A beautiful day in paradise is how you would describe the first day of the annual Superstock Teams Championship. The British contingent were again hoping to be a force to be reckoned with Frankie Wainman Junior 01GB, Mark Taylor 04GB, Daniel Wainman 02GB, Murray Harrison 00GB and Ryan Harrison 00GB as the main team members with Mark Woodhull taking his place as the sixth driver. Scrutineering as usual took place in the centre of Palmerston North and was not without its dramas as Ryan Harrison was deemed not to have enough headroom despite having raced the car for the last two months at various circuits around the country. After a getting everyone around the car a re-measure was called and he now had enough headroom and so was permitted to race.
The draw for this years teams had been done live on National Radio on the Tuesday morning with the British Lions drawing the experienced Wanganui Warriors and their foes from the weekend before the Auckland Allstars. Wanganui against Great Britain was Event 5 on the programme with The Auckland race being Event 12. This year there were 13 teams so to have any chance of winning after night one you had to be in the top 4 or Tier 1, so it was vital to not only win the race but each team needed to get as many cars across the line as possible. Points are awarded to the top five finishers in each 10 lap race with 100 to winner followed by 40, 25, 20 & 10.
The Brits emerged for their first race looking resplendent in their new livery and once again looked the class act. The Brits won the toss and Tony McClanachan, the Lions Team Manager, selected pole with Murray Harrison lining up with 18v car of Scott Duncan alongside. Inside row 2 was 17v Ian Barron with Mark Taylor on the outside. Row 3 was Frank in the Team GB tank with 15 v Dion Mooney on his outside and bringing up the rear was Kerry Podjursky 16v and Daniel Wainman. Podjursky was also in the tank and may be know to some UK fans as the man who gave Stuart Smith Jnr his ride along the top of the Palmerston North wall several years ago. From the green it was Murray into the lead closely followed by the Wanganui pair of Duncan and Mooney with Frankie in hot pursuit, with Mark Taylor being held by the 17v car and Daniel and Kerry Podjursky each trying to stop the other. Early in the race the Brits were dealt a major blow when the throttle stuck on Frankies tank and sent the Silsden man hurtling into the wall sustaining major damage and left the tank crawling around the track looking for victims. As Murray contnued to lead getting past the 18v car Frankie attacked the 17v car and 16v Podjursky put Taylor up on top of the wall on the start straight. The reds came out for this removing Taylor from the proceedings as the cause of the stoppage. In a spot of luck Podjursky also pulled to the infield meaning it was three on three with the Lions tank now beginning to smoke and look decidedly the worst for wear. As the greens dropped Murray was again away followed by 18v, Daniel was spun by the Barron car whilst delaying him.. The reds came out again and Frankie pulled to the centre as the marshalls took the Dion Mooney car off. With just 3 cars running the win was taken by Murray Harrison with Barron second and Daniel Wainman, who had done a sterling blocking job in 3rd. This meant after the first round we had 125 points behind the Mustangs, Bay Park Busters and the Palmerston North Panthers. So to ensure we would go through into the second day in the first tier we had to score some big points against Auckland.
Again the Brits won the toss and Murray took pole with 5A Brad Ridland alongside. Row 2 saw 9A Dave Tarrant alongside Ryan Harrison with Frankie on row 3 inside and 8A Bryce Marx on his outside. The rear was brought up by 6A Gary Ellis and Daniel Wainman. From the green Murray led followed by Ridland, Ryan, Tarrant and Marx. Daniel was straight into blocking the the 6A car but Murray got tangled in this and spun out which put Ryan into the lead hotly pursued by Tarrant and Marx. Daniel was still holding up the 6A car as Murray joined in the fun, the Aucklander got away and was able to slow down Ryan enough to put the 9A car into the lead. Daniel now had the 5A car at his mercy as Murray pulled off with what looked like and was later confirmed as terminal engine problems. The younger Wainman was blocking any Auckland car and now held the 9A car allowing Ryan back into the lead from Gary Ellis. Frankie then put a hit on the 6A car which changed the whole race spinning the 6A car and putting the 01GB car into second place. Daniel put the 9A car into the bottom bend and as the flag dropped Ryan had took his maiden teams victory with Frankie second. Daniel also came across the line in fifth place meaning they had got 275 points overall and were reliant on the last two races. Fortunately the Nelson Tigers and Hawkesbay Hawkeyes destroyed one anothers chances meaning Team GB would go through in fourth place. There was more drama to come as it was announced the Bay Park Busters and Palmerston North Panthers had tied for first place and so a run enough would be needed to see who secured first place and faced the British Lions. The Busters however gave the Panthers the win meaning the two Semi Finals would be Bay Park versus Manawatu Mustangs and the British Lions versus the Palmerston North Panthers.
