A near capacity crowd (around 15,000 people) greeted the 12 teams for the 31st running of the New Zealand Superstocks Teams Champs 2012 at Palmerston North Speedway. The draw for this years event was done live on National Radio earlier in the week and had placed the British Lions in an interesting and difficult group where they would face the Hawkes Bay Hawkeyes and the 14 time winners and current champions the Palmerston North Panthers.Team GB this year had a couple of new faces along with the 4 regular drivers in 00GB was Daniel Wainman, 01GB was Team Captain Frankie Wainman, Tom Harris in the Rees Tank was 02GB, 03GB was Mark Taylor and Matt Newson was in 04GB with Mick Harris as the sixth driver. Tony McLanachan was again the NZ Manager with Peter Falding assisting.
The first race in the so called "pool of death" was Hawkes Bay up against the Panthers. This was a resounding win for the Panthers with very little apparent damage to either team, not what Team GB wanted!
The Lions were given some laps practice a few races before their first race as neither Matt or Daniel had seen their cars until that morning! The 04GB car appeared sick and Matt pulled off without completing a lap, which meant that if Matt was to race he had hardly turned a wheel.
The Lions five cars came out to take on the much fancied Hawkes Bay team and Tony Mac made the call to sit Matt out for this one.The Hawkes Bay team of 31b Murray Long, in his17th appearance at the Teams, 32b Jayson Palamountain, 33b Garry Foley, 34b Mike Mclachlcan and 35b Dave Roigard. The Lions won the toss with Frankie on pole, Mark on the second row outside, Daniel on row 3 inside with Tom starting at the back. From the green flag Frankie and Tom went into block mode whilst Mark and Daniel were being used as runners. Frankie took Long to the wall where they both stayed briefly. Before the end of lap one the reds were out for steel on the track. By this stage it was already turning into a smashfest. 32b and Frankie had a coming together which also involved Tom and 2 of the other Hawkes Bay cars, however this was deemed to have happened under the race stoppage and so the cars were put back into positions for the restart. As the green flag fell it was Roigard leading from Mark and Daniel with Tank Commander Harris blocking the 34b car and Frankie being pushed by the 32b car which ended with both cars on the grass. Tom put a perfectly timed hit on the 35b car allowing Mark to assume the lead who now was the major target for the Hawkeyes. Mark timed a couple of passes to perfection as the Hawkes Bay cars were sat in wait but an outside manoeuvre around the Mclachlan car ended with the 03GB riding up the wall. This looked like it could be the end for Taylor as the younger Wainman now took up the running. Daniel in turn was now being blocked by the 34b car. The reds came out for a second time, which allows the drivers to collect their thoughts and have a look around to see who is where. On the restart Marks car was limping round but Daniel was still in the lead. Long then put a big hit on the Taylor car before 35b put a massive hit on the barely moving Mark. Frankie and Tom were still in block mode and dishing it out to the Hawkeyes. As the white flag came out for Daniel (meaning one lap to go) the 31b Long car was waiting for, Daniel hit him hard but ended up pushing him in to turn 3 as one of the Hawkes Bay cars shot past to what many people thought would be the flag and the win, but he wasn't on the lead lap and Daniel managed to charge past and take the chequered flag for a hard fought win for the Brits. However the race had taken its toll on the cars with both Frankies and Marks in a sad state of repair. With Daniel winning, Roigard was second and Harris third with the final 2 places being taken up by Hawkes Bay meant Team GB had wont that 125 to 70 points. At this point Hawkes Bay only had a total of 105 points after both of their races meaning they were guaranteed 2nd place in the group even if they lost to the Panthers.
The Panthers were first onto the track for the last race of the evening with 5 cars that had hardly been scratched. Their team consisted of the experienced (and well known to most UK spectators) of 5p Peter Rees, 6p Scott Joblin, 7p Peter Bengston, 8p Scott Miers and 9p Shane Penn. Penn was to sit this one out. As the UK team limped onto the track with only 4 cars and one of those was not looking good. Tom, Matt and Mark were in their own cars but Frankie had taken the reins of the 00GB car driven earlier by Daniel. At the start it was raining quite heavily making the track very slippery (kiwis don't race in the rain) and so this may have been to the Lions advantage. From the off Mark and Peter Bengston locked horns keeping one another at the wall. Tom put another fantastic effort into nail the Joblin car but unbelievably it climbed the wall and came down on all four wheels and carried on unscathed. The 03gb car was obviously suffering from its exploits in the previous heat with sparks and smoke coming from underneath the car before even a lap was completed as both Bengston and Joblin tried to cripple the Taylor car. The tanks of Miers and Harris went to the wall with Miers squeezing the Harris car. Frankie was trying to hold back Rees but Rees got through and seemed to be away. Frankie was now in hot pursuit on the slippery track using the wall to his advantage. One lap later Frankie put in what was the hit of the night coming from nowhere to connect with the nerf of Rees sending up the wall, were Rees rolled and again unbelievably landed on his wheels. As it landed the car caught fire but the marshalls were quickly on hand to put out the flames. Then to the amazement of the crowd Rees was left on the track to continue whilst Frankie was towed off due to his car not being able to start. On the restart Matt was blocked by Bengston and despite the best efforts of Tom to catch Miers, who was using the wall as the fastest line, it was a Panthers win for Miers. The Lions were not happy with the fact that Rees was allowed to continue and that Miers had continually used the wall but the referees decision was final and the Panthers had won by 135 to 60 points. This meant the Panthers were in Tier 1 and were still racing to win, the Lions were in Tier 2 and could still get 3rd whilst the Hawkeyes were going home.
