Southland Speedway fans have plenty to look forward to tonight as The Rock Riverside Speedway host the second night of the Cleanways 2003 Ltd New Zealand Streetstock Championship.
Last night saw qualifying, seventy three cars split into four groups battled it out over three heats to determine who would get direct entry into the twenty six car field for tonights three race New Zealand Championship, the top six from each group got through.
Five members of the Riverside club made it through to the final, they were Megan Henderson, Mark Henderson, Andrew Watson, Graeme McKernan and Steve Dryden.
The final two spots on the grid will be determined this evening as two repecharge races will be run with the two winners from each race earning a spot in the New Zealand Championship field.
Qualifying night was fairly tame by all accounts, certainly not to be taken in a negative way but the driving talent of all entered was second to none and the big Friday night Speedway crowd were well entertained.
Surprisingly none of the current champions 1NZ Trevor DeMalmanche, 2NZ Matt Petersen and 3NZ Chris Shingleton all failed to win a heat race, but all three did enough to get through to the top twenty six.
In the Red Group it was Trevor DeMalmanche, Toby McClenaghan, Dave McSherry, James Robinson, Steve Dryden and Kieren Skurr who all achieved automatic qualification. This was by far the toughest group with so much raw talent across the field. Skurr the reigning South Island Champ was fast and certainly took some beating, but consistency was key for the current New Zealand Champion DeMalmanche. Race winners were Kieren Skurr with two wins, and James Robinson.
The Yellow Group was Matt Petersen, Brenden Gooch, Stephen DeMalmanche, Jamie Lott, Jareb Verdoner and Mitchell Lavender who go through to the top twenty six. In this group 46c Shaun Andrew did everything he could to target DeMalmance throughout the day, slowing down waiting for him to lap so he could put a hit on him and take him out of the championship. The class of former champ DeMalmanche shone through though as he dished out some punishment on Andrew putting him out of the race in heat three. Race winners were Jamie Lott, Mitchell Lavender and Jareb Verdoner.
The Blue Group qualifiers were Craig “The Hulk” Blackler, Wayne Melling, Andrew Watson, Paul Leslie, Megan Henderson and Simon Bland. Henderson bought the big crowd to their feet when she won heat two, an impressive feat by the only female entry in the championship. Invercargill’s Jason Fisher won race one then in race three he became the enforcer, hitting a number of front running cars, causing immense damage to his own car but allowing the likes of Henderson and Watson the chance to break through the field and qualify. Race winners were Jason Fisher, Megan Henderson and Paul Leslie.
The final group was the Green Group, qualifiers were Chris Shingleton, Michael Jones, Scott Ashton, Graeme McKernan, Darrell “Hoon” Richards and Steve Soper. Local McKernan had to finish fourth or better in heat three to make the cut, he did better than that by winning the race. Shingleton showed his class, on more than one occasion he had been spun and put to the back of the field but came back through the field to gain enough points to qualify. Race winners from this group were Matt Stewart, Steve Soper and Graeme McKernan.
Racing continues tonight at 4pm with the two repecharge races kicking off the evening. Youth Saloons, Production Saloons and Modified Sprints, Non Qualifying Streetstocks and the Cleanways 2003 Ltd New Zealand Streetstock Championship.
Story: by Daryl Shuttleworth (Shuttleworth Motorsport Media)
Photos: by Corbyn Shuttleworth