Drivers on the outside grid had two choices. Either stay on the outside and get freight trained or try to biff and barge their way into the queue. Predictably drivers chose the latter and almost inevitably the caution lights started to get a fair amount of use. On the third attempt disaster struck as Cossey and Davison got together. Davison flipping wildly on top of the turn one wall and into the safety fencing, presenting the underside of his Midget to the sparse Sunday evening crowd, many of whom had since departed. Perhaps not anticipating a post 8pm finish to a meeting which was scheduled to start at 3pm. An open red followed. Who knew we still had open reds! I don't know who was more perplexed, the drivers, crews, officials or the fans! It's been a long time since the days of the regular open red when crews sprinted out to their drivers.



Eventually we got back underway and all credit to the drivers they managed to get in a clean lap and we were away. Williams got by Kendall for 2nd place on the double file restart. Turned out to be the beginning of the end for for the former 5-time NZ champion as he drifted down the order before retiring infield late in the race. The action was a little further down the pack as Alach and Daum threatened the back end of the top half dozen. With around 8 laps to go the cautions were activated again. Order was Mosen, Williams, Maskovich, Guptill, Kendall, Alach and Daum. Mosen got the jump from the restart to lead away from Williams.

The starter indicated 5 laps to go and all of a sudden this race got interesting. Mosen appeared to go into full tyre conservation mode, driving the car as straight as an arrow. Only problem, it wasn't the quickest way around the track. Williams breached the gap to Mosens tail and got a run out of Rodeo Bend, making the move up the inside into turn 3 to take the lead. However Daum and Maskovich got together on the front straight and we went back to the last completed lap which saw Mosen re-assume the lead.

We had one final restart with 3 to go, the officials deciding to go with a single file restart for whatever reason. We do single file restarts in the last 5 laps of a Springs feature but you wont find that rule in the SNZ rulebook as it's a local rule... Anyway, the top 3 skipped away from 4th place Alach whose right rear looked to be screaming for it's life. Mosen had little option but to go for it and if his right rear blew to pieces then so be it. When you're hot you're hot and at the moment Mosen is hot. His right rear held on to take the win ahead of Williams, Guptill, Alach, 41a Ricky McGough, Hickman, 58a Joe Malone, 39a Peter Hunnibell, 79a Max Guilford and 7a Travis Buckley.