The Tasman Thunder made light work in winning the Nelson Automotive Solutions/Jacks Tyres Stock car teams brawl at Milestone Homes Top of the South speedway on Saturday.
Picking up an impressive 500 points, the Thunder dominated the event, securing its third title in a row. Visiting teams from around the mainland fronted to do battle over a round-robin format.
The Southern Spartans from Invercargill haven’t raced here since the 1990s but were keen to gain valuable experience rebuilding their ranks, while regular visitors the Canterbury Crushers and Greymouth Grizzlies were keen to test themselves against the Thunder who rank as the top Southern team.
The teams will battle again in Christchurch next week with the Tasman Thunder a firm favourite to get their hands on the Mainland trophy which has eluded them in past seasons.
After the Crushers beat the Spartans first up, the Thunder came out against the Grizzlies and controlled the race from the start, getting all four cars across the line with new driver Dylan Clarke winning the race.
The Spartans then beat the Grizzlies before the Thunder came up against the Crushers. It was a steel-bending race with major damage to several cars and a few drivers feeling the effects of some brutal hits.
The Thunder were ruthless with only one Crusher car making the finish line. Craig Tatnell ended his meeting for the Thunder after a big hit at the end of the race, but solid points meant they were almost uncatchable before their final race.
The Thunder and Spartans clashed in their final heat with Thunder team captain Michael Paynter leading the charge. Knight was able to stay on the lead lap for the Spartans but his teammates were unable to slow down Paynter who took the win.
In the super saloons, Ian Burson returned to the track in his brand-new car. While he couldn’t catch Rob Flood in the first heat, a set-up change got him dialled in on heat two for an easy victory.
The 15-lap feature was pegged as a handicap race with the driver with the most points off the back.
Burson started at the back and it took all of his experience to get the dramatic win in the final lap of the race. He was kept at bay by a solid drive by Mark Carey, leaving him a handful of laps to still catch and pass leader Dave Manera.
The task made easier when Manera got loose in the dying laps and the pressure from Burson told in the final lap. Going under Manera as he overshot the final corner to win by half a car length. It was a great race from the Super saloons.
The Street Stocks’ numbers were boosted with some Blenheim cars while Steve Soper returned to the track with a win in the final race after finishing his representative rugby season with the West Coast. The Super Stocks ran their Dave Scott Memorial trophy, with a 15-lap feature race.
Alex Bright was going great guns in his new car, winning both heats to start off pole. He lead the final until the last few laps when he was slowed and blocked by Canterbury’s Harley Robb who put his team mate Jacob Brownlees into the lead with a lap to go.
As they say in stock car racing, ‘it’s never over til the chequered flag drops’. It was perfectly timed that none of the locals were able to react to stop Brownlees taking out the win.
The Brett Lusty memorial was up for grabs for the Side Cars. It was a hard start for Stuart Anderson and Shaun Harris. The bike tipped sending both drivers skyward. They managed to walk away but were left very sore and retired for the meeting.
Aidie Drake and Kieran Satherley continued their winning run, picking up the trophy, they are the ones to beat again this year.
The Sprint Cars return this week with the first of two “War of the Wings” meetings. Twenty-plus cars will contest the series with the best of the South Island here in attendance.
The first round was held last weekend with Alicia MacLauchlan finishing 10th in the feature while Connor Rangi had a huge moral boost, finishing 2nd in the feature with some impressive racing over the evening.
The rollover in the first race here a few weeks ago was a hard way to start the season, but that will be in the past now as he looks to continue the form last week at his home track here in Nelson.