Consistency key for in form duo in claiming another title
The ability to pass other bikes paved the way for Paul Humphrey and Ben Franklin to add the North Island title to their national sidecar title at Arena Manawatu on Saturday night.
Humphrey and Franklin began the championship as hot favourites but while others were unable to recover from bad starts that each of the six finalists had during the three heats, they finished in the top three in each heat.
Gisborne's former national champions Rob and Deane Miller finished second but never threatened the winners, while national runner-up Richard and Alistair Horne only managed to make the final by the long route including a win in the repechage.
Humphrey and Franklin may not have kept their impressive form of rarely being beaten this year, but two second placings gave them a three-point lead heading into the final race and once they won the start they cleared away to win by 100 metres.
Another former Palmerston North national champion Mike Zachan and Tony Carter won the first final race after a brilliant start but they put themselves out in the second race when they pushed fellow Palmerston North duo Mark Whyte and Jacob Cooper wide on a corner putting both out of the championship.
Humphrey and Franklin's class was clear in the second heat when they went from almost last to second behind the Horne brothers and with the national championships coming up in March, at Ruapuna, on a surface similar to the Robertson Holden Speedway, Humphrey and Franklin will start dominating favourites.
Despite a 20-minute delay to grade the track, and other minor delays, sidecar organiser Tony Hislop had nothing but praise for track manager Bryan Puklowski and his team.
"The track wasn't ideal but they really looked after us in getting [it] to a good quality," Hislop said.
"They went out of their way to make it right for us; it was brilliant."
After finishing runner-up at the national superstocks recently, Jordan Dare finally secured his first win on his home track.
With his addition to the Manawatu Mustangs team which made the national teams' champs final last year the win was a big boost to the young Mustangs outfit.
Without the pressure of holding a national title Peter Rees admitted the new freedom made it easier for him as shown by his two superstock wins as well as a stockcar win ahead of son Asher.
Peter Bengston, Jack Miers and Kenley Brown were also impressive in the superstocks, with William Humphries, Kyle Lampp and David Lowe driving well in a big field of 35 stockcars.
Lampp's night ended in spectacular style as he rolled himself, then was punted further down the grandstand straight after Lowe was left with nowhere to go.
Nic Davey also had the body of his car destroyed as he rolled on to his side and though Asher Rees stopped short of Davey's car two others smashed into Rees pushing him into the protected roof of Davey's car.
The Manawatu youth ministock title was convincingly won by Wellington's Josh Patterson, ahead of Rotorua's Dean Cooper, with local James Mallia third after a runoff with Wellington's Jacob Free.
Only four Palmerston North drivers ventured north to Huntly for the New Zealand Grand Prix with Adam Joblin retaining the title he won last year in the South Island.
Wayne Hemi showed good form to finish third behind regular Christchurch visitor Malcolm Ngatai. Joblin stayed clear of the mayhem as Mt Maunganui's Tony Wooton took out leader Tom Harris and fellow Englishman Lee Fairhurst while fellow Mount driver Kerry Remnant hit anything that moved.