Team GB had a long night ahead as they had to take the engine out of the Murray Harrison car and fit a replacement which was being delivered at 8am this morning. So here we are on an overcast morning looking forward to Day 2.
The British Lions took on the Auckland Allstars on Saturday 2/2/13 at Auckland's Waikaraka Park as a one off Teams Race to give both teams some much needed practice ahead of the main event next weekend.
Team GB looked stunning in the new livery with the Team this year consisting of Murray Harrison in 00GB, Frankie Wainman Jnr in 01GB, Daniel Wainman in 02GB, Ryan Harrison in 03Gb and Mark Taylor in 04GB. Frankie was driving the Team GB tank with Murray in the ex Bengston Palmy Track car, Daniel was in his brothers car, Ryan in the Harrison owned ex Aaron Headington car and Mark Taylor in the Graeme Barr/Palmy track car. The Allstars consisted of Gary Ellis, Bernie Fox, Bryce Marx and Phil Marx. On the track Murray sat this race out with Ryan and Mark looking like the likely runners and the Wainmans as blockers.
The Brits won the toss and Ryan was on pole and from the flag he was away closely followed by the first of the Auckland cars. The outside row remained stationery as the Allstar on outside pole remained with his foot on the brake . Frankie and Mark both managed to brake free whilst Ryan was still out front. Ryan then lost the lead briefly but by halfway he was back in front. Daniel put a big hit into the spinning Bernie Fox causing a race stoppage. Frankie was on the infield in the tank trying to sort out a loose wire from inside the cab. On the restart Ryan led from Mark Taylor in second with Daniels car now misfiring quite badly. Frankie had restarted but was now trying to drive and block cars whilst holding the mirror in place as they had dropped after a hit. This was the way the race ended with the Brits taking a much deserved victory. Everyone was in agreement however that they would need to up their game before next weekend.
It was then time for the rest of the meeting which featured 16 Superstocks in the all in format and included the Brits and also World Champion Lee Fairhurst in the Robbie Mabey car.
Race 1 - This was the steadiest of the three races but an encounter between Ryan Harrison and Darren Short 115A in this one certainly livened the rest of the meeting up. Short decided to spin Ryan which Ryan took exception to.
Race 2 - Neither of the Wainmans made it for Race 2. This one saw Ryan gain some revenge back on the Short car by putting up the wall on turn 1. This saw the reds come out and Ryan was forced to retire with a puncture. The Short vehicle was still mobile and Murray decided to join in the fun as both cars tried some argy bargy down the straights, this ended with Murray planting the 115A car into the wall in exactly the same place as Ryan had previously. This obviously wound Short up as he proceeded to try and chase down the 00GB and with about a lap to go tried to plant Harrison into the opposite bend. Murray rode the hit showing his experience to much cheering from the surrounding English. Whilst all this was going on Lee Fairhurst ended on his roof after a race long battle with Kerry Remnant and others.
Race 3 - Mark Taylor was absent for the Brits. Again the Harrison v Short battle was the central attraction with Short sideswiping Ryan down the straight. As Short tried to pull clear Ryan lined him up with a perfect hit putting the Auckland car high into the wall and on to his roof and firmly out of the race. All of the other Brits were going better in this one and if this sort of performance can be maintained it all bodes well for the main event.