Runoffs decide two top titles
Both Manawatu titles up for grabs at Arena Manawatu on Saturday night were decided by runoffs.
The minisprint title was won by experienced Wellington driver Shane Simpson over local rookie Karl McGill. The adult ministocks went down to a battle between Wanganui drivers with Aimee Barnes narrowly holding off Ross Travers.
The minisprint battle had some of the gloss taken off it when national runner-up, Declan Roe, went into the pit corner too hot and spun after hitting Carol Golding. Christian Hermansen's chances ended in the same crash.
A fifth in the last heat was enough for Simpson to finish level with McGill, who finished second behind Golding in the opening heat and second in the final heat.
With the national title to be decided at the Robertson Holden Speedway next year, it was a good buildup for the consistently quick Simpson, but also for McGill who was impressive in his first major championship.
After winning the first heat, Golding finished third overall. After his error, Roe showed his pace with a win and a third place.
With her background, it wasn't a surprise to see Barnes win the ministock title ahead of her more-fancied male rivals.
Although Barnes headed Travers in the runoff, the title looked to be heading to Christchurch after Gen Redmond was leading after two heats. But the difficulty of working his way from the back of big ministock fields, which are close in performance, meant he only managed to work his way to 14th.
It wasn't a good night for the locals with Stratford's Jayden Meyer taking the final podium spot ahead of Palmerston North's Daniel Gubb.
Peter Rees won the first superstock race ahead of the most consistent driver on the night, Peter Bengston, with Andy McCabe third.
National runner-up Kerry Humphrey won the second race in front of James Soane. The improving Shane Mellsop was third.
Humphrey's chances came to an abrupt end when Rees slammed him into the wall, finishing both drivers' races. Graeme Barr is as fast as anyone at Arena Manawatu and after rolling Shaun Pearson in a rare show of anger, he went on to dominate the feature ahead of Phil Ogle, Bengston and youngster Jack Miers.
Youngster Asher Rees held off the experienced Shane Simpson, not the same person who drives minisprints, and triple national champion Peter Rees, to win the first stockcar race. Gavin Taniwha won the second race ahead of Taylor Lampp and Damian Mulcahy in his best finish.
Asher Rees looked to have the feature in the box until he pulled to the infield allowing his father Peter to win ahead of Josh Prentice and Rob Miers. The sidecars put on a brilliant show with the same three combination taking the podium in the three races and all winning a race.
Derek Ramsay and Tony Hislop pulled a last-gasp win in the first race, overtaking Kieran Payne and Stu Elston on the line. Simon Windleburn and Tony Carter won the next race but Payne and Elston reversed the first by overtaking Ramsay and Hislop on the line. Payne and Elston then won the feature.
Craig Wilkin won the first solo race with classy Aucklander Dylan Hancock easily winning the next two.