||Last Updated: Mar 29th, 2015 - 10:04:38
The Russell Cunningham Oreti Park Speedway served up yet another helping of action packed, wheel to wheel racing on Saturday night as the club hosted Southland Championships for both A and B grade Solos along with the Malcom Officer Memorial for Sidecars.
With rain most of the week it left the Oreti Park track wet under the top surface, causing it to rut up in the corners, making riding conditions challenging, but rewarded those who rode and adapted to the track conditions.
The Southland Solo Championships was expected to be a tough fought battle, but became a bit of a fizzer when over half of the entered field pulled out leaving Grant Tregoning, Jake Gillespie, Hayden Sims and Daniel Shuttleworth to race for the title.
In heat one Tregoning was a noticable absentee, leaving the crowd wondering if he would claim his eighth consecutive title.
Sims looked to be the man to beat leading Gillespie and Shuttleworth in race one until coming to grief in a big accident that sent him into the wall, leading to his exclusion from the event, just a few days out from him heading to Italy to represent New Zealand at the World Under 21 Championship. After the restart Gillespie took victory from Shuttleworth.
Tregoning returned for heat two and rode to an easy victory from Shuttleworth and Gillespie who both had falls throughout the race.
In the final Tregoning got off to a flying start but was pressured by Shuttleworth, as he challenged for the lead Gillespie spotted a gap and shot into second.
Gillespie then challenged Tregoning for second, but came to grief when Tregoning almost looked to slow down coming out of turn two, leading to Shuttleworth dropping his bike also.
The race and Championship was called at that stage with Tregoning being awarded the title from Shuttleworth and Gillespie.
Zane Pay won the B grade Solo Championship, managing to win all his heat races, as did Noel Caulfield.
The pair were joined in the final by Pat Dysart and Phil Coulthard, Dysart and Caulfield got out of the gate and led into turn one leaving Pay sitting back in third, but as they hit turn two Pay seperated the two of them and shot to the lead.
Dysart wasnt about to let Pay ride off with the championship as he sat on his back wheel for the remaining laps, hoping Pay would either make a mistake, or find a way through, but Pay took victory from Dysart and Caulfield third.
In the Malcom Officer Memorial Sidecars, the early heats were more a case of whoever finished claimed the points with early retirements costing Fraser and Jonny Gillespie, Josh Heenan and Harley Biddle and James Douglas and Ricky Pubben, all three teams forced out of the competition with mechanical issues.
Twenty two bikes battled it out over four heats, with the top four points scorers gaining automatic entry into the winner takes all final, Shaun Kerr and Robin Poole, Kevin McDonald and Karl Hosie, Luke Thwaites and Neville Chalmers along with Christchurch team Lionel Green and Shane Breech had all banked early wins and booked a spot in the final.
Jason Harpur and Mark George made it the hard way, having to fight off Aiden Thwaites and Shane Twiss in the B final to take the final spot on the grid for the championship.
As the tapes went up to start the final it was Kerr and Poole who showed their class, squeezing through McDonald and Hosie, and Harpur and George to lead into the first turn.
From there on they extended their lead but the battle for the minor placings was still a lottery with Thwaites and Chalmers starting to pressure for a spot on the podium as well.
As the chequered dropped though it was the current South Island Champions, Kerr and Poole who dominated once again, fast finishing McDonald and Hosie claimed a well deserved second, from Harpur and George in third.
In support classes Joe Hughes won the Classic Solos, Cormac Buchanan won the Peewees after a run off with an improving Nick Olphert, Hayden Brookland won Junior 125cc Solos while Georgia Elvin of Christchurch dominated Junior 200cc Solos.
By and with thanks to Daryl Shuttleworth.
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