Southern brothers hit hard in the Hutt
It's better to give than receive, especially when you are part of the Nelson Tigers superstock team.
A week after taking a pounding from the Palmerston North Panthers in a race which saw two Nelson drivers injured, the Tigers handed out a hiding to Wellington's Wildcats at the Te Marua Speedway near Upper Hutt on Saturday.
The Wildcats, once a feared combination in the brutal world of superstock teams racing, are slowly starting to rebuild after the class shrivelled and died at Te Marua. While they now have a group of competitive cars, the tactical side of teams racing takes time to learn and Nelson had a huge advantage there on Saturday.
The Tigers did lose the vastly experienced Dale Ewers on the first lap, but solid blocking by Ian Clayworth and Jared Gray gave Brett Nicholls an untroubled run to the flag.
"It went pretty much as we talked about it before the race," Nicholls said.
"I was going to run, Ian and Boris [Gray] were there to take cars out and Dale was going to be the second runner, unless he needed to clean out some of the Wildcats."
Ewers nailed a Wellington car to the wall on lap one but was speared by Scott McIntosh as he tried to drive clear, the hit wrecking a siderail and damaging the top of the Toyota V8 engine in Ewers' car. One down, Nelson's Clayworth and Gray set about removing Wellington cars, with two immobile on the infield as Nicholls took the win and the first leg of the Carter Cup.
"Boris ran shotgun for me, then I probably did the last half-a-dozen laps on my own because the Wellington cars that were left didn't really know which way to turn. We were all over them by that stage," Nicholls said.
Shane Harwood, who was third against Palmerston North but sat out Saturday's race as reserve, and Nicholls dominated the open racing with Nicholls winning twice and Harwood once. Gray also featured prominently, but both Ewers and Clayworth have damaged cars and bodies to attend to this week and seem set to sit out another teams race in Christchurch on Saturday.
Wellington will return to take on the Tigers at the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway in Nelson on December 8, although the Carter Cup is proving slightly elusive. No-one in the Wellington club seems to know much about the trophy, so it is possible that Ewers will put the DERT Cup, which used to be contested by three South Island teams, up for grabs.
Meanwhile, the Nelson club had an additional presence at the Te Marua meeting with the Accessman Tasman Thunder stockcar team joining their superstock clubmates on the journey north.
The Thunder are chasing racing this season as they try to gather vital experience as a team. They took on a Wellington Young Guns stockcar team with six national championship trophies under their belts.
The final result saw Wellington claim the top three finishing positions but Thunder manager Doug Morris said that didn't reflect how the race unfolded.
Tasman lost captain Cody Teece when a hit on lap one dislodged a wire on his car's starter but the remainder of the Thunder put their cars through the wringer attempting to wrest back the initiative. Teenaged blocker Liam Smith drove an outstanding race while Adam Hall, who was eventually credited with fourth place, was the best of the Thunder runners.
"I didn't realise Adam had been given fourth, instead of second, until a couple of hours ago," Morris said yesterday.
"I truly thought we were in with a chance of taking the race right until the flag fell.
"Liam had their lead car stitched up, but the Wellington guys have that little bit more experience and they got him home.
"We're punching above our weight, though . . . the improvement in the team and the way they are coming together is bloody awesome."
The Thunder have two teams races left in their season, hosting Greymouth in round two of the O'Halloran Suspension Developments Trophy on January 26, while a formidable Eastern States team travels from Blenheim for a meeting on February 23.
"At this stage, every race sees us grow a bit more," Morris said. "The boys are relatively new to teams racing but you can see they are knitting into a really solid team with each race."
The contact classes take a backseat in Nelson this Saturday with the War of Wings sprintcar series bringing the huge horsepower open wheelers to the Richmond raceway from 7pm.
The Nelson Mail