Speedway fans at the Racecourse Hotel and Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway were treated to a superlative display by American teenage sensation Michael ‘Buddy’ Kofoid when he dominated the Avon Insurance Brokers Sprintcar racing on Saturday evening. The 18-year old showed why he a superstar in the making by maintaining his unbeaten run in New Zealand over the last two summers, claiming back to back Feature wins in the same meeting, which came about after Friday’s evening meeting was cancelled due to rain. After consulting drivers on Friday night both the Gold Cup and the Salute to Goodie were programmed for Saturday nights meeting
Kofoid treated the large crowd to a stunning driving display where he could put his car anywhere on the track, at time looking like his rivals were standing still. Later in the meeting when the track ‘slicked’ off, Kofoid showed amazing throttle control to keep moving forward when many others struggled to make a pass. The American was untroubled to win both his qualifying heats in the Gold Cup after starting both mid pack. Choosing his usual wide line out by the safety fence Kofoid moved forward every lap, going on to win by clear margins. Kofoid headed home Nelson’s Alicia Hill in his first heat and then accounted for another Nelson driver, Connor Rangi, who was making his first appearance in a sprintcar for this season.
The final heat went to local’s Matt Honeywell, from Jamie Duff and Caleb Baughan. Early in the race, Cromwell’s Sam O’Callaghan was involved in a frightening crash, which saw the Freeman Motorsport car clipping the fence and then going into a series of violent barrel rolls down the back straight. The car suffered severe damage but due to the safety features O’Callaghan was able to walk away from the mangled wreck.
In the Gold Cup Feature Kofoid led out from the green flag and quickly opened up a massive advantage over Caleb Baughan and Hill, who retired early in the race with a motor issue. Baughan then came under pressure from Duff who took over second place on lap eight after caution light with also Honeywell moved into third place. With Kofoid lead blowing out to over 5 seconds at one stage the battle between Duff and Honeywell was epic as the cars raced locked together lap after lap. Honeywell got by Duff on lap 14, of 25 but three laps later Duff reclaimed second place and with Kofoid lapping cars, Duff managed to reduce the margin over the closing lap, with Honeywell third from Rangi, Caleb Baughan, Ray Baughan and North.
The Salute To Goodie Feature was the reverse finishing order of the Gold Cup with Kofoid and Duff starting off the back on a track which looked hard to pass on. On the second lap, Te Anau’s Daniel Anderson, who was responsible for bringing the American to NZ, car rolled heavily down the front straight, ending his nights racing. When the race resumed, Shaun Ashton skipped out to a handy lead from Ben Gilmore and James Robinson. The lead three stayed the same for the opening ten laps, the mid-point of the race with Duff on sixth place, just ahead of the Kofoid.
Four laps later the American finally managed to get by Duff but Ashton was still leading by over four seconds. A lap later Kofoid was up to third with the race changing then the cautions light come on to close the field up after Jacob Brownlees spun. When the race when back to green Kofoid got by Gilmore and the following lap was in the lead and in the next two lap opened a a winning margin of 1.3 seconds with Ashton having to settle for second.Honeywell stormed home to claim third place from Gilmore, Duff and Robinson. Racing commitments in the US means Kofoid will not be defending his NZ title at Palmerton North next weekend but fans will be hoping the young raising star will be back racing here next season.
Tom Lumsden was an unbeaten during the Midgetcar racing in what was their final hit out before the Accessman New Zealand championships, which will be contested at Ruapuna on the 24th and 25th January. While Lumsden was unbeaten he had to work hard for all his wins having great battles with Dave Kerr during heat 2 and the Feature, the Kerr having to settle for the runner-up spot in both races just ahead of Reon Taylor.
The Three Quarter Midgetcar section provided plenty of action with Gareth Bindon the pick of the drivers. He opened the meeting with a second place behind Ben Smith with Sam McCreanor in third place. Bindon then took out the next heat before going on to claim the win in the Feature from Sean Shilton in second place from McCreanor.
Close racing was also the order of the night in the Modified Sprint racing. Clayton Phillips started the evening with a good win in the opening heat and then took out the Feature from Kieran Harris and Daniel Jenkins. Harris was the other heat winner when heading home Jenkins and Bredon Daly, in what was Daly’s first. meeting of the season.
