After demolishing the Wellington Young Guns on Saturday night, it will take an enormous effort to dislodge the Palmerston North Pumas as top dog in teams stockcar racing.
What appeared a powerful Wellington team were dismantled by a Palmerston North team where the drivers are striving to be selected for the team to defend their national title at Arena Manawatu, beginning on New Year's eve.
One thing the Palmerston North win at the Robertson Holden Speedway displayed, was that with more than 70 stockcars registered at the track, there is enormous depth and a lot of youngsters coming through ready and hungry for teams racing.
Saturday night's win was achieved without the greatest stockcar driver the country has seen, as Peter Rees was in Stratford for the North Island superstock champs and his son Asher.
With the team's performance against Wellington, Asher Rees' place in the team might be hanging by a thread now, particularly with his car proving unreliable this season.
Jay Knight looked to have secured a place in the team with a strong performance that won him the teams race, with Josh Prentice also strong in finishing second.
Gavin Taniwha put paid to any thoughts of a Wellington win with a masterful blocking drive while team-mate Alec Wilson wasn't far behind with a typical effort.
Taylor Lampp showed plenty of pace to win the stockcar feature, with other wins going to Stuart Rackham, Gary Hobbs, Brendon Tye and Pumas reserve William Humphries.
Jamie Larsen's sprintcar hopes ended on the first corner when hit by Bryan Menefy and firing up the wall, allowing Stephen Taylor to win the three races.
Kieran Payne and Stu Elston continued their impressive form, winning three of the four sidecar races with Josh Lambert and Tammy Prichard winning the other. Dylan Hancock was the standout solo rider along with Codey Mudgway and Graham Wedlake.
Stephen Buys, Dylan Rose and Carol Golding won the minisprint races with Dylan Barclay, Dylan Rose and Chris Round winning the ministock races.
Peter Bengston has long been considered one of the best teams racers the country has seen, but has often been out of the limelight, occasionally through bad luck, when it's come to major individual titles.
In an effort to get near the front of the big individual events, Bengston made radical alterations to his car and, in a virtual total rebuild, offset his engine.
Though he initially struggled as he made small changes, Bengston turned it around with a lap record at Waikaraka Park, Auckland.
At the North Islands in Stratford, Bengston scraped into the finals via the repechage but was then brilliant in the final with a sixth, third and a win giving him the title by five points from Hawke's Bay's Joe Faram, followed by two more Palmerston North drivers, Graeme Barr and Adam Joblin.
As has been the case in recent seasons, the finals field was stacked with Palmerston North drivers, all 12 entered making the 26-car final.
- © Fairfax NZ News