Willemsen rides knocks to snare title

Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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Patea driver Michel Willemsen has the Taranaki Superstock championship trophy back in his possession after winning the title at the Stratford Speedway on Saturday night.

Willemsen is a previous winner of the Taranaki title and this year finished just one point clear of Eltham driver Michael Kiser to stand on top of the podium after three heats.

Willemsen went into the third heat second on points behind Palmerston North contracted driver Adam Joblin and found himself a target of the opposition. He could not have won without the support of his clubmates.

Scott Joblin had his hopes dashed in the first heat when he was spun by New Plymouth's Paul Shotter, who was attempting to eliminate Willemsen from the running.

Shotter very nearly succeeded when another Palmerston North contracted driver, Phillip Gargan, pushed Willemsen beside Scott Joblin, with Joblin taking the opportunity to put him hard into the turn-four concrete.

It was all to no avail, however, as Willemsen continued on and Stratford competitors had already eliminated Adam Joblin from the running.

Paul Johnson, who failed to restart after a race stoppage when his drive shaft broke and was hit from behind while stationary, was later taken to hospital. He was discharged on Sunday morning, having suffered a suspected pinched nerve.

Meanwhile, Lepperton's Skinny Colson successfully defended the Taranaki Sprintcar title that he won last season.

Colson, who was really only challenged by Palmerston North driver Nelson Hartley after Eltham's Tony Uhlenberg crashed in the opening race, was second from a grid five starting position in the first heat and followed up with a win in heat two from a front row start to head into the third heat equal on points with Hartley.

Colson shot to the lead in the final heat and cleared out from the field, chased by Hartley.

Hartley clipped the back-straight wall on lap six, forcing him to retire to the infield with suspension damage and handing the win for the race and the championship to Colson.

Uhlenberg finished second overall while Hartley was third equal with Palmerston North's Wayne Wilson.

"I had an advantage in the last heat with the front-row car missing and I knew I had to make the most of that to beat Hartley to the front," Colson said.

"I needed to beat him to win the championship.

"Everything fell into place for us and it was primo to win at Stratford."

The Youth Ministocks started their three races spread around the track in a handicapped format with the faster, experienced drivers to the rear.

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The races were won by drivers who had not previously held the chequered flag - Brad Uhlenberg, Joshua Perrett and Brittany Riddick.

Stockcars, minisprints and streetstocks rounded out the race programme.

In the stockcar class, Andrew Harris was stirring things up and could well be in for some return hits the next time he turns out.

Chris Shingleton was the most consistent in the streetstocks, winning one race and finishing second in the other two.

The field in the Minisprint class, which had 10 competitors, never finished a race with more than six cars.

Racing at the Stratford Speedway takes a break this weekend, with the Stratford Scrappers heading to Palmerston North for the Superstock Teams Champs.

The next meeting at Stratford is February 16 and will feature the Taranaki Modified Championship and Ginge Hayward Memorial.

- Taranaki Daily News

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