The Palmerston North Panthers showed they'll be tough to beat at the National Teams' Championships at the Robertson Holden Speedway in February when Shane Penn won the Manawatu title from fellow team members Peter Bengston and the impressive Scott Miers.
After his win in the opening round of the central region series, Penn always looked the driver to beat in the Total Sheetmetals Manawatu champs and from the first heat when he made up 17 places he, along with Bengston, were always going to be difficult to head off.
Going into the final heat Penn led Bengston by a point and a runoff looked likely with Bengston leading Penn into the final straight, until a slow car got in Bengston's way allowing Penn to finish less than a metre ahead.
It's been a long time since a "Tank" driven by anyone has won a heat of a major title but Miers won in the opening heat in style and showed a pace not seen in a long time to finish third and leave himself as a real chance for the national champs to be held in Nelson, where the Tanks have always gone well.
It wasn't such a good night for the Panthers other drivers with Scott Joblin, debuting for the season, having engine trouble and Peter Rees on the wrong end of a charge at Shaun Pearson.
Pearson again showed plenty of pace to put himself in with the chance of a podium finish until Rees slammed him into the wall. Unfortunately for Rees he ended up on his roof as Pearson rolled him before ending up perched on top of Rees' car.
Promising youngsters Jack Miers and Asher Rees finished fourth and fifth, with James Soane driving well to finish sixth overall.
Simon Windleburn and Tony Carter secured a rare hat-trick in the competitive sidecar class, while Mitchell James, James Mallia and Jarrod Lindsay won youth Ministock races.
Gavin Taniwha displayed the class he did last season to win two standardstock races with Rob Miers winning the last. Taniwha and Jay Knight had an on track altercation but both hopped out of their cars and shook hands in front of the crowd. Both drivers must be close to securing places in the Palmerston North Pumas team.
Gary Parkes named his first superstock team with an experimental Manawatu Mustangs team to take on the Stratford Scrappers at Stratford next Saturday. Regulars Kerry Humphrey and Simon Joblin will be joined by youngsters Jack Miers and Asher Rees.
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