Well-laid plan pays off for Pumas
SPEEDWAY - TONY COFFIN
The Palmerston North Pumas' stroll to the New Zealand Teams' Stockcar title had been well-planned for months.
Palmerston North broke the hoodoo of never winning on Arena Manawatu or defending their title with four well executed teams races, including the final over the Wanganui Vulcans.
Palmerston North's races may not have been as spectacular as other races but captain Peter Rees, who added the teams' title to his individual one, said the plan hatched by manager Gary Parkes had worked perfectly.
"Our plan was to keep every car going for the entire race," Rees said.
"We may not have had the big hits of the others, but that was our intention all along.
"We wanted to take opposition cars out nicely."
Rees said too often when a car put a massive hit on an opponent, that meant the demise of both cars.
"Our plan was all about protecting our runners and you don't need to smash other team blockers over the wall."
Rees said he was probably the only one at fault during the entire meeting.
"I probably let the team down by getting rolled out of the Canterbury Crushers race by not watching what was going on around me."
Palmerston North had been forced into one change for the final with Wanganui when Gavin Taniwha was forced out for moving under the red light during the semifinal with the Meeanee Maulers, something Taniwha couldn't remember doing.
"We wanted to have three tanks in the final so we put Alec [Wilson] in Gavin's car and our reserve Graeme Ward came in as a reserve in Alec's car."
In the other semifinal, Blenheim's Eastern State Titans couldn't perform the heroics of Friday night and were well beaten by Wanganui.
After smashing the Wellington Young Guns' winning chances in group races on Friday night, it was ironic they met again in the third-place runoff.
Wellington came through the second tier and proved too strong for crowd favourite Blenheim, which had done their dash in their semifinal.
The new superstocks of Peter Bengston and the much-talked-about Wayne Hemi cars came to the front in the three-heat Superstock Gold Cup.
Bengston finally looks to be sorting out the small teething problems which have left him occasionally off the pace as a race wears on.
Bengston drove brilliantly to win the first two heats, including a great battle in one heat with national runner-up Scott Joblin and new North Island champion Graeme Barr. Starting off the back in the final heat, Bengston carefully worked his way through the slippery track to finish sixth, enough to take the title from Hemi.
In his second appearance in his radical new Vendetta car, Hemi was quick and the car didn't suffer the power-steering problems of the two previous times he'd been to a track.
Christchurch visitor Malcolm Ngatai drove flat out in the final heat, bashing against the wall continuously as he slid wide to win the race and finish third overall. Youngster Taylor Lampp, now Peter Rees' apprentice engineer, won his first stockcar race in a big consolation field.
- Manawatu Standard