Nelson's Greg Teece took out the opening round of the General Tyres War of the Wings Sprintcar series at Mag and Turbo Ruapuna Speedway on Saturday evening.
Teece took out the win from Matt Honeywell with Jason Scott (Cromwell) in third place.
The meeting, the first of the new season, almost did not take place as a violent electrical storm hit the track just before 6pm and the heavy downpour left the track under water but the competitors decided to race. After the track was "wheel packed" the racing started more than an hour late.
The War of the Wings saw 20 V8 sprintcars start in the opening round of the $60,000, 10-round series that will take in seven tracks throughout the South Island.
Teece, a former rally car driver piloting a car owned by Nelson's Kevin Freeman, made a steady start to the meeting when he finished in fifth place in his opening heat, and then claimed two third placings in his remaining heats. Ashburton's Matt Honeywell and Palmerston North driver Bryan Menefy were the standouts in the heat racing, both taking two wins, with the other heat wins going to Daniel Anderson (Cromwell) and Southbridge racer Lindsay Gilbert.
Going into the 20-lap feature Menefy was top scorer and started on the outside of the front row alongside Scott, with Teece on the next row. Scott made a mistake on the opening turn which allowed Menefy to jump clear with Teece moving into second place by the end of the first lap, from Ray Baughan and Scott.
With Menefy controlling the race and Teece in a comfortable second place, a great jostle developed for third place between Baughan, Scott and Honeywell over the first half of the race, with positions swapping several times.
Up front, Teece was slowly closing in on Menefy as the leaders weaved their way past lapped cars.
With six laps remaining Menefy crossed up in the the Town Bend, almost spinning, only to be straightened by Teece, causing Teece's car to stall. Officials first put Teece to the back of the field but then altered their ruling which saw Teece restart at the front and Menefy being moved to the back as the prime cause.
Teece came under pressure from Honeywell over the closing laps, but the Nelson driver held on to record an impressive win with Scott just holding out the hard charging Baughan for third place. The series now moves north for a double-header next weekend at Blenheim and Nelson.
- The Nelson Mail