Pumas eager to make a statement
The Palmerston North Pumas team will be looking for the six-team Stampede at Arena Manawatu tomorrow night to ready themselves for their defence of the national speedway title in January.
As a prelude to the national teams' stockcar title, the Stampede has always provided one of the most entertaining night's action on the oval pre-Christmas and is often the equal of the stockcar teams championships for roll-overs.
The usual hype surrounds how the country's best two teams since the stockcar class began will fare. The Pumas have won the national title for the past two years while the classy Wellington Young Guns have been the team to beat for a decade.
These days the class is very close nationally and others with a chance are an improved Stratford Stormers, the hard-charging Wanganui Vulcans, Palmerston North's second team the Manawatu Steelers and a Manawatu Minors under-23 team that was a revelation last year.
For the first time, a father and son have been included in the Pumas team, with Asher Rees replacing stalwart Gary Davis and joining multiple national champion Peter Rees.
Asher Rees has made a good fist of his first full season in standardstocks, winning races and consistently running at the front. He's also been willing to nudge his father out of the way to get past.
With places up for grabs in the Pumas and plenty of quality drivers, expect loads of action between the three Palmerston North teams.
Current Pumas Josh Prentice, Gavin Taniwha, Alec Wilson and Ron Tye will all need to be on top of their games to keep their places for the national event.
Leading the way for the Steelers will be Davis, who is sure to want his place back in the team. And Darrel Wallace, Jay Knight and newcomer Aaron Ironmonger will all be out to prove their value.
The under-23 team is led by William Humphries, who this season has shown an ability to attack. They may be young but in Zac Harris, Chevron Taniwha and Mitchell Hill there is plenty of talent.
The Young Guns may be without Dale Robertson and Allan Levien, who race superstocks now, but Scott McIntosh, Richard and Paul Gaskin and Richard Kahui still leave them with a class team.
It wouldn't be a shock if Dion Mooney, Carl Heibner, Francis Potaka, Hilton Parker and Justin Cunningham won for Wanganui while Stratford's teamwork will help them.
Other classes racing include the superstocks while there will be a big field of stockcars, with adult ministocks making up the meeting.
The Manawatu Standard