Burt Munro Challenge
A hearty crowd braved the wind and rain at Oreti Park Speedway on Saturday night to witness some of the most closely contested racing seen at the southern circuit.
National sidecar champions Paul Humphrey and Ben Franklin were unstoppable, winning all three heats and the semifinal by easy margins, as did Christchurch pairing Lionel and Shayne Breech.
The battle to make the semifinals was hotly contested and it was Southland combinations that were looking good.
Jason Harpur and Mark George scored a pair of wins, as did Josh Heenan and Harley Biddle and last year's Burt Munro Challenge champion Fraser Gillespie and his new swinger Jonny Gillespie.
The Gillespie pairing won the third spot in the semis alongside Humphrey/Franklin and Green/Breech, which meant the remaining riders from the semifinals had to battle it out in a repechage.
These two races were the highlights of the night, with wheel-to-wheel racing for the entire four laps.
The final once again showed the class of the Humphrey/Franklin combination.
They were quickest out of the gate and never looked like folding under the pressure, taking out the Burt Munro Challenge.
It was a tough night for the Southland team of Kevin McDonald and Mark Hosie, who just two weeks earlier won the Malcolm Officer Memorial sidecar event. The team showed how easy it was to go from penthouse to outhouse, by not finishing three races from three starts.
In the Burt Munro Challenge solos, former national champion Grant Tregoning has raced for the past four weekends in a row all around the country and he came into this event carrying a shoulder injury.
Tregoning looked good in the heats, winning all three races, but he was put under immense pressure from Christchurch rider Dale Finch.
Brannon Coppard, of Christchurch, had a big crash in his first heat and Southland rider Jeremy Godfrey showed some impressive aerobatic skills in the early heats. Thanks to the airbags installed, both riders came away uninjured.
The final of the solos consisted of Tregoning, Finch, Andy Aldridge, Kody Tocher and Jack Mcrae.
Finch claimed a solid victory from Aldridge and Tocher.
In Classic solos, John Tuffley produced a much-deserved overall win from Kelvin Neutze and Greymouth rider Kevin Ryan. In solo support, Andy Walker, of Christchurch, won over Southland youngster Jake Gillespie. The 125cc junior solos category was dominated by Sam Taylor, who won all his races and really looks to have stepped up to the bigger, faster bike this year.
It is a short turnaround for the club as it hosts the Ronnie Tree Sidecar Teams Challenge next Saturday night.
- © Fairfax NZ News