BEAUTY GOES MORE THAN SKIN DEEP

TAKING THE HIGH ROAD

 

Written by Pete McNae

“Pretty” doesn’t win races. There was no better proof of that than last night’s round of the Mag and Turbo Super Cup for super saloons at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway.

Peter Dickson’s Generation 5 Hypermac super saloon is no super model, with its angles and add-ons and a weird little rear that moves around as it travels around corners but, my goodness, it does what it’s designed to do and that is lap a dirt track oval efficiently. Like Peter Rees in the superstock class, Shane McIntyre has been at the leading edge of super saloon design for the best part of a decade now and the latest wrinkles he has added to his Hypermacs are taking the field in new directions.

Sixteen cars fronted for the Nelson round of the series, the notable absentee being Richie Taylor who was sitting second on the points table but cried off due to work commitments. Series leader Ian Burson in the 3NZ Camaro was there, while bolstering the field in a tribute to their late dad, Mick, Nelson’s Carey brothers had placed the one functioning driver (Mark) in the one mobile car (Shane’s) to ensure there was a Carey presence in the field. The rest of the field had come from Palmerston North, Blenheim, Christchurch, Cromwell, Dunedin and Invercargill.

Typically, Nelson’s small, slick oval didn’t allow for a lot of passes with heat points and a good position in the pole shuffle always likely to have a major bearing on the feature race. The field was divided into three groups with Burson claiming the win when Group A raced Group B, Dickson getting up as B took on C and the win in the third heat (A versus C) going to Manawatu veteran Mick Quin. Trevor Elliot, who was third on the points coming into the Nelson round, managed seven laps in race one, never to return while Ray Stewart and Roger Nees had a big moment on the back straight with Nees riding across the front of Stewart’s car. Despite that DNF, Stewart secured a slot in the popular pole shuffle and almost ran the table, bowing only to Dickson in the final pairing to decide the front row of the grid for the feature.

Thirteen cars fronted for the 30-lapper, Canterbury’s Ryan Marsden joining Elliot as a spectator. And from the flag, Dickson mashed the gas and his 11E ugly duckling disappeared in a cloud of dust. Stewart, who had started alongside on the front row, lost second place to Burson on lap six but Dickson was already hightailing for home when the first spin of the feature brought him back to Burson, Stewart and the pack. Off the restart, Nelson’s Burson pushed down the inside and took the lead for half a lap but former 1NZ Dickson had his car working beautifully on a high line and he went round the outside of Burson on turn four to regain the lead. That pattern was repeated when Owen Dixon hit the wall in turn two, Burson again making a run off the restart before Dickson went high on the track to power away and win by 3.2s from Burson with Stewart, McIntyre and Canterbury’s Gavin Hill rounding out the top five.

As Nelson’s Burson said later, the series isn’t won and lost on one night but, last night, on the small and slick Nelson circuit, Dickson and his radical racecar had all the answers.

Support racing came from sidecars, TQ midgets, production saloons and youth ministocks as Nelson’s three collision classes (superstocks, stockcars and streetstocks) all failed to draw the numbers to make the programme. The sidecars rolled up in big numbers, a tribute to class rep Milly Steer and an indication of what to expect when Nelson hosts the South Island championships later in the season.

The best pairs format saw four rounds of four heats with four bikes per race — happy days for fans of the class. And, while the Nelson duo of Adie Drake and Kieran Satherley were in their usual commanding form with four wins, they had to be content with a B final victory and third overall in combination with the Canterbury bike of Karl and Michael Twose.

Working their way through to the A final with a total of 21 points, including three individual race wins were the pairs of Ben Morris and Geoff Roper (Christchurch) who were drawn with Nelson’s Brent Steer and Wade Thorn, while their opposition in the final, tallying 18 points were Nelson’s Nippy Ching and Shaun Solly, teaming with the long distance duo of Invercargill’s Aiden Thwaites and Shane Twiss. Morris and Roper improved with each outing and took the A final but the pairing of Thwaites/Twiss (second in the final)  and Ching/Solly (third) became the overall winners.

The last round was marred by an ugly crash for the Nelson pairing of Rob Martin and his swinger Ben Keys. They had been hot through the heats with a second and two wins and were leading their consolation final when the bike appeared to spear directly into the wall 50m from the finish line. Martin was the more seriously hurt with early reports suggesting multiple broken bones.

Best pairs were also the order of the day for the production saloons and youth ministocks, although the ministock combinations were kept under wraps to avoid any deliberate blocking in the youth class. Brayden Skurr posted a win off the trailer in his new car before it suffered driveline damage in race two, won by Raiden Hearne. The third heat went to Riley-Jay Eathorne ahead of Canterbury visitor Jordan Lee Paratene. Cambell McManaway joined the class for the first time while Blake Hearne, Callum Russ and Max Baker continue to show strong improvement. The final tally awarded the pairs win to Eathorne and Raiden Hearne, with Paratene and Baker second overall and Connor Blackbourn and Riley Keen securing third.

The luck of the draw in a best pairs competition can play a large part in the outcome and Eddy Frans and Tony Diedrich were fortunate to be drawn together in the production saloon best pairs. A strong and consistent combination, they built an early lead then had to fend off a strong late run from Vaughan Cornelius and Pam Nixon, with a single point separating the top two teams. The CZ Motorsport duo of Cam Lankshear and Zoe Connolly claimed third overall with Lankshear also earning two of the three race wins, the other going to Frans.

The TQ midgets ran open races and a feature and delivered the competitor of the night, Alicia Mclauchlan rebounding from her horrendous crash at Nelson’s last meeting to snaffle a heat win and the feature. Like Dickson, Mclauchlan wasn’t afraid to run the high line, saying after the meeting that you can’t be fearful if you want to win races. She certainly shrugged off any apprehension as she ran round the outside of closest contenders Morgan Frost and Darkie Armstrong for a popular feature win. Former youth ministock competitor Kyla Blackbourn made a tidy start in the class, Greg Teece was aggressive in his second meeting and Daniel Porter’s rough ride this season continued with a spectacular engine explosion and fire.

Nelson’s next meeting at the Milestone Homes Top of the South Speedway is on February 16 when TQs have top billing for the Waimea Vehicle Testing Station New Zealand Grand Prix, picking up visiting drivers on their way back from the nationals in Christchurch the previous weekend. Before then, Nelson eyes are on Cromwell, where Mclauchlan, Connor Rangi and Sam O’Callaghan chase the New Zealand sprintcar championship while unfortunately the club could not muster a Tigers team for the ENZED Superstock Teams Champs in Palmerston North next Saturday and Sunday.

 

Photos: Tom Laney, www.imagepress.co.nz