Auckland sprintcar driver, Jamie McDonald ended his horror run this season when he won the prestigious Gold Cup event at the Racecourse Hotel and Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway over the weekend. McDonald took out the $5,000 winning purse ahead of Jamie Larsen (Kapiti Coast) with local racer Matt Honeywell in third place.

McDonald judged his race to perfection taking the lead from Larsen with four laps to run . Larsen looked to have the race well in control at one stage holding a lead of hundred metres from McDonald however Larsen had to spin his car to avoid a back marker who had stopped on the Town Bend.

Larsen's car suffered minor damage to its top wing, but was restarted at the front of the field however his massive lead was now gone. At the restart McDonald pounced passing Larsen as the two cars came out of the Prison Bend to go on to claim his second win in the prestigious event, with Larsen having to settle for second. Honeywell held out the fast finishing Matt Leversedge (Auckland) and Colin Entwhistle (Tauranga), for third place.

The win capped off a remarkable comeback for McDonald who was involved in a serious crash in early December at his home track at  Western Springs, Auckland  that saw his car destroyed with only the safety features of the sprintcar preventing serious injury. Once released from hospital the former national champion and his crew set about building a new car with McDonald returning to the track last week after a months layoff.

Qualifying for the Gold Cup saw all 29 drivers race each over the 15 heats with McDonald, Larsen and Christchurch Jamie Duff dominating the heat racing, each winning two heats, having two seconds and a third, to drop just three points each to earn the first three grids for the Feature. The qualifying races were fast and furious, but marred by a spectacular crash Te Anau’s Daniel Anderson was involved spectacular crash in the heat 8 on Friday evening. Anderson who had started off the back grid clipped a rear wheel when passing a rival sending him on a wild hundred metre ride of a series of barrel rolls and flips. Anderson was shaken but walked away with his car repaired to resume racing on Saturday. Several ‘rookie’ drivers had good Gold Cup debuts with locals Todd Richards and Jason Manson (two) claiming heat race wins.

The big crowd were treated to a great spectacle at the start of the 30 lap final with Larsen leading the early stages of the race from Duff, with Honeywell passing McDonald on the opening lap while  Australian, Allan Woods settled into fifth place. Honeywell and Duff traded places as Larsen cleared away from the field, with the leaders lapping rivals for the first time by lap eight. On the tenth lap Duff tagged Honeywell's car, forcing both cars to spin with damage to Duff’s car forcing him to retire.

On the restart Larsen and Honeywell lead the field away with Woods and McDonald having a great dice for third and for fourth. McDonald finally shook off Woods two laps later with the Australian then coming under attack from Leversedge and Entwhistle. The leaders were lapping cars for a second time with McDonald passing Honeywell several laps before the final caution light came on when Larsen was forced to stop. This proved to be a game changer withLarsen unable to carry on his earlier momentum.

In other racing the Modified Sprint section raced over both nights for the Battle of the Wings title which was taken out by Clayton Phillips on 128 points,13 clear of Invercargill’s Michael Jackson with Verdon McHaffie third overall on 111. Phillips set up the win when claiming a win, a second and a third on Friday evening and before backing up with a sixth, fourth and another win in the final heat in his newly acquired car from the USA. Two seconds and a third in the final three heats saw Jackson edge out McHaffie for second place overall.

The Three Quarter Midget class turned in their usual close fast racing with Liam McCoubrey the stand out on the first night with a third and then two win and was less than a second outside breaking both the lap and 8 lap records. McCoubrey a win and a third on Saturday, with former NZ champion, Ricky Brett having a win and then a second before retiring from the Feature while leading with Daniel Jenkins going on to take the win.

Competition was keen among the Midgetcars with Jay and Gary Chadwick sharing the heat wins with Scott Bailey winning the Feature from Gary Chadwick and Shane Clarke. 

Dyllan Forsey had success I the Quarter Midget development class and after following home Oscar Harcourt in the opener race, Forsey reversed the order in the next race and then took out the final from Jack Nairn and Harcourt.  

Results – Competitors from Christchurch Unless Stated.