The results from the previous night meant Team GB would face the Canterbury Glen Eagles from Christchurch in their first race and to continue further had to win by a bigger margin than the other two Tier 2 teams. If they scored the most points in Tier 2 they would face the highest scoring losers from the 4 Tier 1 teams. The Canterbury team consisted of 71c Peter Field, 72c Kyle Stove, 73c Kevan Roberts, 74c Nigel Anderton and 75c Matt Ngatai. All five team GB cars were back in good shape after a hard mornings work by the team. Sitting this one out for the Brits was Daniel. Mark started off pole with Frankie on second row outside, Matt on row 3 inside and Tom the Tank at the rear. From the off 71c powered into the lead chased by Mark. Matt spun the 71c car allowing Mark through followed by Frankie. Tom was holding up 74c and race order was 03, 01, 73, 75, 04. Tom now had the Supertanker of Roberts held. 75c attacked the Taylor car allowing Frankie into the lead as Tom continued with some superb blocking holding both the 73 and 75c cars at one go. Tom was having a fantastic race slowing down and disposing of the opposition as he now blocked the 74c car. At this stage the GlenEagles were down to two cars which soon became one as 73c car took to the infield never to return. 74 hit Matts car who attacked back and spun the lone Canterbury car which as the flag dropped burst into flames. It was a whitewash to Team GB with a 1,2,3,4 . This result was later changed to a 1,2,3, as Matt was disqualified for attacking off the grass. This meant that either Waikato or Wanganui had to get first, second and 4th and 5th to beat Team GB, fortunately Waikato won but missed out by 5 points to put the Brits into a race for third and fourth against the Rotorua Rebels who would have beaten the Panthers had it not been for Peter Rees` exhibition driving to beat the Rebels almost singlehandedly.
Racing for Rotorua were 92r Kyle Fraser, 95r Scott Hewson, 96r Mark Osborne, 98r Bryce Steiner and 99r Allan McRobbie. Again Mark got pole with the rest of the team lining up like they had in the previous race with Daniel again sitting this one out. From the start 96r went into the lead followed by Mark, Frankie and Steiner. Matt just missed and attempt at the flying 96r car as Mark was slowly falling back and being caught by Steiner. Steiner hit Mark hard into the bend but he controlled it hit the wall and gained some space on Steiner. Tom then blocked the Steiner car and Fraser cars at the same time giving Mark even more breathing space in second. Matt then slowed the 96r car down as Frankie was stationary on the pits turn. 98r had a go at Matt who returned the compliment to perfection nailing Steiner putting him up the wall with the front end hanging of the wires! This meant the reds would come out so the Steiner car could be removed, Frankies` stationary car was also removed and the positions were now 03gb from a closing 96r. Fraser and Matt had one another trapped against the wall and Tom was still trundling around with a collapsed front suspension trying to put the car in the way of any Rebel car. As the flag dropped it was Mark who took the win and the team had once again got third place.
The final was a very one sided affair between the Panthers and the Nelson Tigers with the Panthers easily coming out on top.
As a Team now the Lions have competed in the last 4 events and have only lost once in each championship. There are only 2 teams that have better records for the event in this time and they are the Panthers and the Tigers. As one of the many spectators I would like to thank Guy Parker and all of the drivers and crew for coming over and having a go at what is in my and many others opinion the best stockcar meeting in the world! I know the team would also like to thank the car providers, Peter Rees, Graeme Barr, Philip Gargan and Robertson Holden Speedway, all of the sponsors on both sides or the world and the guys who worked on the cars to try and keep them running, which was some effort after that first race.
Thanks again and here's to 2013 when the Brits hopefully go one better.