Smith keen to repent for meltdown

PETE MCNAE
Last updated 13:00 25/01/2013
Ben Smith

The Accessman Tasman Thunder team ahead of this weekend's Nelson's Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway event.

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Ben Smith is keeping his mouth shut and his head down.

The young stockcar driver came a cropper when his Accessman Tasman Thunder team travelled to Greymouth for the first leg of a stockcar teams series against the hometown Grizzlies.

On debut and "amped up", Smith went from the rear of the grid to second inside one lap of the O'Halloran Suspension Developments Trophy race.

But a red light brought on when Tasman team-mate Michael Paynter was rolled saw a West Coast club official get involved, Smith speak his mind and then get ejected from the race for his fiery riposte.

The Nelson-based team toiled away two cars down and thought they might have sneaked the win but, ultimately, the Grizzlies were awarded the victory.

Leg two of the series is at Nelson's Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway tomorrow and Smith is back in the squad, seeking redemption.

"If it had just been an individual race and I was racing for myself, I would have been totally at ease with what went on," Smith said from Christchurch, where he is working as a builder.

"But, as part of a team, I let the guys down and left them short of cars so I'm happy to get a chance to make up for Greymouth."

The Tasman selectors have gone with a consistent lineup of Cody Teece, Adam Hall, Justin Hearne, Andre Evans, Paynter and Smith, with five of those drivers to get the call for the teams race.

Smith, who recently won the Nelson club stockcar championship, is bursting at the seams to get another go.

"With every race, I am more and more comfortable in the car. Sharing with my brother [Liam], we don't get a lot of seat time each, but the car is really good at the moment and I want to be in there and pushing."

Smith also says the Thunder team chemistry is the best it has been and credits his team-mates with helping him to the Nelson championship. Although he won two of the three heats, Paynter and Hearne provided some timely assistance in the decider.

"They have your back, which is the biggest thing in teams racing," Smith said.

Greymouth, who held the O'Halloran Trophy over winter and retained it in round one, are a tough proposition. They have experienced racers and did a sound job of shielding Tony Stanton's crippled Tank across the line.

However, the Nelson drivers had the better of the open races later in the day at Greenstone Park, rolling rival cars and featuring among the placings.

Smith, who is full of praise for the way the family stockcar is prepared by his dad, Dale, and engine whiz Craig Griffith, is keen to make up for the minor meltdown.

"I learned a lesson about putting the team goals ahead of whatever might be going on inside my own helmet," he said. "The best thing that came out of it is that I realised you have to let your racing do the talking."

Stockcar teams racing, Accessman Tasman Thunder versus Greymouth Grizzlies, Tahuna Beach Holiday Park Speedway tomorrow from 7pm.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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