'Epic' battle in store for Thunder on coast


Cyclone Lusi is last week's news but a group of Nelson stockcar drivers has delivered a storm warning to their near neighbours this weekend.

The AccessHire Tasman Thunder will roll into Greymouth on Saturday to square off against the Grizzlies at Greenstone Park Speedway from 4pm. The following day, the Sunset Slayers from Westport's Wishart Raceway are in their sights, with that meeting starting at 1pm.

The Thunder will travel with a squad of 10 cars in an unprecedented move. While selectors Tony Frost and Dave Neiman have been able to send out a settled squad for most of their teams races this season, this weekend's double duty will allow the wider Thunder group to get a run.

"It's not an A team and a B team," Thunder manager Doug Morris said. "We are the Tasman Thunder and we back all of these guys to do the job required."

There is a more settled look to the team that will meet the Grizzlies for the O'Halloran Suspension Developments Trophy, though, with Justin Hearne, Cody Teece, Adam Hall, Phil Krammer and Keightley Teece holding their spots. With Michael Paynter committed elsewhere, Brad Neiman has been called in to complete the team.

Against the young, rough and ready Slayers, who are having just their second teams race together, the Thunder will field Andre Evans, Peter Roach, Dylan Hall, Shane Brooks and the reserve from the Greymouth race.

Morris is expecting a wild weekend.

"The Greymouth race is going to be epic as both teams go into this race with form on their side. The Grizzlies are coming off double wins, against the [Canterbury] Crushers and the Slayers, and will be oozing confidence.

"And the race against the Slayers is going to be one very tough battle also as we know just how hard and committed they are. It will be a last man standing race."

Shane Olsen, manager of the Greymouth team, is looking forward to his boys having a crack at the Thunder, who made it to the final four at the teams racing nationals in Palmerston North in January.

"The Grizzlies are determined to put a better effort in after our disappointing first race against the Tasman Thunder earlier this season," he said.

"We have recently beaten the Sunset Slayers and the Canterbury Crushers, and hope to add what we believe is the South Island's best team to that list this weekend."

An hour and a bit up the road in Westport, Sunset Speedway Association president Chris McSherry is viewing Sunday's meeting as one of the highlights of the club's season.

"We're a small club and a meeting like this is big for us," he said. "We want to squeeze in as many fans as we can to see the more experienced Tasman drivers take on our young fellas.

"The Slayers certainly did us proud in their first outing and we know they'll back that up this weekend. They are fearless, those boys."

The Nelson Mail