Sprintcars – Racecourse Hotel and Motorlodge Gold Cup

Ht 1. Jamie McDonald (Auckland) 1, Steve Duff jnr 2, Shaun Ashton 3.

Ht 2. Jamie Larsen (Palm North) 1, Matt Leversedge (Auck) 2, Ben Gilmore 3.

Ht 3. Jamie Duff 1, Colin Entwhistle (Tauranga) 2, Ray Baughan 3.

Ht 4. Daniel Rogers (Auck) 1, McDonald 2, Luke Keegan 3.

Ht 5. Matt Honeywell 1, Larsen 2, Kyle Shearing (Invercargill) 3.

Ht 6. Daniel Anderson (Te Anau) 1, J Duff 2, Allan Woods (Australia) 3.

Ht 7. Larsen 1, McDonald 2, Ben Gilmore 3.

Ht 8. Brett Sullivan (Nelson) 1, Woods 2, Honeywell 3.

Ht 9. Todd Richards 1, J Duff 2, Rogers 3.

Ht 10. Caleb Brooks 1, Larsen 2, Caleb Baughan 3. Ht 11. Jason Manson 1, Honeywell 2, Sharing 3. Ht 12. McDonald 1, J Duff 2, Martin Harcourt 3. Ht 13. Conner Rangi (Nelson) 1, Keegan 2, Woods 3. Ht 14. J Duff 1, Larsen 2, Leversedge 3. Ht 15. Manson 1, McDonald 2, Sharing 3.

Qualifying points: Larsen, Duff and McDonald 47, Honeywell 39, Rogers 39, Sullivan and Woods 36, Keegan and Entwhistle 33, Sharing 32, Manson 30, S Duff 29, Ashton 28, Jayden Dodge 27, Leversedge, Brooks and C Baughan 26, Anderson and Jason Scott (Nelson) 25, R Baughan 24, Gilmore, Harcourt, Allan Chapman and Brent Gaudion 22, Richards 21, Paddy North (Blenheim) 17, Rangi 15, Andy Erskine (Inv.) 10 and Josh Walls 7.

B Main. Anderson 1, Rangi 2, C Baughan 3, R Baughan 4. A Main. McDonald 1, Larsen 2, Honeywell 3, Leversedge 4, Entwhistle 5, Woods 6, Ashton 7, Manson 8, Brooks 9.

Three Quarter Midgets

Ht 1. Ben Morgan 1, Tyler Warnock 2, Liam McCoubrey 3.

Ht 2. McCoubrey 1, Daniel Jenkins 2, Kyle Glover 3.

Feature. McCoubrey 1, Jenkins 2, Glover 3.

Ht 1. Ricky Brett 1, Jenkins 2, Ben Morgan 3. Ht 2. McCoubrey 1, Brett 2, Glover 3. Feature. Jenkins 1, Glover 2, McCoubrey 3.

Midgets Ht 1. Jay Chadwick 1, Gary Chadwick 2, Jack Low 3. Ht 2. G Chadwick 1, Gavin Wilkie (Dunedin) 2, Scott Bailey 3. Feature. Bailey 1, G Chadwick 2, Shane Clarke 3.

Modified Sprints – Battle of the Wings

Ht 1. Ben Gilmore 1, Brendan Daly 2, Clayton Phillips 3.

Ht 2. Verdon McHaffie 1, Phillips 2, Michael Jackson (Invercargill) 3.

Ht 3. Phillips 1, McHaffie 2, Jones 3.

Ht 4. Daryl Scott (Inv) 1, McHaffie 2, Jackson (Inv) 3. Ht 5. McHaffie 1, Scott 2, Jackson 3. Ht 6. Phillips 1, Jackson 2, McHaffie 3.

Quarter Midgetcars

Race 1. Oscar Harcourt 1, Dyllan Forsey 2, Gracie Roxborough 3.          

Race 2. Forsey 1, Harcourt 2, Jack Nairn 3.

Final. Forsey 1, Nairn 2, Harcourt 3.

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With the track in tip-top condition, their was no shortage of fast close racing, plenty of passing and a couple of race records being bettered at The Racecourse Hotel & Motorlodge Ruapuna Speedway on