NORTH ISLAND SPRINTCAR TITLE
Following heat racing the field was set for the North Island title on a track that turned out quite nicely after starting
the night very wet. 54a Michael Pickens occupied the pole hot off winning the Midget feature with 55a Daniel Thomas the
pacesetter. 3nz Jamie McDonald and 17m Jarvis Tidd comprised the second row. 6m James Dahm and 22a Dean Brindle occupied
row three. If anyone else was going to be a factor it was likely to be well down the grid. 78a Daniel Eggleton cut a tyre
in a heat and would start on grid 14. 1nz Jamie Larsen was on grid 15 having been caught up in another drivers half spin
late in a heat. 2nz Jonathan Allard was off grid 16. He got caught up in a flip for 59a Mike Wheeler. 51m Rodney Wood concluded
the fancied drivers down the grid on grid 17. He got caught up in a lap one incident in a heat. Arguably the back six on the grid
were just as talented as the front six!
Thomas got the jump on Pickens only to see 21w Stephen Taylor spin in turn three having driven into the back of 22a Dean Brindle.
The ensuing melee finished the night for 88m Keaton Dahm, 17a John Millard and 26a Paul Sands. Allard was also involved but
was able to continue. Thomas appeared to spin the tyres second time around, allowing Pickens into the lead. McDonald was also
promptly through to take the second running spot ahead of Thomas and Brindle. The action was down the order as the hot shots
got going, predictably led by Allard though both Wood and Larsen were never far behind. Pickens set about establishing a lead
at the front, lapped traffic was going to be a factor in this one.
The lapped cars weren't making life easy for the frontrunners. Aggression was the key and Thomas didn't quite apply the
same level of aggression as Pickens or McDonald. Brindle took advantage to slip into third. Much of the action was
further down the pack. The Allard/Wood/Larsen trio had advanced up to the pack battling for fifth position which
included the likes of 6m James Dahm and 5a Daniel Rogers. Larsen and Wood staged a good battle having briefly paused their
advance forward to try and deal with each other! With around 10 to go we had our second and final caution of the race.
Allard got into the back of 62a Dave Witton, spinning him out.
To be fair to Allard the line of Witton wasn't particularly tidy which was probably a factor in the decision not to send
Allard to the rear of the field as prime cause. Pickens skipped away again from the restart, leaving McDonald and Brindle
to sort out the second position. Allard took a couple of laps to find a way past Rogers but once he did with eight laps
to go a podium position seemed inevitable. Allard was on Brindle's bumper for the third position with five laps to go and
seemingly had superior pace.
So it was a real surprise when Allard was unable to make much of an impression. Having rapidly caught Brindle it was as if
someone had pulled a brake lever on the 2nz. Pickens went on to claim a green to checkered North Island title ahead
of McDonald with Brindle rounding out the podium. Allard, Thomas, Wood, Rogers, James Dahm, Taylor and 66m Skinny Colson
rounded out the top 10. Sadly for the national champion 1nz Jamie Larsen he pulled infield with a number of laps remaining.