After sacrificing his own racing last season so that he could prepare the track at the Ruapuna Speedway, few would have begrudged Scott Millar's emphatic win in Saturday nights Midget Car feature.
While some of the more fancied contenders fought a frenetic battle that saw several wheel banging exchanges and the lower reaches of the concrete wall being used as part of the racing surface, Millar stuck to his task and won by a handsome margin from Tom Lumsden and defending South Island Champion Glenn Everett, with officials having to refer to the track timing system before declaring that Lumsden had prevailed by the narrowest of margins- with just 0.0061 separating them!
Earlier in the meeting Lumsden took out the second heat after a great battle to the current NZ number 3 Dave Kerr and Everett, while Gary Chadwick had won the opening heat.
The Ryan Stone Tribute for the Three Quarter Midgets is always keenly contested and this season was no exception. Defending trophy holder Jeremy Webb continued on his winning way to claim victory in both heats and he capitalised on the outstanding track conditions to narrowly miss breaking the long standing one lap record that had been set by Glenn Smith (Stratford) in 1999. Webb's luck ran out in the unique 17 lap Feature and was forced to retire early in the race after starting off the back grid. He quickly worked his way up through the field and was sitting in a good position by the fourth lap only to be involved in a three car tangle which saw Gareth Nixon roll his car. On the restart Scott Bailey continued to lead with TQ rookie Tyler Warnock driving well to hold out the fast finishing Daniel McKinlay for second place followed by Andrew Marker. The meeting marked the Speedway debut of circuit racing star Andy Knight who impressed by finishing the feature race in fifth place.
The sprintcar class again provided great action with three different winner, Shaun Ashton and Steve Duff junior each claiming a heat win, while current war of the Wings points leader Matt Honeywell had to settle for second placing in the two early heat races.
In the Feature Honeywell was pressing Matt Leversedge for the lead when the former come in too hard in the Stadium Cars Prison Bend tagging Leversedge which caused a tangle, that resulted in the Triple X car driven by Steve Duff Jnr rolling into the safety fence. With the curfew looming the race was declared after just four laps, with Leversedge being declared winner from Nathan Astle who put up a polished display throughout the night, and Duff jnr. in third place.
Close racing was again a feature on the Modified Sprint class with three different winners. Courtney Jones and Ben Gilmore won the two heat races while Caleb Baughan took out the feature from Nelson's Nevil Basalaj, who was making a rare appearance in the small car class,with Kate Warren grabbing third place.
As usual the Six Shooter races provided keen racing right down the field in each race with Kris Jemmett and Jason Manson each taking out a heat with Peter Keith winning the Feature from Kirk Hawkins and Jemmett.
The sidecars had their first outing of the season and the vastly experienced combination of John Warwood and swinger Laurie McMahon were clear winners of the opening two races and looked set to take out the Final when their bike dropped a chain leaving Clint Warwood/Sonia Duncan to take the checkered flag.
Nelson's Jayden Bradley who was unbeaten in the opening meeting of the season in his quarter midget quickly took the lead in the opening heat only to retire which opened the door for Montana Jamieson to claim both heat wins. Jamieson had to settle for second place in the feature with Jack Low taking the honours in a tightly fought contest.
Race Results (Competitors from Christchurch unless stated) Midget cars Southern Series Ht 1. Gary Chadwick 1, Dion Rochford 2, Glenn Everett 3. Ht 2. Tom Lumsden 1, Dave Kerr 2, Everett 3. Feature. Scott Millar 1, Lumsden 2, Everett 3.
Three Quarter Midgets-Ryan Stone Tribute Ht 1. Jeremy Webb 1, Tim Millar 2, Andrew Marker 3. Ht 2. Webb 1, Liam McCoubrey 2, Gareth Bindon 3. Feature. Scott Bailey 1, Tyler Warnock 2, Daniel McKinley 3.
Sprintcars Ht 1. Shaun Ashton 1, Matt Honeywell 2, Steve Duff jun 3. Ht 2. Duff 1, Honeywell 2, Ashton 3. Feature. Matt Leversedge 1, Nathan Astle 2, Duff 3.
Modified Sprints Ht 1. Courtney Jones 1, Vernon McHaffie 2, Kate Warren 3. Ht 2. Ben Gilmore 1, Nevil Basalaj (Nelson) 2, Caleb Baughan 3. Feature. Baughan 1, Basalaj 2, Warren 3.
Six Shooters Ht 1. Kris Jemmett 1, Jason Manson 2, Neville Reese 3. Ht 2. Manson 1, Kirk Hawkins 2, Matt Doncliff 3. Feature. Peter Keith 1, Hawkins 2, Jemmett 3.
Sidecars Race 1. John Warwood/Laurie McMahon 1, Paul Anderson/Nick Chase 2, Mike Warwood/Stefan Burrows 3. Race 2. Warwood/McMahon 1, Clint Warwood/Sonia Duncan 2, Anderson/Case 3. Final. Warwood/Duncan 1, Anderson/Case 2, Warwood/Burrows 3.
¼ Midgets Ht 1. Montana Jamieson 1, Ben Morgan 2, Brad Clive 3 Ht 2. Jamieson 1, Clive 2, Morgan 3. Feature. Jack Low 1, Jamieson 2, Clive 3.