Despite just a handful of race meetings under their belt as a team, Jason Harpur and swinger James Dawson clinched the Southland Sidecar Championship at Oreti Park Speedway on Saturday night.
In just their second season racing as a combination, Harpur and Dawson impressed throughout the heats to carry strong momentum into a hotly-contested final.
Snatching an early led, the pair raced solidly throughout to hold off the challenge of the experienced duo Aidan Thwaites and Shane Twiss, who secured second overall ahead of brother Luke Thwaites and Neville Chalmers.
“It was a challenging track today and it took us a while to sort our starts out but in the end it all came together. In the final the track suited us – it had clear dirt line and I just sat on that and held it all the way,” Harpur said.
“We did take a lot of confidence through from the heats. This is only our second ride this year but we knew we could do it. Towards the end of last season we were really gelling well and it’s great to continue that momentum.”
Harpur has won the Southland title twice previously as both a rider and a swinger.
“It’s been 10 years since I’ve won it but I’ve competed every year,” he said.
“It’s been a long time since I had a win on home turf in Southland because we have so many strong riders down here so I’m stoked.”
Adding to the motivation, Harpur’s 13-year-old daughter Kobi and fiancé Shelley Clark had already kicked off a successful weekend for the family by placing second and third respectively in an equestrian event in Wyndham earlier in the day.
“That definitely put the pressure on dad to make it a podium trifecta. It’s a different kind of horsepower – I feed mine methanol and they feed theirs grass,” he quipped.
In division two, Scott Ayto and Sam Hall took the overall win, also impressing with a new sidecar combination.
In the junior ranks, Ryan Colvin emerged victorious in the 200cc grade, while Braxton Casey claimed top honours in the 125cc division. In the peewees, Slade Fordyce won the 70cc class while Christchurch’s Jaxon Harley dominated the 50cc event.
The Southland Solo and Classic Solo championships scheduled to also be contested on Saturday night were postponed due to the conditions.