2017 Superstocks Teams Champs, Palmerston North. By Alan Skayman
One of the best weekends of the year had arrived and Palmy had laid on some decent weather. Big news for this years Champs was the fact that Tom Harris would be coming out and racing for the Gisborne Giants in a Peter Rees supplied car. The 12 Teams gathered in the Palmerston North Square in the city centre for scrutineering as per usual with a large crowd gathered to get their first glimpses of their Team. The draw for the racing had been done earlier in the week and because the Lions had got second last year they were one of the four seeded teams, along with Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Wellington. The draw was relatively kind in placing the Brits in Group C against the Canterbury Gleneagles and the Stratford Scrappers. Stratford had beaten Team GB a few years ago and certainly appeared to be a much smarter looking team than in previous years.
After the Scrutineering it was down to the track and get ready for the Grand Parade. The Brits were lead out onto the track by several of the travelling fans waving union jacks to the sound of an old air raid siren. The packed house wasscattered with union jacks and the atmosphere as the team Mascot tried to climb the fence in front of the main grandstand was electric. The Lions were billed as the third race of the evening giving a chance for the rookies to watch the first race to get a feel for it. The qualifying nights races would again be based on points and to get a win in your race was vital but it was also equally important to ensure you got as many cars to finish line in the first 5 places as possible as the top points scorers would go through to race against the other top points scorers in each group in Tier 1 and the second top points scorers in each group would also race against one another and the lowest points scorers in each group were out. Points were awarded from 1st to 5th place as follows: 100, 40, 25, 20, 10.
Race one and the Wellington Wildcats beat the Nelson Tigers 135 points to 60. Race 2 and the Gisborne Giants beat the Baypark Busters 120 to 75. Race 3 and it was the Lions against the Scrappers. Ben Hurdman sat this one out for the Lions. Racing for the Scrappers were 26s Mitch Vickery, 52s Gary Johnson, 66s Clint Hill, 75s Carl Shearer and 82s Paul Johnson. Lee and John appeared to be the runners in this one with Frankie and Bobby blocking. At the drop of the green both Lee and John went into the lead whilst Frankie was blocked and Bobby turned right into the Stratford car on his outside taking him to the wall. Lee started to pull away as Bobby blocked the lead Stratford car of Vickery as they came round to lap him. Frankie at one stage had 3 Stratford cars pushing him down the straight afraid to come past. As the white flag came out Lee was comfortably in the lead with all of the guys seeming to do their roles quite will. However it was all to change as Lee came out of turn 4 he was baulked by Dowson who was trying to deal with a Stratford car this allowed the 82s Paul Johnson car to come flying through and take the flag with Fairhurst crossing the line in second. Many people thought that Johnson was a lap down and shouldn’t have been given the win and when Falding went up to the referees box to question it they checked back and decided that Johnson had used the infield to his advantage and docked him one place giving Lee the win from Johnson, Vickery, Dowson and Wainman Jnr. This gave the Brits a comfortable 130 points to Stratfords 65.
The defending champions the Hawkes Bay Hawkeyes comfortably beat the Auckland Allstars 165 to 30 in the next race. The Panthers were up next and beat the Nelson Tigers 130 to 65 and the Rotorua Rebels beat the Busters 100 to 85 in a brutal meeting. Next up was the other race in our group between Stratford and Canterbury and whatever the result we wanted a hard race with plenty of damage. Not much damage occurred but the result was quite close with The Scrappers winning by 125 points to 70 meaning that we just needed to beat the Glen Eagles to top the group.
British Lions vs Auckland Allstars – Waikaraka Park, Auckland. by Alan Skayman
The third international event was the now annual warm up Teams Race between the British Lions and the Auckland Allstars. This is done to give the English lads a chance to get some experience of Teams racing. The British Team comprised of Frankie Wainman Jnr, Lee Fairhurst, John Dowson Jnr, Bobby Griffin and Ben Hurdman who had arrived earlier in the week. Frankie, Lee and John were in the same cars they had used at Rotorua, Bobby was now in the Palmy Track car and Ben was in the Peter Bengston spare car. Peter Falding was Team Manager and Guy Parker was in charge of all of the arrangements etc. The Auckland team consisted of 29AScott Tennant, 63ABryce Marx, 57AAiden Eustace and 99A CJ Chestnut. Frankie was stood down for this one to give the more inexperienced drivers some experience and allow Frankie to watch them to see how they went.
Lee started on pole for the Brits with 99A on his outside, 57A and John on row two with Ben and Bryce Marx on row 3 and Tennant and Bobby on the back row. At the green Lee went into the lead but he had Eustace on his bumper with so slowed dramatically allowing Dowson to get into the lead. Griffin and Marx were having a battle as Hurdman hit the Eustace car freeing Fairhurst. Dowson was still going strong in the lead. Bobby was then put into turn 3 hard by Eustace causing suspension damage. The Brits were battling hard with the Auckland opposition and kept doing enough to allow John Dowson an uninterrupted drive to the flag. The Brits had won the challenge trophy again in what was a good performance considering there were two rookies in the team. There were definitely a few things they needed to tidy up on and they would have to up their game at Palmy but overall it was a good performance.
The rest of the meeting saw different drivers trying different cars with Lee and Frankie trying the Lintern built Bernie Fox car, Frankie JJ trying out the car Lee was racing and also the original silver Bullet which now belonged to C Chatfield. In the Feature race the Brits got a superb one two with Frankie winning in the Bernie Fox car and Lee coming second in his Teams car. All of the Brits seemed to be getting better as the meeting went on.