A stunning Hawkes Bay sunset, the pits full of racecars and a 7:40pm meeting finish was the recipe for success on Saturday night as Meeanee crowned more champions.
One of the highlights of the night was undoubtedly the TQ Midget section. 25 cars fronted from as far away as the South Island where we once again got to see the incredible talents of 4 x NZ Champ Jeremy Webb. Webb was driving a brand new as yet untested car and was unsure of how it would go around Meeanee.
Heat one of qualifying and it was the familiar sight of Aaron Humble racing away from the field with 51a Troy Pennington holding off 6b Duane Todd in second and third. Webb had started on grid 14 storming up to a crucial fourth place at the finish. Heat two and young 21a Dana Lowry had a very popular race win, covering every move Todd threw at her with the 66b of Tony Meechan finishing third.
The last heat race was fast and full of drama. Rising star of the class 22r Terence Dorrell led with 1nz Webb on the hunt. Humble had started on the last row of the grid and was cutting through traffic like a hot butter knife. At the front and Webb had made the pass but Dorrell was not done almost snatching the lead back in turn 1.
As they hurtled into the pit bend Dorrell squared up the racecar and drove to the poleline like a bullet on the inside of Webb, they made contact in the apex with the result that the 1nz was on his lid. Caution lights came on and we waited to see what the Refs decision would be. Dorrell was sent to the rear and Webb used his 'get out of jail free' card, the car was undamaged. At the restart Webb drove away from 19a Harry Hodgson with Humble a stunning third.
So the grids had been set and we were about green for the 15-lap final. Humble was on grid 1 with main rival Webb on the outside. Todd was grid 3 and Hodgson off 4. Webb got the jump then the lights came on for a first lap incident, at the restart Webb was off into the sunset, not even Humble or Todd had an answer to the 1nz's race pace as he dominated all 15 laps. Humble and Todd battled for second before eventually the 46a car was able to pull a gap and secure second place. It was evident that if anyone is going to take the national title from Webb next season there is some work to be done.
Streetstocks were contesting the Hawkes Bay Championship and with a large contingent of out of town drivers it was sure to be an on track battle. Heat one and 72b Darren Melling stormed off leaving the scraps for everyone else. Reddington in the 46b car had to weave his way from the back to eventually snatch second from the quick 77g of Brett Durston.
7b big Al Howatson raced off for the win in heat two as both Melling and Durston smashed their way to second and third place with Reddington closing in, but could only finish fourth.
Going into the third heat it was Mellings to lose, and that's exactly what happened as the 72b suffered what looked like a gear selector issue. This race had some hard hits and Melling was involved in at least a couple of those.
Reddington, who to be fair hadn't looked like the champ all night, suddenly thrust himself high up the points with a narrow win over Durston and Howatson third. Once the points had been tallied Brent Reddington had snatched the crown back by a single point from Howatson and Durston.
The Ministock kids were racing for a pairs championship where the drivers didn't know their pairings until after the event was finished. Taking out the top placing for the junior drivers were 15b Logan Smith & 26b Abbey Cullum, followed by 49b Mikayla Browne & 87b Kennedy Browne in second place.
In the more experienced championship it was 14b Rynan Dittmar & 46v Ashton Mooney ahead of 17v Josh Mathews & 86b Bradley Singer in second, with 24p Ashton Dorn & 48b Riley McLachlan rounding out the podium. As always the racing was fast and as hard you can race a Ministock. Standouts on the night were 27b Bailey Smith, 14b Rynan Dittmer and 55b Asha Penn who rolled in heat one but came back on the gas in later heats.
Sidecars were running for club points and it was a perfect 3 from 3 for the 26b bike of Justin Lincoln & Dean Harding. Quick starts kept them ahead of the 27b Craig Boaler & Ann Plummer combo, with a good night also going to Bill Napier & Kayla Meehan on the 88b machine.
Superstocks were also running for club points and a strong field took to the track for heat one. 25b Kairyn O'Brien who is growing in confidence every meeting raced away for the win over 23r Caleb Ashton and 56v Mason James. Heat two and it was his second win in as many meetings for 99b Jacob Buckrell over the fast 4k of Chad Ace and Mason James again in third. The feature had plenty going on but it was Ace who stormed off for the win and posting almost track record times in the process. Randal Tarrant had been using the 11b car of Mat Titter, and you could clearly see in the feature he was getting comfortable as Randy T found some speed in the setup to come home second from 2nz Jason Long, who always seems to provide entertainment for the fans with his front bumper.
A massive field of Stockcars lined up for the KURU CONTRACTORS CUP, one of the largest trophies in the club. 16b Brett Loveridge was defending champion and trying to be only the third driver to win it twice after Aaron Iremonger and Randal Tarrant.
The Mooney's were back in town and on the gas. 26v Kaelin Mooney took heat one from Loveridge and 6v Dion Mooney in third. Heat two and you guessed it, a Mooney was leading only this time it was Dad's turn as the 6v crossed the line first from 46b Brett Kelly and 68b Ben Darroch third.
Heat three and it was go time! Hawkes Bay cars were not about to see the trophy head out of town and the points leader 6v Mooney was relentlessly attacked from all sides. Carnage ensued as hits were put in, and at the line 26v Kaelin Mooney had the win from Loveridge who just couldn't quite get close enough, and we thought 85b Willy Stevenson had crossed third giving the points battle and title to Kaelin.
The results were checked over and once official it had become clear the 46b car of Kelly had been missed a lap and he had in fact finished in third place in the heat. The points were tallied and Kelly had won the championship by a single point margin over both Kaelin Mooney and Loveridge who tied for second.
Stockcars have been impressive since we went back racing, and it was great that meeting sponsor Ricky Kuru was on hand to see it and present the trophy to Brett.
Another awesome meeting completed and we now focus to this Friday night and qualifying for the 8 teams who will go into battle for the prestigious PETER BARRY MEMORIAL STOCKCAR TEAMS CHAMPS where the Mighty Meeanee Maulers defend the crown with an early start time of 4pm.
Seeya trackside race fans
Full meeting results can be found here - https://speedhive.mylaps.com/Events/1977111