NZ SALOON TITLE NIGHT 2
Finals night at a New Zealand title. It has a special feel to it. Another brilliant Auckland day set the scene for a
cold night with a nasty breeze blowing. Track conditions were typical for a night two Waikaraka track. Dry, dusty and
lifeless. Fans will be cancelling their spray tan appointments this week, no need when you can enjoy one as part of a
night at the speedway! The marble draw and reverse grid qualifying races had run remarkably smoothly with just one stoppage
across the two races. In fact all 20 starters finished the first one, unheard of at a national title.
The grid for the final saw top qualifier 272m Chris Cowling on pole with 46e Paddy North on the outside. Cowling was top
qualifier by a whopping six points, largely due to an inspired run from fourteenth to sixth in the opening race. 21h Steve
Williams and 271m Steve Cowling were the second row. 49m Bodie Abrahamson and 14m Brett Kaye were row three. If anyone else
was going to be a factor perhaps 54c Ryan Marsden would be the man from grid 8 or 3nz Michelle Wymer from grid 13.
From the drop of the green 272m Chris Cowling was away with 21h Steve Williams squeezing up the inside of 46e Paddy North
for the second spot. It was to get worse for North, his car not working well in the opening stages and losing third
spot to 271m Steve Cowling. Race leader 272m Chris Cowling quickly gapped the field, seemingly on a different race track.
Behind the front group 36a Cole "The Coal Train" Morrison got by 49m Bodie Abrahamson for the fifth spot. 54c Ryan Marsden
looked to make initial headway around the outside but with track conditions the way they were it was a forlorn task. There
seemed to be no Plan B for Marsden who spent the race wallowing off the preferred line going backwards.
49m Bodie Abrahamson got by 36a Cole Morrison to re-take fifth. A few laps later we had our first caution period. 92b Kevin
Martin had a flat right rear, the officials opting for a yellow to bring him off the track. He would join 74a Scott
Lansdowne on the infield who retired early. The restart proved to be a disaster as championship revelation 48a Jeremy Silcock
got wide in Cemetary Bend, riding the wall in spectacular fashion and doing substantial front end damage to his machine.
The second restart went to plan, 272m Chris Cowling once again established a lead whilst the trio behind him formed a battle group. 3nz Michelle Wymer
made a couple of passes in the middle of the pack but a run into the podium positions was looking unlikely. I missed the
pass but 46e Paddy North was able to slip by 271m Steve Cowling for the third spot. With six laps to go we had our
final caution. 18k Chris Taylor getting hooked up with another competitor. It would be a six lap dash to the chequered.
It was time to go for gold and from the restart 46e Paddy North launched a big move around the outside of 21h Steve
Williams for second. Despite the adverse track conditions North would somehow pull off the pass and move into second.
272m Chris Cowling was utilising the middle of the race track, driving the car as straight as an arrow. 46e Paddy North
had real pace, catching the race leader. North went for the lead through Cemetary Bend trying to push his nose up the
inside of Cowling. However Cowling powered off the corner to retain the lead. Cowling would adjust his line to the lower
reaches of the track in an effort to repel the charge of North. It seemed to work with the charge nullified. It looked like
we had our podium as the laps wound down. Then with one to go 21h Steve Williams got a bit wide exiting Pit Bend. 271m Steve
Cowling got up the inside of Williams entering Cemetary Bend. Williams put the foot down which sent him high and wide in the
corner, allowing Cowling up the inside. There was a crash down the field on the final corner but with the leaders already over the start/finish
line the race was over. 272m Chris Cowling was your new New Zealand champion from 46e Paddy North and 271m Steve Cowling.