A large field of Six Shooters took to the track which lead to plenty of passing in all of their races. Josh Buchanan took out the opening heat and then claimed the victory from Andrew Gregge and Peter Keith Future. The drive of the night came from Shanarrah Stronach in the second heat when finishing strongly over the closing laps to pass several cars to claim the win in Heat 2 just ahead of Daryl Wright and Buchanan.
The Quarter Midget section again turned in close racing with three different race winners. Jack Brownlees started the evening off with a win with Ethan Smith winning the second heat and Jacob Cunniffe claiming another Feature win Cunniffe also finishing with a second and third in the heats. While not taking a race win, Dyllan Forsey also had a second and third in the heats and then followed Cunniffe home in the Feature, with Smith third.
Race Results Sprintcars Ht 1. Michael Kofoid 1, Alicia Hill 2, Jacobs Brownlees 3, Tony Uhlenberg 4, Ben Gilmore 5, Connor Rangi 6. Ht 2. Kofoid 1, Rangi 2, Paddy North 3, Daniel Anderson 4, Martin Harcourt 5, Jamie Duff 6. Ht 3. Matt Honeywell 1, Duff 2, Caleb Baughan 3, Shaun Ashton 4, Ray Baughan 5, Hill 6. Gold Cup Qualifying Points: Kofoid 40, C Baughan 35, Duff and Hill 34, Rangi and Honeywell 33, Ashton, R Baughan and North 30, Harcourt 29., Brownlees 28, Uhlenberg and Gilmore 27, Daniel Anderson 26, Allan Chapman and James Robinson 23, O'Callaghan and John Sievewright 20 Gold Cup Feature. Kofoid 1, Duff 2, Honeywell 3, Rangi 4, C Baughan 5, R Baughan 6, North 7, Harcourt 8, Uhlenberg 9, Chapman 10 Salute to Goodie Feature. Kofoid 1, Ashton 2, Honeywell 3, Gilmore 4, Duff 5, Robinson 6, Harcourt 7, Uhlenberg 8, North 9, R Baughan 10.
Three Quarter Midgets Ht 1. Ben Smith 1, Gareth Bindon 2, Sam McCreanor 3. Ht 2. Bindon 1, Scott Bailey 2, Shawn Shilton 3. Feature. Bindon 1, Shilton 2, McCreanor 3.
Midgetcars Ht 1. Tom Lumsden 1, Jay Chadwick 2, Glen Durie 3. Ht 2. Lumsden 1, Dave Kerr 2, Reon Taylor 3. Feature. Lumsden 1, Kerr 2, Taylor 3.
Modified Sprints Ht 1. Clayton Phillips 1,Kate Warren 2, Charlie Jackson 3. Ht 2. Kieran Harris 1, Daniel Jenkins 2, Brendon Daly. Feature. Phillips 1, Harris 2. Jenkins 3.
Six Shooters Ht 1. Josh Buchanan 1, Duane Cracknell 2, Peter Keith 3. Ht 2. Shanarrah Stronach 1, Daryl Wright 1, Buchanan 3. Feature. Buchanan 1, Andrew Gregge 2, Keith 3.
Quarter Midgets Ht 1. Jack Brownlees 1, Dyllan Forsey 2, Jacob Cunniffe 3. Ht 2. Ethan Smith 1, Cunniffe 2, Forsey 3. Feature. Cunniffe 1, Forsey 2, Smith 3. ownlees 1, Dyllan Forsey 2, Jacob Cunniffe 3. Ht 1. Tom Lumsden 1, Jay Chadwick 2, Glen Durie 3. Ht 2. Lumsden 1, Dave Kerr 2, Reon Taylor 3. Feature. Lumsden 1, Kerr 2, Taylor 3. Modified Sprints Ht 1. Clayton Phillips 1,Kate Warren 2, Charlie Jackson 3. Ht 2. Kieran Harris 1, Daniel Jenkins 2, Brendon Daly. Feature. Phillips 1, Harris 2. Jenkins 3. Six Shooters Ht 1. Josh Buchanan 1, Duane Cracknell 2, Peter Keith 3. Ht 2. Shanarrah Stronach 1, Daryl Wright 1, Buchanan 3. Feature. Buchanan 1, Andrew Gregge 2, Keith 3.