Speedway ace cooks up another title
Waikato racer Shaun Cooke won the New Zealand minisprint championship at Stratford Speedway at the weekend.
Cooke, who had won the championship four times previously, is now back in possession of the trophy he last held six years ago.
He topped his qualifying group on Friday night and raced clean and fast on Saturday to make his way towards the front of the field in all three races.
He finished fourth in heat one from grid 11, won the second heat from a front row start and then finished sixth in heat three from grid 19 but still had to compete against defending champion Jamie Larsen in a four-lap run-off to decide the champion.
After a false start at the first attempt of the run-off, Cooke grabbed the lead at the first turn of the restart after the pair touched and Larsen momentarily lost control of his race car. Larsen pulled infield soon after and Cooke ran away to win the championship.
Cooke very nearly won the title outright but a late passing move by Larsen on the finish line of the third heat gave him the point he needed to force a run-off.
Larsen, who is now ranked No 2, was lucky to make the finals at all.
A crankshaft failure after the second qualifying heat on Friday night caused him to miss the third qualifying heat. Fortunately he had scored enough points during the first two heats to make it through to the finals.
His team worked late into the night, changing the engine block to ensure he could take part on Saturday.
New Plymouth competitor Sean Rice finished third in the championship and retains the No 3 ranking he previously held.
Hawera competitor Cameron Hurley was the next best of the locals, finishing fourth equal with Wellington competitor Shane Simpson, while New Plymouth's Dylan Waite finished eighth equal, Eltham's Karl Uhlenberg 13th and Hawera's Dan Fromings 14th.
Three competitors who didn't have luck on their side were New Zealand No 2 Jade Barnett, who qualified at the top of his group, only to be rolled just metres from the start line during the first heat of the finals; Christian Hermansen, who qualified third in his group but blew his engine just three laps into the first heat of the finals; and Stephen Buys, who went into the third heat sitting fourth on points but was rolled in the opening laps of heat three.
In the support races, Tyler Walker recorded a third, second and first place to win the King of the Mountain stockcar champs by three points from Kylee Symes. Haydin Barker was third.
The youth ministock City of New Plymouth Classic was won by Carol Podjursky. She placed sixth in the first race, second in race two and third in race three to win the title by two points from Chris Collingwood. Brad Uhlenberg was just one point back in third.
Richard Kettle dominated the streetstock racing, winning two races and finishing third in the other, while the saloon class had three different winners - Ash Cooke, Brett Barron and Jarrod MacBeth.
Blair Uhlenberg won two races in the adult ministock class. Hamish Booker kept him at bay to win the other.
Farron Lowry dominated the modified racing, placing second in the first race, behind Paul Ward, before winning the next two.
Superstock wins went to Gary Johnson, Phillip Gargan and John Booker.
Nik Kiser drove a brilliant race to beat Booker across the line in the third heat but was relegated after performing illegal donuts on the track.