Bay of Plenty titles decided
Although the stockcar class required a runoff to determine the Bay of Plenty champion, it was the saloons and super saloons that provided the closest racing at the Baypark Speedway on Saturday night.
Current 3NZ Steve Cowling eventually took out the saloon class title while local driver Karl Hanlon repeated the dose in the super saloon class. But neither had it their own way, having to work hard to win the feature race and secure their respective championships.
Stockcar drivers Caitlin Hayward and James Hamilton didn’t feature in their first heat of the night – but shared podium spots over the next two heats before Hayward ran away to comfortably win the eight-lap feature, tying with Hamilton on points. However, she was too good in the four-lap runoff, leaping off the line at the start and staying ahead of Hamilton to take the title, despite his repeated attempts to catch Hayward’s black-and-pink machine.
Cowling’s win in the saloon class topped a close night’s racing – one which saw Baypark driver Michelle Wymer throw the gauntlet down early with a strong win over the Corvettes of Steve Cowling and brother Chris Cowling (the national champion) in the first heat. Chris Cowling won the second heat with Wymer back in fourth while Steve Cowling headed Wymer in the third heat.
It was the feature where the real action took place though with Wymer topping the points table heading into the 12-lap race.
Wymer and Steve Cowling rubbed panels through the first few corners, but when Chris Cowling and Wymer rubbed wheels, the latter bicycled through turn four before regaining control and setting out in pursuit of her title.
The Cowling brothers held off the challenge however and finished first and second with Steve Cowling sneaking away with the title.
Last year’s saloon champion Dan Corrin was looking odds-on to repeat his success in the super saloon class, winning the first two heats. But Karl Hanlon stayed in touch throughout the night and the pair lined up on the front row for the feature race.
Although Corrin led the early laps, Hanlon found a highline that worked and worked his way past, but had to work hard to stay in front to take the title.
In the remaining two classes – ministocks and six shooters – the results were much clearer cut.
Todd Hemingway had a dominant night, finishing second in the opening ministock heat behind Ricky Gladding, then reeling off three straight wins in two heats and the six-lap feature to take the title.
Hemingway’s effort was almost matched in the six shooter championship where Martin Jamieson won two heats and the title-deciding feature. Cole Wood won the first heat and looked to be on dangerous form. But he collected the wall hard in the second heat, ending his night and throwing the title wide open.
Jamieson took his opportunity, taking a huge win in the third heat and maintaining his spot at the head of the field in the feature, despite a number of yellow flags, to take out the title.